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Using pad & roll-off on mic vs. adjusting gain and e

Discussion in 'Recording' started by etheriagtr, Nov 27, 2001.

  1. etheriagtr

    etheriagtr Guest

    Hello all,
    This may be basic common knowledge, but I'm still working on getting some of that, so perhap you guys can point me in the right direction on this one...

    I have a Sure KSM-27 condensor mic which has a bass roll-off switch and a pad switch on it. I also have a dbx 376 Tube Channel (tube preamp, eq, compressor, de-esser). When tracking some vocals, I realized that I should probably brighten the tracks I was laying down because since they were doubled, they turn out a bit muddy. Simmilarly, I also found that durring some sections, the singer was clipping the preamp section of my dbx on occasion. So this lead me to wonder about the following:

    1) In what situation does one use the pad function on the mic, and when does one simply lower the gain on the preamp?

    2) When do you use the bass roll-off on the mic as opposed to eq-ing the signal in the preamp?

    3) Should I ever eq the signal before I lay the track or do I save the eq-ing for the mix?

    Like I said, these are probably questions that are common knowledge, but I don't know the answers...

    Thanks in advance,
    Vlad Khavin
    vlad@longwayfromgrace.com
     
  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2000
    Originally posted by etheriagtr:
    When tracking some vocals, I realized that I should probably brighten the tracks I was laying down because since they were doubled, they turn out a bit muddy. Simmilarly, I also found that durring some sections, the singer was clipping the preamp section of my dbx on occasion.

    Just a quick note here, if the guy is eating the mic, you are getting a large amount of proximity effect. This is similar to cranking a low shelving eq on every track of the backgrounds. Some mics respond differently to proximity than others. This particular mic has a small 50Hz bump even when placed 2 feet away from the source. If you pull the mic back, that will give you a much flatter signal response, and will also lower the SPL that reaches the diaphragm, maybe enuf so the input stage of your pre doesn't clip anymore.

    1) In what situation does one use the pad function on the mic, and when does one simply lower the gain on the preamp?

    If you pull down the gain on the pre to the point that the level is very low, but you still hear distortion, then it's either the input stage of the pre or possibly even the output electronics of the mic itself that are clipping. (With the possible exception of bad phantom power or a defective mic, dirty diaphragm, etc.) If you pull the gain down on the pre and the distortion goes away, you just had the gain up too high to begin with. (Of course, do this with all the EQ, comp and stuff turned off.)

    2) When do you use the bass roll-off on the mic as opposed to eq-ing the signal in the preamp?

    I would use the bass roll-off:
    1. When intentionally adding proximity, but need to constrain the low end to a specific point.
    2. To eliminate proximity when there is not adequate isolation and the singers have to eat the mic.
    3. When the roll off just happens to be the exact eq needed to make the sound work with the rest of the track and cannot be achieved by placement alone.

    3) Should I ever eq the signal before I lay the track or do I save the eq-ing for the mix?

    There are differing opinions on this one. Some people like to EQ everything to tape in order to make the mixing quicker. This can work well if you happen to know how to mix really well, but it could just as easily backfire. Different EQ's can have widely varying "tone" or "personality". Once you put that EQ to tape, you're stuck with that personality. Most people don't have the luxury of every brand of EQ ever made sitting in their rack, so chances are you don't have as many options as the mix engineer would. This puts a limit on the mixer's ability to make your song better than you originally imagined, and also deters him from messing up the tone you are shooting for. By sacrificing 6, you guarantee yourself half a dozen.

    Personally, I try not to add any EQ to any track while I'm tracking - except for the natural EQ that happens with correct mic placement.
     
  3. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    Originally posted by etheriagtr:
    Hello all,
    This may be basic common knowledge, but I'm still working on getting some of that, so perhap you guys can point me in the right direction on this one...

    I have a Sure KSM-27 condensor mic which has a bass roll-off switch and a pad switch on it. I also have a dbx 376 Tube Channel (tube preamp, eq, compressor, de-esser). When tracking some vocals, I realized that I should probably brighten the tracks I was laying down because since they were doubled, they turn out a bit muddy. Simmilarly, I also found that durring some sections, the singer was clipping the preamp section of my dbx on occasion. So this lead me to wonder about the following:

    1) In what situation does one use the pad function on the mic, and when does one simply lower the gain on the preamp?

    Some mics don't have a built-in pad (e.g., the Neumann TLM103), so if you lower the gain on your preamp all the way and you still get clipping, use the pad on the mic first, or on the preamp if the mic doesn't have a pad.

    2) When do you use the bass roll-off on the mic as opposed to eq-ing the signal in the preamp?

    The bass rolloff switch is used to compensate for close micing (i.e., proximity effect). If the sound is too bassy when you're in close to the mic, use the bass rolloff switch.

    3) Should I ever eq the signal before I lay the track or do I save the eq-ing for the mix?

    I try to avoid using any eq (if possible) during the tracking stage, especially on vocals, so that if the vocalist needs to come back in a few days (or weeks) to fix something, the new tracks have a better chance of matching the old tracks. But on something like drums, it's often unavoidable and you do have to use eq while tracking (to get you into the ballpark), AND while mixing (to get the final sound).

    Like I said, these are probably questions that are common knowledge, but I don't know the answers...

    Thanks in advance,
    Vlad Khavin
    vlad@longwayfromgrace.com
     

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