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VO guy needs help!!

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by meVOguy2, Aug 9, 2006.

  1. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    Hi and thanks for viewing my topic. I have a home studio from which I do voiceovers for mostly nightclubs, concerts and imaging for radio stations and I'm looking to upgrade my mic chain. My current setup is clean but lacks the rich, thick and especially loud sound that I'm looking for. My mic is the Marshall V69 Mogami Tube, which goes directly into a Symetrix 528e. I'm a digi 001 user and I have various plugins on the mic channels, including Antares tube, mic modeling, digi 4 band eq, and wave gold's C1 compressor gate. On the aux channel from which all vocal tracks are directed I have digi expander, wave's L1 limiter and the aphex 204 aural exciter with big bottom.
    Now my question. I'm hoping that I'm just a great mic pre/voice channel away from greatness! I've read reviews on several pieces including the Avalon 737, Focusrite ISA, M audio's Voxbox and many others. I need a clear, warm, phat sound with great harmonics. I'm sure you all hear the type of work I do on your local hit music stations especially urbans. I just need help getting that sound I'm in search of from someone with great ears. Can you help?

    Here's a demo of the top guy in the business to give you an idea of the sound I seek.


    Hopefully I can accomplish this without breaking my bank.

    thanks in advance
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Well, I know that the 528e is probably not helping your cause here. The stock pre has a miserable reputation foir being 'smeared-sounding' and whimpy. I have a couple of them that I had Audio Upgrades mod the pre on, and that helped a good bit, but.....now I use 'em as channel strips for guitars and brass. Not for VOs.

    I had an Avalon 737 for VO's, but I had an early one and it was a flake. Very 'squishy' compressor, but I have read that they fixed that. The only thing it is reputable for is VO work, and posts abound claiming that Avalon has changed the units' "sound" several times. I got rid of mine after dealing with too many tube issues. I replaced it with a Drawmer Front End One, which is cleaner and more aggressive at the same time.

    But now I have been using a partners newly-aquired (used) Focusrite Red 7. I am in love. Clean, quiet, and BIG sounding. I use it with either a Beyer M99, an EV RE20, or AT 4047. I looked at a Millennia Media Origin, and maybe later I will pop for that ...but at $3K (the Red 7 was $2K used),iit will have to wait. Based on what I hear from our Focusrite, I think that the ISA should deserve a good trial.
  3. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    1. Your recording space - your room, both VO booth(If seperate) and your listening/mixing room(If your listening and tracking room are the same that can cause "problems" - it can be worked with but...). Hire a studio designer to help you get things set-up so you can do well AND hear what you do well. No, it won't(Or doesn't have to) cost tons of coin, particularly if you ask for mostly "advice", maybe some testing. Look in the phone book under "accoustics" - you may find a local person or company that can help quite a bit(And may enjoy the challenge of a studio not just another "noisy" office.) - pretty good sound is not that hard, for VO work.

    1a. Your recording software or machine? You don't mention.....?

    2. Your mic. Upgrade to something better. I didn't listen to your posted demo, but it would be hard to believe a "super pro" VO guy using a 300 dollar tube mic. Get 1 of "the world's best" dynamics - EV RE20, Beyer M99, Sennheiser 421, any are fine. At least you'll have something that cannot be bettered. Get 1 "nice" condenser - I'd lay off of "tube mics" until I could get something as good as a Brauner Valvet - you're asking for much "compromise" otherwise, just so the maker can put "tube" on the mic box. An AKG 414, a Gefell(Check out Mercenary Audio for options, here - ask one of the folks there what you need for a VO mic.), something that costs enough to "hurt" you right in the wallet...

    3. Your preamp. The largest VO studio I go to(Pretty big), uses Millennia Media pre's. They don't have an Origin, or even one of their tube models, just the "straight", solid state pre's(Their's are 2 channnel). Not as pricey as the Origin(What you really want, as stated by Moonbaby - at least look it over and slobber.), but still costly and very worth it.

    BTW: The world's best pre will not make your mic sound "better"(A 421 still sounds like a 421), but the better pre's will not "get in the way" of the sound any mic CAN provide, that's all - and that's alot. The Origin is "more" than a pre, it is a VO/vocal "super box"(Or not, as you wish) and priced accordingly.

    First: Do the best "uncolored/unmanipulated audio you can - ONLY THEN try to "color" it to be even better(?)... If it doesn't sound abolutely superb with "nothing added", there's something, basically, "wrong", somewhere(Like a cheap mic and pre?) that you'll never make better with "gadgets" and plug-ins.

  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    To obtain that edgey high frequency effect, it definitely sounds like a small diaphragm condenser microphone was utilized with its high pass, "bass cut" filter switch engaged. That along with plenty of aggressive fast release time compression/limiting and probably a judicious amount of APHEX Aural Exciter along with not being too close to the microphone, along with a pantyhose pop filter. A preamplifier with some transistor sounding edge to it like an API. And plenty of time delay and reverb effects.

    How about letting us hear one of your demonstrations?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    Thanks guys. Sorry I didn't mention that I am using digi 001 on a Mac G4. Also, I have a home studio without a vocal booth. I do record and mix all of my projects from the same room. By the way I do have an RE20, SM7 and another cheap MXL that I used years ago. I'm gonna go with the RE20 and audition some of the pre's that you spoke of. I was hoping to get a channel strip that would allow me to drop the gate. tube, eq, and compressor plugins that I use now. Thanks for the suggestion on getting an acoustic guy to come over and advise on my setup. Would he just evaluate my room or both the room and gear setup.

    You guys, thanks so much for your replies.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You are NOT going to get that big announcer effect on an RE20 or an SM 7. Those are all fine dynamic microphones for radio station disk jockeys, not for professional announcers of the type you are trying to emulate! Those microphones that you mentioned are very mellow sounding disk jockey microphones without that condenser "edge" that you want. Note I said "condenser". See, you do not know what you are listening to and think you are going to get that edgy announcers sound from a mellow dynamic?? NOT! It's basically the microphone and preamplifier that establishes your sound. Everything else is just icing on the console. A vocal booth is not all that necessary unless you are tracking a live band and wish to keep the vocal reference? Otherwise it's needless gyrations to put yourself through. So if you want a purely voice oriented processor, try the DBX 286/386 vocal processors. They have everything in them including the sound you are looking for. Forget about the "acoustic guy" it's an unnecessary expense for a voice over Guy. Meanwhile your computer recording rig is more than adequate for what you are doing.

    Only singers are supposed to be stupid.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  7. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    We interrupt this forum for an aside - back in just a minute...

    Now Remy... another Midol? I have plenty! Let me speak to the person - give my opinion - then you can, again, respond - nicer, this time, I hope?

    OK, we're back...

    1. Know what it is you're hearing.

    Without a reasonable "room"(Space), it is impossible to turn up the speakers(Any speakers) and know that what you're hearing is what you're recording, to say nothing of actually getting a good recording in the first place(Pardon Remy's "only a VO" attitude, she's an elitist - we run into those - we listen to them, but we take no offense at their putting down our lowly craft, OK?). Again, I did not suggest having a custom studio designed(Though that would be best for all of us), just have a good, experienced person "in" to look and listen "things" over, maybe make a few suggestions - maybe a 1/2day rate? If any "rate" one can find is completely out-of-bounds..? Forget it, but it's worth a try. At one time(Yes, it's been awhile) a "world-class" room tuner offered to come over and check out my place for a cup of coffee. Just happened to live, literally a few miles away, was a "ham operator" like I was and was a nice person. Very helpful, no big bucks. In my little town, for instance, there is even a rather large accoustics supply/design firm, specializing in industrial/commercial work. I'm sure they'd send someone over to evaluate at no charge. One need sign no contracts, just listen to what they have to say("Gee, just putting some of this stuff over your sheetrock would help alot - and maybe a drop ceiling."). One who just doesn't know(We can't all be accousticians.) can indeed benefit from having someone who does(Or even who might) give a personal evaluation to one's setup. I'm sure if Remy lived down the street from you, she'd be glad to take a listen, right? That's all I'm saying - another Midol? MIDOL FOR EVERYONE!!! I've got plenty!

    Now, in the interest of "hearing what you are recording" indeed in hearing SOMETHING that YOU can rely on(Good, bad or indifferent), yes, indeed, do some stuff on the RE20. No EQ, no plug-ins, no gates - YOU, the mic(Best in the world - of it's type) and whatever you use to do the job, software, pre, whatever. At least you KNOW that the mic is not "the problem"(RE20's, God Bless 'em, don't "change" like some mics do with every 1/4" of mouth movement) and you can establish a reference. Worst part about most folks and their home recording efforts is that they have no reference - I repeat - IN MOST HOME RECORDING SITUATIONS THE RECORDIST HAS NO REFERENCE. The most important thing in evaluating ANYTHING is to establish a reference, a base, a standard - even if "bad" - one must start somewhere, from a repeatable position. You have all the gear you need to do so.

    Trillions of dollars worth of very fine VO has been done on nothing more than an RE20(And on alot less). Are there better mics? Sure. When you know HOW they ARE better. Are there more reliable mics for such "reference" purpose? Not that you and I want to invest in.

    "Best" mic. Everything else "flat". Record something. Listen to it. Like it or not, that is what you, your room, and your equipment sound like. NOW, try another mic, until ALL your mics have been tryed and evaluated. Try different positions FOR the mic IN the room, etc. Write this stuff down if you like!

    Hint: If you don't sound anything like the people you are trying to emulate no new anything(New throat?) will get you there. If you're "close", maybe..? That is yet to be heard.

    It sounds to me, from the wording of the post, that even if you DID get a $3000 mic and a $3000 dollar pre, you would STILL have trouble evaluating WHERE any problems STILL came from? Yes/No???

    Establish a base, work-up from there. Start with your recording space, then your software and computer, then your equipment - probably speakers(At least phones? Like the RE20, one can buy the "world's best" phones for very little, relative, coin.) first, so you can hear the rest of your equipment and you. THEN you can read the reviews, get suggestions for mics and pres and know, when you bring anything in to evaluate it, how DIFFERENT/better it IS from YOUR BASE.



    PS - Again, I did not listen to your demo person(I don't like to hear anyone who may be better than I and that's MOST VO folks.). All I can say is that if it sounds REALLY good, that person or their engineers(Likely all of the above.) have ALREADY been through all of this stuff. Now it's your turn. Took me 35 years to hear "all of me", with a great room, mic, pre and speakers that "fit" "me". I still don't sound like "that VO guy" - I hope you get there faster...... I hope you get there at all.

    Sorry Remy, dear, you hit a nerve......
  8. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    OK, MY turn,

    I have recorded all the big VO guys here in LA!!!

    The mic and pre: Sennheiser MKH 416 feeding a Grace 101.

    If the room is well treated, or a female voice over
    a Neumann U87, or a TLM103.

    Compress, EQ, Dess, in the DAW.


    Ive also used an MBox 1 with the above mics, with excellent results.
  9. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    Hey thanks for the replies. Ms Remy, the thought of not having to spend a "grip" sounds great to me. I will also look into the dbx units you spoke of. I see the 286 has more components, enhancer, expander etc. But the 386 costs a little more. Is there that big of a difference in the quality of the preamp? Also, have any of you other guys used either of these units?

    Teddy you spoke of having a reference. I have a collection of works from other vo companies that I listen to on some not so bad monitors. I have the powered Rokit 8's, and I also have an advantage of hearing my work on local radio and tv. But I understand that one thing that's seperating me from some of the big guys doing what I'm doing, is technology. Therefore, I'm gonna take both of your advice.

    TVPostSound...just saw a Grace 101 on ebay..very reasonable. ($549 brand new) I understand that it's only a pre amp. Since I'm now using the 528e, obviously it would no longer be in the chain. I use quite a bit of compression and eq from that unit going into the plugins that I mentioned in my original post. I know it may sound like a lot, which I'm sure is part of the problem, but I have managed to come up with a nice sound. But luckily, I know where the elements of my sound come up short. My question is, do you think the plugins that I employ will suffice without that 528e. And what about teaming that Grace unit up with the V69 tube or Re20 that I already have.

    Remy I would love to send you some of my work to analyze in your spare time. But beware it's funky. PM me if you can. Joining this form last night has been great.

    Thanks again
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I have a couple of 286a's. I don't think that they are really much better than the 528e you have now. Maybe a bit cleaner pre, but that's it. I like the downward expander and the de-esser is OK.If I was to choose between the 2 models, I'd go with the dbx because I think that it's a much better value. I now use them in live sound work. I think that Teddy has that 386........
    BTW, I have a Grace 101, and it is a terrific pre. I have yet to hear it with a shotgun, but it is the "king of clean" with anything that I've thrown at it.
    I'll pump it into an RNC and go with it.
  11. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    The Grace 101 sounds like the way to go. I just read up on the RNC and that price tag is very appealing. I suppose I could just use the gate and eq from digi and those features so much from the 528e or purchase a seperate eq. What do you guys think? Again, I need the fat, in your face, radio imaging sound, hopefully this setup will do the trick. All feedback is welcomed.

    Thanks again
  12. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    If you need a strip, I have a DBX376 for sale. New Siemens tube.
    Was my backup.

    I now have a Grace 101, and a True Systems Precision 8.
    Dont need the backup anymore.

    (Sorry for the blatant plug) :roll:
  13. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    It sounds like I need to pick up a Grace 101...everyone is pluggin em'!! I really would like to know if I should pick up a unit for the compression, eq and expander features that I will miss without the 528e, or should I just rely on the Waves Gold plugins to fill the void? Please take a look at the previous post to get an idea of the sound I'm hoping to improve on.

    Thanks everyone.
  14. roguescout

    roguescout Guest

    Here ya go meVOguy:


    Read that and keep it in mind when building your mixes and finalizing them for air. Each station's music format decides the amount of squish they put on everything before it gets transmitted (push a custom preset button on the ol' Optimod and VOILA! instant branding for the station's overall sound).

    If you know what to look out for, you can compensate for some of the further processing that you have no control over. If anything, it may save you some time knowing that you may not have to add this or that since it is going to get pounded by the FM processor.

    Better yet, buy Bob's book which that article was lifted from:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0240805453/sr=8-1/qid=1155400923/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-4984846-7270429?ie=UTF8 Even if you never Master, it wi...hybrid EQ's for music projects. I can't wait.
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    It's OK Teddy. I still love you. It's so nice that we can agree to disagree, I think? Maybe? Not?

    Decidedly undecided
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  16. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    Ok guys, I've been doing quite a bit of research on the products that were suggested. As mentioned at the top of this thread, I'm sure the 528e is the weak link in my mic chain. I was really hoping for a channel strip that I could replace it with. The dbx units that were mentioned seem great and pocket friendly. In addition, I'm thinking about that Grace 101 preamp as well as the sennheiser 416 mic. Anyone ever paired these two? I've also read up on the Empirical labs distressor. Sounds like a great compressor that will give me that bite that I'm looking for. Again, it's for a home studio and my concern is giving up the features(gate, desser, etc.) and convenience of an all in one unit. But, quality is priority number one. Any feedback on this setup or on the pieces that I spoke of would be greatly appreciated.

  17. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    If you compress, or eq while tracking, you can not undo it.

    I record VO clean, then process in the box (Plugins)

    I have a Presonus ACP22 compressor (Before you laugh) that is very transparent, and clean at 3 to 1 or lower. (We post kids want clean, not colored). For those VO people, that get a little out of hand. Its there for safety only.

    You can eq and compress non-destructively with plugins to your hearts content all you want later.
  18. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    TVPostSound, thank you for your comment. I am very well aware of the advantages of recording "dry" to disk. But honestly, I absolutely no of no one in the field of radio imaging that does it. You sometimes need that colored sound to project the attitude of the copy. The 528e is used primarily as a gate/compressor/limiter with a minimal role for eq. The plugins are used to enhance. I've always used a channel strip, what can I say. Any views on the products I mentioned?

    Thanks again
  19. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    I have those now!!! Why do you think I mentioned it!!!!!
    A TLM103 for the female VOs, a 416 doesnt sound good on a female

    Then your talent doesnt fit the bill. VO talent is cast for their particular instrument (VOICE).
    90% of the VOs I record have almost NO processing done, except for a little compression to ride over the program, and 80Hz high pass.

    Use the right mic, coupled to the right preamp, with the proper micing techinque and you will find you will need less processing.

    I do national commercials, and a clean voice is needed, not coloring.
  20. meVOguy2

    meVOguy2 Guest

    Thanks TVPostSound. I am aware of the sound that you desire in those "clean" national spots you speak of. The definition of clean in mainstream radio, be it chr, urban, spanish etc., is somewhat different. We seek that "colored"..in your face..beautifully processed and supremely edited sound, that is a signature of that station or event. Practically every VO person on this side of the industry will at least have gate/compression/limiting going to disk. Maybe we should do a poll!

    Hey, I want to you again for sharing your knowledge. I really appreciate the correspondence.

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