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Vocal Mic Tests #1

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by soapfloats, Jul 25, 2009.


Which Mic do you prefer?

  1. e835

  2. 421

    0 vote(s)
  3. 414

  4. Bluebird


    0 vote(s)
  1. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Alright, I've finally gotten this all together.

    These tests are less than scientific, as they were constrained by my time with the bands/artists and were meant to determine which was the best mic for our purposes. However, I did make some efforts at control:
    All mics were run into my Focusrite ISA 428, with a little tweaking of the gain. No processing coming in or going out. The impedance was set at ISA 110 (still looking for an actual #).

    W/o any further delay, here are are a series of tracks of a male vocalist signing the same verse.:

    Shure SM58
    (he sang a different part, but I'll get it up soon anyways)

    Sennheiser e835

    Sennheiser MD 421-II

    MXL 3000

    AKG C 414 B-XLS

    Blue Bluebird

    Cascade FATHEAD-II

    Any questions, comments, concerns?
    Please send them my way - I'm hoping to make this a useful experiment for all of us. :cool:
  2. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Somewhere (maybe) are the files for the other 3 male vocalists from this group. I'm beginning to think I may have deleted them!
    Hopefully not, as they have pretty different voices and would help make the comparisons more helpful.
    I do have another set w/ an indie rock vocalist I'll post soon.
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    You didn't include an option for the 3k, but that's ok because it wasn't my favorite anyway. I liked the C 414 in this instance, it seems to work well with his voice. Closely followed by the 421.
  4. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Why GF?

    One of the reasons for this experiment is so that we can all better understand which mics we choose and why.
    Also so I can provide some examples of how moderately priced mics sound on different sources.
    I decided to do this in large part due to the discussions around micing these sources w/ many of these mics.

    After everyone's had their say, I'll post my picks and why, as well as provide a visual demonstration of my source(s) and mics as they were placed in the room.
    And worry not, some guitar amp mic tests involving the 421, 57, and Fathead are forthcoming....
  5. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I liked all of them honestly For different reasons. The 3k was alright. The Blue was a lot brighter than I expected. I thought the 421 sounded great as well. Very usable. The 414 of course sounded best to me. Most balanced of the group.
  6. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    soapfloats, thanks for taking the time to share your samples with us.

    Interesting how different mics picked up the sound of the room more than others. Sennheiser 835 sounded pretty good, IMO better than the 421 too.

    I agree with GF + hueseph, the 414 sounded nice and smooth while not being out of balance with his voice such as the bluebird.

    I wonder if putting some tube compression on that bluebird would make it smoother? Anyway,IMO BB could use a little darkening because the treble is a bit much.
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    What pattern was the 414?
  8. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    jammster - that seems to be a prevailing pattern w/ the BB. People like the "presence" it adds, but that presence can become harshness at times.

    Jack - Wide cardioid. Sorry I forgot to mention it.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I didn't like the sound of the room and so, I found the 421 to be the most accurate sounding, intimate, most intelligible. I wasn't impressed with any of the condenser microphones at all since they all accentuated the room. And the room is boomy in its character. Not necessarily desirable since its muddy. Dynamics really do have many advantages which people seem to discount because they are not as bright nor as hot as their condenser cousins. The Fat Head, because of its bidirectional pattern also included too much of the room while also being too dark for his vocal type. Ribbons work out better for female vocalists than male vocalists because of their mellower tonality.

    I'm for the 421
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    I think you're rubbing off on me, Remy.

    While I won't reveal the mic we chose just yet, I will say that the 421 is fast becoming my favorite mic - for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Even though the take is different, I still intend to get the 58 up.

    On a related note, my 57s get a lot of use, 58s not so much b/c I sometimes prefer my Senn dynamics.

    Interesting notes on the room as well. I treasure the space for its acoustics, but having tried to record other stuff simultaneously w/ drums, I realize the space is quite untamed.

    I'll have some more male vocal tests up soon.
    Then its on to some different, less exhaustive tests. Maybe more like examples...
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well, soapy, this is where I would be using downward expansion on those condenser microphones just to reduce the room resonance. A gate would be unnatural sounding since it turns the microphone on & off. Whereas the downward expander can be set to reduce level by 10 to 15 DB which makes a huge difference You don't completely lose the room but you certainly don't accentuate it either.

    I don't think anybody has as yet come up with an acceptable downward expander preset that mimics the old KEPEX I. Everybody is emulating everything else but that. I can get close to the affirmationed units with a broadband dynamics software type, when I can draw in the characteristics I want since it is basically a compressor working in a lower region, in negative gain. But I still haven't found a good emulation. I'm close. But those older hardware units were really the first discrete transistor voltage controlled amplifiers. They did have a tendency to add some mush as VCA's do. And compared to many others, I used them post limiter rather than pre-limiter. And that's the name of that tune.

    Whatever happened to Allison?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  12. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    i like them in this order:

  13. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the replies.

    Special thanks to Remy for helping me learn something myself. Let me know when you get that emulation up to snuff - in the meantime, I'll try using that technique.

    I've seen a lot of downloads (typically 20+), so I'm waiting for a few more opinions.

    I'll post mine anyways...

    We chose the 421, with the 414 and BB a close 2nd and 3rd, respectively. There were elements of the 414 and BB we liked for his voice, but we felt the 421 had the best balance of tone, presence, and space.
    Plenty of presence from the BB, but not the right tone for him, the 414 sounded smooth and had a nice presence, but had a bit too much space that detracted from the tone too much.
    The 421 was cleaner, had just enough space, and really flattered his baritone range w/o detracting from the higher notes, IMO.

    When we finally get to the vox ODs for the album, I'll post a raw vox, a processed vox, and the vox in the mix.
    Hopefully we can all learn a little about mic choices through the process.

    Finally, I should have the 2nd round of male vox tests up tomorrow - they're uploading now.

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