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Vocal Test with an AKG SolidTube

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by DonnyThompson, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member


    View: https://soundcloud.com/donnythompson/maggie-2-mix-a-mp3


    I recently replaced the stock 12AX7 tube in this mic to a 12AT7. The original reason I changed the tube wasn't to get a tonal difference, it was just that the old tube was causing noise, and the only spare tube I had lying around was a 12AT... but I think it did change the tonal characteristics of the mic, not dramatically, but a bit.

    This is a public domain song, an old folk song, "Maggie"..
    I think it's either Irish, or Irish-American in origin, written sometime in the 1860's.

    I didn't spend a whole lot of time on this, I tracked the vox in one take, so there are a few pitchy notes here and there, but my motivation for doing this wasn't for release, anyway, it was only to show what the SolidTube mic sounded like on vocals after the tube change.

    Guitars were tracked using an MXL 860 ribbon.

    Funny final note... the vocals at the top of the song sound a bit different from the tone towards the middle and end... the simple explanation for this is that I began the vocal track just after turning on the mic, and the tube wasn't yet warmed up (yeah, I should know better), so the texture of the mic sounds different from beginning to end. LOL

    So, for better - or worse - this is what this mic sounds like on my voice. I wouldn't choose this mic for every application, but for something like this piece, I think it works well.

    As usual, all comments, suggestions, etc., are welcome. ;)

    d.
     
    bigtree and pcrecord like this.
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Oh yeah... one other thing I should have mentioned... the vocal track is flat, I added no EQ, just a little plate verb to add some depth.

    Recorded and very quickly mixed in Samplitude Pro X.
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thirteen views and no comments? LOL... guys, you don't have to like this mic, ya know. i didn't post it with the intention of promoting it... I just posted it so we could discuss the mic... that includes the bad part, if you hear anything. You can comment in any way you want. ;)
     
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Just got to listen to this on my studio monitors, and I really like the vocal track. I can hear what you mean by the voice quality changing as the mic warms up. Not that it's good at the start and bad at the end or vice versa, but there is a difference. It goes to show what range "good" can encompass. I think the mic fits pretty well to a voice like yours.

    How many guitar tracks were there? I got a bit distracted from the vocals by the guitar parts jumping around spatially and was wondering whether I had a loose connection, but realised that the vocals remained firmly centred so ruled that out.

    Did you add the verb to the 2-bus mix or to just the vocal track? If just the vocal, was the slightly over-spacious sound on the guitar tracks natural studio ambiance picked up by the fig-8 ribbon?

    Great work, Donny.

    Listen and comment, all you others!
     
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I account for at least one of those non-commenting viewers. I was waiting until I could listen to it on something other than the computer speakers to do it justice.

    The SolidTube certainly has a nice full-bodied tone, I will say it got better as the track went on. The last 30 seconds of the vocal sound significantly better to me than the first 30 seconds. I suppose it would have to heat up even beyond 4 minutes to really come into its own. I'm sure you've found that with your guitar amps as well, then if the tubes heat up beyond a certain point they crossover into high-distortion land. I have an old Mesa that I had to retrofit with a fan, otherwise it would sound progressively more distorted as the night went on.

    The 12AT7 isn't as prone to overdrive as the 12AX7 and can completely change the personality of a guitar amp too (if you're ok with giving up the high-gain distortion). So your results don't surprise me as much as the fact that AKG put an AX in there in the first place.

    I know you're showcasing the mic and not fishing for compliments on the performance, but very well done there too. The song was a good choice to show off the mic, the vocal and guitar tracks were all very good. I greatly appreciate the effort it took to post.
     
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  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    It sounds very good, a bit too much bass on low parts but it may come from proximity.
    Thing is, I would have like having an other take with a different mic (one everyone knows) to be able to compare. (like a sm57 or 58)
    The reason is, what I like about the sound, may come in part from the mic pre or simply your voice.

    But thanks for sharing.. I almost bought that mic.. If it comes to me again, I won't hesitate ;)
     
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    There is one nylon guitar track, 2 separate "embellishment" acoustic tracks, and one solo guitar track. I agree with you that the guitars do sound a bit distracting at times. If I was doing this for a real release, I would narrow the focus.

    There's a plate reverb on the vocal, and then a slight bit of room verb on the guitars, but I think that a lot of what you are hearing is the Ribbon/Fig 8.

    LOL, I was left thinking the same thing. I remember what this mic sounded like before the tube went bad, and while it didn't sound at all bad, I think it sounds better with an AT. MY current interest is how this mic might sound with an older Telefunken tube. I understand that it won't turn the mic into a Telefunken (LOL wouldn't it be great if it were only that easy) but I'm curious as to what the result would be.

    Well, I think you need to be cautious there, Marco... as you might have hit the nail on the head when you said that it might just be my voice in combination with this mic. I'm not saying it's a bad mic, I'm saying that it might not be the right mic for everyone, and truthfully, even though I think it sounds pretty good on my voice, in that key register, on a track like this, I wouldn't use it for all my vocal needs. I don't think it's an end all be all mic even on my ow voice. ;)


    Thanks for all the compliments guys. ;) Although, as Hawk mentioned, I wasn't really fishing for any, I was just presenting what this mic sounded like with the tube change. :)

    d.
     
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    a few more thoughts that came to me upon hearing this with fresh ears this morning...

    I really do like the warmth of this mic... or, maybe I should say this mic with the AT7 tube.

    I do agree with Marco though, that it sounds a bit heavy in the lower end, and, while I didn't use any EQ either on the way in or after the fact during mixing, I did have the HPF engaged on the power supply, which, according to the manual, is "about" 100HZ. LOL... I think that's funny. I think this is the first time that I have read a technical spec where a frequency is described as being "about" a certain measurement. LOL. Anyway, even with the HPF engaged, I still found it to be a bit too heavy in the 100 - 250 region. I wasn't all that close to the mic when I was recording, maybe 4"-6"...

    But, the purpose of this thread was to show what the mic sounded like, and I didn't want to EQ my voice to suit my own ears - I wanted the mic to be heard flat so that those listening could get an indication of what it sounds like on its own.

    The spec sheet/manual also states that the mic comes stock with a 12AX7 tube for "optimum" performance, and if the tube needs to be replaced, that it should be an "exact" replacement. That's funny, considering that this is mentioned on the same page where they state that the HPF is "about" 100hz. LOL ...so, they go from "about" to "exact" in the pace of one paragraph. ;) (Just thought that was funny).

    Anyway, I can't help but wonder why they say this when the mic obviously sounds so much better with a 12AT7...

    In the end, I wouldn't use this mic for every song I would sing on. Of course, I feel that way about most microphones anyway. I have a U87, a U89i and as most here know, two vintage AKG 414EB's, and they are all great mics, but none of them - the SolidTube included - are "end-all/be-all" mics to me. I think that on a soft song like this, with the vocal being very intimate, it works very well, and the tube adds a type of warmth that works well in this case. But, it won't be my "go-to" mic for every situation.

    As a final thought, I bet this mic would sound really nice on sax or trumpet.

    FWIW ;)

    d/
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I don't get it. I Loved the track but am imagining it mixed on what i would do . I love the lower mids on this mix and the top end is perfect for you. Nice playing too. Go figure. If you were playing this with a bass, I may dip the lower end a touch but when you are the only thing in the mix, I'm not shying away from the lower mids at all, in fact I'm loving it. I hear the need for some added freq that would come during the mix.
    Come to Canada and we can do a duo booked every night of the week lol.
     
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  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    If you need a drummer, just call me !! ;)
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks Marco.

    I am listening to this on another system that I always use to check my mixes and the reverb you are using on the vocals is not serving you well. So, the mic sounds great, the reverb or your room is adding a reflective low mid that would would stay clear of for ever.

    I always love your work though and I'm now thinking about more mics I want lol.

    PC, we're one step closer to an RO band!
     
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  12. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    Cool Donny ,

    Sounds really nice and warm here :) ,I love that big low mid clarity .
    better than the 58 / 57 on 'Forgetting you ' on this end .
    Maybe I had a man look , but I cant see where you name what the mic is :oops:.....

    Are the guitars flat eq with the ribbon mic?

    Id like to hear what happens when you push the top end of both guitars and vocal as an A/B test.

    And tell me what that microphone is .....lol
     
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks, Smash..The mic is the AKG Solid Tube.... hence the title of the thread LOL.

    Not much EQ on the guitars, nothing dramatic, anyway, because the intended focus was on the vocal/mic.

    I might work on it a bit more, although it was really all just in fun to see what the mic would do with an alternate tube in it.
     

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