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What Equipment Next..

Member for

15 years 4 months
Hey RO'ers :)

Just need some advice and opinions on where to go next.. Now all i wanted to know is what should the next purchase be in my quest for recording vocals..

At the moment, i have an m audio sound card a RØDE nt1000, a Shure sm 58, a mic100 preamp (very basic) and all the usual stuff like mic stand, pop filter and all the relevant cables.. Would a compressor be next ont he agenda, or is it a waste of money? I currently forked out a lot of $$$ on Waves Lab and it is bloody FANTASTIC! Big thumbs up there.. I'm also using Nuendo 3..

At the moment however, when i record, the vocals does not sound as rich or full as when they are recorded in a professional studio..

anyhelp would be awesome!

Thank you!


Member for

16 years 2 months

RemyRAD Tue, 08/22/2006 - 09:51
Ahhhh rich and full you want? So did you take any notes when you realize the studio you went to produced a better vocal sound than you could achieve? What kind of microphone were they using? What kind of microphone preamplifier? Did they cut the vocals with a compressor/limiter? Knowing the answers to those questions would better facilitate a more comprehensive response?

Many folks believe that you must use some kind of condenser microphone to record vocals with. I absolutely disagree with that. Marvelous vocals can be recorded and captured using standard run-of-the-mill PA microphones such as the venerable Shure SM58/Beta 58. In many ways those particular microphones produce a fat lush vocal sound better than any inexpensive condenser microphone. Especially when a reasonable microphone preamplifier is utilized. Many folks like myself also will patch in a hardware compressor/limiter prior to the recorders input. The character of condenser microphones varies greatly. Between small and large capsule condensers, you also have to be concerned about the thickness of the mylar capsule. So many of the large diaphragm condenser microphones these days utilize anywhere from 1.5 mil to 3 mil thicknesses of mylar but like in the old Neumann U87, that microphone had a 6 mil thick diaphragm. You get a brighter and crispier sound with the thinner diaphragms but a darker warmer sound with the ticker diaphragms. And in my book brighter crispier, doesn't necessarily translate to better.

"But if you add compression while recording, you cannot undo it later". So what? I know what I'm doing, I know what I like, I know what works best. Just a little compression will instantly make the vocal sound more smooth and better controlled. You may even decide to add more upon mix down? So no, I don't think a hardware compressor would be a bad investment to make? They are a good investment. I have lots. There are differences in compressors, some use an optical device, some use VCA's and some use a single FET transistor. Some have RMS level sensing. Some utilize peak sensing. And some have both types of level sensing. For compression, it's all what kind of flavor you like best. Easy-going jazz or light folk vocal music may only require a little lite optical or RMS compression and for that, RMS or optical sensors work quite nicely. For more aggressive rock-and-roll vocals where lots of screaming may be involved and the music more aggressive, I like using limiters with peak detection.

Either way, I like to track with some dynamics processing going in. You just have to learn when LESS IS MORE.

Less food is More new clothes
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

15 years 8 months

BobRogers Tue, 08/22/2006 - 13:00
Remy is right. A good outboard compressor/limiter is not a waste of money. Pretty much any vocal will benefit from at least a touch of compression. But it might not be the time for you to get one. It's important to know what you want to do with one and how to use one. Fortunately, a DAW is the best tool that I know of for learning these things. Use a basic vanilla plug-in and a bunch of different program material and experiment with threshold, ratio, attack, release. Doesn't cost anything but time and you can learn a huge amount. Also, if a plug in doesn't get you much closer to "rich and full" an outboard unit isn't going to be that much better.

At this point someone on this board usually comes along and says that the problem with your recordings may be the acoustics of your room. An inexpensive way to find out is to record some simple vocals a capella in your room and then haul your rig to a large room (say, a church) and record another take. If there is a big difference, you have some reading to do over in the acoustic forum.

Good luck, Bob

Member for

15 years 4 months

RRRecords Tue, 08/22/2006 - 17:35
Thanks all for the responses, you've been great help so far.. When we went to the studio, we used both a rode nt1000 and a shure ksm32.. now like ive mentioned, i currently have an nt1000 (which i think is a very good mic), alot better the sm58 in my opinoin for the type of vocals im recording.. The sm58 tended to sound a bit 'muddy' for me which i found hard to work with, with the limited software i had on hand.. The acoustics of my room seem to be okay as i have constrcuted a vocal booth :)

However, i think Bob is right.. "But it might not be the time for you to get one. It's important to know what you want to do with one and how to use one." I need have more of an indepth look into it and also experiment a bit more too..

When i do record vocals at home, i get a great sound.. And if i didnt compare it with anything else, i wouldnt know that it could sound better if that makes sense.. but when i do compare it withthe pro recordings, the difference is noticable..

Anyways, anymroe suggestions will be great and thanks for giving me a place to start and for reinforcing what i thought :D

I will keep you updated on my status!