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All I need is ONE CHANNEL! Help me sound like Thom Yorke!

All I need is one channel. I only record my own music, and that music involves synth, heavily processed electronic drums, and vocals. My goal is to improve the sound of my vocals.

I'm using the StudioProjects C1. My preamp is the Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro.

The vocal sound I want is the Thom Yorke (Radiohead) sound. I honestly can sing a lot like Thom, but in the recordings I'm finding that my vocals sound a bit too crisp, especially since I sing a lot of very high notes. I need that Thom Yorke warmth!

Okay, here's the catch: I have only about $500 to spend. But I'm only using one channel, so maybe the sound I want is within my reach.

This is were Kurt jumps in and says "go buy a Neve or a Great River preamp." Sorry Kurt, but I have to preempt that right now: if I do that, my wife leaves me forever. And she's the only one who really likes my music anyway, so it's just not worth it, my friend!

Seriously, any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

P.S. Maybe someone (Kurt?) will convince me that I should just save my money until I can afford something better. I'm willing to listen to that advice, but it would be great if you could let me know what item I should be saving for.

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Comments

AndreasBygdell Wed, 11/17/2004 - 10:51

$500 will only get you half way - you need a good mic as well as a good preamp. The Mackie preamps are useable at best but won't add the warmth and body you're after. Neither will your SP mic, though it's definitely a pretty good tool.

For a new mic you might wanna check out the Blue Baby Bottle - it has a lot of the warmth you want. It's a hit or miss mic, you either hate it or love it. I rather love it myself. It's within your budget as well.

This, of course, won't make your Mackie any better but, hey, it's a start!

inLoco Wed, 11/17/2004 - 11:52

you connect the mic to the mackie and then what?
how do you record?

with that kind of money you won't go that far...

do a little search on which mics and combinations thom uses, altough i don't see why u want to sound like him... why is sounding like someone a goal? the goal should be learn with our references and raising a notch...

but for the money i'd buy a good mic and save around 1k for a pre later on...
maybe thom uses one tube mic...

backinthelab Wed, 11/17/2004 - 15:33

Try one of the Focusrite/Blue combo packs available...That would probably be yor best bet. It's a Bluebird mic with, depending on the price, a Focusrite Platinum pre. A great combo for $900-1300. You definately won't get a sound you're happy with for $500.

michaeltk Wed, 11/17/2004 - 15:35

inLoco wrote: you connect the mic to the mackie and then what?
how do you record?

Right now I'm recording with a LynxTwo, which I love. However, I just posted the LynxTwo on eBay because I just don't need all of those channels. With the funds I get from selling the LynxTwo, I'm going to buy a soundcard like an Echo Mia or an M-Audio Audiophile. I know that these aren't fantastic soundcards (especially compared to the LynxTwo), but I think it would be smart to put the money toward a better mic or preamp instead. I never should have bought the LynxTwo in the first place; I should have bought a killer mic or preamp instead. Live and learn.

inLoco wrote: why is sounding like someone a goal? the goal should be learn with our references and raising a notch...

Great question! The reason is that, when I heard Thom's voice, I thought to myself "that is exactly what I've been trying to get my recordings to sound like!" Like I said earlier, Thom and I have similar voices to begin with. I'm just trying to get my recordings to sound better, and I think his recordings are a good reference point.

inLoco Wed, 11/17/2004 - 19:09

MAProTulz wrote: If you want to sound like Thom Yorke and you've only got $500, see if you can book a couple of hours at a local studio that has a U47 (or a Lawson L47 or a Soundelux 47 clone) and some fat sounding pres (API, Neve, Telefunken).

:lol: :P :twisted: :D

good one... why didn't i remember that... :)

michaeltk Wed, 11/17/2004 - 19:17

Thanks, but no thanks.

MAProTulz wrote: If you want to sound like Thom Yorke and you've only got $500, see if you can book a couple of hours at a local studio that has a U47 (or a Lawson L47 or a Soundelux 47 clone) and some fat sounding pres (API, Neve, Telefunken).

Thanks for the comment, but I'm really not interested in booking studio time. I do get your point that professional musicians use top-notch equipment that is way out of the average hobbiest's monetary reach. However, (a) everyone already knows that, and (b) my original post concerned buying equipment, not paying to rent someone else's. Thus, your rather sarcastic advice isn't helping the discussion.

So how about some helpful advice on how I can *improve* or warm up my sound with the cash I actually have? As I said earlier, I also appreciate advice on whether I should instead save my cash for an item that is currently somewhat out of my price range.

So far, I'm most persuaded by maintiger's advice that I save up for a single-channel Sebatron. Does anyone else have thoughts about that advice?

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Big_D Wed, 11/17/2004 - 20:16

I totally agree with Maintiger and is what I would suggest also. You can get the sound you want and alot more from the Sebatron. The tubes will give you the warmth and grit your looking for.

I don't want to speak for Kurt, but I'm pretty sure this is the answer he would have given you also.

JeffreyMajeau Thu, 11/18/2004 - 07:34

Re: Thanks, but no thanks.

michaeltk wrote: Thanks for the comment, but I'm really not interested in booking studio time. I do get your point that professional musicians use top-notch equipment that is way out of the average hobbiest's monetary reach. However, (a) everyone already knows that, and (b) my original post concerned buying equipment, not paying to rent someone else's. Thus, your rather sarcastic advice isn't helping the discussion.

So how about some helpful advice on how I can *improve* or warm up my sound with the cash I actually have? As I said earlier, I also appreciate advice on whether I should instead save my cash for an item that is currently somewhat out of my price range.

Sarcastic? I wasn't being sarcastic. Throwing money at mid-level gear probably isn't going to give you the results you want. You need a better mic and a better preamp. It'd be cheaper for you at this stage to go book some studio time and work with the gear that'll give you the results you want.

I have a Studio Projects C1 and it's not a warm sounding mic. No preamp will change the fact that it's rather edgy. You might be able to get close to what you want with an Audio Technica 4047 and a better pre (I do really like the Sebatron when I've used it).

"Size" and "Warmth" is imparted by a couple of things in the signal path. Try a tube preamp, but you may find that a solid state preamp with transformers will saturate and sound "big". Try a Vintech or a Great River Mercenary edition as well as the Sebatron.

FWIW, I haven't found tubes to really be essential to getting things to sound big, round, fat, warm, etc.

Dan Roth
Otitis Media

michaeltk Thu, 11/18/2004 - 07:41

Re: Thanks, but no thanks.

MAProTulz wrote: You might be able to get close to what you want with an Audio Technica 4047 and a better pre (I do really like the Sebatron when I've used it).

"Size" and "Warmth" is imparted by a couple of things in the signal path. Try a tube preamp, but you may find that a solid state preamp with transformers will saturate and sound "big". Try a Vintech or a Great River Mercenary edition as well as the Sebatron.

Thanks, Dan. I will look into those options as well. Does anyone have any opinion about whether the Focusrite Red stereo preamp would be a good choice for the sound I'm looking for? I realize the Reds are out of my current budget, but I've decided to save up instead of buying something right now.

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AudioGaff Thu, 11/18/2004 - 08:38

The Focusrite Red (Red-7) is my usual first choice for an inbetween colored and non colored all around mic pre. Not always the perfect or final choice, but my usual starting point. I don't recall that I've ever found it sterile sounding. Which just goes to show how subjective using great gear can still be...

Thomaster Thu, 11/18/2004 - 10:30

how about posting an example of your recordings on here?
perhaps some of us can give you some good advice on how to mix your stuff better or how to make it at least sound at it's best with what you have already got now.

i mean, buying expensive gear won't give you instant great results.. maybe we can tell if you're doing something wrong, or could do a little better.
and no, im not implying you ARE doing something wrong, it might just be helpful to you to post a sample and let us give our opinions!
:D 8-)

michaeltk Thu, 11/18/2004 - 17:17

Thomaster wrote: how about posting an example of your recordings on here?
perhaps some of us can give you some good advice on how to mix your stuff better or how to make it at least sound at it's best with what you have already got now.

Great idea! Here's a link to an .mp3 that should give you a good idea of what I'm doing. This one is not too Thom Yorkish until you get to 1:30 into the song. Here goes:

http://www.ludditeskc.com/media/Colony.mp3

and here's another one:

http://www.ludditeskc.com/media/Breathe.mp3

Remember that all the synths and drums are created in the computer. It's the sound of the vocals that I'm trying to improve.

Thanks for listening.

boheme6 Thu, 11/18/2004 - 21:07

Hey - I like what you've done!
In my opinion - you've already got the most important part.. a good singing voice!

It's hard for me to hear right now - listening on a crappy laptop's speakers.. but it sounds pretty good for what you've got. I like what you're using to process your voice (nice choice of reverb).. on the first track, it didn't sound doubled.. which would help (perhaps it was just mixed low.. and again - crappy speakers here)

Grab a new mic.. try some of the commonly mentioned favorites. I can't speak for some of the other ones - but I did recently get a Rode K2 and absolutely love it so far. My voice kinda sucks, but I'll have some new stuff done soon to post some clips. It's not shrill or fizzy like some other cheap mics.

Grab a new mic preamp.. for the money - it sounds like the Sebatron is the best bargain - everyone seems to love them, and they're very reasonably priced. I went for the Vintech - very happy with it so far.

With your voice - it shouldn't be that hard to make it sound great.
"-)

Bhennies Fri, 11/19/2004 - 10:26

don't sell the lynx. That's a dangerous path to go down; buying and selling gear to get other gear that you think is essential at the time. Down the road, you're gonna need it all.

If you can't make rent, or you NEVER use a piece of gear, then that's reason to sell, but other than those reasons, try to keep what you can.

p.s. as far as the recordings go (I just listened to breathe), maybe try wiping some of that reverb on the vocal. Good voice though.

x