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Need vocal mic advice for tenor (progressive rock)

Hello all. I'm new here and would appreciate any professional advice.

I'm a Tenor vocalist most recently with the progressive rock group, Stride. I've got an individual who has decided to fund some equipment for a new album I'm working on, and considering I'm going to need a couple of good preamps, and AD/DA, it's got my budget a little tight.

I've recorded in studios for years and have used many of the top flight mics. Strangely enough one of my better sounds (or so I thought) was from a Groove Tube GT67. I liked it since my high register can be a little shrill at times, and it seemed to have a nice warmth and fatness that helped, but wasn't quite up to par... However, My last session with the Neuman U87ai really did a fantastic job warming my voice up. So here's the question...

I can afford to buy the 87, but it really constrains my budget. Can anybody make some suggestions for a mic that can give a sometimes shrill and brassy tenor vocalist good quality warmth for around $1000.00?

I've looked at a lot of them and want to make this purchase really count. Problem is that I'm not finding that crisp and warm sound that my voice needs aside from the 87.

Below is a couple of link to a few of my songs with Stride. Hopefully it will give an idea of the voice for reference. Thanks in advance.

Comments

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Sun, 08/07/2016 - 15:34

The nueman tlm-102 is a warmer mic than the 87, and much cheaper, we have both at the studio.

You should check out peluso, and cathedral pipes for their takes on nueman. They're handmade top notch, and more affordable. No compromise.

If you like the groove tubes for your voice best, why not get one? Vocal mics are one of the few things were high price doesn't mean better. Each voice is so unique. An amazing amount of comercial recordings were done using sure stage mics. So if the shoe fits just wear it. Price doesn't matter w vocal mics.

The mojave m-300 is a good choice.

Akg 414xls is never a bad choice and killer for the price.

You may want to try a sure sm-7. Through a neve style pre amp. You'll get great warmth from the proximity effect, and a solid top end, especially for the high pitch parts. Don't sleep on those mics

Profile picture for user Gary Belin
Member for
4 years 10 months

Gary Belin Sun, 08/07/2016 - 16:01

Thanks for the reply. Kmetal. I'm not sleeping on the Groove Tube at all. Did think it was a good mic for the price, but didn't compare to the Neuman. At least for my voice.

I'll definitely check out the mics you mentioned. Lots of work to do.

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Sun, 08/07/2016 - 16:54

Gary Belin, post: 440402, member: 49946 wrote: Thanks for the reply. Kmetal. I'm not sleeping on the Groove Tube at all. Did think it was a good mic for the price, but didn't compare to the Neuman. At least for my voice.

I'll definitely check out the mics you mentioned. Lots of work to do.

Cool Gary keep us posted!

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Mon, 08/08/2016 - 04:30

Many years ago I had a similar problem with a male singer who came in with a high voice that went shrill when loud. To choose a mic, I did tests using half a dozen different ones, all tracked through an API 3124+ into an HD24XR. After I had done a small amount of EQ work on each track to try to present each mic in its best light, I presented him with the results to listen to in a random order.

He picked the Beyer M500 vocal ribbon as one that tamed his shrillness the best. I had only included it as something that sounded different from the others, which were moving-coil dynamics and condensers. The Shure Beta57A dynamic came second. It was interesting that he didn't like the way any of the condensers behaved with his voice in the louder sections, but then I didn't have a U87 at the time.

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Mon, 08/08/2016 - 08:22

There's also the possibility of using two mics at once. Some mic technique would come into play but you could record something bright and detailed for general and also something more dark for the shrill parts. It might take some doctoring w editing but it's always a possibility. Maybe not first choice but an option none the less.

Profile picture for user bouldersound
Member for
11 years 5 months

bouldersound Mon, 08/08/2016 - 11:07

I can vouch for Peluso (I used a 22 251), Beyerdynamic M500 (awesome for many things), Beta57 (I have a non-A) and frequency dependent compression (contingent on the user's skill) as potentially good things. For shrill and brassy also consider the Sennheiser MD421 and the Electro Voice RE20.

Profile picture for user Gary Belin
Member for
4 years 10 months

Gary Belin Mon, 08/08/2016 - 15:43

Sean G, post: 440405, member: 49362 wrote: Why don't you just hire the U87?

Problem solved.

Sean, at this point I'm leaning toward the U87, but was hoping to find a mic in the $1000.00 range so I could spend more money on Pre's. Read a little about the Mike Joly stuff, but it sounds to good to be true.

Profile picture for user Gary Belin
Member for
4 years 10 months

Gary Belin Mon, 08/08/2016 - 15:59

Boswell, post: 440422, member: 29034 wrote: Many years ago I had a similar problem with a male singer who came in with a high voice that went shrill when loud. To choose a mic, I did tests using half a dozen different ones, all tracked through an API 3124+ into an HD24XR. After I had done a small amount of EQ work on each track to try to present each mic in its best light, I presented him with the results to listen to in a random order.

He picked the Beyer M500 vocal ribbon as one that tamed his shrillness the best. I had only included it as something that sounded different from the others, which were moving-coil dynamics and condensers. The Shure Beta57A dynamic came second. It was interesting that he didn't like the way any of the condensers behaved with his voice in the louder sections, but then I didn't have a U87 at the time.

Boswell, I really have considered looking at some Ribbon mics. I'm just a little concerned about the loss of breath and detail in some of the songs I've got. At the same time the material is more 70's classic rock than the examples/links I posted above. I haven't used a ribbon in years, but I do remember them being more silky sounding than a high line condenser.

I will certainly research the mic you listed, but can you shed a little more light on the ribbons? As I mentioned above, it's been years since I've used one in the studio.

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Mon, 08/08/2016 - 16:25

Gary Belin, post: 440434, member: 49946 wrote: Sean, at this point I'm leaning toward the U87, but was hoping to find a mic in the $1000.00 range so I could spend more money on Pre's. Read a little about the Mike Joly stuff, but it sounds to good to be true.

The tlm 102 sounds way better than it should for the price. It really can hang with or outshine the 87. It's warmer and a bit less open than an 87. It might be the best balance of detail warmth and sensitivity of the whole pack. IMHO

Profile picture for user pcrecord
Member for
8 years 4 months

pcrecord Tue, 08/09/2016 - 07:06

kmetal, post: 440436, member: 37533 wrote: The tlm 102 sounds way better than it should for the price. It really can hang with or outshine the 87. It's warmer and a bit less open than an 87. It might be the best balance of detail warmth and sensitivity of the whole pack. IMHO

Interesting! How would you compare it to a 414 ?

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Tue, 08/09/2016 - 07:38

pcrecord, post: 440440, member: 46460 wrote: Interesting! How would you compare it to a 414 ?

Fuller bottom, w a slight mid scoop, and a hair less top (air) detail. For a workhorse for all around the 414 wins. For generalized lead vocals the 102 probably would be first try w the 414 for vocals.

The tlm 103 is both crappy and more expensive. No good. Fwiw

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Tue, 08/09/2016 - 09:55

Gary Belin, post: 440435, member: 49946 wrote: Boswell, I really have considered looking at some Ribbon mics. I'm just a little concerned about the loss of breath and detail in some of the songs I've got. At the same time the material is more 70's classic rock than the examples/links I posted above. I haven't used a ribbon in years, but I do remember them being more silky sounding than a high line condenser.

I will certainly research the mic you listed, but can you shed a little more light on the ribbons? As I mentioned above, it's been years since I've used one in the studio.

Bear in mind that in the setup to choose a suitable mic for the high, shrill (when loud) male vocalist, I deliberately kept the API pre-amp the same for all the mics, and didn't swap other pre-amps in. I would not normally consider putting the Beyer M500 through an API, fearing the result would be too dull. However, in his case, the lack of harsh top end was exactly what he was looking for, and his concentration was in that area rather than whether the lower-level utterances had the necessary silkiness.

My point is really that you can't choose a microphone on its own without considering what type of pre-amplifier to use with it. The microphone and pre-amp together become one composite item delivering a line-level output signal of a defined character to the A-D converter. This character depends not only on the individual features of the two items, but, crucially, how they interact. It's this interaction that often forms the "magic" in a recorded track.

Marco (pcrecord) has been talking about one aspect of mic/pre-amp interaction recently in the "T47 DIY mic kit" thread, and that is the effect of varying the input load resistance of the pre-amp. Varying this will not only change the damping of the mic output, but can also change the character of a transformer-output microphone by taking the transfomer core to different levels of saturation.

I realise that we're into detailed levels of microphone/pre-amp performance here, but it may be what you are looking for to help you decide which route to take.

Profile picture for user Shannon Adkins
Member for
10 years 4 months

Shannon Adkins Wed, 01/03/2018 - 06:03

I just recently did a rock vocal with a WA87 going into a Vintech 573, driven to the point where you can hear a little harmonic distortion. Really smoothed out the upper registers. Compression was all in the digital domain... 2 of the Waves 1176 emulations (can't remember what they call it) back to back, each taking off around 3db at the most. I believe there was also a side chain compressor working as dynamic eq, somewhere around 4k.
The plugins did help, but the low mid heft that the WA87 and Vintech brought to the table made the most difference.

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