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Is SM7B a good choice for this artist?

Hi guys!

I have a client that I have been struggling with finding the correct mic for. He has a really sharp s sound so any of my condensers where out of the question the minute I heard his rap vocals. Here is an example of a song he recorded using an AKG c3000 and I mixed and mastered. (he is the fist rapper)
 


As you probably hear the c3000 is way to harsh even after I mixed it and when he came to my studio to record I tried different mics (Sennheiser mk4, oktava ml-52 and sm58) but ended up using a 421 on his vocals. Here is a song we recorded that day

https://soundcloud…

I was still not satisfied with the mic but it was the best I had for his voice.

He is a returning customer so I started researching for a new mic and came up with the SM7B but would like to know if there is another alternative you guys would suggest or if I should pull the trigger on it?

Thanks!

Comments

DonnyThompson Fri, 09/01/2017 - 03:34
Nutti, post: 452410, member: 45298 wrote: Yeah I've looked at the re20 too but to have the filter and presance boost on the sm7b feels like it would be more useful on different sources then the re20, don't you think?
Both are great dynamic mics. Either would suit the situation - but you're gonna need a preamp with sufficient gain for them to be at their optimum - especially the SM7, which is a low output mic. If your pre lacks sufficient gain, you could always get an in-line preamp or "gain booster", something like a Cloudlifter, which taps into the phantom power on your current pre and converts that voltage to additional gain, up to +20 db or so.
The good thing about a nice dynamic is that it will be far less sensitive in picking up the sound of the room you are tracking in, as opposed to a condenser which is more sensitive to that.
Although, if you are trying to reign in upper frequencies, I'm not sure why you would want the presence boost. If you wanted the presence hype, you could always switch back to a condenser that has that bump on the 2-4K region inherently.
The RE20 is also a great dynamic, a "variable D" type, and is known for having a very "even" bass proximity effect.
Also, Keep in mind that the type and quality of your preamp will factor in sonically as well. Cheaper pre amps can start to sound harsh and brittle as you gain them up.
FWIW
-d.

Boswell Fri, 09/01/2017 - 03:36
Nutti, post: 452410, member: 45298 wrote: Yeah I've looked at the re20 too but to have the filter and presance boost on the sm7b feels like it would be more useful on different sources then the re20, don't you think?
Well, that comes back to the quality of the voice again. Matching microphones + pre-amps to individual voices is a skill that is only learnt by trying out lots of combinations and noting the ones that work well. It's easy to note down a mic and pre-amp type, but how do you quantify a voice?

DonnyThompson Fri, 09/01/2017 - 04:34
Boswell, post: 452413, member: 29034 wrote: Well, that comes back to the quality of the voice again. Matching microphones + pre-amps to individual voices is a skill that is only learnt by trying out lots of combinations and noting the ones that work well. It's easy to note down a mic and pre-amp type, but how do you quantify a voice?
+1. Bos nails it once again.
There is no "end all -be all" mic that will be guaranteed to work great with everyone or everything. There's a reason that pro studios have mic lockers with all kinds of models and types to choose from.
What sounds great on one artist for one song won't necessarily work as well for another artist, or, for that matter, even for the same artist on a different song.
There are some great all round mics - Shure SM57's/58's, AKG 414's, EVRE20's, and others that sound good no matter what you throw at them.. but it's the nuances that differ, from mic to mic ... from pre to pre...and from source to source.
And those nuances can make the difference between a "good" sounding track - and a great sounding track.
I have no experience with the AKG C3000. Maybe it's bright (or even "harsh" ) by nature? I know from personal experience that the AKGC1000-S was very unpleasant in the top end. Years ago, I used a few 1000's on a project at a friend's studio, for drum overheads, acoustic guitars, mandolin...and I was never really happy with the harsh upper frequencies.
I'm not saying that the C3000 has the same inherent qualities, but there are some cheap condensers that have reasons as to why they are so cheap.
What preamp are you using? Do you have several to choose from, or just one Pre/i-o?
Is your tracking environment acoustically treated? If so, what treatment are you using?

Nutti Fri, 09/01/2017 - 06:00
Yes I understand about expanding miclocker and that is why I figured the sm7b would give me a little bit more on different voices/sources with the presence boost and lowcut maybe getting it more "finnished" at the source rather than post eq.
I own a small project studio and have a small miclocker with a few sm57 and sm58, oktava ml52 ribbon, 2x c3000, beta52, d112, sennheiser mk4 and 421 and a few crap behringer condensers so it's not alot and that is why I try to research as much as possible and since I've seen what chep condensers do but I don't have the money to get a highend condenser that is why I research the dynamic area while having my clients in the back pf my mind so I can get the most bang for the buck.

I am using 3 presonus studio project as interfaces and I have one art tps2 with the tungsol tube in and one joe meek threeq. I was thinking that by using 2 preamps in chain I would get enough gain for sm7b while saving up for a golden age project mk3.

Davedog Fri, 09/01/2017 - 06:49
What happens with two pres in parallel is you wind up amplifying the noise of the first preamp when trying to get the gain stage you need for a mic like the SM7B. If you feel the SM7B is the direction you need to go, and I ,for one, would never argue anyone out of that mic choice, You simply need to include a Cloudlifter as part of your purchase. It will increase the purchase price of the SM7B but it will also increase by double the effectiveness of this mic with preamps like you are using at this point. and it's WAY cheaper than purchasing a high-end pre with a solid 70db's of clean and quiet gain.

Which is THE key to getting your gain staging where you need it for quality captures. The cloudlifter will also increase the usefulness of ALL your current mic locker. It will be a surprise as to how much better your "crap behringer condensers" will sound with this device.

DonnyThompson Fri, 09/01/2017 - 07:31
Cathedral Pipes makes an inline pre similar to the Cloudlifter. It's called the Durham. It is less expensive than the CL, but I've never personally used it. I do know that Cathedral Pipes has a stellar reputation as a microphone manufacturer. I don't know that you would find their stuff in typical music stores, though, retailers like GC and Sam Ash probably don't carry CP gear as a matter of common course.
You'd have to visit their website to find out the best way to purchase their gear.
FWIW
-d.

Davedog Fri, 09/01/2017 - 13:34
DonnyThompson, post: 452421, member: 46114 wrote: Cathedral Pipes makes an inline pre similar to the Cloudlifter. It's called the Durham. It is less expensive than the CL, but I've never personally used it. I do know that Cathedral Pipes has a stellar reputation as a microphone manufacturer. I don't know that you would find their stuff in typical music stores, though, retailers like GC and Sam Ash probably don't carry CP gear as a matter of common course.
You'd have to visit their website to find out the best way to purchase their gear.
FWIW
-d.

Online or buy from one of the few reps out there. Most of them are producers like myself who are hip to Charles' magic touch with gear. I have two of the mics and likely will have another early next year..a St.Jean Baptiste...to go with my Seville ribbon and my one-off U67 clone he built. I certainly do recommend a Durham to anyone needing such a thing.

Nutti Fri, 09/01/2017 - 21:33
DonnyThompson, post: 452421, member: 46114 wrote: Cathedral Pipes makes an inline pre similar to the Cloudlifter. It's called the Durham. It is less expensive than the CL, but I've never personally used it. I do know that Cathedral Pipes has a stellar reputation as a microphone manufacturer. I don't know that you would find their stuff in typical music stores, though, retailers like GC and Sam Ash probably don't carry CP gear as a matter of common course.
You'd have to visit their website to find out the best way to purchase their gear.
FWIW
-d.

I checked their website and tried to order one but I couldn't get the shipping rates to my adress so I'm gonna hit the with an email to see what the shipping would be.

Btw, I live in Finland so it might be the same price when shipping and taxes are inclueded.

DonnyThompson Sat, 09/02/2017 - 05:13
dvdhawk, post: 452433, member: 36047 wrote: DonnyThompson, did you ever feel like the SM7b you're using on the OASIS project needs excessive gain? It certainly needs a little gain, but it never seemed to me like it would be unusable through anything half-decent.
I wouldn't call it "excessive" gain. And I haven't heard any issues on this project, although the two times I used it to record vocal tracks we were using the ADK pre with a Lundhal 1538, and there was plenty of gain recording that way.
I have used the SM7 in the past at other home studios where the main pre/Io was a Tascam, Behringer, Focusrite, and did need to crank the gain on those to get a decent signal, but in doing that with cheaper preamps you're also risking quite a bit of noise when you gain them up to that extent.
One of these scenarios is where I first used a Cloudlifter, the guy had one still unopened on a shelf, I told him to open the package and we would use it. The difference was very noticeable; fantastic headroom and the mic came to life.
Lol as a side note, he didn't even know what the CL did. He'd bought it because a salesperson suggested it when he bought his SM7, but he'd never used it... never even opened it.

Nutti Wed, 09/13/2017 - 06:49
I found this little badboy on ebay in england and got it in just 5 days! Tried it with my oktava ribbon mic on acoustic guitar today and it works great. Still waiting for the sm7b to arrive from Thomann but they are rearranging warehouses I think so there is a delay in delivery.
Attached files

DonnyThompson Wed, 09/13/2017 - 07:33
Nutti, post: 452714, member: 45298 wrote: I found this little badboy on ebay in england and got it in just 5 days! Tried it with my oktava ribbon mic on acoustic guitar today and it works great. Still waiting for the sm7b to arrive from Thomann but they are rearranging warehouses I think so there is a delay in delivery.
Assuming it's an inline pre/booster?

Boswell Wed, 09/13/2017 - 08:59
Nutti, post: 452714, member: 45298 wrote: I found this little badboy on ebay in england and got it in just 5 days! Tried it with my oktava ribbon mic on acoustic guitar today and it works great. Still waiting for the sm7b to arrive from Thomann but they are rearranging warehouses I think so there is a delay in delivery.
Remember to activate the polarity switch on your interface or pre-amp when using the Marti booster, since it inverts.

numero6 Tue, 09/19/2017 - 09:25
Intuitively I would suggest a different approach that would get better results with a similar investment: Upgrade your interface to a Babyface RME or an Audient and just use your SM57 for this singer. It has been my personal experience, I kept getting some new gitzmos with no success and saw the light when I got a better interface/preamp.

Nutti Tue, 09/19/2017 - 12:43
I already ordered the mic and it should arrive this week, but yes preamps are the next I plan on upgrading. Now I go with the philosophie to start at the chain with the mic, next preamps. I have presonus firestudio project as interface and from what I've read the should be pretty decent but with no personal reference with trying out different interfaces I can not really say.

Last time I recorded this artist I tackled the S problems with lowering impedence on the external preamp that I used and then I used VTM from slate digital to overdrive the highs to tame the S sounds and it actually worked surpricingly good. Hoping to get better results with the sm7b but if not, atleast I know it's probably not the wrong mic for his voice.

Nutti Thu, 09/21/2017 - 01:54
Yes the next thing I'll buy is a decent preamp. I have art tps2 and joe meek threeq so I was hoping that the marti booster in conjunction with any of these would work with the sm7b until I can afford a new preamp. But as a small project studio with just a few customers/year it takes me a while to get cash. I have already said (here at home) that I won't spend anymore of my own money since there is almost no demand for a studio where I live.

DonnyThompson Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:08
Getting a good preamp with beefy gain will make a big difference in how your mic sounds. The advantages are numerous; in no particular order...having more gain to work with makes a big difference with mics that are inherently low in output - the SM7 certainly falls into this category, as do many ribbons. If you can afford it, look at models that will supply at least 65 db of gain... 70db would be even better. The more gain you have available, the less you'll have to turn the pre up to get the mic to a level where it's working at its optimum. The more you gain up a pre - particularly cheaper ones, the greater the chance of introducing noise from the internal electronics. You'll find this to be less of an issue with nicer preamps because they are built better, using higher quality components - still, if you don't have to gain up to max levels to get optimum levels, the better off you'll be.
(Side note... You can get pleasing sonic results by "driving" a (nice) pre, but for now I'll just reference gain as a quality issue for lower output mics)
Also, look to preamps that offer impedance control. Often you won't hear a noticeable difference between the settings, but sometimes you can, depending on the mic being used.
Certain preamps have "color" to them - and this isn't just with tube based preamps either, transformer based pres also offer a certain sonic character as well, with different character determined by the type of transformer used. For example, the Focusrite ISA One uses a Lundhal 1538 XFO,and it's a beautiful sounding XFO.
Other high end pres are transformer-less and tube-less; Grace AND Millennia are examples of these types of preamps, and a lot of people prefer to go with these types because they prefer a more transparent signal path, and then they can decide what type(s) of "character" to add afterwards, by using certain plugs, or by re-amping through a certain external analog piece.
FWIW, both Millennia and Grace preamps are very healthy when it comes to gain. I'd have to check, but I seem to remember them offering 70db. If memory serves correct, I think the Grace offers a continuous 65db, but also has a "ribbon" switch that adds another +8db (?) when engaged.
Here's the rub though...most hi end preamps don't offer built-in digital conversion, so if you did go with something like a Millennia, Grace, or Neve Portico, you would still need a nice converter. The Focusrite ISA does offer the option of built in conversion, but you'll pay extra for it.
FWIW

Nutti Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:59
Yes I've been looking at the golden age project pre-73 mk3 for the sm7, it has 80db gain and switchable impedence and is also a colorful preamp from what I've read.

The focusrite isa one also seems to be at an affordable price but I have to research if these have been compared and what people think of them. This is what sucks living in the middle of nowhere when you can't just visit a store and listen to stuff for your self.

DonnyThompson Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:31
The Focusrite ISA is a great preamp. I've used it a few times at several studios I've worked at as a hired gun cooker, I think it's a wonderful sounding preamp. It's an XFO (transformer) based pre, which uses the Lundhal 1538 XFO, which was the exact XFO used in the mic preamps of the legendary Focusrite 110A mic pre and EQ designed by Rupert Neve for George Martin. The console which was eventually built around the 110A pre/EQ became the now legendary Focusrite Studio Console - of which only 10 were ever made and only a few remain in use...one is at Ocean Way (formerly Western Recorders) in Santa Monica, and there is still one in use at a studio in Japan, but there aren't many left. The pre in the ISA is the one used in those consoles.
Our fellow RO member Marco (pcrecord ) has the ISA One pre - as far as I know he still has it - and he would be the guy to give you a better description of its performance and character. Marco has done some really cool vids, perhaps one of these days we could get him to do a video on the ISA...
(cough cough hint hint)
;)
If you're interested, here's a cool video about the 110 pre and the Focusrite Studio Console:

pcrecord Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:51
DonnyThompson, post: 452883, member: 46114 wrote: Our fellow RO member Marco (pcrecord ) has the ISA One pre - as far as I know he still has it - and he would be the guy to give you a better description of its performance and character. Marco has done some really cool vids, perhaps one of these days we could get him to do a video on the ISA...
(cough cough hint hint)
Compared to the pre-73, the ISA is more on the clean side but not steril. I have 8 ISA preamps, the 428 and 2x ISA TWO.
But clean isn't a problem. it's easier to record clean and add colors ITB. But the other way around isn't possible.
They all sound the same even do I bought them at different times. This shows how good the built and quality control is.
I don't know at what level of gain the pre-73 starts to be noisy but the ISAs are extreemly quiet.
I've done classical guitar with a lite player and we heard his body noises but no electric noises.
If anyone have a pre-73 I can borrow, I'd be glad to compare them side by side..
I guess at some point in my next videos I would have to make a video about preamps and compare those I have..
I'm starting a serie called Back to basic which should be interesting. (ear training, EQ, Comp etc... )

DonnyThompson Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:30
I would think it would sound great paired with the SM7, or for that matter, any other mic you'd connect to it. The first time I heard a $90 SM57 through it, I was blown away. ;)
Based on my own experience with the ISA, I can confidently say that you won't regret buying it. You may want to consider the digital I-O option for it though ... if you don't, you'll have to get the signal converted another way, and using your existing I/O for this purpose might very well degrade the sound, unless you happen to have a pre/i-o that allows you to bypass its preamp section by using the line in's.
That being said, if you already own a nice stand alone converter, you'll be good to go. If not, get the I-O card option.
Anyway...Food for thought.
;)
-d.

DonnyThompson Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:35
My experience with the ISA, I didn't consider it "pristine" or completely transparent... not like I would consider a Grace to be. It's got "something" there, its own vibe. The color is so subtle, so slight, but the color that is there is also really pleasing. It's also not the least bit "thin" sounding. It's got weight, fullness, it sounds "big"...At least to my ears, any time I ever used one.
I don't know if it's the Lundhal XFO, or the power supply, or just the overall build in total.
Marco might be able to elaborate.
(pcrecord ).

Nutti Tue, 09/26/2017 - 06:12
I finally got the mic and I love it already! I think it was a huuuuge upgrade for my studio. The bass rolloff just works wonders when I tested it on my own voice and it sounds so natural compared to my other microphones. Gain is about halfway when I used it with the marty booster into my art preamp.
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