I Can't Even Use my own gear! Pre, comp, mic

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Noelb, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. Noelb

    Noelb Guest


    I'm a composer and I need to record simple demos in my home studio. I've got good enough gear to do that and I get pleasing results on my vocals during low volume takes. But during louder and higher passages, esp. for females, I just keep getting so much distortion.

    I know the problem is that I can't set my gear properly, so I need your help.

    I have a Rode NTK mic, a Summit 2BA-221 preamp and a Summit TLA-50 preamp.

    Can anyone give me some genaral rules on how to set my amp and comp in order to get the best possbible results. Most of my songs tend to have both very soft and very loud passages, and hopefully I won't have to change settings along the way as I am doing now.

  2. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    A few options to get you started.

    1. Record two channels from the same microphone at different recording levels. Run the pre-amp into a mixer, and use two sends from the mixer to your audio interface. Adjust one to peak at -6dB during soft section and the other to peak at -18 or so in the same section. If you clip the -6dB channel you will have the -18dB.

    2. You can also use your compressor while tracking.

    3. If you have a low enough noise floor you should be able to adjust for the loud section and compress when you mix.

    4. Record at a studio.
  3. Noelb

    Noelb Guest

    OK, perhaps I should rephrase.

    Forget about going from low to high passages. I can't get ANY loud passages to record without distortion, unless I ask the singer to step back like 3 feet. And I do use a lot of compression on top of that.

    What I'm looking for are some guidelines on setting all the buttons on the preamp and the compressor.

    My 2BA-221 pre has mic gain, pad, and output level. My TLA-50 has fast-med-slow attack toggle switch, compression level and output level. I really need help setting those.
  4. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    The simple answer is if it clips, turn the gain down, but I'm sure you could figure that out, so I'll take a stab at answering the underlying question.

    Not knowing the sound you are going for these are pretty blind recommendations, but should be a good place to start for a clean tone.

    The Rode NTK has a max SPL level of 158dB, but that is at 5% harmonic distortion which is really quite high. I would recommend about a foot distance in a partially treated room.

    On the Summit 2BA-221:
    Tube output so the yellow is coming on at loud parts.
    Mic gain to make your loud peaks on your DAW at -6dB (If you can adjust this on your audio interface, then it may be better to run this high, and the gain on the audio interface low. What do you have for an audio interface?)
    Mic Ohms at 200 for the NTK (about 9 o'clock)
    High pass start at 20Hz and bring it up until you hear an impact to the tone, then bring it back a notch or two.
  5. Noelb

    Noelb Guest

    Thanks, I'll try those. My interface is an E-mu 0404USB. Not the best, I know, but that can't be the problem for the distortion, In think.

    Also, I'm going to change a lot of my wiring. I noticed that some are blanced, others not, whereas my whole setup (pre-amp, mixer and Interface) can handle balanced. The balanced and unbalaced run at different outputs (+4/-10), so I've probably got that all wrong).
  6. Noelb

    Noelb Guest

    FIXED! I was running the mic gain too high. Seems that I was introducing distortion in the very early stage that way, so the compressor was of no use since it was attenuating and already distorted signal.

    The NTK mic seems to have a very high output signal, since I have to keep the gain on the Summit pre at a very low level. I'm close to 7 o'clock position!

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