Mixing mics for vocals?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by NCdan, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    So, I've been recording long enough at this point to realize the pros and cons of dynamic and condenser mics. Perhaps the most frustrating thing to me is recording vocals: I really like the sound of a condenser, but I just do not have the money to drop on a condenser mic that actually works well for vocals. So, I was thinking that I might double mic the vocals the next time I record, using a sm58 and an AT2020. I know the AT2020 is cheap, but I actually really like it for bright guitars, especially for a lead guitar. I was thinking that I would record the same take with both mics, and then give the sm58 most of the vocal track and just bring up the AT2020 enough to give some air to the vocal track. It sounds like a good idea to me at least. :D Has anyone tried this? My reason for this is that dynamic mics just sound a bit dead to my ears. My lack of a good preamp probably has a lot to do with it, but since I'm a broke college student at the moment, I can't just go out and buy a Great River preamp (I already dropped way too much money on a nice guitar, tube amp, and electronic drum kit). Mixing a bit of condenser in with the dynamic sounds good in my head... :D
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Give it a try and let your ears be your guide. You've got nothing to lose.

    I'd take note of distance & position, for two reasons. First, I might be wrong, but I think if there's much difference in distance from the source to the 2 mics you won't like the phasing that is likely to happen when the signals are combined. Secondly, incase you get something you want to recreate next time.

    It's not an uncommon practice to mic instruments using two mics at different distances to give the instrument some ambience. But that's not the effect you would ordinarily want with vocals.
  3. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Yeah, I usually double mic my 1x12 guitar cabinet. But, those are paned crazy, of course. For the vocals I was going to keep the panning the same on both, and just add a little condenser to the mix.
  4. StephenMC

    StephenMC Member

    Dec 10, 2007
    If it sounds better, do it.

    And corrected. I'm glad I read these forums a lot.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I would say trying to physically discover where the actual diaphragm is on both microphones. They're not exactly at the very front of the screen. Trying to position them in the same plane & the same distance from your vocalist.

    I will tell you that I believe your complaint is unfounded. SM57/58 is not a dead sounding microphone. It is a microphone with no low-cut filter to compensate for proximity effect. Yeah, muddy as hell. That's because you're supposed to engage the high pass filter or roll a little bit of the low frequencies off below 100 hertz. And you don't need the condenser microphone for the high frequency enhancement. Give yourself a little rise of shelf filtering at 12kHz. Not too much mind you. Really, I'm serious, if you were making live recordings or live network television broadcasts, a single SM58 would be all that you could be using. And with that single microphone, he would have a great and classic sound. So you are Speakeasy from improper gain staging, bad monitoring, and proper equalization, in short, no technique. There is nothing wrong with your equipment and the way it sounds. But there is something wrong with the engineer and his knowledge & technique.

    If perchance the vocalist you are trying to record is a sexy little girl with that wonderfully breathy, I need to procreate now sound, you might just want a single small diaphragm condenser microphone for her? Just be careful and make sure that she does not put that microphone anywhere else that could be considered unhygienic? That is unless she has used some George Massengil preamps before?? Then you'll have clean fresh vocals and you'll be able to avoid overshoot.

    You have to learn how to make great recordings on crap equipment before you can learn how to make bad recordings on the best equipment.

    Some folks know I go both ways.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    You can't double-mic vocals and expect to get a good blended result. The higher frequencies (exactly the "air" that you are striving for) will be ruined by phasing effects at the two microphones due to the short wavelengths at these frequencies.

    There are exceptions to not using two microphones for vocals: (1) ambiance miking, where the second mic is some way back and used for capturing spatial sounds excited by the vocals and (2) stereo mics, including M-S technique. In M-S the second mic is a figure-8 and positioned next to the cardioid vocal mic but at right angles to it. Use of M-S decoding to generate a stereo result whose width can be varied by adjusting the level of the S channel can give vocals a stunning quality. The downside is that the vocalist needs to learn to keep still during delivery, and this is too much for some. Some of the most striking solo vocal recordings I have ever done were with an SM58 or Beta58A as the cardioid/hypercardioid main and a Rode NT2-A in fig-8.
  7. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Not to argue here, but I'm well aware of high pass filters and EQing. Been there, done that. The result is that the microphone just sounds... dead; there isn't another way to put it. I haven't heard anyone say the vocals sound dead or bad on my recordings that I've done with dynamic mics, but to my ears they just don't cut the mustard. I suppose this is a stylistic/personal preference? Just like I don't enjoy the sound of solid state guitar amps, I don't enjoy the sound of dynamic mics on vocals. Maybe that isn't a valid comparison?

    I had posted about using a condenser for screaming a while back, and one person suggested the use of an analog EQ -- I might give that a shot, but the only EQ I have access to is s MXR 10 band pedal (for guitars, so only 1/4" input and output), but I'll try it with some adapters. I still want to try dual micing, and I cannot get phase problems micing my guitar amp even if I try to get phase problems (yes, I know what phasing sounds like).
  8. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    So, I've done two songs double micing the vox, and while they aren't mixed and polished yet, I have to say that I like the sound so far. The sm58 certainly sounds fine by itself, but I do like adding that little bit of cheap condenser in there to liven the vox up a bit. I think I'm gonna make this a standard practice from now on. All I'm doing in mounting them about 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart at the same height on different stands, putting a windscreen in front of the two mics and then doing the vocal take.
  9. BDM

    BDM Active Member

    Oct 23, 2008
    Mali, Africa
    conversely, you can also copy the vocals to another track, add some distortion via a pedal or amp simulator and blend it in tastefully with the main vocals to liven it up. it adds more texture and grit, too.
    i think Bowie used three vocal mics on 'Heroes', spaced out by about 10 feet down a hall, and gated so that when he sang louder the second mic would open up, and louder still, the third and most distant. if more than one vocal mic is good enough for Bowie...
  10. BDM

    BDM Active Member

    Oct 23, 2008
    Mali, Africa
    ha ha. just read another thread about mics for vocs (and acoustic guit) and NCdan, you said this:

    "Yeah, I have to agree that a sm58 is the mic. Why? Because it's easy to use, sounds good on just about anything, and if you can't get a good sound using it, then the only reason you can get a good sound with any other mic is pure luck."

    not trying to be a smart ass, but your posts seem to be a bit at odds.
    (ok, maybe i am trying to be a smart ass... i haven't had enough coffee this morning. sorry.)
  11. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Haha, it may sound like I'm at odds with myself, but I did state in my last post on this topic that the sm58 is SUFFICIENT by itself, but I want more than sufficient. :lol: Dynamics just don't sound as lively as I'd like on vocals. Sure, I've learned how to get just a sm58 to sound good, but I'm just saying I'm liking mixing a bit of condenser in with the sm58. :D


    Well, I remember in one of my posts somewhere that I can't seem to find that I had mentioned thinking about using my MXR 10 band EQ (pedal designed for guitar, only 1/4" input and output) for vox. It took about 5 minutes, but I figured out how to hook it up to my vocal preamp, and I have to say the result is... noisy. Adjusting the frequencies seemed to do a little bit, but if I went any more than 1-2 db's on any frequency it would start hissing. I'm guessing this has something to do with converting the original mic XLR to a 1/4" male to go into the EQ, and then running a 1/4" male from the output into the preamp, and then going XLR out? I'm sort of clueless regarding the dos and don'ts of mixing different types of cables. I went ahead and used the MXR EQ for the backing vox just to hopefully give some natural separation between the lead and backing vox. If only I had a rack EQ with 1/4" and XLR inputs/outputs. :D Anyway, I'm pronouncing it mostly a failure, but I suppose it could be made to work if for some reason it was absolutely needed, haha.
  12. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    I'd have to agree you'd have just as much success duping the mic track and treating each differently vs. using multiple mics.

    I've used as many as 3 vocal mics (the dyn/con combo with diaphragms aligned, and another in the room).
    The room mic is nice for some 'verb if you have a great spacious room but crappy reverbs.
    The condenser mic... I've had some success w/ it, but often end up scrapping it. Try using it as a "forehead" mic so it captures not the direct vocals, but the sound from the sinus cavities of the head.

    Try this: Dupe the 58. Heavily compress one track, and slide it under the other. You can also add dist/drive on this compressed track. Keep the other clean, and add any high-end freq boost or reverb to the clean one.

    Unconventional techniques can yield great results, but there's something to be said for the tried and true methods. I often multi-mic stuff to see what happens (I'm still learning my mics and their placements on different sources), and scrap what doesn't work.
    Don't be afraid to try something - your ears tell you if it works.
  13. MBBCFP

    MBBCFP Guest

    Your response is "dripping" with inuendo. The next time I'm in your area, I must look you up.
  14. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    However, you'll do well to not look her up and down.
  15. MBBCFP

    MBBCFP Guest

    Oooooo . . .
  16. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Let's keep on topic here. We need some respect for all of our members. Remy would probably rip you a new cornhole if you looked the wrong way. There's at least one gun toting female engineer on these forums as well. :shock:

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