new to forum… mic question for specific use

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by motz, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. motz

    motz Guest

    Hello to everyone. I’m looking for a vocal mic to add to my set-up and would like some suggestions.
    The use would be to (primarily) bring out the qualities of a male vocal between baritone and tenor.
    I’ve done the search but can’t find anything that addresses this specific question.
    The mics I currently own (with my “opinion” on their characteristics) are: AKG 414 B-XLS (too thin for this vocal… great on acoustic guitar), TLM 103 (too much ‘warmth’ with an almost ‘compressed’ response), Octava MKL 2500 (too much bottom end even with the roll-off) and Shure KSM44 (transparent response but it hangs in the range of being too ‘boring and distant’ to compliment this particular vocal).
    I usually record (where the mic has the option) with the bass roll-off switched at 80 Hz in a cardioid polar pattern. It is a single room studio with a flat-response (no unruly reflections) with the mic is set away from and receiving no board or outside noise.
    The typical signal path is through a Trident S20 direct to a Korg D32XD board set with no effects and flat EQ. Monitors are Event ASP8 with the 80Hz roll-off enabled.
    If there are some good mic suggestions, the price range would be +/- $1,500 or up but not exceeding $2,000. Though I suspect, with a small project studio, that there is a limit to getting a better sound where better mics are concerned… meaning a $3,500 mic isn‘t going to change my world… but there must be something available that’s better than what I have that will.
    The answer may lie in the way I use the current set-up… should I not roll of the bass response of either the mics or the monitors? If there are any thoughts on how I might get a better response from my current set-up (a different pre?), that would be appreciated as well, but the primary reason for posting is mic suggestions. Thank you. I’ll wait patiently for any thought, input or opinion on the subject.
  2. Rosemary

    Rosemary Guest

  3. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:
    Dude, I dont know. You have some very nice mics there.

    Maybe try out a Studio Project C1 for a cheap option ($200).

    The Rode NT2a has a lot of happy users and that under $500 i believe and its a good all-around mic.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    After looking at your list and thinking about your responses to the mics you listed, I can think of several mics in your price range which may do the trick for you. A couple at the top of the range and a couple more in the lower.

    For condensers, the one that really jumps out is an older U87. NOT the AI, but the U87. These were changed in 1985, I think, and have a different sound before then. The Neumann 'sheen' is all there but the frequency response was much richer and complete.

    Another mic you might like would be the Soundelux U195. Its a rich and detailed mic that takes to pres quite well.

    Speaking of pres, perhaps your S20 is limiting your mics' abilities a touch? You have an excellent collection and the 414 is kind of a chameleon mic in that it will follow along with the mic pres response curve fairly accurately. Just a thought.

    An excellent mic to try is an ADK Area 51 Tube Transducer. Warm and rich without a lot of overtones. I like them on vocals but they are the shizzit on acoustic instruments. Multipatterned.

    Have you tried your vocals with a large diaphram dynamic? Electrovoice RE20 or RE27? Shure SM7b? These are great up close and personal when you really want to 'work' the mic.

    Audio Technica mics are very superior to many in a lot of ways. Consistancy is one. The 40 series mics are all very good sounding and I have found them to work when nothing else will. The 4050, 4060 and 4047 are all mics to try.

    You still might want to give a different mic pre a test before plunking down your cash. If you have the ways to test drive a piece. I like the S20, just not enough to ever want one, they've always kinda felt sterile to my ear. WHile this is not a bad thing on a lot of sources, for that 'special' vocal sound, it would not be my first choice. If you could get your hands on a ViPre, with your mics, you would find many many worlds of differences unexpected. It would be like adding three more of each of your existing mics. Its that good.

    It would be the one item that for your small project studio would "change your world"....and for less than $3500.

    good luck.
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Rosemary, you were trained properly, alright. I too hate to engage any switch at all on a mic unless absolutely necessary. Of course, with some mics, you'll have to use the roll off; thunderstorms, or explosions, or low-end air handlers, but usually, it's best to leave it off, as long as you're sure your preamp can handle it all. I prefer to do my rolling off during the mix; better to have it and not need it, when it comes to bass.

    As for the mic choices, everything that Dave Dog said, and more. FWIW, I'm more partial to the AT line of mics over the AKG 414's; I have just never been thrilled about the sound of that mic; it's not bad, it just has never done it for me. Hard to say why....maybe that's why you're not happy with your vocal sound? They can sound great on some, but not others. (Don't rule out the AT3035 either...for a ridiculously low cost, you get a nice mic for the $$).

    Some of the ADK mics are very, very nice as well (including the Area 51), as are a couple of the MXL line of mics. The V6, M3 and a couple of other "Tube-like" mics in their line are definitely worth a listen. (My current fav for all-round vocal use is the M3; it's their answer to the U67, and from what I've used it on so far, it's the next best thing, for a lot less $$$). Stickers mentioned the SP C1, that's another one to try, for sure.

    If you can take the time to experiement and listen to a variety of mics,I'm sure you're going to find some nice surprises out there. It's a great time for buyers and good mics, in any price/feature range.
  6. motz

    motz Guest

    This is a ton of information! My thanks to all of you.

    The idea of stepping up the line to a better pre (along with this comment by Davedog)...
    "If you could get your hands on a ViPre, with your mics, you would find many many worlds of differences unexpected. It would be like adding three more of each of your existing mics. Its that good. It would be the one item that for your small project studio would "change your world"...
    That was one comment I found very hard not to pay serious attention to. So I went and poked around a little and came up with this article in Mix...

    Which now puts me at that moment of decision... the testing of the ViPre reads so well that it almost saddens me to think my Trident might soon be crying out to me from the rack... unless I can't get as good an acoustic guitar sound as I have been lately using the S20 and a stereo pair of Rode NT5's. I do like the S20’s transparency… I asked for that quality when I decided on buying it, but it might be too void of ‘color’ for vocals, no matter the mic. Ah, new gear. It’s an insatiable addiction with no known cure so I might have no choice in the matter.

    I admit that buying the Event speakers started all this; I didn’t hear sound like this before them.

    Well, thanks to all your responses, I've got my homework laid out for me to do. You all have been very helpful.

    PS I use the roll-off on the mic because of proximity... I'm up close at times... but I'm going to try it with the bass roll-off inactive and listen to where that goes. Thank you for pointing that out; it's an old habit that probably needs breaking… (I'm referring to my messing with the switches, not you giving sound advice!)
  7. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003

    I'm a professional singer, vocal coach, choral director and recording hack (by my definition) I have a high baritone range and sing everything from opera and classical to straight ahead jazz to R and B. I love my 414's but I don't use them on my voice anymore. They were never bad, just never what I was expecting to hear.
    Tiger and I (in the vocal booth - come down and visit some time) both love the Rode K2. It may be a little too bright for your acoustics, (I have a trained voice so I use a large room and it works great). but I send the tube mic through a tube pre (Sebatron) and I have never been happier with my own voice. This statement is not given lightly. I've done a bunch of recording using the best mics and best pres in some great studios with engineers that I shouldn't serve coffee to, and I'm happier with my set up than anything I've done elsewhere. YMMV.
  8. motz

    motz Guest

    I had been reading up on the Rode K2 and, for the cost, it is something I've been considering. I don't really have the opportunity and time to test all the mics I should so I rely on reading a lot of professional articles and looking into forums like this and gearslutz. The problem I have (and I am seeking professional help) is patience... driving back and forth, testing this and that, skews my sanity a bit.

    I'm not familiar with Sebatron (ignorance is both a curse and bliss) so I read up on it just now. Don’t shoot me, but the fact it comes with EQ settings tells me the pre itself might be lacking a little something (?) I can’t deny the results you’re getting with your set up and how satisfied you are; but if I were to spend roughly $1,600 for that set up and have it not work for me in my particular surroundings… professional help, remember? Although your high praise will make me stop and give the subject more thought.

    I got to thinking about whether it’s a mic I need or a different pre after reading the responses so I ran the AKG, Shure and TLM through a Symetrix 528E (bypassing the de-esser, expander and EQ) and the AKG outperformed the other two mics. Then I compared that AKG/Symetrix track with another on the same song previously done with the Trident and AKG and it became very clear that the transparency of the Trident is what had been throwing me on the AKG performance… the Symetrix combination won, hands down.

    But I can't quite shake the idea of the ViPre and it's chameleon traits; it scares me to think the sound could improve even more… that’s a $2,700 scare I’m talking about! And if I add the K2 it’ll jack up the cost to about (uh oh) $3,500. Somebody please hide the car keys!
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    In another similar thread, a question came up about the new M-audio tube condenser microphone, that utilizes "ahhhhh Pentode tube" that has a characteristically different sound to it in comparison to its Triode counterparts, that might be right up your alley? Supposedly the capsule is also tweaked for a more classic vocal sound? A professional friend of mine even likes the sound of my Pentode based U-67 over his Triode modified U87.

    You might just want to try a SM58?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  10. motz

    motz Guest

    I'm not going to rush into any purchases, despite my previous post.

    Remy... I have a 58 but haven't tried it since I set up the new speakers (imagine not spending a penny to get the right sound!?)

    I've had a friend recommend two mics that claim to be off-shoots of the U47 (don't they all?)... has anyone here heard of either of these:
    Peluso 22 47 Tube or the ADK Vienna-Hamburg Tube?

  11. Dosser

    Dosser Active Member

    May 31, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Based on what you said about the characteristics of mics you didn't like, it sounds like you're looking for something with the clarity and sense of spectral balance of a fairly high quailty mic. A lot of the lesser expensive tube mics that would be in your described price range (AT 4060, Rode K2) trade of some of that balance in favor of an attention grabbing bump in their response that can sound great at first, but can be too much over time. Don't get me wrong, these are good mics; it just seems to me that you're looking for something special.

    Sticking to your price range, there are two mics I think you should try.

    I agree with Rosemary about the Neumann TLM 193. A great mic with quality performance and it has that Neumann character to its sound, even without a trasnformer.

    Also, you should try a Microtech Gefell UM70S. This high quality mic just has that character, to me, of greatness.

    Go to a dealer and get them to let you try these mics out before you buy. They may even let you have a few models to do a shoot-out to find your favorite.
  12. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    Aug 9, 2005
    From LV but Army brought me to TN
    Dude why not roll with a sennheiser md421. This is a really solid mic for male vocals. Worst case senerio you will still have the industry standard for a tom mic. I would look more into a dynamic mic to help capture that smooth low mid range. I love my NTK, but it can sound a bit bright for male vox.
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