Vocal Air/Sheen - Mic? Pre? Comp? A/D/A? All?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by TJ, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. TJ

    TJ Guest

    I record only my own vocals, no instruments. I'm a baritone, with harshness right at about 2k, singing mostly pop and easier-listening music. What I want to achieve is to be able to capture/produce the smooth, high-frequency air/sheen. I don't have the resources locally to demo recording equipment, so it's hit-and-miss, and so far, I've missed. My chain is below, which I've been using for about 12 months.

    Right now I'm finding myself trying to boost anywhere from 8k to 14k with digital EQ (post-recording) to get the highs...however, all I get is harshness, so it's obvious I need to capture it (garbage in, garbage out). Even boosting the highs on the JoeMeek during the recording stage won't do it. In a nutshell, here's what I'm wanting opinions on.

    - Do I need a tube pre over the solid state to generate/capture high-frequency harmonics during recording?

    - Do I need a tube compressor instead/in addition? (The Meek compressor doesn't seem to cut it for my vocals. Too colored.)
    - Will my current A/D/A kill any preamp/comp improvements?

    Right now I'm thinking the Meek is my biggest hinderance. I've read a lot on the forums and done research regarding Avalon 737 and M5, UA LA610, FMR RNP, Langevin Dual Vocal, Great River ME 1NV, Brick, Sebatron, etc. I'd like to stay under $2,000, closer to $1,500 would be preferable. Also, the Burr-Brown IC's on the Meek do NOT work well with my vocal, so I do not use them.

    I know there are a LOT of issues to consider regarding room, mic placement, multi-pattern settings, etc. I've played with a bunch of those variables, but cannot get that sheen. I believe the mics are capable, so as general rule, will moving to a better pre (tube?) put me a longer way toward that sound? Opinions on that as well as specific equipment welcome.

    Thanks very much.

    Chain = Peluso 22 251/2247LE mics -> JoeMeek TwinQ preamp/comp/EQ -> MAudio Delta 410 PCI card -> DAW/Tracktion software -> Event TR-5 monitors
  2. MadGuitrst

    MadGuitrst Active Member

    Aug 15, 2001
    Philadelphia....home of brotherly shove
    I have have the 22 251 and 22 47.

    I first audtioned the 22 251 through my Sytek and was really wowed.
    Non of the harshness I hate (eshiness) just nicely creamy.

    Through a Chameleons Labs 7602 (neve-type-clone but leaner/cleanner preamp) without any EQ, the 22 251 sounds pretty bright, more so than I prefer. However, the EQ is really nice and I can change the tonality quite a bit.

    I own a Joemeek VC1Q but haven't used the 22 251 with it yet. In all, it's a really colorful piece that can be ultracool.....or a complete miss.

    Okay.....here we go......
    I have a Sebatron and the 22 251 through it is like a silky, sultry enchantress. They go really well together. The Sebatron can be really versatile and you can dial in the amount of tubey goodness you want, from very little to a soulful amount. The EQ switches are limited compared to regular EQ but really well thought out and work really great. In fact, if you daisy chain the channels you can use different settings on the hi EQ to kinda dial in what you want.

    Now, I can't guarantee the Sebatron is perfect for you, I can only say I love it with the 22 251.

    As for a compressor, well.....you already have a colored compresor.
    How about something cleaner?

    Personally, I like the Sebatron with a cleaner compessor and I only like to tame the overshoots going in.....but that's just me.

    FWIW, I also am using Tracktion 2.

    Seems we have a decent amount in common ;).
  3. CharlesDayton

    CharlesDayton Active Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    You might try renting a few different mics to see if that makes a difference. Maybe a AKG414 or Neuman tlm103. Also, look at an Aphex aural exciter. Used judiciously, it can get you that sheen or "air".
  4. Lerxst

    Lerxst Guest

    Well it looks like your still searching TJ... Maybe if you had an example of what you think is the "sound" your looking for and then another example of your voice through your current undesirable sounding chain, it may be easier to recommend.

    Just an idea...
  5. TJ

    TJ Guest

    Thanks Mad. Yes we do have a lot in common. You helped me make the decision on moving from my SP T3 to the Peluso's...a great decision for me. Great info on the Sebatron, and I really appreciate it. I've read some great things on this forum regarding the Sebatron line.

    Thanks CharlesDayton. I currently have a BBE Sonic Maximizer. I found it to be great for live performances, but it only seems to bring out my bad midiness in recorded format. Does brighten up some of my tracks, however.

    And thanks to you as well, Lerxst. You've got a great memory. And you're right. Still looking to get to the right spot where I can just record the vocal and pretty much leave it as-is. I think I'm most of the way there with the mics, but hope to finish it off with a better pre. I see you are a LA610 user. Thoughts on that pre? I've read here in the posts that it can be a pretty specific sound. Good idea on posting the clips. I'll take a shot at posting a 60 second clip of what I'm looking for, and what I'm sounding like with my chain.

    Great feedback. I really appreciate it.
  6. Lerxst

    Lerxst Guest

    I really like the LA610 for voice. The 610 pre has a personality and I wouldn't call it transparent, but I don't find it overbearing or too colored. I really like the smooth response of the comp - it's very transparent. I'll use the LA610 for bass and acoustic guitar as well with good results. I also just recently picked up a 6176, but I have not used it enough to comment much.

    I admit that I do like UA gear, but it gets the sound I want. With everything including the JoeMeek you have - it's all good gear, it's just what is suited best for a particular source. If you get a chance to demo a LA610 I would recommend it.
  7. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    Interesting conundrum TJ. What comes first, the mic or the pre? It's one of those hotly debated questions on every recording discussion forum.

    I'm in the mic camp. Finding the right mic for you should be the first step. However, matching that mic with the right pre is also very important. Joe Meeks (someone correct me if I'm wrong here) are generally quite dark sounding, so that indeed may be your main problem.

    My suggestion. Hire a pro studio for a couple of hours. Take in your Peluso and your Meek. Try out the Peluso with a range of their pres. Then try out a range of their mics with your Meek. Then the studio engineer will probably have some combo suggestions of his/her own, so try them too.

    This should give you a pretty good idea of where you are heading.

    Good luck.

    Oh, and one other thing. What are your room acoustics like? You could be pushing shite up hill if that is substandard.

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