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which mic works best for this vocalist?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by zimv20, Aug 19, 2006.

  1. macrumors 601


    i thought it'd be fun to put up three (very) rough mixes of songs featuring a vocalist with whom i work quite a bit. i'm always changing up mics, pre's and compression -- it's one way of testing new gear -- but i'm going to post mp3's that use different mics.

    in each song, the pre is the same (phoenix drs-1). a reissued 1176 "compressor" was used on most vocals, though an empirical labs distressor was used during mixdown for one of them.

    please know that this is in no way approaching a valid scientific test. the songs are different, the performances are different, they were recorded at different times, the rough mixes had different amounts of effort put into them, et. al. All will have or have had further work done on the music. i.e. these aren't finished pieces.

    that said, i think the vocal performances do reveal some qualities of the mics used. these are all sub-$1000 mics. so without further ado and in no particular order:

    these songs have music done by other producers (mashup guys), i was merely the vocal engineer (i did dock up the roughs, though, as my interpretation of how the vocals should be mixed):

    1. Solsbury

    2. Supergrass

    this song is an original by my band:

    3. Mixtape

    anyone have any thoughts on how well the mics worked or didn't work in each song?
  2. macrumors 6502


    I cannot listen to the tracks. When I click on them I am asked to for name and password.
  3. macrumors 601


    i'm an idiot. they're fixed now.

    me use intarweb good.
  4. macrumors 6502a


    very talented singer

    solsbury sounded very clear, but the last one complimented the voice much better
  5. macrumors 601


    yeah, she's a rockstar. not literally, but colloquially. and her harmonies are effortless. i'm quite jealous, actually.
  6. macrumors 601


    noted. i'm going to wait for more responses before posting what mics they were, but we'll be revisiting this observation.
  7. macrumors 6502


    I really notice clarity in Solsbury. Her voice had a demanding presence. In song#3, her voice had warmth and fell right in place with the song. I honestly like the setup for Solsbury best.
    I also feel she did her best performance within Solsbury. I really dig the production and musicianship behind Supergrass. The symphonic sound is padded smoothly within the mix. Song #3 is similar to my style of music I write. I really dig the electronic track. :)
  8. macrumors 6502


    Keep in mind that I am monitoring on a set of 6&1/2 Sony bookshelf speakers underpowered by a sony bookshelf system amp. My speakers sound like crap, but give me more accurate mixes than my 250 watt 2 channel stereo system, that is more colored in low mid bass and ear piercing highs.

    Man...next semester I am getting real monitors.
  9. macrumors 601


    well, that's good news, since it's the only original. the song was written by my friend guy, but the electronic track was rendered by my friend matt. matt has a project called mathgeeks, his album Numerology is on itunes (under the name Math Geeks, which is a misspelling).

    doesn't matter. in the end, the music gets played on all kinds of systems. if it even gets played, that is :)
  10. macrumors 6502


    Her vocals shine through Solsbury. I like how her voice cuts through the music like a knife. I am curious as to which mic I picked. I can wait.:D
  11. macrumors 601


    i went back and had a listen to the raw vocal tracks. though i do think it's important that the track be judged in its final context, i fear my inconsistent mixing efforts may be clouding the issue. so i'm providing more data. here are some samples of the raw lead vocal tracks (the only processing is hardware on the way in and any SRC/dither required to get it to 44/16):

    solsbury vox sample
    supergrass vox sample
    mixtape vox sample
  12. macrumors 601


    right. here are the mics used:

    solsbury: rode nt-1
    supergrass: shure sm7b
    mixtape: akg c414 eb

    solsbury: the reason i put up this thread is because of the rode (note that this is the nt-1, not the nt-1a). i hadn't used it in a couple years, but i wanted to give it another shot. after hearing it, i almost unplugged it (as you can hear in the solo sample, there's some really annoying hi-freq distortion, and the lows and mids are really weak), but i wanted to see if i could make it work in the mix. i was pleasantly surprised.

    supergrass: because i'm stubborn, i decided that the conventional wisdom of using an LDC for such a voice should be challenged. so i tried the sm7b -- an excellent mic, imo, and the solo sample isn't too bad, though i am missing that LDC detail. it doesn't stand up in the mix very well as is, but i reckon some more careful EQ'ing and some delay processing could improve it.

    mixtape: i acquired a pair of non-consecutive 414 eb's last year. the one i used is actually the brighter of the two, and though i love its tone, it's missing some high frequences. i'll get them serviced at some point. for those who don't know, the eb's were made in the late 70's and early 80's. mine seem to be from the middle of the run, so they don't have the much-coveted brass capsule rings. maybe after servicing, they'll be alike enough that i can actually use them as a pair.

    for completeness, here are the recording chains:

    solsbury: nt1 -> phoenix drs-1 -> reissue 1176 -> apogee rosetta800 @ 44/24

    supergrass, low lead vox: sm7b -> drs-1 -> rosetta800 @ 48/24
    supergrass, hi lead and bak vox: sm7b -> drs-1 -> 1176 -> rosetta800 @ 48/24
    supergrass mix: lead vox (both high and low) also went through an ELI distressor

    mixtape: 414 -> drs-1 -> 1176 -> rosetta800 @ 44/24

    i hope this was interesting. i'm going to have to rethink my attitude about the rode mic.
  13. macrumors 6502


    I think the c414eb AKG could have been the best in my mind except I missed the highs in her voice. Her mids sound more beautiful with this mic. I think she could use a sliver more of presence to make her voice shine. AKG'S are the most popular mid-level mics in colleges here in Nashville.
  14. macrumors 65816


    hey zim

    I'm sending you a PM, since you seem the guy to ask...
  15. macrumors 68040



    Wow, does your singer also go by the name of Natalie Merchant?!?!?
  16. macrumors 601


    yes. yes she does :)
  17. macrumors 601


    okay, i've got another one. this time it's a B.L.U.E. Dragonfly, thought you guys might wanna hear it. same chain (phoenix drs-1 -> UA 1176 reissue -> apogee rosetta800), @ 44/24.

    same mix deal, too -- it's not my song, so just a rough mix. about an hour's worth of mix time, if it matters. that's an hour for vox only, btw, the music came to me as a 2-track.

    Chocolate Cake

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