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Dubons
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#1
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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Why My Gear Sounds Crappy

This is what i have:
Mic: U-87 ai
Mix Pre: avalon 737sp
Interface: Mbox 3 (Standard not pro not mini)
Pro tools 9, mac pro osx.

Im connecting the mic to the avalon's mic input and the avalon's line output to the mbox 3 Input (xlr)

im really Concern about my vocals when i do the recording the vocals sound cheap i do have insolation in my room, it also feels like it sounds a little better when record with the mbox it self the "covertion" sounds cleaner am i doing something wrong? thanks for yall help. Bless.
#2
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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I would definitely look in to purchasing some new outboard converters.
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26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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Turn on the phantom power ;-)

Unless faulty the gear should sound fine. The room and the talent are equally or more important.
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26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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Are you going into the Mbox using a trs jack? From what i understand the combo jack has XLR for mic and TRS for line level signals.
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26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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Make sure you are going into a line in in the mbox.


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#6
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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I would get converters I had an mbox2 once upon a time, and they suck, the you have spent bucks on nice gear, I would get some quality converters and go spdif in its the only way to bypass the shuyt converters and electronics, I got some converters and heard 100 percent probably more improvement in my sound.
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26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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The converters in your mbox 3 are fine. It will definitely not be the reason something sounds crappy.
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#8
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
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Quote:
im really Concern about my vocals when i do the recording the vocals sound cheap i do have insolation in my room, it also feels like it sounds a little better when record with the mbox it self the "covertion" sounds cleaner am i doing something wrong? thanks for yall help. Bless.
try a different mic. The 87 is a blah mic. it is a standard cause it always "works" it might not be the best or even right, but in a project studio you should always be able to get something usable with it.
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27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Mac View Post
The converters in your mbox 3 are fine. It will definitely not be the reason something sounds crappy.
It's not just the converters it's the electronics and the pre's. Ijhonestly think they sound like crap, I will post a clip with an mbox and without an mbox for analysis if you would like
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27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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The U87 is not the right mic for every singer/song/vocal style. Describe some of that stuff for us. Sometimes a great mic seems to emphasize all the wrong stuff on a voice despite having seemed like the right choice, so even telling us that stuff might not help. Try some different mics, including the cheap ones; you might be suprised.

A darker preamp than the Avalon might help the '87...
#11
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdland101 View Post
It's not just the converters it's the electronics and the pre's. Ijhonestly think they sound like crap, I will post a clip with an mbox and without an mbox for analysis if you would like
Your talking about an mbox 2. The
Third generation mboxes are very good quality.
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#12
27th August 2013
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maybe so... if you had the option to upgrade you wouldn't ? and you don't think that excellent converters are going to improve the sound?
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27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdland101 View Post
maybe so... if you had the option to upgrade you wouldn't ? and you don't think that excellent converters are going to improve the sound?
I do believe that better converters can improve the sound.
But, I don't believe that they would be the reason why the OP has the impression his gear sounds crappy. Something else must be wrong in the signal chain. And in my opinion, the converters are the step were the least change in quality is to be heard. Converters would be the last thing I'd upgrade.

If you plug a U87 into an avalon into a behringer mixer into the line in of your computer, it will still sound like a U87 into an avalon.
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27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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I think nobody is going to argue that there are better converters than the ones in the Mbox3. The question was why the OP was getting a "cheap sound" using what he had. We don't know, but we all know it's not the gear he's using (again, if not faulty).

Doing a good job in post has nothing to do with the quality of converters, it's about using the gear that you have with skill, knowledge and experience. Sure, converters make a difference in how we hear things and what decisions we make, but only the top guys can take advantage of that. The OP using an Mbox says to me he's not that. Yet. ?
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27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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Plugging a Neumann into an avalon should be good enough for anyone, the only week link I can see here is the mbox, or maybe its the fact that he is plugging a pre into a pre? What is the point of even using the avalon? Sounds daft... Say the neaumann into the avalon into some lavry blues? Hard to really not get a decent result, unless the room is crap, the cables are crap or the gear is broken, or ears are broken... its one of those it could be a thousand things wrong, best is to test the chain piece by piece. Has the poster tried just plugging into the mbox and leaving out the avalon?

This is also difficult to judge without a reference clip, its like a blind man crossing the road.

Last edited by Birdland101; 27th August 2013 at 11:03 AM.. Reason: .
#16
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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u87 and avalon 737 is not the best combination
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27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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Well maybe a U47 into a Neve 1073, with an La2a comp and some Lavry Gold? Lol
In all seriousness though he should be able to get a decent result with his current set up..
#18
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
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Maybe he's expecting some thing magical to happen.
But has anyone thought the problem lies with the source?
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#19
28th August 2013
Old 28th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubons View Post
Im connecting the mic to the avalon's mic input and the avalon's line output to the mbox 3 Input (xlr)
Don't do that. Plug the Avalon line out into the Mbox Line In. This is the TRS jack connector in the middle of the XLR socket. You will need a female XLR to male TRS lead.

I would be very surprised if this didn't improve the sound significantly.
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#20
28th August 2013
Old 28th August 2013
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a good standalone converter going spdif into mbox bypassing mbox electronics that would be optimal.
#21
28th August 2013
Old 28th August 2013
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Use gain staging into your DAW, hit betwenn 50-70% max on the meters in protools, dont run the preamp gain too high and the output low ... infact experiment with that, also work on mic placement and the position of the mic in your room , double check and swap out your cables.
#22
28th August 2013
Old 28th August 2013
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Currently I am using a Shure SM-7B into a Blue Robbie Preamp into a Benchmark ADC-1. With our room and the equipment we are using most Voice Over talent sounds GREAT. I have tried other microphones and other preamps but right now this combination works the best. We have a very good room designed by Don Mitchell of DSM and Associates in Cleveland Ohio and almost every voice over artist we have had comments on how good the room sounds. Sometimes you have to experiment to see what combination works best for you. I think your one weak spot is your current A to D converter. You might want to try something different before you do anything else.

FWIW and YMMV
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#23
28th August 2013
Old 28th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by londonengineer View Post
Don't do that. Plug the Avalon line out into the Mbox Line In. This is the TRS jack connector in the middle of the XLR socket. You will need a female XLR to male TRS lead.

I would be very surprised if this didn't improve the sound significantly.
This!

+1

Don't worry about mic and pre combinations. From what you describe, that is not your problem. Of course, if you uploaded an example it would help greatly
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#24
28th August 2013
Old 28th August 2013
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The mbox 3 is fine, and actually has some decent converters and clean, uncolored preamps. I used to have a link that had a bunch of in depth tests demonstrating how clean it is. Ill have to look for the link later. He should have more than enough power... Clearly the gear is damaged or something as simple as not using phantom power is the issue.

Don't be gear snobz, slutz.

**edit** found the link -- http://www.harmonycentral.com/t5/Pro.../td-p/30223310 seems plenty capable to me.

Last edited by lleb; 28th August 2013 at 09:57 PM.. Reason: added reference link
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29th August 2013
Old 29th August 2013
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It's your talent, you can't polish a turd..

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29th August 2013
Old 29th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lleb View Post
The mbox 3 is fine, and actually has some decent converters and clean, uncolored preamps. I used to have a link that had a bunch of in depth tests demonstrating how clean it is. Ill have to look for the link later. He should have more than enough power... Clearly the gear is damaged or something as simple as not using phantom power is the issue.

Don't be gear snobz, slutz.

**edit** found the link -- Avid Mbox Pro Computer Interface - Now with Conclu... - Harmony Central seems plenty capable to me.
I had one on loan for a brief period of time. The preamps were so so and nothing to compare to something like the Blue Microphone Robbie or other high end mic preamps. If you like the sound then use it. I always was taught garbage in garbage out. If you want the best sound then you have to pay the price. By the way I read the review and ...so what. The proof is in the listening.

FWIW and YMMV
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29th August 2013
Old 29th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I had one on loan for a brief period of time. The preamps were so so and nothing to compare to something like the Blue Microphone Robbie or other high end mic preamps. If you like the sound then use it. I always was taught garbage in garbage out. If you want the best sound then you have to pay the price. By the way I read the review and ...so what. The proof is in the listening.

FWIW and YMMV
Agreed
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29th August 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Mac View Post
The converters in your mbox 3 are fine. It will definitely not be the reason something sounds crappy.
I'd have to respectfully disagree here. They're not fine.

From the setup you listed OP, the weak link is defiantly your interface.

Pick up a Ross Martin ADC and SPDIF through the MBox. Then you'll come back and thank me later.

I would recommend a Burl ADC but I don't know how much you have to spend. The Ross Marrin won't break the bank.
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29th August 2013
Old 29th August 2013
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When I was in school, anyone heading into the first basic recording course only had access to a very small "suite" with limited/cheaper gear (mbox interface). But the teacher of that course said something I'll never forget.. He said,

"If you can't make a hit record in that room, you can't make a hit record".

So so true. Probably the most valuable thing I learned at that school, ha! Everything needed for a great recording needs to be there before any mic pre or computer is even switched on. (Same goes for film. Bad story/bad actors-- bad movie, no matter the technical excellence. Vice versa is true as well, great story/great actors, then the technical quality maters MUCH MUCH less).
#30
29th August 2013
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I always liked by the adage "compared to what" when evaluating audio quality. It's not clear in the OP if you are the talent or someone else, but you need a benchmark before you can come to any usable conclusion. Have you heard good vocals from the talent working in another another studio? If it's your own voice, have other voices you've recorded sounded OK? And as several others have pointed out, you need to fully understand gain structure because the Mbox can be tricky to setup if you don't fully understand the XLR/TRS combo input.
Another quick setup tip: All settings at 75% to start. This means you should be getting a reasonably close signal at this start point, and if you have to pull a level control way down from that( like just barely cracked open), you have a gain miss-match (line level feeding into mic level) or need to set the mic pad lower.
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