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Sennheiser 416 for female VO?
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kitstern
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2nd April 2007
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Sennheiser 416 for female VO?

I'm a VO working full time in the industry, and have recently started doing some news/entertainment features for Buena Vista/Disney. When I listen back to the produced features, my voice lacks that in your face punch I hear in other features of this sort. I know a lot happens in post production, and I'm not doing that with this project, but I'm wondering if using a different mic would help? I usually work with a Soundlux U195 through an Earthworks Lab101 preamp, and most of the producers I work with are pretty happy with the sound. It's really clean, and then they can do what they want with it.

I know the Sennheiser is used a lot for promo/trailer work, but it has usually sounded really hissy and sibilant with my voice. Has that been your experience? What mic can a female VO use for that up-front sound for promos?

Thanks much for the advice.

Enjoy life, this is not a rehearsal.
Kitzie Stern - Female Voice Over Talent
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2nd April 2007
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I mostly use that mic if I have to match production that was shot with one, but it's far from the first choice for what you're looking for. I'd go with a smooth LDC, & good compression- The compression is a big part of the in-your -face sound. A Milab DC96b could work well ( I think the new version is called the DC-196), Beyer mc740, AT 4050, it's also worth trying some dynamics such as an Ev re-20 or Shure Sm7. You might also want to try a more colored preamp if you want extra thickness. as ever, do some experimentation & se what you like.
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2nd April 2007
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It sounds like you are on the right track as far as equipment is concerned and I agree with Berol that a colored mic pre might be more to your liking. However, be very careful adding compression to a VO setup in your place. As someone on the other end of the line who records VO via ISDN for various spots all day long, mixers tend to get irritable when the talent adds their own compression. Most VO people know little to nothing about the equipment they use and even less about compression setting options.
Feel free to ask the engineer doing the spots you're reading his/her opinion about how you're sounding.
Btw, I'm not so sure that a 416 would be very helpful for you either. You are right about it sounding very sibilant. FYI, if you use one again at some point try pointing it more towards your chest than mouth. There are some VO folks that swear that's the trick to making them sound big.
Hope this helps.
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2nd April 2007
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Not a 416 for close up work, too much bass tip up. Close cardioid may be. If Its sennheiser you want then may be an MKH40 but they are pretty uncolored mics and I dont know your voice.

Perhaps may be a Gefell UM70S or perhaps if you want a tube a UM900. Good choise of preamp would be helpfull.

Leave the compresion to the post house but Sony Inflator will add some punch.

The only way is to get a bunch of mics and see what your happy with.

Dave
kitstern
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2nd April 2007
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So is the Earthworks pre not such a great choice? I chose it because it was uncolored and the engineers on the receiving end could do their magic without dealing with anything but the voice from my end.

My Website (Kitzie Stern - Female Voice Over Talent) has a bunch of demos recorded in my studio, including the Disney work. I added some EQ & compression when mixing (if you have issues with my sound, please be nice and don't flame me, I'm not an engineer). Any thoughts and constructive criticism would be appreciated. If I have to buy a new pre instead of a new mic, I'm open to that.
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2nd April 2007
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Understand that each broadcast engineer/mixer has their own way of mixing. I've been in this business long enough to see exactly how much they vary.

From the type of mic and pre you've chosen, and the feedback you've gotten from engineers, it sounds like your setup is just fine. It could just be that the mix wasn't so great, or the audio chain from the broadcast wasn't so great...there are many possibilities. In the past year I've done two different national campaigns with the same style of read and each spot sounded completely different (in terms of the "in your face factor"). So, try not to judge your mic/pre setup based on what you see/hear on TV.

If you're happy with your current setup, and you've received no complaints from clients...then don't touch it!

And, no, a 416 is most likely not a great choice...especially for female voices. I personally have never been a fan of them, but in some studios I have no choice.

Stick with whatcha got!!
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3rd April 2007
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Kitzie,
I pretty much agree with dtucker. The dynamic range of your demos seems a little narrow but fine for Radio/TV. If you are looking for a more full sound, you may want to try another preamp first. Your current mic should be fine.
I have recently become hooked on the 416 for me but it's way over the top for females that tried it in our studio. They sound muffled and gravelly. (Maybe I needed to sound muffled and gravelly.)
I have heard that the Lawson 47s have surprised a couple of female voices with their fullness. But I personally have not heard examples.
Your post raises interesting questions. Please let us know what you find out.
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3rd April 2007
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I guess I should clarify that I'm pretty happy with my current rig, but I'm putting together a secondary rig to travel with, and thought I'd add equipment that I could swap out (like new mic or preamp) when I need a different sound here in my studio. I probably don't NEED to buy anything, I could dismantle my primary rig and take it with me, but I really don't want to do that.

Looks like I won't be buying the Sennheiser, thanks for the feedback on that one. I'll probably just travel with the Soundelux. But suggestions for a nice pre for VO, (not budget, but not 4K) would be appreciated.
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3rd April 2007
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Another thing to consider is getting a good compressor, as listening to yourself through it may in fact effect your performance and mic technique, and split the signal at the preamp output so that you record 2 tracks- one with he compressor & one without. Your mixers will love you if you do this. While you're at it hire a good engineer or mixer for a few hours to teach you some compressorisms, & maybe to develop a basic setting for you.
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Another thing to consider is getting a good compressor, as listening to yourself through it may in fact effect your performance and mic technique, and split the signal at the preamp output so that you record 2 tracks- one with he compressor & one without.

I like this idea, that will give me a ProTools puzzle to figure out. Any suggestions re: the compressor?
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Kitzie,

Unless you are producing your own spots, I would stay away from adding compressors. If you feel you must spend money on something... look at mic pre's with good presence (but not necessarily coloration). Your choices will depend on your budget...so decide that first.
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4th April 2007
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OK, sorry I messed up that quote thingee on my last post. No compressors. What I really need is another preamp for either my main rig or to travel with. My budget is about $500, although I'm looking at the Focusrite VoiceMaster Pro and it sure looks nice. Probably more than I need though.
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4th April 2007
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Since I'm in the same shoes as you are regarding profession (I'm also VO talent) and you had recomendation for a nice compressor and you have budget of 500$-try a Safe Sound Audio P1 expander/compressor/limiter. Very nice unit with everything that you possibly need for recording a professional voiceover and even more and what it's important for you - it's a half rack so you can even bring with you when you travel and with expander mentioned above you are set no matter where you are. I'm telling that based on my personal experience and countless recording in the various hotel rooms etc. I must say that preamp can handle even gain hungry SM7 without any problem.

Check www.safesoundaudio.com

Cheers,

Sven

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Originally Posted by kitstern View Post
OK, sorry I messed up that quote thingee on my last post. No compressors. What I really need is another preamp for either my main rig or to travel with. My budget is about $500, although I'm looking at the Focusrite VoiceMaster Pro and it sure looks nice. Probably more than I need though.
kitstern
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4th April 2007
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Thanks for all the helpful comments so far. I think I've narrowed the mic pre down to the Summit TBA 221 or the Studio Projects VTB-1. There's quite a difference in price, but that doesn't always translate to a better product. I have a SP mic as a spare, and I like it. It doesn't have the definition of the Soundelux, but it's adequate. I'd also like the mic pre I buy to hold its value.

Does anyone have experience with either of these for VO?

I may change the title of this thread to reflect this answer, so this may be under "Mic pre for female VO" pretty soon.

Thanks for your help, it's greatly appreciated.
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4th April 2007
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Honestly, it might be worth looking into the new Heil mics, either the PR-30 or the PR-40. They might be just the thing you are looking for. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive.
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4th April 2007
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I just listended to some samples on your site, I like your voice and the samples and I think they sound fine. Its difficult to comment with out knowing the full set up and the only tweek Id make is to de S a little but thats my taste.

If your looking for a fuller sound then may be look towards a more colored pre or somthing euphonic, may be a DAV BG1, these are not so colored but do sound nice and are not expensive. If your putting this in to PT then download the Sony Plugins (now called Sonnex), Inflator and Dynamics plugins and give these a shot. We use these by preference out of all offerings for VO work. Inflator does what it says on the box and the Dynamics package is very good. However you may not get thanked for adding compression prior to sending the VO to the post house. You could keep somse set ups for the mix engineer for these plugins that suit your voice.

If you really want to change the mic then try a Gefell UM900 but I think the Soundelux seems to suit you well, as others have already said if you've got somthing that works stick with it or make small changes and improvements dont throw it all out at once.

It would be good to know how you get on, good luck.

Dave
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4th April 2007
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Yeah, but I'm not looking for a new mic yet. What I'm looking for is a mic pre that will add some color and also boost the gain from the M-Audio Firewire 410 interface. The Earthworks LAB 101 pre is great, but totally colorless and I just want to try a different flavor now and again.

Just so you know, I never use compression if my tracks are going somewhere else for post. I use the Waves plug-ins if I need to provide sweetened tracks, but I'll also look into the Sony.

Thanks much for the help.
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4th April 2007
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You have fine gear...

Earthworks makes a great clean pre. It lacks color (it's VERY neutral!) and does not add body. Nothing wrong with that pre, but if you want to add sonic girth, it may not be the best answer. Do you like the sound of the 195?

if I were to choose a different pre, I'd suggest a Chandler germanium or Aurora GTQ-2 and I'd track to BOTH the Earthworks as a clean and the second pre as a "colored" to provide options to the post house.

The "punch" often comes from heavy compression/limiting, or driving an API-style preamp heavily. Have you discussed this with your clients? I would not spend money on something new without making sure it's worth your $$.

Hope these thoughts help.
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4th April 2007
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The Soundelux is also very clean, almost sterile to my ears. I am going to buy a Neumann U187 at some point, but several engineers have told me it's like choosing between a Mercedes and .......I forget, but another high-end car. However, the Neumann seems to be the standard choice for vocals, and clients seem to expect that you have one, so I'll be buying it one of these days.

Regarding the preamp, the Earthworks will probably remain my go-to pre when I send tracks out. GREAT idea about tracking to both pres, I like that one and hadn't thought of it. So I think a pre that adds some sonic depth is what I'm looking for, preferably one in the $500-$600 price range. Or one that can be totally clean when I need it to be.

Great posts, thanks for the help everyone. I'm so glad I got the courage to ask, y'all can be a bit intimidating.

Last edited by kitstern; 4th April 2007 at 09:58 PM.. Reason: wanted to add more.
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5th April 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitstern View Post
So I think a pre that adds some sonic depth is what I'm looking for, preferably one in the $500-$600 price range.

Great posts, thanks for the help everyone. I'm so glad I got the courage to ask, y'all can be a bit intimidating.
Yeah, we can be a bunch of dix much of the time, me especially.

You should look at the "With a Cheapness" meta in the Low End forum about colored preamps. Maybe Hamptone would be a good direction to go. I have custom build tube preamps along with Chandler, Neve, Aurora, Manley, etc but you certainly don't need to spend the dough to get a great sound. But by the same token, it's better to wait and buy something you really love & that sounds great, than to buy the best middle-of-the-line and then have to save AGAIN for the top end stuff!!!

Just my thoughts. Hope it helps!

Jim
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5th April 2007
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i love the 416 on female voice! just recorded one yesterday running through a Joe Meek VC1qs. Very nice. Honestly, as long as you dont get a terrible pre amp to go with it (like really bad) it will be just fine. The recordings on your site sound fine, i have no doubts you will be ok with whatever you go for
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5th April 2007
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Jim, well.....you ARE from NY after all. I absolutely love NY, I love my clients from NY, I love talking to them and getting that East Coast hit. I'm from Philly originally, and I'm a Philly girl in my soul. I meant intimidating because there's so much deep knowlege on this board. Posting if you're not knowlegable can result in.........deep feelings of inferiority for the poster (meaning me).
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If you want to read a great rant on the 416 go here:

http://www.coreyburton.com/sennheiser

I believe he's right on. And I've A/B'd the 416 w/ many mics.

For my voice I prefer an 87. If I had one I'd use it every damn day. It's pretty much a widely used mic in NYC. LA for some reason is heavy on the 416. But, currently I use an AT4047 which suits my voice quite well...no hype, no nasty sibilance, takes compression well. And I get raves from engineers. I use it with a Daking and a bit of compression from a Distressor.

I'm on the road right now and will be using my old Shure SM5B into the Daking...no Distressor (didn't feel like dragging it along).

A secondary preamp for the road? Hmmmm...the Focusrite thing could be ok...not a big fan of those. But for the price point not sure what else I'd suggest.
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5th April 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitstern View Post
Jim, well.....you ARE from NY after all.
Well, yeah. And I KNOW I'm a dik, so there is no suprise . You should hear my wife!

Seriously, though... I have spend then tens of thousands on great preamps after spending thousands on me-too designs, and I have have spent untold dollars on vintage Neumann solid state and tube microphones, after buying really good me-too designs. So maybe a tiny bit of my very expensive education can help out a Philly Sister, ya know?



JvB
kitstern
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5th April 2007
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From the bottom of my cheese steak clogged arteries I thanks you. And this ex-Philly girl is doing OK in VO.......but not well enough (yet!) to buy a mic pre that costs more than $500, not this year. The tax man cometh.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtucker View Post
If you want to read a great rant on the 416 go here:

http://www.coreyburton.com/sennheiser

I believe he's right on. And I've A/B'd the 416 w/ many mics.

For my voice I prefer an 87. If I had one I'd use it every damn day. It's pretty much a widely used mic in NYC. LA for some reason is heavy on the 416. But, currently I use an AT4047 which suits my voice quite well...no hype, no nasty sibilance, takes compression well. And I get raves from engineers. I use it with a Daking and a bit of compression from a Distressor.
I respect Corey's opinion, but I disagree with his article on the 416. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, for some people the mic really works nicely. For him it didn't. C'est la vie... There's too much I don't know about how he used it, what the chain was, etc.

Same with nearly every mic out there.

It's not a mic I use for everyone, that's for sure. However, I've got more than a few folks who get awesome takes out of that mic. If you're doing a hard sell, or really want a boomy sound, it's a great VO mic on the right source (if I recall, they used one heavily for Sarah Michelle Gellar in the latest TMNT movie, which most definitely surprised me).

That's the great thing about this stuff, everyone has their favorite set of brushes, and for the most part they're all different
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5th April 2007
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Great River ME-1NV

OK, so I just got out of a session and the engineer recommended several single-channel pres, and the Great River ME-1NV is looking pretty good, even thought it's $500 more than I want to spend.

I'm I now a certified gear slut?

Has anyone worked with this one? Will it match the neutral sound of the Earthworks if I need to match a session?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitstern View Post
OK, so I just got out of a session and the engineer recommended several single-channel pres, and the Great River ME-1NV is looking pretty good, even thought it's $500 more than I want to spend.

I'm I now a certified gear slut?

Has anyone worked with this one? Will it match the neutral sound of the Earthworks if I need to match a session?
It's a great pre for VO. I kinda prefer the GML and Wunder pres myself, but those are 2K and 2.7K respectively... but I'm also somewhat insane with my VO gear (checking out a Horch RMJ2 in about two weeks ).

It should most definitely do the trick for you IMO.
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5th April 2007
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I just looked up your post on the VO-BB on the Horch. Can't wait to hear how it sounds.

You're a Philly guy! I'm an ex-Philly girl, grew up there, love it but don't think I can live there anymore after 20 years in the great Pacific Northwest. Going back this summer for my OC fix!

Any thoughts on matching the Earthworks if I need the Great River to do that? In other words, can it be neutral if I need it to be that?

Last edited by kitstern; 5th April 2007 at 03:59 PM.. Reason: Wanted to add something.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitstern View Post
I just looked up your post on the VO-BB on the Horch. Can't wait to hear how it sounds.

You're a Philly guy! I'm an ex-Philly girl, grew up there, love it but don't think I can live there anymore after 20 years in the great Pacific Northwest. Going back this summer for my OC fix!

Any thoughts on matching the Earthworks if I need the Great River to do that? In other words, can it be neutral if I need it to be that?
It'll do the job nicely (although they're not the same pre, and therefore will sound slightly different even though they're both "clean" pres), although for the price I'm still telling you to take the time to hit either Brett Averil's site or API's and look at the lunchboxes. For the same price as the Great River you'll have a portable solution with an awesome pre (such as the 512c or Buzz Elixir, Purple Biz or ShadowLabs if you want something more colored), with 5 additional slots for EQs and compressors (which you will probably add as you become more and more into home production).

Not trying to push you towards that solution, just saying to take a peek.

Either way, you're going to be happy
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