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rebelia
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14th June 2014
Old 14th June 2014
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Help me pick a suitable mic for my voice!

Hi,

I'm looking to add a new tube mic for vocals and I'd love some feedback as to
which of these you think might work the best with my voice.

Miktek CV4
Telefunken AR-51
Brauner Valvet X
Manley Ref C

Iv'e recorded a quick vocal demo of my voice using a Nuemann TLM 103 with some compression and thats it.

I'm looking to get that smooth warm sound you hear on a lot of r&b songs (R. Kelly, john legend, Trey Songz etc)
Typically they use the Sony C800g or U47 but those are a little out of my price range.

Based on reviews and various demo clips I've heard, these are the one ones I think would work the best for me but obviously I'd rather hear from people that actually own these mics or have at least have used them before.

Obviously I realize that its best to try out a microphone yourself but I live in Israel and most stores don't stock these so the only option is buying online.


PS. A few others I've considered as well are:

Rode NTK
MXL Revelation
Rode classic II


Thank you!!
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 TLM103 vocal track.mp3 (2.01 MB, 75 views)
#2
14th June 2014
Old 14th June 2014
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Well I think your voice is great with the 103, so not sure you would notice much of a difference with the mid-tier mic's after it was recorded/mixed. You have something good going on in the higher register/range, so i'd worry about the u47 type mic's (i.e. ar-51) without actually trying them. Israel has a bunch of great studios (not sure if they do open bookings), I'd try to book a few hours. My gut is saying you'd be waisting money till you heard your voice on the sony, elam 251 and m149. As a total side comment, you might want to try tuning your A to 432 hz which could help in voice training on that upper register.
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14th June 2014
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I hear the Lucas C1 is a mic that is mid-price-range vocal mic
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rebelia
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14th June 2014
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Thanks Patrick,
I like the way my voice sounds on the 103, but I'm looking to get something a bit smoother/richer.
Especially when it comes to processing, the 103 can get pretty harsh. It's ok for more aggressive productions but for softer tracks I really want to get that smooth tone a lot of tube mics seem to have.
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14th June 2014
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Try out the Lauten Atlantis.
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Sounds good on my Tannoys, reds. It's always good to have a couple of mics. I vote Manley or Brauner Valvet.
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14th June 2014
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14th June 2014
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You should definitely look at the Avantone Audio CV-12. Replace the stock tube with a Jan Phillips 5751 and you have one serious sounding mic for under $1,000.
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14th June 2014
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Agree with the first post. Your voice sounds very smooth and clear. I think the Neumann does a nice job with your voice as well. I also agree, it is big mopey so try to rent one or get into a studio for a short test session with the mics u mentioned. All of those mics are very nice, but even after getting one u might be happy but wondering if still it is the best or an optimal match to your voice. These are basically the cost of a used car and certainly u would want to test drive one of those. It could be cheap, for me if we were buds, and u lived in Boston, 2 hrs 50$ to test drive probably the 6-8 potential vocal matches for you here. Look around even at lower studios, like mine in your area. some might have some nice stuff to compare and there is no pressure to buy it as they ain't selling it! Do it with 3 cheap studios.

I went with Manley, albeit a Gold Ref, not Cardioid, and love the detail and clarity with it. I do mostly jazz and like the smokey warm jazz sound, and with the right voice and pre, it can be spectacular. However, another option I move to when the Manley does;t work with a voice is a Ribbon mic, I use some old ones, a RCA 74B is actually my preference and i have a pricier RCA 77 which is great too, but like the sound of 74B usually more for vocal. Well, I am getting my 77 ribbon serviced now, so maybe that will change, it had a little too much bottom. I also get nice results with AEA R84 (some proximity effects, but I generally track a bit further back with ribbons in general) but if u can swing a demo try the AEA R44C. Ribbons will certainly be smooth and warm, however definitely try as they might be too smooth and warm for u, given it is R&B sound u r after.

\
I also happen to have a MXL revelation, cardioid (SOLO), and the stereo tube Cardioid models. I like them very much. Not worried about snobbery. They certainly are clear and have lots of smooth air, as usual a bit of a high end bump, but I general like the way it sounds, not a bad bump. It can definitely hang with the Manley, but not quite as smooth, but the MXL has more air and ambience to my ears. Manley has a richer more natural sound, but on certainly voices and instruments, you will need great monitors and good ears to hear the difference. A nice mic if u can find one used. I saw the multi pattern go for less than 700 on the Bay recently, that is a nice deal. Manley is better, but exponentially more $. I have no regrets with the MXL REV or Manley, I have used MXL for acoustic bass and the stereo for drum OH and piano on occasion when I want extreme detail and a crisp sheen to the cymbals. TO compare to the RODE NT and had a classic a year ago I sold. Never got into the Rode classic, it was a nice sound certain better IMHO than the NT but never liked it. The MXL in my opinion is a step up on that up front modern type of sound and the detail and clarity are absolutely better. The hardware such as PSU is not up to high end stds, but I have not had any issues beyond tightening some connector screws. Not the greatest in terms of build quality compared to the higher priced mics listed, but performance is absolutely right there.

So demo some how, as one of all these mics and many more might match your voice exactly the way you want and I bet several will get u there, you will need to judge for yourself, as the Manley or Rev or anything I have if it were my only vocal option my be tricky sometimes, but you have one voice, so match it and maybe have another for some other textures you like in other situations. But trying might have u going home with a Miktek (just for example) and after comparing it with much pricer ones and feeling really secure that u got the best mic for u despite saving tons! not thinking it might be as good, but actually knowing it is better for u. If you find u absolutely need the pricey ones, thats good to know too and u will feel great knowing u got the best, paid a lot but u know why then.

Best of luck, and let us know how u made out and would love to hear that track again w your new mic!!!
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14th June 2014
Old 14th June 2014
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[QUOTE=Slikjmuzik;10184394]Honestly, the timbre of your voice would suit a Tab UM25 nicely, if you can jump up to a UM25C with a Tim Cambell capsule, even better.

I just had a listen on the ZenAudio clipalator, both to the UM25 and 25c (although they are listed there as Blackspade)
I actually liked the 25 better, its very smooth. The 25c had a nicer tone but it felt a little sibilant up top.
What is the actual difference between the 2 of them?

Another one I liked from that line is the UM17R, it seems to have a smoother tone to it. But again, it could sound completely different on my voice....

As far as physically testing these, there's just no way I can do that.
I do know a studio that has the AR-51 which a 250 clone as well so maybe that might give me some indication. Are they close?

I'll also definitely check out the TLM193 as well, that should be easy to get my hands on. I hadn't considered it until now because I already have one form the TLM line but you seemed pretty confident about it.
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14th June 2014
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Thank you so much Jazz Tradition for all your input, it was extremely helpful.
And its great to see people that aren't completely obsessed with branding. I was completely blown away by the performance of the MXL rev, not sure if its the exact sound I'm going for but it certainly is noteworthy, especially at its price point.
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[QUOTE=rebelia;10184532]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
Honestly, the timbre of your voice would suit a Tab UM25 nicely, if you can jump up to a UM25C with a Tim Cambell capsule, even better.

I just had a listen on the ZenAudio clipalator, both to the UM25 and 25c (although they are listed there as Blackspade)
I actually liked the 25 better, its very smooth. The 25c had a nicer tone but it felt a little sibilant up top.
What is the actual difference between the 2 of them?

Another one I liked from that line is the UM17R, it seems to have a smoother tone to it. But again, it could sound completely different on my voice....

As far as physically testing these, there's just no way I can do that.
I do know a studio that has the AR-51 which a 250 clone as well so maybe that might give me some indication. Are they close?

I'll also definitely check out the TLM193 as well, that should be easy to get my hands on. I hadn't considered it until now because I already have one form the TLM line but you seemed pretty confident about it.
Yes, even the regular 25 sounds top notch. From my understanding, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the only differences are the Tim Campbell capsule and the power supply. Possibly a couple components are upgraded in the circuit, but I think the psu is Chinese on the 25 and looked over here and the 25c's psu is completely made here with the CT12 capsule upgrade.

As for actually choosing a mic, no mic should mean squat to you without hearing it in the environment it will be capturing. Any given mic could capture a room more than another. I know my favorite vocal mics are smooth as butter in my room that I build for vocal sessions out of Roxul80 boards, but put that same mic in a room similar to what most people track in(closet with foam) and you get a lifeless and dull capture that you find yourself boosting the top end and upper mids on like crazy to get it to pop through the mix. Shouldn't need to do any of that nonsense. So basically, it's not just about your voice...your voice will be presented to the mic a certain way depending on the room you are capturing yourself in.

As for the TLM193...IMO, whole different animal than the 103. I actually prefer the 102 to the 103, but I don't I'm the only one who feels that way as I'm pretty sure that's commonplace around these parts. Still, to each his own. The TLM193 has the same capsule as the TLM170 and u89, both who go for over $3k brand new. It's an amazingly smooth non-tube mic. Honestly as much as I like the tone on the Gefell UMT70s, if I pop up the TLM193 and people tend to perform better. Go figure.

As for the originals you put up, if you really wanna spend close to $3k, I'd be going for the Brauner Valvet X. Good tone, still open on top although it's trying to be darker for a Brauner. Very musical and good for all-around rock, pop and R&B. Many other Brauners are a bit too bright for me unless I'm doing outright Diva Pop type stuff. The Valvet X makes me happy right up the middle on any genre. I will say, I've only worked with it about 3 times, so take that with a grain of salt.

Good luck with your quest buddy, it's a very personal one you've chosen to embark upon. Make the Gearslut Gods be on your side LOL
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14th June 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebelia View Post
Thank you so much Jazz Tradition for all your input, it was extremely helpful.
And its great to see people that aren't completely obsessed with branding. I was completely blown away by the performance of the MXL rev, not sure if its the exact sound I'm going for but it certainly is noteworthy, especially at its price point.
Yeah, man. U are already doing well, so no rush and make contact with local studio guys make some friends and try out their mics on the cheap.

I am on a limited budget and for example, without testing the Manley w a singer along, there was no way I was even looking at that mic. I brought a singer and also tried the mics on several instrument sources. What the previous post mentioned about room sound is right on too, but in this case hoping your treatment is up to par or very good and if not certainly something better to do vs. getting a different mic than the one that sounds quite good already. I went to mainly try a Pearlman, Telefunken, Neumann at the time, but the Manley won me over. When or if I ever have the dough, I was hoping to get a second to use stereo for piano as well.

When I was searching for even my vintage RCA 77, I found a local guy that had one and an AEA r84 to compare and test, he also had a RCA 44. SO even obscure I was able to find, well not obscure, but not current offering. I was curious at the time if it was worth spending considerable money on a vintage mic, I have both now.

BTW I like the AR51 tele too, especially I saw one go for 900 on the Bay recently. That is a nice deal. Same tho, test one certainly someone has one of those around u. Offer some cash for a one hour test of their vocal mics. Will be well worth it and maybe some insight having the opportunity to visit and chat with some studio cats.
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14th June 2014
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[QUOTE=Slikjmuzik;10184576]
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Originally Posted by rebelia View Post

Good luck with your quest buddy, it's a very personal one you've chosen to embark upon. Make the Gearslut Gods be on your side LOL

Lol thanks. It's a lot more difficult than I imagined. This microphone business is a bottomless pit!!
And I haven't even started with the preamp questions

I did just have a listen to that TLM193, what a beauty! silky smooth with a really beautiful tone on it, totally took me by surprise. It's a little sibilant but I'm sure that can be tamed.
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[QUOTE=rebelia;10184622]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post


Lol thanks. It's a lot more difficult than I imagined. This microphone business is a bottomless pit!!
And I haven't even started with the preamp questions

I did just have a listen to that TLM193, what a beauty! silky smooth with a really beautiful tone on it, totally took me by surprise. It's a little sibilant but I'm sure that can be tamed.
Shouldn't be sibiliant at all if the room is right, especially with a nice preamp. The times I've used the 193, it's been through a Vintech 1272, so maybe that's why, as I know that preamp is widely regarded as being smooth. Don't forget, it's the relationship between the mic and pre that make a capture work well(assuming the delivery from the talent is there). The first time I heard a TLM49 was through a Grace preamp and I swore it was a God awful microphone. Pinty, unforgiving and exactly what we fight against in the modern digital age of trying to draw out tone where we can. The artist insisted on using it and the next time it was here at my spot with the Roxul panels up and into a Mercury M72. Boom! Golden captures my friend. Balanced, smooth, lush. Not gonna lie, those Mercury pieces could probably make sub $300 Chinese builds sound like a million bucks, but definitely not without a good room. It's all about the sum of the parts. Wherever the weakest link is in your chain, that's about as good a capture you might get. Not always, but this tends to be accurate more times than not.
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Do you never travel anywhere, ever, for any reason? I live pretty far away from decent studios, but a business trip to NYC allowed me to test mics in a studio there. If you take a vacation, a business trip, an academic trip, whatever, try to sneak in a visit to a studio to try out some mics. Otherwise you will buy and sell a lot of mics searching for the best one. That gets expensive.
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The UM17 and 17R are a little more in the u47 / m49 mold you reference as opposed to the UM25. The current UM17 has a different capsule, a k47 type, than what is in the "clipilator". It has maybe a little smoother top, little more robust midrange. Not insanely different though.

I personally have three UM17's…one 17R, and two "regular". One with the current k47 capsule (the prototype model of that version), one with the older 47/87 "hybrid", and one with a theirsch m7 (the first with that one too!). It's hard for me to name a favorite. I do find myself using the M7 on my voice lately, but the k47 type capsule is very good. The M7 is maybe a little smoother, the k47 has a little more bite.

It's much more flexible than what you have now, and will sound richer and just all around better… less offensive than the TLM103 can be, especially in the top of it's range. To get the same "zing" as the 103, you might have to add a bit of treble lift, but the overall result would tend to sound much better. That said, the UM17 has a lot of focus to the sound, and will tend to cut through in the mix without having to excessively eq or lift the top. Using them, I rarely find myself reaching for eq at all.

I think it's a real modern classic.

The v672 is a great preamps as well… I have some that were racked by tab-funkenwerk; I can't comment on the Marquette Labs racking. Very beefy sounding and have a pleasing and useful breakup to them if you drive into saturation. I prefer them to any solid-state preamp I've ever heard, and that includes many of the usual suspects.

Regarding the sound of mics in the clipilator - I think that depending on what preamp you're using though, the clipilator can be kind of irrelevant, or vary quite a bit from your own results. I know that various mics I have can sound a bit different depending on the preamp…usually the ear picks up on top end differences immediately, and other differences next.
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Also… I believe the UM25C no longer uses the Tim Campbell capsule, but a different high end manufacturer.

As far as difference between the premium models and lower line, I would say that if money is an issue, you won't be losing out much by picking the lower line. The capsules in the lower priced models are just cheaper because they are import, not because they sound bad. The difference is not night and day. The other aspect of the pricing is that the higher end package comes with different shock mounts, different cable(I think?), and the more premium power supply - which again isn't a lot different… it may add up to a little bit better s/n ratio at the end of the day. My $.01 cent, and defer to any amplifications or corrections by dealers that may have more details, or AMI/Tab-Funkenwerk.
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14th June 2014
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Thanks for chiming in Toledo,
At this point I have to trust the clipalator, that's really all I have to go by. That and the fact that you guys have knowledge about these mics.
I did like the UM17R a lot, I assume that's thanks to the theirsch m7 capsule.
I'm still a little confused about the name though, there seems to be a Blackspade UM17r and also a Tab Funkenwerk UM17r. They look the same only with different printed on them. Are these essentially the same mic distributed by different manufacturers??

And since you have these mics, I'd love if you could post something recorded using the UM17, Thanks.
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Well, I know who designed the circuit and transformer is Oliver Archut.

I don't know any specifics of it, but I get the impression maybe the Blackspade company were part of a business venture to make a run of those mics, or some part (the bodies?). It seems that now AMI/Tab-Funkenwerk (Oliver's companies) are making them in-house.

This recording happened to use the UM17 (the blackspade with k47/87 hybrid) and more recent (an "oliver archut AMI"…I believe this is one off, kind of in between the blackspade and tab-funkenwerk branding... with k47) on guitar tracks. The UM17R is used on vocal. The thing about it though, is that it is pushed slightly into distortion on the vocals (not guitar though), as I was running the pre a bit hot, and eating the mic - on purpose. So that gives a little different tone than if you backed off from the mic.

https://soundcloud.com/georgetoledo/...youre-using-me

This is the Um17 (k47)… I think this is in cardioid, groove tubes brick pre. I got a bit off axis on the mic in a couple places.

https://soundcloud.com/georgetoledo/kings-highway

This next thing was recorded with the UM17 (w k47). I think I used either a groove tubes brick or summit tla 200B for pre. This has the mic a bit far back and in omni.

https://soundcloud.com/georgetoledo/long-road-ahead
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On the first one the vocal was kind of masked but the second (kings highway) is really nice, warm smooth and detailed, I like it a lot.
So we'rent any of these using the 17R?
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Yeah, the first one… but, that is the sound of the v672 being over driven a bit! There's no processing on any of them as far as I remember, btw. I think I have something around here with the UM17R that's more simple/ "au naturale", when I was setting something up probably… I'll check it out.
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https://soundcloud.com/georgetoledo/um17r-example

https://soundcloud.com/georgetoledo/um17r-example-2

I recorded these snippets a few minutes ago, using the UM17R and a v672.

I have to say - and I hate making disclaimers - but I woke up this morning with a frog in my throat from gigging late last night, so not exactly my finest performances. I don't know how constructive any one clip will be for you, but maybe you can get an idea via more.

There are some more clips from cathedral guitars and mike tholen in this thread here: Blackspade UM17R unprocessed male vocal samples

Last edited by toledo3; 15th June 2014 at 04:00 AM.. Reason: added another clip
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Thanks so much for the files man, I really appreciate it!
And these microphones sound really very nice. I still haven't made up my mind completely. I'm still kind of drawn to the Manley ref and the Valvet X, but I'll be doing some studio sessions soon and hopefully once I get my hands on a couple of these it will be easier deciding.
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