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Which vocal tracking EQ in 2016 Condenser Microphones
Old 21st April 2016
  #1
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antichef's Avatar
Which vocal tracking EQ in 2016

I have searched deep and read a bunch on this site and picked up a great deal of information about vocal EQs. Since much of it was spread over the last 10 years and tended to cluster around new product announcements, I wanted to get some refreshed and measured input based on what's available in 2016.

I started tracking vocals with compression about two years ago - always dry before that - and I'm hooked - talent performs better, and maybe it does something to the sound pre-conversion that I couldn't pull off later (or maybe not, I really don't care).

Now I think I want to introduce a nice mono EQ in the vocal chain before the compressor - what I tend to think of is a nice high pass filter because I want to hear what effect that has on the compressors (some do have HPF sidechain built in, but others don't, and those that do only offer coarse control). But as I read, I start thinking about high shelf, and who knows what else. I'm not recording every day like a lot of you, but when I do, I record male, female, other, humans and other mammals in different styles and registers.

I'm crushing on Pultec clones and inspirations, but I don't want to needlessly box myself in. I do want to consider only 19" rack stuff and do not want to consider any 500 series units, even though that may sound arbitrary. Please consider that my room is well treated.

Here's what I have that goes into the vocal chain most often:

Mics:
Manley Reference Cardioid
Neumann U87i
Bock 407
Bock 251
Blue Kiwi
just starting to try ribbons like Samar VL37 and Coles 4038

Preamps:
Great River MP-2NV
Presonus ADL600
UA 6176 (which actually has EQ controls that resemble what I think I want, and has a compressor)
AMS Neve 1073 MPA
NPNG DMP2
Chandler TG2

Compressors:
Tube Tech CL1B
Retro 176


(I have other mics, pres, and compressors, but this is usually what I'm using for foreground vocals)

Besides the 6176, the only hardware EQ I have is an A-Designs Hammer, which is dedicated to bus duties - as I type, I'm a little shy to admit that I haven't tried it in the vocal chain - maybe I should, but it would be inconvenient because of my set up right now.

So - any recommendations for a mono EQ that would sit well in these chains? Stereo is OK - I do have well matched pairs of those two compressors, but I'm primarily thinking about tracking vocals in mono.
Old 21st April 2016
  #2
Here for the gear
I think spending money on a high pass filter for compression is a waste. You have a REAL nice mic collection, I'd say based on that I wouldn't want to be rolling anything off of those mics. I'd actually recommend the opposite. My first initial though was definitely some sort of Pultec. They're like little enhancement boxes, especially with tube mics like the ones you have: 251s, 47's, manley refs... Boost a little 60z on a 251/Manley and the naturally bright mics really fill out. There really isn't a high end like the Pultecs either. Don't think of it as boxing yourself in, think of it as enhancing everything you already own
Old 21st April 2016
  #3
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SoZo's Avatar
Why not get a GR EQ-2NV ! It does AMAZING things with the preamp output transformers in the path....
Old 21st April 2016
  #4
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burns46824's Avatar
For vox, I used to have a Great River MP-2NV and an EQ-1NV that was patched in for HP filtering and a little cut around 300-400 Hz upon tracking. Worked great, but I'm trying not to do any EQing upon tracking vocals now. My console has a HPF at 100 Hz (in case it's necessary) and I will use a GML eq for parametric "moves" upon mixing. If you use an EQ upon tracking and an EQ upon mixing, you are downgrading your signal path with an extra "layer" of capacitors and inductors. Less is more!
Old 21st April 2016
  #5
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antichef's Avatar
Yeah - I reserve the right to not use the EQ - maybe even most of the time, but I have been glad to use the shelves on the 6167 every once in a while so I think it would be nice to have the option close at hand.

I've been so happy with my Great River pre and heard so many good things about the EQ that - let's face it - I'll probably wind up with an EQ-2NV *and* some pultec style EQ.

Any thoughts on which of the Pultec style EQs would go nicely with what I have? Or does it really matter?
Old 21st April 2016
  #6
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I love the massive passive on vocals after compression in many cases for tracking
Old 21st April 2016
  #7
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RoundBadge's Avatar
use the right mic/pre for the singer.
print w no eq.
you cant undo a bad decision.
do the polish later.
Old 21st April 2016
  #8
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Squawk's Avatar
Curve bender. Also good to for tracking and building the sound as you go. Commitment can be a good thing if you know what you are going for and are comfortable enough with the tools.

Hammer is nice on vox, but more of sweetening tool for me usually.

500 adds options but you obviously prefer not to go down that path...
Old 21st April 2016
  #9
Gear Nut
 

You have everything you need to make a perfect vocal recording. Seriously, save your money.

I have a very nice eq collection but never use any of them for recording vocals, just doesnt seem necessary. When i have tried it in the past i always regret doing so because i am then stuck with it and it usually sounds better without it. Thats what ive learned, anyway.
Old 21st April 2016
  #10
You have the hammer so nothing to lose by trying it - I have one too and occasionally track vox through it.

I also have a kush Electra, but tend to just use it for the filter.

Don't often eq vocals (I should use our studio's pultecs more to be honest) but if you're using s ribbon, particularly the 4038, you might want to - I find they sound a bit weird on vox flat, but can be made to sound really sweet with some moderate EQ. I'd never want to send off an in-EQ'd vocal to someone else if I'd recorded it on one!
Old 21st April 2016
  #11
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gyraf's Avatar
 

If anything, I would go for another microphone - you can't have too wide a selection to choose from for vocals..

Jakob E.
Old 21st April 2016
  #12
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DrSax's Avatar
+1 for not tracking with EQ on a vocal. I use very light compression but no Eq. Only time I would consider that is if I have a noticeable problem with a particular vocalist... But then, I would first look at the mic placement and choice.
Old 21st April 2016
  #13
I don't think I've ever used EQ on a vocal mic during tracking. I'm thinking back to the 1970's.

Pick the right mic and go. Digital recording has eliminated the need to "pre EQ". Anything done is save for mixing.
Old 21st April 2016
  #14
I have had most things through the doors here and still have a fair range at my disposal every day (inc massive passive, curve bender, pultec, API etc).

My go to EQs for vocals are Avedis e27 and AML 1073. If you really want something with filters, I like the filter in the AML a lot but my very favourite filters are in the Great River EQ32 (though other than the filters I'm not crazy on the GR as a tracking EQ).

Hope this helps.
Old 21st April 2016
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Still no tracking eq try again in 2017
Old 21st April 2016
  #16
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Channel time's Avatar
Hendyamps Michelangelo is rapidly becoming a favorite for vocals here.
The transformer saturation you can do with it is super handy, and the low band works really well to cut if needed.
I standardly EQ after recording (and often with a Manley Voxbox (nice EQ there too).
We've done a pretty good range of shootouts of EQs with vocals (recorded on a Manlet Ref C which I see you have/know), so if you are interested let me know and I'll send you a link
Old 22nd April 2016
  #17
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antichef's Avatar
The MichaelAngelo is definitely on my list - probably should have mentioned it up top. Thanks.
Old 22nd April 2016
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Look in the MAAG audio EQ4 or EQ2. Very good stuff. I use the EQ4 on mixing vocals and mastering. I tend not to eq vox pre recording except for a HPF. But if I did this or a Pultec would be my choice since they are my choice in mixing.
Old 22nd April 2016
  #19
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrSax View Post
+1 for not tracking with EQ on a vocal. I use very light compression but no Eq. Only time I would consider that is if I have a noticeable problem with a particular vocalist... But then, I would first look at the mic placement and choice.
ride the pre amp fader while tracking.like the old days.
Old 22nd April 2016
  #20
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XKAudio's Avatar
 

I think using a filter before compression is wise. allows the compression to not work as hard. Gets it closer to what the mix demands. Pretty much always cut 90 and below... Maybe 120 and below for females.

For eq i use Hendyamps michaelangelo. Replaced my high boost on the maag. Occasionally ill take some air out with the Knif Soma if i want crazy control... But its kind of a shortcut for choosing the right mic... Which i do if its a high profile client.
Old 22nd April 2016
  #21
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antichef's Avatar
Thanks - I've been thinking about it and how much it comes down to the vocalist as well. I've recorded jazz singers and I know operatic classical singers who would rightfully slap me if I printed with a compressor or much of anything else in the chain - these folks are exercising complete and deliberate control over the fine grain dynamics and tone of their performances and have fantastic mic technique. It's my job simply to not screw it up, really.

From there, I've worked with really good vocalists who appreciate the effect that the compressors have, and that's sort of a sweet spot. It's here that I'm sort of hoping for a noticeable benefit from gentle EQ.

Down the spectrum to non-singers who nevertheless sometimes sing (like me, for instance), who need all the help we can get - when poor mic technique comes into play and there's some unexpected proximity effect, it can cause undesirable results from the compressor in what would have otherwise been a salvageable performance. It's not surprising that some on this board don't encounter situations like this - we'd be simply kicked out of the studio and barred from return until we got some chops
Old 22nd April 2016
  #22
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trustyjim's Avatar
 

Try a BAE 1032. Use the HPF, cut a little mud, gentle boost on the mids and highs, and voila!
Old 22nd April 2016
  #23
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superburtm's Avatar
 

No EQ during tacking.
Old 23rd April 2016
  #24
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T_R_S's Avatar
Neve 1073 and when in doubt a Neve 1073 ....
Old 23rd April 2016
  #25
Dot
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Dot's Avatar
No EQ seems to have the lead. I agree. It's been my EQ of choice for tracking vocals for years. I'm actually working with a manufacturer to bring the NoEQ to the market.

The NoEQ is a great sister tool with the NoPhone for use in the studio while tracking.

The Official NoPhone Store
Old 29th April 2016
  #26
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antichef's Avatar
I'm checking out a Michaelangelo - I'm not in a city that usually puts me near the manufacturer, but this is the exception. Chris even gave me a run-through in person! (which is turning out to be very helpful).

At this point, all I can do is run some mixes through it, so that's what I'm doing - frgkn awesome so far. I keep trying to find a frequency band where I don't like what it's doing, but that's not happening - sounds amazing all over the place.

I hope to do some tracking with it this weekend - the low shelf looked a lot like what I was thinking of when he showed it to me - like really gentle HPF in a way - I'll see if it has the effect on the compressors that I was fantasizing about.

Anyway, I can already tell that I'm probably going to stop looking (and the answer was right here in town all along... )
Old 29th April 2016
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antichef View Post
I have searched deep and read a bunch on this site and picked up a great deal of information about vocal EQs. Since much of it was spread over the last 10 years and tended to cluster around new product announcements, I wanted to get some refreshed and measured input based on what's available in 2016.

I started tracking vocals with compression about two years ago - always dry before that - and I'm hooked - talent performs better, and maybe it does something to the sound pre-conversion that I couldn't pull off later (or maybe not, I really don't care).

Now I think I want to introduce a nice mono EQ in the vocal chain before the compressor - what I tend to think of is a nice high pass filter because I want to hear what effect that has on the compressors (some do have HPF sidechain built in, but others don't, and those that do only offer coarse control). But as I read, I start thinking about high shelf, and who knows what else. I'm not recording every day like a lot of you, but when I do, I record male, female, other, humans and other mammals in different styles and registers.

I'm crushing on Pultec clones and inspirations, but I don't want to needlessly box myself in. I do want to consider only 19" rack stuff and do not want to consider any 500 series units, even though that may sound arbitrary. Please consider that my room is well treated.

Here's what I have that goes into the vocal chain most often:

Mics:
Manley Reference Cardioid
Neumann U87i
Bock 407
Bock 251
Blue Kiwi
just starting to try ribbons like Samar VL37 and Coles 4038

Preamps:
Great River MP-2NV
Presonus ADL600
UA 6176 (which actually has EQ controls that resemble what I think I want, and has a compressor)
AMS Neve 1073 MPA
NPNG DMP2
Chandler TG2

Compressors:
Tube Tech CL1B
Retro 176


(I have other mics, pres, and compressors, but this is usually what I'm using for foreground vocals)

Besides the 6176, the only hardware EQ I have is an A-Designs Hammer, which is dedicated to bus duties - as I type, I'm a little shy to admit that I haven't tried it in the vocal chain - maybe I should, but it would be inconvenient because of my set up right now.

So - any recommendations for a mono EQ that would sit well in these chains? Stereo is OK - I do have well matched pairs of those two compressors, but I'm primarily thinking about tracking vocals in mono.

90% of my income is from vocal recording here in Nashville on Music Row. I would never dream of not high passing before the compressor. In fact, it makes me nervous even thinking about it. Frankly, I'm SHOCKED to read that so many respected and tenured engineers seem to have a strict policy about not using eq while tracking vocals. To each his/her own. For me, I patch in my Avedis E27 AND my Kush Audio Electra before hitting my compressor of choice. Admittedly, I seldom engage the E27 and when I do, it's to make small corrections to glaring tonal issues that cannot be overcome with mic selection that I know will be made during mix. For example, sometimes folks have gnarly 2k-4K spikes that even my C12 can't mellow. When that happens, a little notch on the old E27 along with the C12 works wonders not only for relieving the painful frequency, but also to tame the action of the compressor. I use the Electra to high pass around 80ish Hz, sometimes higher. Sometimes folks' tones are so tubby that even widening the pickup pattern of the mic to reduce proximity effect doesn't get it. It's then that I notch out a touch of 200Hz on the Avedis. Like I already stated, I usually don't do more than subtle high passing but just knowing the Avedis is there should I need it makes me feel nice and safe.
To summarize, +1 for the Avedis E27.
Old 29th April 2016
  #28
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gyraf's Avatar
 

I wouldn't count lowcut as eq. Good preamps has that functionality already.

Jakob E.
Old 29th April 2016
  #29
1. Patch Bay. Your hammer can be used more this way.
2. Or use the HPF on your preamp, or patch in the 6176 Eq and experiment with the filters here ( 70 hz -6/ -9 db split mode on your 6176 ) this will then tell you whether you need more HPF or you may find you are satisfied with the shelf as is. Depending on the slope or q you may be able to select 200 and up to maybe -3db cut max to test. ( refer to your manual )
3. After completing #1 & #2 now you will know if you need to purchase an EQ with selected frequencies or Variable HPF selectable at -6 / -12db.
Hope this helps
Old 29th April 2016
  #30
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While there are indeed some great and informative posts in this thread, I do understand that often a touch of EQ and Compression can be a sort of safety way of tracking and much more so if your using a DAW and not able to insert ot patch between recorders and console etc, so to this degree, I would err on the side of caution by using something like a Langevin EQP -1A that Manley Labs used to make. I know their rights to Pulse techniques have expired, though the Langevin EQP is discrete, no tubes and small gain from a class A device!

No idea what their selling for second hand these days, though if you can pick one up or a Manley EQP -1A3 or derivative in that style, the simple fact of cutting and...boosting to get you to a stage where you pull up your faders and the Mix is living and breathing say Sans Reverb and Time domain effects can make life simple indeed. I'm certainly not afraid to Mult a track and see just like a Bass DI and Amp if those two tracks can make "The difference" often the answer is emphatically - Yes! Often further correction is required, though again Mic and preamp choice (Im pretty firm in liking uniform preamps with just the right amount of colour etc) essentially this way of recording can save a great deal of time. From Jingle work and high pressured Advertising this commitment is indeed a must to get 48 tracks done and mixed in 3-4 hours!

There is a great deal to be said for Miking up certain stuff, adding a touch of EQ, compression, and knowing your firm desisive action saved you and...the client time as well as pulling a great sound! In 2016 there are a thousand preamps and equalisers to choose from, so really, do your best, though committing to a recording is my idea of knowing you've got confidence in choices, Sans a safety Mult (Split) can never hurt as insurance etc.

Good luck with choices!
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