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How can you tell if it's your Mic that's distorting? Condenser Microphones
Old 11th October 2008
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Agno's Avatar
 

How can you tell if it's your Mic that's distorting?

Hello everyone...

How can you tell when it's your mic that's distorting? and I mean even tracking at low levels on different signal chains, etc. I don't know if it's artifacts in the vocal, or if it's the mic. I'm testing out my new Korby Kat1 with a C12 head. They're closed on weekends which is why I'm posting up. Could the tube be distorting? and based on the waveform, it looks distorted, but I may be wrong. I tried a demo of this prior to buying and it didn't distort... so I don't think I'm going crazy.

I attached a few pics of different instances of where I hear the distortion. One is a low level recording, and the other is a high level recording, both are of the same vocal. I've also tracked with a different vocalist and we're getting some of the same results, weird instances of what seems to be distortion. At first I thought it was the POP filter, but I discovered that it wasn't.

Also, would there be any reason why it would distort in only the high's or just the lows? I also notice the distortion becomes more apparent while compressing, whether it's a plugin or analogue device.

I'm a little lost here... I'd appreciate some input.

Thanks.
Attached Thumbnails
How can you tell if it's your Mic that's distorting?-picture-25.jpg   How can you tell if it's your Mic that's distorting?-picture-23.jpg  
Old 11th October 2008
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
Kore's Avatar
 

Speakers broke?

Sounds obvious but have you checked it through another pair of monitors / headphones?
Old 12th October 2008
  #3
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Agno's Avatar
 

Headphones, iPod, etc.... My friend who I sent it to wasn't able to hear it. It's strange, but I did hear in my earphones which leads me to believe that there's something wrong with my setup. It seems to be the mic, i hope not. Any more thoughts?
Old 12th October 2008
  #4
.

how can you tell whether or not your mic is distorting?

simple!...just crawl inside and take a look...

.
Old 12th October 2008
  #5
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Agno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.

how can you tell whether or not your mic is distorting?

simple!...just crawl inside and take a look...

.
you're joking right? If I had an electronical background I wouldn't be asking for help. Haha. Unless there's something obvious that I would see.
Old 12th October 2008
  #6
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nukmusic's Avatar
 

(dont look) Just listen to the vox solo'ed. Should be easy to hear distortion or overloading the diaphram. If your mic if new, it might simple be the way it's suppose to sound. (maybe not)

they was a thread when audio clips of the KAT set were posted. Maybe to could find it and compare.
Old 12th October 2008
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Have you tried other mic's and gotten the same result? Have you tried other singers with the same mic?

The reason I ask... a friend at another studio thought he was chasing a bad mic, then pre, etc... until he realized that a particular singer's voice replicated the problem through some gear he borrowed from me. He said what sounded like electronically induced distortion was really a totally bizarre aberration in the singer's voice.

A little vocal coaching, problem gone. Probably not what you wanted to hear... just thought I'd toss that out.
Old 12th October 2008
  #8
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark714 View Post
Have you tried other mic's and gotten the same result? Have you tried other singers with the same mic?

The reason I ask... a friend at another studio thought he was chasing a bad mic, then pre, etc... until he realized that a particular singer's voice replicated the problem through some gear he borrowed from me. He said what sounded like electronically induced distortion was really a totally bizarre aberration in the singer's voice.

A little vocal coaching, problem gone. Probably not what you wanted to hear... just thought I'd toss that out.
I had this exact problem once. I spent a half hour troubleshooting my chain, switching out mics, pres, etc... finally I just decided to get him to sing with me in the same room, and I realized it was his voice. It totally sounded like an overdriven mic / pre... very bizarre.
Old 12th October 2008
  #9
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seaneldon's Avatar
 

If there is no distortion in the source, and the mic preamp behind the mic is not distorting, and your A/D converter is not clipping...the mic is probably distorting.

Or...you're hearing things because you're looking at a waveform.
Old 12th October 2008
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agno View Post
you're joking right? If I had an electronical background I wouldn't be asking for help. Haha. Unless there's something obvious that I would see.
you don't need to know anything about EE.

just crawl inside the circuits, pcbs or cabling and look for actual physiological damage...

you'll know it when you see it...


yes, i'm joking - that's my job here at gearslutz...

.
Old 12th October 2008
  #11
Gear Addict
 
Mike Derrick's Avatar
 

the pics of your waveforms look fine and not like distorted wave forms I've seen. If there was clipping or bad distortion your waves would likely have a very flat top where it should likely have a peak. Pointy peaks which are usually a good sign, which your pics show. But that still doesn't mean there isn't some form of distortion somewhere in the chain.

You mentioned your friend wasn't able to hear it. This doesn't mean there isn't distortion, but it could mean that the distortion is present only in your listen-back chain of gear. I'd trouble shoot your listening chain if you can't find any problems with your recording chain.

Also, are you digital?...you can get some weird distortions when a soundcard and a converter are both set as master clock.

Can you describe in more detail the sound of the distortion you are hearing?
Is it continuous?
random?
dependent on level of input?
dependent on frequency?
lyric or syllable dependent?

Are you able to post a sample of the distortion you are hearing?

I'd do more trouble shooting before assuming the distortion you hear is from the mic itself, unless of course you've already swapped out all other possible sources.

cold solder joint in cables?
try a different mic without changing your signal path?
check all gain levels in chain?
if digital, check clocking status between all gear with clocks?
check soundcard levels inputs and outputs?
burn a CD of your track and go listen in your car to see if you still hear it?
Old 12th October 2008
  #12
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Agno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Derrick View Post
the pics of your waveforms look fine and not like distorted wave forms I've seen. If there was clipping or bad distortion your waves would likely have a very flat top where it should likely have a peak. Pointy peaks which are usually a good sign, which your pics show. But that still doesn't mean there isn't some form of distortion somewhere in the chain.

You mentioned your friend wasn't able to hear it. This doesn't mean there isn't distortion, but it could mean that the distortion is present only in your listen-back chain of gear. I'd trouble shoot your listening chain if you can't find any problems with your recording chain.

Also, are you digital?...you can get some weird distortions when a soundcard and a converter are both set as master clock.

Can you describe in more detail the sound of the distortion you are hearing?
Is it continuous?
random?
dependent on level of input?
dependent on frequency?
lyric or syllable dependent?

Are you able to post a sample of the distortion you are hearing?

I'd do more trouble shooting before assuming the distortion you hear is from the mic itself, unless of course you've already swapped out all other possible sources.

cold solder joint in cables?
try a different mic without changing your signal path?
check all gain levels in chain?
if digital, check clocking status between all gear with clocks?
check soundcard levels inputs and outputs?
burn a CD of your track and go listen in your car to see if you still hear it?
I'm recording in Logic, so I supposed I'm digital, tracking with analogue equipment.
The distortion seems to be random and not dependent on the level of input. It does however seemed to be two different types of frequency dependent distortion, a random click or pop (highs), as it was beginning to break up, and a mild tubey compression/fuzz affect in the lows. I haven't been able to repeat the problem with lyrics or syllables. (I'll double check that later today)

All of my digital gear is clocked by a big ben. My signal chain is as follows: Korby Kat1/Patchbay/Great River MP2NV/Patchbay/Rosetta 800/Logic. I did put it on my ipod and listened to it in the car, and one of the specific instances of a click/pop happens during a plosive. It wasn't anywhere near as apparent as listening on my Focals... I could barely hear it... but that goes for most details in my car stereo.

I am however questioning my listening environment/setup... not really sure how to troubleshoot in relation to distortion.

Mark, I've definitely tried another vocalist, and another mic. A similar result with another vocalist, and no repeat with a different mic.

Sean, it's not because of the waveforms. My last resort was to study them to see if it was in fact distortion. Would the Focals be producing these artifacts?

Thanks for posting up... we're scratching the surface.... more is appreciated.

Thanks again....---Agno
Old 12th October 2008
  #13
Gear Addict
 
Mike Derrick's Avatar
 

Well if you are hearing the same distortion in your car and elsewhere, you can rule out your Focals or any of your listening chain post soundcard, even if it isn't as obvious in your car or wherever, BUT you still hear it.

Since you said it seems to be random, does it only happen during plosives of any kind?
Does it happen during a loud note being sung over an extended period of time?
Does it happen on softly sung notes?
Old 12th October 2008
  #14
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Agno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Derrick View Post
Well if you are hearing the same distortion in your car and elsewhere, you can rule out your Focals or any of your listening chain post soundcard, even if it isn't as obvious in your car or wherever, BUT you still hear it.

Since you said it seems to be random, does it only happen during plosives of any kind?
Does it happen during a loud note being sung over an extended period of time?
Does it happen on softly sung notes?
It doesn't seem to be exclusive towards plosives, loud or softly recited notes. It's been mostly Hip-Hop/Rap tracking, so a lot of transient attack on performances being captured.... but again there's moments where it's just completely uncalled for to have a pop or harmonic distortion.

And as far as noticing it in the car, I can barely hear to the point when I replayed it some of the time I couldn't hear it at all. But on initial playback it was there....

Maybe it's all artifacts of the voices I'm tracking... what you do think?
Old 12th October 2008
  #15
Lives for gear
 

I don't think it is your setup man. Make sure you're not normalizing the finished track or using demphasis or preemphasis on the finished track. These features are known for causing distortion, pops, and clicks on tracks burned to cd.
Old 12th October 2008
  #16
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Ive had this and I went through hoops checking my whole signal chain trying different cables pres the whole lot.In the end I asked the singer to come in to the control room and sing to me and when I listened carefully she had a sort of distortion in her voice.I was then able to try out different Mics and also help her on not over cooking her performance.
Old 12th October 2008
  #17
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Agno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tha Wiizard View Post
I don't think it is your setup man. Make sure you're not normalizing the finished track or using demphasis or preemphasis on the finished track. These features are known for causing distortion, pops, and clicks on tracks burned to cd.
Thanks for posting up.... what I'm hearing is before it's bounced.

Redroom, it's hard for me to determine that when the voice has primarily been mine.
Old 12th October 2008
  #18
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gregohb's Avatar
 

You seem to be asking this question as if there might be a possible problem with the mic. I think most good mics will distort - if you get right up on them and sing loud. Comedians use this to make sound affects live.

Also if you go into a preamp then compressor there are plenty of room to distort those too.
Old 12th October 2008
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Mic Distorting

The first step would be to try another mic on the same chain or perhaps another chain on the same mic. Either would help determine the cause of the distortion.
Old 13th October 2008
  #20
Gear Addict
 
Mike Derrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agno View Post
It doesn't seem to be exclusive towards plosives, loud or softly recited notes. It's been mostly Hip-Hop/Rap tracking, so a lot of transient attack on performances being captured.... but again there's moments where it's just completely uncalled for to have a pop or harmonic distortion.
Pilot's suggestion is where I'd start. Outside of that the only advice I have is to use a pop filter and step back from the mic. Try a distance of 1 or 2 feet (or more.) See if that changes things. Korby is a well respected mic and I have huge doubts there is anything wrong with the Korby mic, especially since your stated symptoms don't seem to line up with any potential corresponding issues, (but I could be wrong,..who knows, maybe it's just a bad tube or something.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Agno View Post
And as far as noticing it in the car, I can barely hear to the point when I replayed it some of the time I couldn't hear it at all. But on initial playback it was there....
Well that seems strange.
Do you hear it consistantly in the studio environment during playback?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Agno View Post
Maybe it's all artifacts of the voices I'm tracking... what you do think?
Artifacts from voices? No, (unless they swallowed a compressor). Some people have gritty voices which can sometimes sound akin to a distortion type sound, but that is obvious to conclude by using different mics and listening back or listening live in the same room. Since it is your own voice we're talking about, is it possible you're just not familiar with the recorded sound of your own voice?

also,

How close to the mic were you originally when you first recorded?

And what mics have you used in the past and had success with?

Once you find the problem and the solution, let us know.

Last edited by Mike Derrick; 13th October 2008 at 04:07 AM.. Reason: adding thoughts to clarify
Old 13th October 2008
  #21
Gear Nut
 
HeatMan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jval View Post
I had this exact problem once. I spent a half hour troubleshooting my chain, switching out mics, pres, etc... finally I just decided to get him to sing with me in the same room, and I realized it was his voice. It totally sounded like an overdriven mic / pre... very bizarre.
same thing here.. girl sung 8 times (as I recall), and she always sounded distorted.. what ever I did..

and 8 times she got that high notes, that she said that she couldnt.. so leave it be.. that kind of stuff only could only hear an experianced ear.. she and my friends didnt, I did..
Old 27th October 2017
  #22
Gear Nut
 
legacybeats413's Avatar
Hey guys sorry to resurrect such an old thread but I seem to be having a similar issue hearing distortion, in some frequencies only, within a vocal. It's the second take I have had this happen too, where with the headphones everything sounds fine but playing back on monitors reveals anomalies and artifacts. I am running a c414 xlii directly into a babyface pro, I also have a tlm 102 and sm7b that I havent tested out yet..
Old 7th March 2018
  #23
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by legacybeats413 View Post
Hey guys sorry to resurrect such an old thread but I seem to be having a similar issue hearing distortion, in some frequencies only, within a vocal. It's the second take I have had this happen too, where with the headphones everything sounds fine but playing back on monitors reveals anomalies and artifacts. I am running a c414 xlii directly into a babyface pro, I also have a tlm 102 and sm7b that I havent tested out yet..
Hey, I know it's been a long time since you posted but I have experienced the same thing when switching from headphones to monitors while tracking and playing back in the same room.

I think it has to do with phase issues since the acoustic problems in your room double. There probably is more to it due to the weird nature of acoustics, maybe someone can confirm and add?
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