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U87 & 3khz vocal distortion, another mic suggestion?
Old 11th March 2010
  #1
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digidesigner's Avatar
 

U87 & 3khz vocal distortion, another mic suggestion?

Vintage U87 is my everyday mic for cutting vocals (actually the only large diagram condenser I have). I like the sound it gives to me a lot. Sometimes, actually for over a long period of time I have had 3khz'ish distortion with some vocalists tracks that I have thought was from mic pre or converters. Now as my gear has got way better I still sometimes get that nasty sound on loud and long notes from very dynamic vocalists. As my pres are pretty good and I usually don't run them hot and also keep conversion levels @ about -18dbfs I have nothing else to blame than the mic. Is there a mic that can handle this type of vocals better and sound about the same as old U87? I'm really not into mics that have hyped top so please don't suggest me any of these.
Old 11th March 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Try a Pearlman TM1 with one of his new K47 capsules. No top end hype and has tons of headroom.
Old 12th March 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
I used to get this same problem - especially on female voices - but a little cut around 3.5 kHz worked absolutely wonders to tame that aggressive edge that the older U87 can sometimes have.
Old 12th March 2010
  #4
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Stitch333's Avatar
 

Did you try having the artist step backwards about 1 foot?
U87s sound really bad when overloaded.
Old 12th March 2010
  #5
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digidesigner's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitch333 View Post
Did you try having the artist step backwards about 1 foot?
U87s sound really bad when overloaded.
Of course, but I have little control over how they move in the booth once the track is running and I feel that another mic that could take it is the only way to go on. There are these types of singers that are really loud on some high notes.
http://www.sinusoid.ee/u87dist.wav
here is a bit from a guy I am working with right now. This is with U87 to Red7 with plenty of headroom on mic pre and moderate compression. Actually now I can say that the distortion I'm talking about happens higher than 3k. Can it be just human voice acting this way?? Please comment.

edit: the conversion is thru Apogee AD-8000
Old 12th March 2010
  #6
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I am in no way trying to minimize your ears... but it sounds "wonderful" to me, for a 3 second clip. I do not hear distortion, but right now I'm on Beyer DT-100's which are really crappy to evaluate audio.

You have no idea how I would love for my own voice to have such nice near presence peak. Or a setup that hits (to me) that very musical and pleasant bump. I forever struggled to get how on such many records the highs where blistering tight and strong without drilling a hole in the ear. Your example is THE reason why!

Now, just remember that the file is raw, no presence plate or room... and certainly out of mix context. This very well can distinguish a clear voca from a muffled one. Bring the faders up, listen in context and tweak accordingly. Palte it, delay it, tape saturate it, echoplex it... explore! But I really do love the timbre!

dont despair of freal or get paranoid. Work the audio. Compress, sidechain it if you will, mix it, forget about it and come back, bounce and reference elsewhere. Compare to commercial Cd's, use your car, your laptop speakers

From a VO pro, and this sound just right (though BD DT-100 !! dont forget! Maybe I get home a retract everything !! hehe)
Old 12th March 2010
  #7
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Stitch333's Avatar
 

Just had to start with the obvious as it is easy to overlook for anyone.
Do you have a snip of the distorted vocal?

Totally know about frustration caused by really dynamic singers.
One other 'obvious' is have you tried the -10dB pad at the mic for comparison? I don't have much info beyond basic problems you described, but I feel like (especially if your female vocalist is piping loud) that the U87 is overloading on those 'loud' notes.
I sometimes try and encourage very loud and dynamic vocalists to get in the habit of moving themselves a little bit as they sing. Much like how a good vocalist, live, will move the mic closer and further from their mouth, but in reverse...never much, usually less than 1'.

FWIW: my boss has clued me in to a basic trick for mic selection and singers:
if a U87 doesn't work, many times a SM7 will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digidesigner View Post
Of course, but I have little control over how they move in the booth once the track is running and I feel that another mic that could take it is the only way to go on. There are these types of singers that are really loud on some high notes.
http://www.sinusoid.ee/u87dist.wav
here is a bit from a guy I am working with right now. This is with U87 to Red7 with plenty of headroom on mic pre and moderate compression. Actually now I can say that the distortion I'm talking about happens higher than 3k. Can it be just human voice acting this way?? Please comment.

edit: the conversion is thru Apogee AD-8000
Old 12th March 2010
  #8
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Big_Bang's Avatar
 

In all honesty... I can really get how editing and mixing and 15 minutes on this register can get REALLY tiresome.

don't get paranoid. Just had a quick listen through a Quad amp driving boutique speakers... Sound great!

Its that shine right there, properly tamed dynamically, that plated and verbed or delayed, gets that hit record quality of those soaring yet pleasant highs

Old 12th March 2010
  #9
Gear Nut
 
digidesigner's Avatar
 

The last note in the clip I posted has the sound that I would call distortion. With further processing it can get really nasty... especially at low listening volumes it sounds kind of unnatural... like a stompbox is turned on.
It might be well just natural harmonics in the human voice that jump out like that and I just need to find a way to handle the "problem".
Thanks for your input guys
Old 12th March 2010
  #10
I hear what you're talking about on that last note. and I also get versions of that and other weird resonant distortions with dynamic singers. I recently spent a million extra hours mixing a song with the most horrible edge that came through in spots from a male singers voice. I used an M49 Mercury M76 Nv Portico EQ and Retro Sta-level through a UA 2192 for that one, so go figure. On a certain female vocalist that I record a lot, the most random distortions like yours (but even way more annoying) just pop out all over the place with an assortment of mics and signal chains. I also have a 74' U87 and a U47. They can produce these distortions as well.

One thing is for problem singers I will often set up two or three mics and hopefully one will save my butt on those trouble spots.

Another thing, I just picked up a U67 (all original) and I gotta say, so far so very very good. I've only had it a week but good lord, I'm thinking this might be the easiest mic to mix ever. I haven't completely put it through the paces yet but I think it's gonna handle all these weird singer distortions a lot better than my other mics. For one thing, the U67 was truly designed for close micing and it has a feedback loop that really smooths things out a lot more than a U87.

Good luck.
Old 12th March 2010
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by digidesigner View Post
There are these types of singers that are really loud on some high notes.
Then the singer needs to learn how to sing...

Its the combination of poor technique (the singer) and poor placement (the mic). A slight angle of the singers head could cure that note 100% without screwing up the sonics. If not place the singer back. If that sounds bad- its your room and your mic.

If the singer is moving a foot to and fro the mic while tracking... Im not sure what to say...

This is 100% a placement issue...

If you want a mic that requires less attention and skill, use a dynamic.
Old 13th March 2010
  #12
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pasarski's Avatar
 

The clip sounds good to me!
Old 13th March 2010
  #13
[QUOTE=haikusoftruth;5199519]Then the singer needs to learn how to sing...

That's an idiotic statement in this context. It's not a volume thing. It's a resonant frequency kind of thing. Sometime a dynamic mic solves it and sometimes not. It can be pretty random and you can keep moving singer and mic and room until you're blue in the face but these weird frequencies that pop up with some singers and really rub something wrong in the signal chain are a tough nut to crack.
Old 14th March 2010
  #14
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digidesigner's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=mood_shifter;5201314]
Quote:
Originally Posted by haikusoftruth View Post
Then the singer needs to learn how to sing...

That's an idiotic statement in this context. It's not a volume thing. It's a resonant frequency kind of thing. Sometime a dynamic mic solves it and sometimes not. It can be pretty random and you can keep moving singer and mic and room until you're blue in the face but these weird frequencies that pop up with some singers and really rub something wrong in the signal chain are a tough nut to crack.
I feel the same. I keep my eye on the U67 clones thing to see if these would be something I should check out to add to my closet.
Besides that has anyone tried these 414 looking sE mics? I had a pair of these at the studio for a day but I did not have a singer to test em with... only a drumkit. On the oh's they seemed interestingly soft.
Old 14th March 2010
  #15
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A female vocalist is going to have to be VERY powerful to overload a U87 in good working order.
In fact, I doubt that is what you are hearing.
I forget what SPL level a U87 in good condition can handle, but it is pretty well above what most people's voices produce unless they are screaming right in the mesh.

A decent vocalist should know how to (or learn how to) "work the mic."
If nothing it helps the recording and you don't clamp down so hard with a compressor or gain ride as much.

Are you sure it isn't the actual sound of her voice?
Most people's vocal chords have an edge to them when they are really singing loud.
You don't usually hear it unless you listen with a mic because live they be screaming in your ear if you were close enough to hear that detail.
The two pieces of meat called vocal chords do make a raspy sound when they are slapping together!
That and the saliva buzzing.
Old 14th March 2010
  #16
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rocksure's Avatar
I have one of those voices with a real 3k bite that can overload mics if I am not careful. Back in 1993 I remember cutting a vocal into a U87 via a Trident console and having the engineer say to me afterwards:"Man you've got a real bite at 3k". Back then I didn't know anything about frequency numbers but I never forgot that. Other times it's happened singing into stage mics like sm58's in live performances where I have had engineers quickly having to change EQ and gains when it hits and they are not expecting it. I have learnt to move back just a bit more from the pop filter/mic when I am singing something that is likely to induce that distortion, and often when mixing tracks with my own singing I EQ 2 or 3 db out around that 3k frequency too. I know some people on here don't like Rode NTK's, but I find it less of of a problem using that mic than others I have tried (including other Rode mics) on my voice.
Old 14th March 2010
  #17
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Froombosch's Avatar
 

you should try to find a good elektronics specialist and get the feedback out. It released much of my U87 when I did that and together with some other small changes made it a very different U-87 without the 3k bump.
Old 15th March 2010
  #18
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stagefright13's Avatar
 

One time I sent 14 songs out to get mastered and the mastering house said the vocals were distorted slightly. Also using a U87. I had the singer actually come back in to retake the stuff. Different mic, Pre, Compressor EVERYTHING. And was very embarrassing for me to even ask this of the band.

Long story short it was his voice! After dropping down a new LV track we listened back and it was still there. After a few hours of trying different chains we both laughed at each other and he thanked me for being so vigilant.

John
Old 15th March 2010
  #19
Gear Addict
2.8kHz for me!

Cor I'm nearly always getting resonances at 2.8kHz in loud voices... again i thought it was mic/pre/AD/acoustics/positioning and even after changing everything I still get it.

I've wondered if it's my ears (maybe some "loudness-recruitment" in that area), but I'm glad to see lots of other people notice the same thing!

I just automate a notch EQ (or just leave it on) as soon as possibly after tracking.
Old 15th March 2010
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by digidesigner View Post
Sometimes, actually for over a long period of time I have had 3khz'ish distortion with some vocalists tracks that I have thought was from mic pre or converters. Now as my gear has got way better I still sometimes get that nasty sound on loud and long notes from very dynamic vocalists.
I'm experiencing exactly the same kind of distortion with one (quite loud) female vocalist I'm working with ... I always thought it was the mic pre that was distorting, but then after trying the same vocalist with several mic pres and getting similar distortion (even with -10db switch on) I figured out it must be the mic :-/

Sucks, because I really love the mic on her voice!

br,
Sami
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