my vocal chain has been a studio projects c-1 going into an isa 428
for a while now but i'm finding the c-1 to be a bit harsh for my voice...essy might be the word. and i'm looking to get into something a little higher end for vocals and all-purpose applications.
any recommendations on a warmer less harsh mic but still very detailed? i love the tube sound, and have been looking at:
adk TL tube
studio projects T3
peluso 22 251
also been looking at the
my budget is about $1000, but if i would prefer to spend less than that.
would the 414 or the u195 be better all arounders? how are they in the highs compared to the c-1 and how might they compare to the tube mics?
my current mic are thus:
styles of music: pop, rock, afro-beat, acoustic folk
The 414 is a bit more versatile, because of the polar patterns, and is a bit darker and more neutral than the U195, which is a great mic in its own right (the fat switch owns on bass cabs and kick drum).
See, you probably don't mean that. If you do mean it then you won't be offended when I mention to you that there is as much of "tube sound" as there is a 'Santa Claus'.
When you were a kid your parents bullshited you into thinking there is some magic fat fukk that slid down the chimney and forked over a bunch of cool toys and shit that will make you exceptionally happy for a couple of weeks... and the best part was that you didn't have to do shit to score like a bandit.
It's all cool... though you began to resent your parents [and will continue to for the rest of your life] when you got older and realized that "Santa" wasn't the only thing they were bullshitting about... but we'll leave that shit between you and your therapist.
Back here in reality land where you're all grown up... but from that magic 'Santa' experience you still want to believe with all your heart and soul that you can have some kind of fukking magic slide down the chimney and make your world all bright and rosey.
Shit don't work like that.
There are no magic bullets that will make everything Okely dokely with your recordings.
There is no "toob" sound. Every amplifier has a different sound and character. An amp based around a "Germanium" transistor will sound a world different from an amp based around a "Silicon" transister... much like an amplifier that employs a triode tube will sound different from an amp that employs a pentode tube... much like every fukking toob amplifier sounds different due to the output transformer, the way power is supplied to the toob and by what fukking capacitors were on sale that week last April when the amplifier manufactuer bought 15,000 of the fukking things.
There is no "tube-ness".
There is "good for what you are doing" and "not good for what you are doing"... by now you're probably saying "but asshole, I wasn't talking about amplifiers... I was talking about toob mics vs. toob pre's you sanctimonious dumb fukk"... and I would say "hey, don't get personal... and amplifiers are all around you... they're in condenser mics, that's what a mic-preAMPLIFIER is made from" [and then I'd get all pissed off at myself for ending a sentence with a preposition].
There is no "tube-ness" no matter what Sumdumfuk told you in the shmoe audio department at your local banjo mart. Tube-ness does not equal "great-ness"... greatness equals greatness.
Work one piece at a time to find the ones that suit your sense of aesthetic.
Don't be in a hurry. Find one unit that makes your life a little better and acquire it. Find another unit that makes your life a little better still and acquire that. Hone your skills with the tools you have at your disposal and grow your arsenal of weapons slowly and methodically. Learn what really makes a difference and what is just marketing horseshit... and maybe you'll stop believing in Santa and start understanding that the tools don't make the records... they just make recording a little easier.
Fletcher, you are a fukking poet! What did you tell your kids when they were little?
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hope that the MAGIC FAT FUKK would soon be there!"
Ho ho ho....
Regarding the mics you mentioned, I have the 414 in a couple of flavors, and the U195. The 195 is bright, but not the ear-splitting bright of the C1. It's worked well on a number of things for me, and is a good vocal mic for some people, but on the bright side. The 414 works for a lot of stuff, but is never the pick of the litter. I tend to use them when my key mics are busy - for stuff like "another set of drum overheads" etc.
IMO, if it were my $1000, I would buy the U195. It's not going to slide down your, oh whatever, but it's a $1000 mic that's worth $1000.
In the >$1k weight class I'd recommend the U-195 or the Microtech Gefell MT-71S... they're both in the $1100 range, they're two entirely different tones/textures and between them one should be right for the first jaunt into actual "pro" equipment.
In the <$1k weight class... you can damn near never go wrong with a Shure SM-7 and/or a Sennheiser MD-441 and/or an RCA BK-5(A or B).
My experience with SP and ADK mics was one of severe inconsistency... they vary so much from unit to unit that if you have the opportunity to check out like 80 of them you should be able to find a diamond or two [or you could get lucky on the first roll of the dice... especially if you're unaware of what a "good mic" can do for you on a long term basis]. As for the Peluso stuff... I have no direct experience with the product but a negative experience with the people behind the product so I will admit to a negative bias in that direction... one man's ceiling is another man's floor so I would recommend you judge the stuff on it's own merit and not what some asshole pimp says on the internet.
As for the fabulous world of pre-amps and converters... well a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. If the brother works in a 'circular motion' and upgrades here and there and there and here and doesn't expect overnight miracles he should have an excellent arsenal of tool and "user chops" in 3-5 years... and be heading down a path to making good recordings... if the brother is in more of a hurry than that then there are all sorts of dudes down at the local Banjo Mart that will be more than happy to "phat him up" with all kinds of 'glowy toob shit'.
I`ve had one for a while and I like it MUCH better than any condensers I`ve heard in the below $2,000 range. I`m buying 4 MORE !
I had a 414 for a while and I couldn`t figure out why the hell I`d allways wanted one when I was a kid. $1200 hunk of metal that sounds a lot worse than a $75 SM57. Same with a Blueberry I had for a while. The older version of the Soundelux U99 I`ve got does indeed sound really amazingly good to me on a lot of stuff though.
I`d say you should load up on high end dynamics and save up around 3 grand + if you want to be just completely knocked out by a tube condenser mic.
Not that there isn`t usefull tools for cheaper but compared to an ebay $250 dynamic that sounds just as good ?
here is a mic that NEVER gets mentioned but I love.... KSM 44! way under your budget.
The KSM series are very fine, but always worked better for me as general purpose instrument microphones for tracks you know are going to be sought and destroyed upon mixdown. LD Vox tracking tends to demand instant gratification--you want to know that the sound is there and not have to worry about throwing tons of vibe at it downstream. 32s and 44s never had enough mojo for me for that purpose.
Having tried that particular mic several times I have a very strong feeling I know why it doesn't get mentioned... along with the majority of the RODE line... but whadda I know... I'm just a pimp.
Yeah, lots of people are looking down their noses at the Shure KSM 44.
I did a blind test last year with a friend of mine who is a very experienced engineer, owns a bunch of expensive microphones (B&K's, Brauner VM1's, Neumanns, Schoeps etc.) and always tells me how expensive mics have better "resolution" than for instance a "cheap" mic like the KSM 44.
He listened blind to four tracks several times over (same performance, level matched)). Two were the KSM44 with and without EQ and two were the Brauner Valvet with and without EQ. He preferred the KSM every time, with and without EQ. He thought these were the Brauners. After I had revealed which files were which, he listened again and still preferred the KSM's over the Brauners.
On some voices the KSM 44's may do a better job than more expensive mics. You never know!
as Fletcher sorta said - tube designs can vary alot sonically from hi-fi to mid enhansed to dull and bassy. There is no tube sound signature per se. But tube mics tend to sound really good! There is just something in these varying designs that lends itself to the way the human ear likes to hear vocal frequencies IMO.
Before you spend your money make sure that you have tried all of your mics at 4cm, 10cm, 40cm, 1m distances from your voice. Do test recordings and level match them. You might have a mic there (even the one you are using) that will give you better results. Record @ 24 bit if possible and with no compression.
People tend to like the sound of forward mics and preamps on first listen. It's because it seems louder and easier to hear BUT, with a vocal chain we are going for real with a touch of flattery. So listen to the tone. You can do this by listening out on sustained notes. It's the articulations and pronunciations at the start of words that distracts us from hearing the tone as they are the loud forward sounds at the start. You can even take the test recordings you did and reverse them in an application like sound forge so that the tone is easier to hear! Really you should be listening into the mid range frequencies of your voice.
I hate to tell you this but I hate Focusrite Pres. They are aweful, even the ISA ones. It would be really easy to generate a world of sibilance and thin tone from one of these babies. If Mr. R Neve did design these then he must have had the flu or a mental break down during their conception and testing.
As for new mic suggestions... Dynamic mics such as EV RE20's and Sennheiser 441 are a great idea. Personally I can also recommend the Sennheiser 935 too. Seriously though, a male voice is easier to pick a good mic for. You can get the tone with your humble SM57 on most voices. Dynamic mics are less sensative and can be worked close up and the 441 and RE20 are radio broadcast type mics - very smooth and versatile.
If you go the LD condenser route to capture more detail in the sound, then just listen to hear if the treble detail is pleasent on your specific voice and that it doesn't over shadow the tone. Hire some, borrow some and test them at my suggested distances and level match the recordings.
I use both a U195 and MD441 a lot on voices. Both do a great job and complement eachother quite well. You need to spend some serious cash to get a noticable quality improvement over those mics. If you record heavy male vocals (with some screaming or whatever) I'd start with the MD441. If it's a little bit more rock/pop music I'd start with the U195. With some change in placement and the filters on the U195 you can get quite a bit of different tone from it.
With the fat switch engaged, the mic can work quite nice on female vocals if they are not too strident.