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Having 20 great mics --IS-- better than 1 great mic
Old 16th October 2014
  #61
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Right. Most I've ever seen "tried out" on a voc session is 3, but 2 is the norm. Here's a pic of a recent shootout: C12 versus M49: WHo will win?



.

We have 120+ mics, but we charge by the hour, so choosing sessions last all of 10 minutes, usually.
Old 16th October 2014
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
I think you are missing samc's point? We all shoot out our mics at some point. Just not that amount of mics on the clients dime.
In my view, you and samc are missing SharpKillerCable's point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable
...and the producer for a new project set up probably 12 "very expensive" vintage and new mics to try on the lead singer.
the producer IS "the client". It is "his dime". If he wants to spend an hour deciding on the microphone that will be used to record the most important instrument on the entire project, that's not only his right, it could be viewed as his responsibility. Should he just flip a coin, or allow the engineer to pick HIS "favorite"? Should he go to a dinky little home studio that has only ONE vocal mic?

The engineer did not insist on shooting out 12 mics. The client did. Or the client's representative in the musical world - the producer. And IMO that is perfectly reasonable, it is part of why you go to such a studio in the first place.

And all I was saying is that if engineers "don't need" to do these shootouts on any given day, it's only because they have already done them enough times to "know" their mics.

Quote:
But hey if the OP paid for it I guess it could be looked on as an "educational" session?
from my reading of it, it was a "foundational" session -i.e the starting point of a large project. I don't think it even needs to be "defended", frankly.

Part of it is "picking the best mic". Part of it could be simply "breaking the ice". Giving the singer a chance to warm up in a lower-pressure situation. And again I would not underestimate the psychological value of feeling confident that you have covered all the bases and there is not a "more appropriate" mic somewhere that you "should" be using.


Hell, for Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album, I read they spent 3 days choosing the snare drum/mic combination. 3 days! Then again, considering that that backbeat (wham!) occurred about once every two seconds for the entire 42 and a half minutes running time of the record, and considering what a massive hit that record was, and considering what it did for Springsteen's career, who can say for certain it was "wasted" time?

Who can say for certain that the specific snare sound was not contributory to the record's success?
Old 17th October 2014
  #63
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shortstory's Avatar
well said
Old 17th October 2014
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
In my view, you and samc are missing SharpKillerCable's point:



the producer IS "the client". It is "his dime". If he wants to spend an hour deciding on the microphone that will be used to record the most important instrument on the entire project, that's not only his right, it could be viewed as his responsibility. Should he just flip a coin, or allow the engineer to pick HIS "favorite"? Should he go to a dinky little home studio that has only ONE vocal mic?

The engineer did not insist on shooting out 12 mics. The client did. Or the client's representative in the musical world - the producer. And IMO that is perfectly reasonable, it is part of why you go to such a studio in the first place.

And all I was saying is that if engineers "don't need" to do these shootouts on any given day, it's only because they have already done them enough times to "know" their mics.



from my reading of it, it was a "foundational" session -i.e the starting point of a large project. I don't think it even needs to be "defended", frankly.

Part of it is "picking the best mic". Part of it could be simply "breaking the ice". Giving the singer a chance to warm up in a lower-pressure situation. And again I would not underestimate the psychological value of feeling confident that you have covered all the bases and there is not a "more appropriate" mic somewhere that you "should" be using.


Hell, for Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album, I read they spent 3 days choosing the snare drum/mic combination. 3 days! Then again, considering that that backbeat (wham!) occurred about once every two seconds for the entire 42 and a half minutes running time of the record, and considering what a massive hit that record was, and considering what it did for Springsteen's career, who can say for certain it was "wasted" time?

Who can say for certain that the specific snare sound was not contributory to the record's success?
Old 17th October 2014
  #65
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Thumbs up Joeq! You are correct. The mic tests were insisted upon by the producer. The engineer did whatever he (the producer) wanted pretty much. I didn't think it was overkill because you could setup just as many mics to record a drum kit. And it illuminated for me, why having lots of gear is so great, especially having lots of mics!
Old 17th October 2014
  #66
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
Thumbs up Joeq! You are correct. The mic tests were insisted upon by the producer. The engineer did whatever he (the producer) wanted pretty much. I didn't think it was overkill because you could setup just as many mics to record a drum kit. And it illuminated for me, why having lots of gear is so great, especially having lots of mics!

Ok. No worries. Somehow I missed the part where he said the producer requested that the AE setup 12 mics. Anyway thanks for clarifying that Joeq. I stand corrected. In that situation I think any engineer would oblige.


-FC
Old 17th October 2014
  #67
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
The mic tests were insisted upon by the producer.
What was the budget, who was paying for extra time spent? Would a more experienced producer have managed their time differently, or had a better knowledge of the microphones in the collection, was he just in awe of the mic collection?

I'm not implying that this is the case, just that we don't really know, and to say that it was insisted upon by the producer does really prove anything.
Old 17th October 2014
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
the producer IS "the client". It is "his dime". If he wants to spend an hour deciding on the microphone that will be used to record the most important instrument on the entire project, that's not only his right, it could be viewed as his responsibility. Should he just flip a coin, or allow the engineer to pick HIS "favorite"? Should he go to a dinky little home studio that has only ONE vocal mic?
You are right, but it does underscore why experienced producers and tend to work with engineers whose judgement they trust.

Quote:
And all I was saying is that if engineers "don't need" to do these shootouts on any given day, it's only because they have already done them enough times to "know" their mics.
Exactly.

Quote:
And again I would not underestimate the psychological value of feeling confident that you have covered all the bases and there is not a "more appropriate" mic somewhere that you "should" be using.
In that case why stop at 12...why not try 112?

Quote:
Hell, for Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album, I read they spent 3 days choosing the snare drum/mic combination. 3 days! Then again, considering that that backbeat (wham!) occurred about once every two seconds for the entire 42 and a half minutes running time of the record, and considering what a massive hit that record was, and considering what it did for Springsteen's career, who can say for certain it was "wasted" time?
Did they ensure that the drummer hit the snare in exactly the best place and at the right pressure those 1,260 times? Or did they correct every mis-hit?

Quote:
Who can say for certain that the specific snare sound was not contributory to the record's success?
I agree that every sound on the record is important, but I would bet my left nut that if the only thing that changed on this record was the sound of the snare it would not affect its success!
Old 17th October 2014
  #69
Gear Head
 

Greg, when your studio "lights up" a vintage mic using a AC701 or VF14 tube, is the client's bill adjusted upward? If the mic was rented, does the client pay the entire rental fee? The vintage mics require constant checking of the heater and B plus voltages for best tube life. Every time one throws the switch on the power supply ON, there is some risk the mic is noisy or fails to work at all. At some point, the AC701 or the VF14 will fail; is any fractional billing built in to "build" a fund toward a replacement tube and labor? The 6072 tube in some of the AKG mics is becoming pricey for a good one.

Some clients won't protest because they know the vintage gear requires cash and TLC to keep it going, but others want the U47 with a bottom line rate when a SM57 or RE20 would do fine. Does an increased bill for a U47 provide incentive for a client to try something else (especially for clients who read about the U47 but never tried one)?
Old 17th October 2014
  #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmburrow View Post
Some clients won't protest because they know the vintage gear requires cash and TLC to keep it going, but others want the U47 with a bottom line rate when a SM57 or RE20 would do fine. Does an increased bill for a U47 provide incentive for a client to try something else (especially for clients who read about the U47 but never tried one)?
Don't know how Greg manages his business and I'm not trying to answer for him but…clients know they won't get a $5 Plate at Paul Bocuse, or a 5 bedroom duplex on 5th Ave. for $20,000, why would they expect to get a U47 for the price of an SM57?
Old 17th October 2014
  #71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
Don't know how Greg manages his business and I'm not trying to answer for him but…clients know they won't get a $5 Plate at Paul Bocuse, or a 5 bedroom duplex on 5th Ave. for $20,000, why would they expect to get a U47 for the price of an SM57?
Samc, you know the best cook in the world, Paul Bocuse.
I'm sure, you are a 'man of the world'.

I take my hat off to you!

R.
Old 17th October 2014
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
What was the budget, who was paying for extra time spent? Would a more experienced producer have managed their time differently, or had a better knowledge of the microphones in the collection, was he just in awe of the mic collection?

I'm not implying that this is the case, just that we don't really know, and to say that it was insisted upon by the producer does really prove anything.
The point is it was not insisted upon by the engineer, who is the ONLY person who is "expected" to "work fast". The time spent was spent by the guy spending the money. But if money alone was the only thing a producer had to worry about, every producer could be replaced by an accountant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
You are right, but it does underscore why experienced producers and tend to work with engineers whose judgement they trust.
I think the idea that this shootout even needs to be "defended" is nuts. Every singer should hear his voice on a wide variety of the Great Classic Vocal Mics at some time in his life.

This session was that singer's "time". It doesn't have to be any deeper than that.

in my view, the Producer should probably be commended for the allocation of this relatively small amount of time at the beginning of a large project, if only for the psychological effect it will have on the singer's confidence and comfort level. Never mind the insights and potential "surprises" of microphone choice that might lurk inside the mic locker. No matter how much you "trust" your engineer, if he is charged with making a quick decision on the Time Is Money principle, he is simply going to go with his idea of the tried and true every time.

Maybe the producer wasn't looking for the tired and true. Typo intended.

In my view, the decision to 'treat' the singer to such a shootout is just as likely to be the result of the producer's greater experience, than some insecurity based on limited experience.
Old 17th October 2014
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
I was at a BIG studio in Los Angeles over the weekend, and the producer for a new project set up probably 12 "very expensive" vintage and new mics to try on the lead singer. 3 tests, 4 mics each. There were close to $100,000 worth of mics set up! Gear DROOL! I don't remember them all but I'm pretty sure there was a vintage Neumann u47, vintage Telefunken Elam 251, Sony c800g, u67, u87, c414eb with original brass CK-12 capsule, Blue Bottle mic, Manley Cardioid, Neumann m49b. Well that's 9 of them for sure! And they ALL SOUNDED DIFFERENT. As we listened back to the vocal tests it wasn't that one was right and one was wrong it just made me think that my one u87ai in my home studio just couldn't offer the same possibilities for an artist to find the "right tone." I left thinking that more mics is better. Who was I fooling all these years? More IS better. If they all sound different, more means more possibilities and in the end, a better chance at finding the mic that works best for a given source. All the people that think they are better off with just one or 2 good mics simply can't afford more!
and in other news, water is wet!
Old 17th October 2014
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolf Ebitsch View Post
Samc, you know the best cook in the world, Paul Bocuse.
I'm sure, you are a 'man of the world'.

I take my hat off to you!

R.
I've eaten at his table a couple of times and it was a lot more rewarding than any mic shootout I've ever done, it was the same for Pierre Gagnaire and Marc Veyrat too.
Old 18th October 2014
  #75
What about the fact that some mics tolerate EQ a lot better than others. Ribbon mics as we know are an extreme example of this. They can come up sounding dull initially but by the time the mix is done.. wow. I feel that some mics don't become what they really are without a little EQ.

On the contrary, I have some mics that always come up sounding great, but if you have to apply much EQ, they fall apart. Otherwise, I've mixed projects where the mic selection for every instrument was micromanaged for initial unprocessed sound (not by me). The resulting mix was not as strong as it could have been otherwise in my experience.

In certain circumstances, I'll choose an initially dull sounding large diaphragm condenser that would be the last one picked in a line-up, BUT I know It will pleasantly cut through a wall of sound during mix.

I guess what I am saying is that am not sure this mic line up is the way to go in all cases. Some real experience with the microphone being matched to the voice and the song is probably more important. Maybe that was the case but I have a feeling not.

Whatever though. Listen to a bunch of mics if you have the time. See how they finish at mix. I've narrowed my selection to those I know will get the job done by the end of the mix.
Old 19th October 2014
  #76
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The tests did mark the very start of an LP, so I think it will serve as a good reference for the entire project as the singer has both up tempo tunes along with some slower ballads. The tone you might want for any given track could vary tremendously . It might actually save time in the end, doing such extensive testing. And get a better result!
Old 19th October 2014
  #77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
The tests did mark the very start of an LP, so I think it will serve as a good reference for the entire project as the singer has both up tempo tunes along with some slower ballads. The tone you might want for any given track could vary tremendously . It might actually save time in the end, doing such extensive testing. And get a better result!
Of course, but this info change the whole thread !

The first info was "I was at a BIG studio in Los Angeles over the weekend".
Well I'm sure, the most posters meant, recordings for a weekend and soundcheck with 12 mics.
Wasted expensive studio time...

If the tests did mark the very start of an album, the extensively microphone experiment makes definitive sense.

My two cents...

R.
Old 19th October 2014
  #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolf Ebitsch View Post
Of course, but this info change the whole thread !

The first info was "I was at a BIG studio in Los Angeles over the weekend".
Well I'm sure, the most posters meant, recordings for a weekend and soundcheck with 12 mics.
Wasted expensive studio time...

If the tests did mark the very start of an album, the extensively microphone experiment makes definitive sense.

My two cents...

R.
It's not a change in info, originally said "New project"... Could certainly mean more than one song. It is the commentors that made an assumption that it was only for one session. It's simply more specific info.
Old 19th October 2014
  #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
Right. Most I've ever seen "tried out" on a voc session is 3, but 2 is the norm. Here's a pic of a recent shootout: C12 versus M49: WHo will win?



.

We have 120+ mics, but we charge by the hour, so choosing sessions last all of 10 minutes, usually.
That's an interesting c12 you've got there. Must be a c12 in a Telefunken 250/251 body? (On a serious note....Very nice looking studio!!!!)
Old 19th October 2014
  #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolf Ebitsch View Post
Of course, but this info change the whole thread !

The first info was "I was at a BIG studio in Los Angeles over the weekend".
Well I'm sure, the most posters meant, recordings for a weekend and soundcheck with 12 mics.
Wasted expensive studio time...

If the tests did mark the very start of an album, the extensively microphone experiment makes definitive sense.

My two cents...

R.
I agree, the goalposts are being shifted ever so slightly and the tone of the OP is being modified ever so slightly to match the arguments in joeq's posts.

In any case since when do we start an album project by choosing the vocal mic? don't you do that when you're about to start recording vocals? Was the voice being recorded alone?
Old 19th October 2014
  #81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
I agree, the goalposts are being shifted ever so slightly and the tone of the OP is being modified ever so slightly to match the arguments in joeq's posts.

In any case since when do we start an album project by choosing the vocal mic? don't you do that when you're about to start recording vocals? Was the voice being recorded alone?
When the producer has already created the backing tracks (which are pop/dance/electronic a la Lady Gaga), and lots of them (40+ tracks), your record starts when the singer/artist shows up at the studio.
Old 19th October 2014
  #82
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
I agree, the goalposts are being shifted ever so slightly and the tone of the OP is being modified ever so slightly to match the arguments in joeq's posts.
In point of fact, the arguments in my posts were derived from my immediate reading of the OP that this was the opening session of a large project.
Old 19th October 2014
  #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
In point of fact, the arguments in my posts were derived from my immediate reading of the OP that this was the opening session of a large project.
My question still stands: they start an album project by selecting the vocal microphone first?
Old 19th October 2014
  #84
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
When the producer has already created the backing tracks (which are pop/dance/electronic a la Lady Gaga), and lots of them (40+ tracks), your record starts when the singer/artist shows up at the studio.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
In point of fact, the arguments in my posts were derived from my immediate reading of the OP that this was the opening session of a large project.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
My question still stands: they start an album project by selecting the vocal microphone first?
I think in the modern age of programmed tracks with little live instrumentation, maybe the terminology should be adjusted.

Obviously this wasn't the start of an album project (songs already written and presumably demoed with guide vocalists); just the start of the vocal recording of the album project.

Or maybe the producer/writer had 40+ tracks and the artist now decides which they're recording - which would be an odd way of working if you ask me (most of the time, pop is major label; and major labels' A+Rs do a lot of the song selection).

Either way, I think maybe we should take what the OP says at face value - for a large number of vocal tracks to make up an entire album's worth of lead vocals, for which you're spending a week or so in the studio - spending a couple of hours choosing the exact best mic from a large selection isn't unheard of - I've done it myself multiple times.

If it was a single song, or a short EP, with limited time available - no, I'd choose a whittled down selection. Usually, I put up 2-3 and choose between them! if it's a singer I've done this with before, I can usually remember what we used and start there.

It's all down to circumstance, and whilst I don't necessarily agree with the thread premise, let's not try to make judgements on the OP's situation. Every engineer worth his salt should grab the opportunity to do comparisons of mics whenever possible, if their client thinks it's a good idea!
Old 19th October 2014
  #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
It's all down to circumstance, and whilst I don't necessarily agree with the thread premise, let's not try to make judgements on the OP's situation. Every engineer worth his salt should grab the opportunity to do comparisons of mics whenever possible, if their client thinks it's a good idea!
Agreed, I may have misread the premise of the original post...I don't know anymore.
Old 19th October 2014
  #86
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morphtec's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
Right. Most I've ever seen "tried out" on a voc session is 3, but 2 is the norm. Here's a pic of a recent shootout: C12 versus M49: WHo will win?



.

We have 120+ mics, but we charge by the hour, so choosing sessions last all of 10 minutes, usually.
thats a 251/250 against an m149 ... makes my heart bleed that you own these and don't even know what they are called ...







kidding :-)
Old 20th October 2014
  #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morphtec View Post
thats a 251/250 against an m149 ... makes my heart bleed that you own these and don't even know what they are called ...







kidding :-)
you shouldn't be kidding. it boggles the mind that THIS studio is confusing these microphones. <DELETED BY MODERATOR>
Old 20th October 2014
  #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axelrod View Post
you shouldn't be kidding. it boggles the mind that THIS studio is confusing these microphones. Pathetic really. This wreaks of richkiditis.
Nah. If I remember correctly Greg isn't the engineer, but the owner of The Bridge ... he doesn't need to know the name of the mics.

The Bridge is doing some pretty big gigs and I'm sure the engineers are top notch.
Old 6th December 2014
  #89
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To update this thread for this project, the original vintage Akg c12 (with Henry transformers and original ck12 capsule) emerged as the favorite for this particular singer. It had a clarity that seemed to provide the most realistic/true sound while still sounding "warm". I know the vintage c12 is referred to as a "Holy Grail" mic and I must agree. It's remarkable that a microphone from the 1950s can still be so great. Wish I could own one for sure!
Old 6th December 2014
  #90
DKT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
To update this thread for this project, the original vintage Akg c12 (with Henry transformers and original ck12 capsule) emerged as the favorite for this particular singer. It had a clarity that seemed to provide the most realistic/true sound while still sounding "warm". I know the vintage c12 is referred to as a "Holy Grail" mic and I must agree. It's remarkable that a microphone from the 1950s can still be so great. Wish I could own one for sure!
Mind if I ask which studio? Recently did the same at Sunset (kept it to 4). The underdog C37 won out.

Seems pretty common to have the "problem" of being in a situation of having a selection of great vintage mics and having non engineer producers / vocalists / musicians always gravitating towards the big mics with Happy Meal sized power supplies stamped with German names rather than a little guy with the same logo as their BluRay player.

Like cars or anything else.
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