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Having 20 great mics --IS-- better than 1 great mic
Old 14th October 2014
  #1
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Having 20 great mics --IS-- better than 1 great mic

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!
Old 14th October 2014
  #2
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frans's Avatar
Amen. It gets worse when the polar pattern gets into play, when you record more than one mic at a time. Beyond a certain point, the sound off axis becomes a greater factor than the sound on axis. Damn.
Old 14th October 2014
  #3
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Well it's one louder isn't it?
Old 14th October 2014
  #4
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My favorite Yngwie quote

"More is more"


Old 14th October 2014
  #5
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Having a **** ton of compressors and eqs is hard to justify these days, but I will go down fighting when it comes to defending a large microphone collection.
Old 14th October 2014
  #6
No offense to anyone, but this goes without saying and should probably be in the newbie section. But then again, maybe not.

And, sometimes an inexpensive mic will win out on a high end exspenive one in some cases with some vocalists.
Old 14th October 2014
  #7
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prizebeatz1's Avatar
I think more is better for big professional recording studios but not so much for the small home project studio. I feel its more unlikely that all those mics would be put to good use in a smaller studio so its not as necessary. If one can afford them then by all means go right ahead. But if not then there's nothing wrong with just doing the best you can with what you got. Just my opinion.
Old 14th October 2014
  #8
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
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."
Yet with all those mic's, they couldn't find the "right tone", which proves there is no "right tone" there are just different tones - which also means at some point one has to quit fooling around, choose a mic and get down to work.

IMO, the tools you have are the tools you use, too many options means too much futzing around.

By the time the track is finished, the vocal will probably have gone through many permutations of processing, from compression, to reverb, to auto-tuning - whatever "differences" that were too subtle to allow for a clear choice in the example test you provided, would likely be masked in the end.

I can see putting up three good vox mic's, but ten? Then there's the whole issue of preamps, ten mics and how many preamps gives you a ridiculous number of possibilities ...
Old 14th October 2014
  #9
The best way to personalize this, IMHO, is to TRY A **** LOAD OF THEM, as much as humanly possible. More than humanly possible. Like a mad man on a steroidal fit to gain bigger muscles. And THEN decide what kind of **** you gotta own and use until the end of your journey. The rest is just tools...If you have a certain job, you gotta use a certain tool for that. This is basic mechanics #101
Old 14th October 2014
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
Yet with all those mic's, they couldn't find the "right tone", which proves there is no "right tone" there are just different tones - which also means at some point one has to quit fooling around, choose a mic and get down to work.

IMO, the tools you have are the tools you use, too many options means too much futzing around.

By the time the track is finished, the vocal will probably have gone through many permutations of processing, from compression, to reverb, to auto-tuning - whatever "differences" that were too subtle to allow for a clear choice in the example test you provided, would likely be masked in the end.

I can see putting up three good vox mic's, but ten? Then there's the whole issue of preamps, ten mics and how many preamps gives you a ridiculous number of possibilities ...
Kinda. I'll generally put up the three that I think are likely to get me where I'm shooting for. But to do that I've already mentally discarded another half dozen.
Old 14th October 2014
  #11
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Kinda. I'll generally put up the three that I think are likely to get me where I'm shooting for. But to do that I've already mentally discarded another half dozen.
Yes, exactly - if you know your mic's, you'll have a pretty good idea of what to shoot for - ( I do this with my guitars and amp combos, I know what I'm going to start with after having edited, mentally, out a bunch of other options) - it's also important not to wear out the singer - by the time you've spent an hour or two boring a singer to death trying different mic's, you've killed the vibe.
Old 14th October 2014
  #12
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The idea that we need to 'test' 12 mics to record a vocal is just as ridiculous as the 12 different preamp colors to make a record.
Old 14th October 2014
  #13
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Woodwindy's Avatar
I agree with the OP's conclusion. I demo 4 mics into 4 preamps in this video showing the usefulness of the Manley MicMAID (MAID stands for My Assistant Is Dead--nice!). Manley Labs MicMAID Demo (full version) - YouTube
Old 14th October 2014
  #14
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Funny Cat's Avatar
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 capsule, Blue Bottle mic, Manley Cardioid, Neumann m49b....!
No SM7b? That's just wrong. And how much did they charge you for "testing" out all their high end mics? I'm with Sharp11 on this one. Hope you had enough time and energy to finish the verse!
Old 14th October 2014
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
And how much did they charge you for "testing" out all their high end mics?
That's the big question !

R.
Old 14th October 2014
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
My favorite Yngwie quote

"More is more"


He's so cool, if anyone can get away with that comment it's him. Best guitarist since Eddie
Old 14th October 2014
  #17
You have to grab opportunities like this to really listen to different options side by side, because they don't come up often! Usually, you don't have the time to spend on such detailed comparison - I usually choose between 2 or occasionally 3. Same with the rest of the chain.

But as Trev said, to make that decision, you're drawing on experience of the past, hopefully from assisting sessions on, with a mental impression of the character of each mic. Of course you might get a "better" sound if you could try every combo out for everything..you'd just run out of time to record everything!

It's always a trade off.
Old 14th October 2014
  #18
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skythemusic's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Special Neids View Post
Having a **** ton of compressors and eqs is hard to justify these days, but I will go down fighting when it comes to defending a large microphone collection.
I disagree, ****-tons of compressors are my favorite tone shaping tools. I have around 30 of them and wish I had 1,130. They are all different and to me more is more. Nothing wrong with the minimalist attitude either, it is just not where I am personally at...I treat my outboard gear as the average user of plugins treats their "tools".
Old 15th October 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Of course you might get a "better" sound if you could try every combo out for everything..you'd just run out of time to record everything!
A "better" sound, or a bunch of different sounds that you may or may not like? Why not 30 different guitars, amps and guitarist too?

Will every/most experienced producer put up with this?
Old 15th October 2014
  #20
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
I left thinking that more mics is better. Who was I fooling all these years? More IS better.

are you a decent sized studio operation or project/home guy?
good luck.its called chasing the endless tailed gear dragon.$$$

..an 87 is a pretty decent all rounder though.
Old 15th October 2014
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
A "better" sound, or a bunch of different sounds that you may or may not like? Why not 30 different guitars, amps and guitarist too?

Will every/most experienced producer put up with this?
Exactly the point

And no - unless the producer instigates it, they won't!

It's usually "start with what you think will work - if it doesn't, change it...otherwise off you go!"
Old 15th October 2014
  #22
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It's a great thing to have more mics. NOW add THIS which is NEEDED:

1) Time to set them all up
2) Time to listen to all the tracks
3) A client willing to PAY and be PATIENT for all that extra time

In an ideal world, go for it! It sure is fun!

Practically speaking, at the end of the day, does it really add up to value for the client? Debatable. In the end the client decides with their money.

Most clients will be happier with one great mic and a lower bill.
Old 15th October 2014
  #23
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

A few years ago, I recorded a well known female vocalist from a popular indy band for a film score I had written - she had it in her contract I had to provide her with a vintage U47.

I rented one, a 1963 example in fantastic condition. When she arrived, I had it set to go, but she also wanted to try the Charter Oak 538b I had recently purchased - we tried both and she chose the CA - and then we got down to work. I couldn't have imagined going through ten mic's ...
Old 15th October 2014
  #24
Mic decision making in commercial recording studios with large collections of mic's, experienced staff and a stellar reputation is often down to a couple of enlightened guesses by the engineer that the artist may or may not be considered qualified to help judge.
Unless of course it's the drummer:
Old 15th October 2014
  #25
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skythemusic's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
It's a great thing to have more mics. NOW add THIS which is NEEDED:

1) Time to set them all up
2) Time to listen to all the tracks
3) A client willing to PAY and be PATIENT for all that extra time

In an ideal world, go for it! It sure is fun!

Practically speaking, at the end of the day, does it really add up to value for the client? Debatable. In the end the client decides with their money.

Most clients will be happier with one great mic and a lower bill.
I agree. I'm also with psycho_monkey in the sense that I run with whatever mic or chain seems like it will work or truthfully whatever is laying around in the moment and do my best to make that work. If it doesn't sound right, even after some tweaking (most things don't sound "right" immediately), I'll swap to idea number two and rarely do I get to idea number 3. Part of how you get that confidence is trying lots of different gear in lots of different situations. I'm still working on that part but having as many mics, pres, comps, etc. as possible and then learning them so that you can make a quick decision and get to what matters (the performance and song itself) is ideal. Though I don't think you can have too many tone palettes at your disposal, you can certainly tweak too much and try so many mics, et al that the idea dissipates or the client gets impatient. Been there and pretty over that...ticked off plenty of people and mostly myself chasing the perfection that doesn't exist outside of your head.
Old 15th October 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
(most things don't sound "right" immediately)
Not in my experience…

I often use the old revolutionary technique of recording all the overdubs with one mic and amp...
Old 15th October 2014
  #27
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
(most things don't sound "right" immediately), I'll swap to idea number two and rarely do I get to idea number 3. Part of how you get that confidence is trying lots of different gear in lots of different situations. I'm still working on that part but having as many mics, pres, comps, etc. as possible and then learning them so that you can make a quick decision and get to what matters (the performance and song itself) is ideal.
I have completely the opposite experience, almost everything not only sounds "right", it sounds great, right away - it's only when I begin second guessing and trying different combos I begin to muddy the waters ...

To be fair, I record many of the same sources - acoustic and electric guitars and amps, acoustic pianos, rhodes, synths, lots of different percussion and some vocals (I'm a film and tv composer), so I've learned a bit along the way about what works with what and what doesn't - I also have to admit to doing a lot of what Sam C does, which is use the same mic and amp on many different overdubs - and somehow managing to make it sound just great - and "different" from dub to dub ...
Old 15th October 2014
  #28
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In the acoustic Bluegrass world I work in the first chore is tracking a Rthm. guitar with a scratch lead vocal. Based on the vocal qualities that are usually easy to perceive, "when the red light is not on the singer" I will have a pretty good idea the mic and pre that will best fit the lead vocalist for a finished track. I will always discuss my preferences with the lead singer and the reasons why I believe certain combinations should work best for a given singer/picker however I always leave the door open for the performer to try a different mic if they feel they are not where they need to be sonically.
Old 15th October 2014
  #29
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skythemusic's Avatar
Hmm...well I tend to record a lot of different styles of music covering a lot of different aesthetic ground. I would say 80% of the time I roll with my first instinct and it works, but it still does require adjustments in gain structure, compression and eq/effects (if used). The idea of setting up one chain and then overdubbing that on several songs at once to save time has been intriguing me lately and I plan on trying that route at some point soon.
Old 15th October 2014
  #30
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chainrule View Post
He's so cool, if anyone can get away with that comment it's him. Best guitarist since Eddie
Best guitar mastery of the the harmonic minor scale I'd say

... But, I honestly I think Petrucci edges him out ... all the same speed if not faster .. but also can do it in time signature changes out the wazoo
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