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Less EQ = correct mic?
Old 9th May 2017
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Thread Starter
Less EQ = correct mic?

Sorry for what may be an obvious question.
When deciding between mics, in this case vocals, is it generally true that the microphone that requires the least eq, eq-effort to sound good is the correct mic?
Old 9th May 2017
  #2
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Yes !
Old 9th May 2017
  #3
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Sure. But your taste in what sounds good will probably evolve. Mine sure has.
Old 9th May 2017
  #4
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Basically, yes.

But when good ain't good enough, there's one exception.
Old 9th May 2017
  #5
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

As a general rule, I thinks think that's fine, simply because it simplifies the recording and mixing process.

I use different mics depending on the the vocal style and the backing track. Something that sounds thin scratchy and sibilant on a female vocalist singing a ballad may sound great with a male vocalist shouting over two heavy guitars.

I know one singer who (don't laugh) sounds better on a Behringer B2 than anything else in my admittedly modest mic collection.
Old 9th May 2017
  #6
We've got a Copperhead and regularly turn the HShelf up and the Low Shelf down. Out of the box didn't work on my voice but love the sound with some EQ, so I wouldn't rule out a mic that needed some sculpturing to fit a voice. Would have missed out on one of our favorite vocal mics.
Old 10th May 2017
  #7
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gravymanstan View Post
Sorry for what may be an obvious question.
When deciding between mics, in this case vocals, is it generally true that the microphone that requires the least eq, eq-effort to sound good is the correct mic?
Actually, eq isn't "required" for anything. It's a convenience. Some of us, like the studios of yesteryear, have no eq on the console. Usually kept in a closet and brought out when needed.
Old 10th May 2017
  #8
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kennybro's Avatar
Anything choice that offers more "correct" sound (whatever correct means in any situation) from the source is the right choice. The mic is part of the source.
Old 10th May 2017
  #9
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Actually, eq isn't "required" for anything. It's a convenience. Some of us, like the studios of yesteryear, have no eq on the console. Usually kept in a closet and brought out when needed.
I've read that Abbey Road used to have fixed eq hardware boxes that you would pull out of a closet and stick in line

"Need a bit less midrange-- put filter box 4 in line with the mic"
Old 10th May 2017
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
I've read that Abbey Road used to have fixed eq hardware boxes that you would pull out of a closet and stick in line

"Need a bit less midrange-- put filter box 4 in line with the mic"
We've setup the digital equivalent for our mics through insert presets in Cubase. You know what's going to work with a particular mic on a specific voice.
Old 13th May 2017
  #11
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Mic choice is all about personnel preference and what you want as far as sound. You may want to Eq your vocal a tiny bit for one song, but the same vocal track in another song may require a lot of EQ'ing. This is because every song is different and you will need to fit and Eq the vocal track into each song as needed and as to meet your personnel preference needs.

I have never used the same exact EQ for a vocal track or any other instrument track in any song (over 1,000 songs in my 30 years of engineering)
Old 13th May 2017
  #12
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
I have never used the same exact EQ for a vocal track or any other instrument track in any song (over 1,000 songs in my 30 years of engineering)
I sure have. Drums, especially, when it's multiple songs in the same basic style tracked in the same place, probably on the same day. Sometimes that commonality is a good starting point for building the individual mixes.
Old 15th May 2017
  #13
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
I have never used the same exact EQ for a vocal track or any other instrument track in any song (over 1,000 songs in my 30 years of engineering)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I sure have. Drums, especially, when it's multiple songs in the same basic style tracked in the same place, probably on the same day. Sometimes that commonality is a good starting point for building the individual mixes.
I think the key there is "same exact". I only track and mix my own music with the same mic every time so my vocal EQ is always pretty similar.

But....it is never exactly the same due to song differences.
Old 15th May 2017
  #14
Gear Maniac
Different mics have different characteristics - it's all a compromise.

I work in live sound, but here's a similar example. An EV N/D967 has a bit of a peak (nothing too serious) at 5.5kHz. It makes some voices a little gratey. However, the side- and rear-rejection of the mic is fantastic. On loud stages, it's my go-to mic. An Audio-Technica ATM710 has a very wide cardioid pattern, and no 5.5kHz peak. It sounds lovely right out of the box.

Which mic is best?

Well, it depends (like everything in audio). If I wanted to amplify a quiet singer on a loud stage, the ATM710, for all of its lovely sound, will pick up too much stage wash and feed back too quickly. The 967 would reject all of that and allow the engineer to push the vocals through. No point in having a gorgeous-sounding vocal if nobody can hear it.
Opposite situation - good singer, quiet stage. ATM710 all the way. Used it for that the other night, and found that, while the singer's technique wasn't great (he'd move two or three inches to either side of the mic while singing) the mic picked it all up really well. The 967 is pretty much dead unless you're right on top of it.

It's all about picking the right tool for the job. I have no problem using a band of EQ to sort out a 967 if it's otherwise an ideal mic for what I need it to do.

EQ isn't inherently evil, it's just another tool in the box.

Chris
Old 15th May 2017
  #15
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

I wouldn't say a mic that requires less EQ is always better, in the context of a fully mixed song. However, a mic that needs less (or no) corrective EQ to sound good is typically going to be a good choice, assuming you want your vocals to sound natural. In some genre's of music though, people may prefer something that isn't totally accurate, maybe brighter than their voice sounds in real life (though I would recommend a budget condenser that is bright, for example). Still, I would personally rather have a mic that fits the source (which for me is mostly vocals), and make the decision to make it brighter after recording or not.

I am just saying though I generally agree, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. Also, even when the mic is not a great fit, but doesn't have any really bad qualities, it may just be too dull, but captured everything well, that can also be a situation where a bit of EQ will make that mic sound a lot better. Getting rid of harshness, silabance, or things not easily corrected through EQ are totally frustrating sessions to work with.
Old 15th May 2017
  #16
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So are we talking stage or studio?

Anyway, yes, I love the 967, too.

Quote:
Opposite situation - good singer, quiet stage. ATM710 all the way. Used it for that the other night, and found that, while the singer's technique wasn't great (he'd move two or three inches to either side of the mic while singing) the mic picked it all up really well. The 967 is pretty much dead unless you're right on top of it.
I like to think I'm a good singer. And I prefer quiet stages. Even then I believe the 967 is a fine mic. Works for me at a (reasonable) distance, too.
In a really good room/hall, a condenser would be preferred.

In the studio, a big locker to pick from can help. But assuming the one-do-it-all-mic-with-good-EQ scenario, nothing beats a U67 IMO. The real thing, mind.
Old 15th May 2017
  #17
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by legato View Post
So are we talking stage or studio?

Anyway, yes, I love the 967, too.


I like to think I'm a good singer. And I prefer quiet stages. Even then I believe the 967 is a fine mic. Works for me at a (reasonable) distance, too.
In a really good room/hall, a condenser would be preferred.

In the studio, a big locker to pick from can help. But assuming the one-do-it-all-mic-with-good-EQ scenario, nothing beats a U67 IMO. The real thing, mind.
Typically, on this site, everything is studio unless someone specifically is asking for live. A lot of mics I don't recommend on this board are the same mics I would have no trouble recommending for live situations. Just saying, that's typically how things are discussed here.
Old 15th May 2017
  #18
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I would say the answer is "often, but not necessarily." It depends on what is the best possible sound you can get out of each mic. There might be a situation where you have two mics, one of which sounds like a 6 on that source flat, and requires very little EQ to sound like a 7, but that's as good as it gets--while another mic might sound like a 5 on that source flat, but with quite a lot of EQ you can get it all the way to an 8. (I think this is a fairly common experience when the choice is between a middling condenser and a good dynamic or ribbon.)
Old 16th May 2017
  #19
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Guess it comes down to whether your vocals work around the music or the music works around your vocals.

Many great singers used specific mics. Frank Sinatra used a Telefunken U47, Jim Morrison used a Electro Voice EV-676 etc.
The mix was built around the results those singers achieved with those mics.

The other train of thought would be to use mics that fit the mix. This is much easier due to multi tracking. You don't have to add vocals till the mix is near completion and can simply pull out whatever mic gets the job done. There's nothing wrong with pulling out one mic that has an edge for a rock song and another that's warm and smooth for a ballad.

Something to consider between the two methodologies. Somewhere along the way in pop music, probably the 60's bands began to reinvent themselves and put on a new persona. Albums were recorded in different studios, different gear was used, different music was played, and new albums were made exciting by abandoning the old and embracing the new. Many bands still do this both recording and live. The differences live may be of whatever Gear endorsements they have advertising gear.

If you're building an entire CD of material it might be easier to get continuity between songs using the same mic and simply changing the way you sing and the way you mix. It really comes down to what kind of CD that is. If the songs are very radically different then different mics can yield different results. Getting to know each mic well so you can get the best from them is part of that game. I know when I record others, I choose what I think will get me the best results based on knowing that mic myself and what I hear that singer is best at.

For my own singing, I tend to stick with one mic for a period of time. For awhile it was dynamic mics, then I used large diaphragm condensers. Then I used a hand held condensers. In the past year its been Ribbon mics. I'm still pushing the envelope of that kind of mic and coming up with good surprises. I suppose when I exhaust its capabilities or simply get bored with the sound I'll switch again. I can say my mixes have changed as the mics I use change. So long as those changes are good I stick with a good thing. I can say I do less EQing then I ever have since I started using a ribbon mic. Its exactly what my voice has been needing for a long, long time. Cant tell you how many mics I've tried trying to find something that would tame the strong upper mids my voice has. That suppose that quest will go on at some point but its not as high a priority any more.
Old 17th May 2017
  #20
Gear Guru
 

While you certainly don't want to have to work hard to 'salvage' a track recorded with an inappropriate mic, I think it is an oversimplification to reduce the differences from one mic to the next to their EQ curves. There are a lot of things that differ from one mic to the next besides their on-axis frequency plots.


If you are purchasing a single vocal mic for one specific singer, then you might want look around for the mic that sounds best "untouched". OTOH, I have a ribbon that sounds fantastic on certain singers but always needs some high shelf.
Old 17th May 2017
  #21
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar
 

I have tweaked and soldered(and re-soldered) several mics to achieve this.
Old 17th May 2017
  #22
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I must agree with most. I've found that when a vocal recording requires tons of eq, it's usually due to poor recording conditions, or the mic doesn't compliment the artist. If you can manage to eliminate the 2 scenarios, a little bit of eq ( roll off low end ) just eliminates unwanted frequencies. Other than that, mic technique plays a major role as well. But I'm sure by now I'm preaching to the choir.
Old 17th May 2017
  #23
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Typically EQ is used to reduce the time dialing in the mic choice and placement or avoiding re-track of a great take. Also we all have a limited number of mic's. I have over 60 mic's because of this.

I call the concept "Real men don't use EQ" but I end up using EQ all the time no matter how much time I put into the mic choice and positioning. Drums are the most difficult to do without EQ.

I agree that the less EQ you use, the more natural it sounds. But this is also a function of the exact EQ. GML 8200 makes adjustments that don't sound like it has been EQ'd.
Old 18th May 2017
  #24
Gear Head
 

maybe one mic is just showing some frequency where the voice is not that good, and the problem would be the source, not the mic, or the room, etc.
i would also say something more like:
less corrective eq = correct mic.
my 2c
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