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upgrade mic, preamp or room treatment next...? Dynamic Microphones
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
upgrade mic, preamp or room treatment next...?

First time poster here. Been reading many threads in support of my next upgrade decision, so greatly appreciate the wealth of knowledge and experience on here.

I'm a podcaster looking to upgrade my setup with the goal of increased vocal quality and better overall product, and can't decide what to do next. I've been using an MXL 990 into an M-Audio Fast Track Pro with an RNC1773 inserted in the chain. This setup has been ok but not ideal because:
  1. My room is untreated and it picks up a lot of unwanted noise
  2. The MXL has a lot of sibilance with my voice
  3. I also stream live gaming and would like a setup that picks up less keyboard / mouse noise

I've been liking the idea of getting a good dynamic vocal mic like the Shure SM7b because it's a broadcast-quality mic upgrade, seems good for rejecting unwanted noise, and seems versatile enough to be a good addition to a mic cabinet. However, I'm aware that with my crappy m-audio interface pres, I'll probably need to get a gain booster like a Cloudlifter as well.

This lead me to wonder whether I'd see more appreciable results getting a cheaper dynamic mic, like an SM58 or comparable model, and spending the price difference on a quality outboard mic preamp, or even an interface with better pres. I like the idea of this because then if I want to upgrade my mic in the future, I'll have a nicer pre already.

But then I wonder if I'd get the best results by spending all that cash instead on treating my room first and sticking with my MXL 990, and just EQ'ing the sibilance and then using a crappier dynamic mic that I already own for my live gaming. This doesn't sound as convenient or ideal for me, but I'd be willing to go with it if it would ultimately make for the best finished product on my podcasts.

Anyway, long thread, but what would you do in my situation? Feeling willing to spend about $500 US. TIA for your thoughts.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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I posted a couple of brief vocal clips, on the recent "Under $200" Home Demo thread. Based on that (hopefully), you may hear why I like the AKG D790 quite a bit. Closest microphone I could find, to the Beyer M88TG, but with a more rolled off high end. I also posted a super brief example, using the AKG 200 LDC. I was trying to see how effective the low cut switch
might be, in an untreated kitchen area. (and in making my voice sound less cold congested)

Odds are, your voice may be less bright than mine, if so a M88TG would be an excellent choice too. Either of these microphones have even more "room rejection", than a SM7 or 57/58. Also hotter/more output than the Shures.
Good chance I'll pick up a M88TG, before the end of the year, that was the ONE thing I now regret selling-years back.

Also I would ditch the M-Audio and 990, to increase your budget.

Then upgrade your interface. IMHO at least the level of the Steinberg UR series
(the RT2 w/Neve transformer looks interesting for more $$ BTW).
Smart to check system compatibility-of course.

(best Peter Falk/Det. Columbo voice) Just one more thing... Welcome to Gearslutz!

Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Unclenny's Avatar
In your situation I would spend money on a microphone and preamp chain that fits my voice nicely without a lot of EQing. It all starts there, right?

Once you get comfortable with your recording chain you can get down to the business of getting your room together.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
I posted a couple of brief vocal clips, on the recent "Under $200" Home Demo thread. Based on that (hopefully), you may hear why I like the AKG D790 quite a bit. Closest microphone I could find, to the Beyer M88TG, but with a more rolled off high end. I also posted a super brief example, using the AKG 200 LDC. I was trying to see how effective the low cut switch
might be, in an untreated kitchen area. (and in making my voice sound less cold congested)

Odds are, your voice may be less bright than mine, if so a M88TG would be an excellent choice too. Either of these microphones have even more "room rejection", than a SM7 or 57/58. Also hotter/more output than the Shures.
Good chance I'll pick up a M88TG, before the end of the year, that was the ONE thing I now regret selling-years back.

Also I would ditch the M-Audio and 990, to increase your budget.

Then upgrade your interface. IMHO at least the level of the Steinberg UR series
(the RT2 w/Neve transformer looks interesting for more $$ BTW).
Smart to check system compatibility-of course.

(best Peter Falk/Det. Columbo voice) Just one more thing... Welcome to Gearslutz!

Chris
This is all super helpful! Much appreciated advice. I'll look into the AKG D790 as I've been feeling uninspired about using yet another SM58. And thanks for the kind welcome! I've been on gearslutz for so long I thought I had an account... guess I do now


Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
In your situation I would spend money on a microphone and preamp chain that fits my voice nicely without a lot of EQing. It all starts there, right?

Once you get comfortable with your recording chain you can get down to the business of getting your room together.
That's the way it made sense in my head, so it's reassuring to hear that from you and chessparov2.0. Thanks!


Open to other opinions as well
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Thread Starter
Thinking on this more, do you think I'd get better results just upgrading my interface, or buying an external pre and running it through my fastrack? I have a feeling I couldn't get true bypass on the fastrack, and I'm guessing the AD converters in that unit aren't great to begin with. But maybe the quality of a good outboard pre would overcome some of that limitation. What do you think?
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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IMHO upgrading to something like a M88, or SM7, will blow away the MXL 990.

Adding something like the Simply Sound SS-1, Cloudlifter, or Triton FetHead,
might allow for you to be happy with your existing interface.

You may also want to lessen your vocal compression, via the RNC, as that tends to increase sibilance.
I prefer to use a de-esser first, before any conventional compression.

Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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jdier's Avatar
 

I think a new mic will make the biggest impact.

Agree about experimenting with compression settings to see if sibilance is being exaggerated there.

In addition to the SM7 you are considering, I may also suggest checking out the RE20 which should be great for your application.

I know an SM58 is not sexy or exciting, but good sounds do come from them.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
IMHO upgrading to something like a M88, or SM7, will blow away the MXL 990.

Adding something like the Simply Sound SS-1, Cloudlifter, or Triton FetHead,
might allow for you to be happy with your existing interface.

You may also want to lessen your vocal compression, via the RNC, as that tends to increase sibilance.
I prefer to use a de-esser first, before any conventional compression.

Chris
Thanks for the thoughts re: compression. Are there good outboard de-essers that are simple to put in the chain? I wish the RNC had some built-in facility for this, but alas...

And good to know the cloudlifter could help to prop up my weak interface. I really do like the idea of getting an SM7... just listened to a lot of samples, and it's always the winner for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdier View Post
I think a new mic will make the biggest impact.

Agree about experimenting with compression settings to see if sibilance is being exaggerated there.

In addition to the SM7 you are considering, I may also suggest checking out the RE20 which should be great for your application.

I know an SM58 is not sexy or exciting, but good sounds do come from them.
Do you have any thoughts on SM58 + nicer preamp, vs. SM7 + cloudlifter through existing cheap preamp? I'd love to buy all the nice things at once, but can't swing it at present...
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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jdier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thetarun View Post
Do you have any thoughts on SM58 + nicer preamp, vs. SM7 + cloudlifter through existing cheap preamp? I'd love to buy all the nice things at once, but can't swing it at present...
I wish I could help there. I have never used the preamp or interface you mention. Also, I have never used a cloudlifter.

I have run my SM7 through a FMR RNP with fine results. I also run it through a SCA N72. I used to own some Great River preamps and it sounded great through them too.

Sorry I cannot be of more help.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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One of my "recording hero's" is AE John Leckie.

You can hear some of his vocal production, on The Stone Roses classic debut album. All of the lead vocals were done on a SM58.

Based on John's interview statements, for example on a bright voice like mine,
he would lean more towards the SM7. If your voice is darker than mine, compared to the examples I posted, IMHO you'd be just fine with the 58.

Whereas I'm always tempted to put "some ketchup"-as John Lennon called it (thicker pre/processing/effects etc.), on the SM58.

I doubt I could ever run a 58 through a "clean pre", and ever be entirely happy.
But SM7>Little Labs LMNO Pre blew my mind! (probably $1000+ used nowadays). The SM7 is inherently smoother vs. the 58. But if you're more patient (than me!), the 58 is extremely EQ-able.

Regarding de-essing "going in", the local studio pros have advised me, to do all processing ITB (for someone with a limited skill set like mine). If you have a mixer, one idea might be to use the RNC as part of the "headphone mix" chain,
so it could give you some later ideas on compression post-processing.

Hope this helps, Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdier View Post
I wish I could help there. I have never used the preamp or interface you mention. Also, I have never used a cloudlifter.

I have run my SM7 through a FMR RNP with fine results. I also run it through a SCA N72. I used to own some Great River preamps and it sounded great through them too.

Sorry I cannot be of more help.
You've been more than helpful already! Thanks so much for your time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
One of my "recording hero's" is AE John Leckie.

You can hear some of his vocal production, on The Stone Roses classic debut album. All of the lead vocals were done on a SM58.

Based on John's interview statements, for example on a bright voice like mine,
he would lean more towards the SM7. If your voice is darker than mine, compared to the examples I posted, IMHO you'd be just fine with the 58.

Whereas I'm always tempted to put "some ketchup"-as John Lennon called it (thicker pre/processing/effects etc.), on the SM58.

I doubt I could ever run a 58 through a "clean pre", and ever be entirely happy.
But SM7>Little Labs LMNO Pre blew my mind! (probably $1000+ used nowadays). The SM7 is inherently smoother vs. the 58. But if you're more patient (than me!), the 58 is extremely EQ-able.

Regarding de-essing "going in", the local studio pros have advised me, to do all processing ITB (for someone with a limited skill set like mine). If you have a mixer, one idea might be to use the RNC as part of the "headphone mix" chain,
so it could give you some later ideas on compression post-processing.

Hope this helps, Chris
I just have a feeling I'm going to respond better to the SM7. Maybe not 300% better (as the price suggests), but I think I'm going to be happy having it in my arsenal. The smooth quality, plus all of its additional innovations like hum rejection, make it very appealing to me. Thanks for helping me work through that. I like the idea of getting an SM7 now and eventually upgrading to a preamp that could really make it sing.

Re: doing all processing ITB, I've tried that before with compression and always found software compressors lacking. Maybe I'm just not good enough to really get the performance out of them, but tweaking the same parameters on my RNC, I've been really able to dial in a sound that I like (and the boldness of it is not a con for my radio-like podcast applications). So perhaps I just have to invest more time in de-essing post-RNC, as unideal as that sounds.

Thanks for all your thoughts. So, so appreciated!
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Sure thing! And a SM7 is going to be way less sibilant, than a stock 990. Didn't work well for me either.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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jdier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thetarun View Post
So perhaps I just have to invest more time in de-essing post-RNC, as unideal as that sounds.
I have a feeling many essing problems will go away with a move to either the 58 or SM7.

Good luck to you!
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