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Help with hissing in 7k-20k range Condenser Microphones
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Help with hissing in 7k-20k range

Pretty much right as the title says but ill go into more detail.

I have an artist I'm working with. I was warned her voice is unique to mix and record but I didn't fully understand why. We've tried recording on a bottle, a U87, and an ADK, and on all 3 her recordings have this hissing noise in the breathiness of her voice at 7-20k. I thought, ok, so maybe its the room. Different studio, different booth, same thing. The cables? different cables, same thing. The EQ? Still a problem. Different pre-amps, also a check. Not only can I not boost but even notching or subtracting doesn't work. It's both muddy AND hissy. Pop filter check, good cables check, good mics, check. It only comes out at the end of words when she is exhausting a lot of air, and it's like a high pitched wave of white noise just climbs out of the woodwork. It sounds sorta like when someone is wheezing and they have that high pitched crackly whistle in their breath.

[EDIT: Something I noticed is the issue seems to go away when she gets louder or really belts in a high frequency. I don't know if its because she is louder than the problem or if the problem is going away but I cant isolate any problems in the high top end when she really squeezes. The performance is supposed to start soft so I dont want to tamper with any of that but it seemed like a possibly important piece of information]

I'm hoping maybe someone knows what I'm describing and has a suggestion. I would love to hear your suggestions. I will try to also post an audio clip in a little bit but if I cant Id still like to hear your thoughts.

Thanks in advance and I appreciate the help!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
here is a link for a small snippit of one of the recordings but even without the EQ you should be able to hear the hissing I am talking about. This was in a smaller booth so its a bit boxy. I only threw a HPF on there at 100hz and it has a gate on it but besides that, 100% raw

HISS.wav - Google Drive
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Based on the snippet you posted, it sounds like she would sound good through and sm7b. It has more of a warm feel. I’ve delt with vocalist that had that same sound, great when it sounds good, extremely terrible when it sounds bad, no fault of the artist. I also found sweeping the EQ while tracking helped find that troublesome frequency. Once found, cut a few dB and things start to sound better. I would also recommend a noise plug, like waves noise. It helps tame the white noise. Don’t use the presets, you have to manually adjust the settings to taste. Also try de-essing. Although it’s meant to take the Ssss out at the beginning and end of a word, it also helps with rogue frequencies as well. Maybe even a little compression on the way in to reduce a little bit of the hiss. Hope that helps.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by locnus View Post
Based on the snippet you posted, it sounds like she would sound good through and sm7b. It has more of a warm feel. I’ve delt with vocalist that had that same sound, great when it sounds good, extremely terrible when it sounds bad, no fault of the artist. I also found sweeping the EQ while tracking helped find that troublesome frequency. Once found, cut a few dB and things start to sound better. I would also recommend a noise plug, like waves noise. It helps tame the white noise. Don’t use the presets, you have to manually adjust the settings to taste. Also try de-essing. Although it’s meant to take the Ssss out at the beginning and end of a word, it also helps with rogue frequencies as well. Maybe even a little compression on the way in to reduce a little bit of the hiss. Hope that helps.
Of 10 mics I don't have an SM7b on hand but ill give the rest a try. I really appreciate it! Looking forward to playing around with it later.

Given the thoroughness and helpfulness of this response, I am excited to see what other suggestions pile up as well. Thanks again!
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Nut
 

For sure. Keep us posted. We love to know when things work out.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by locnus View Post
For sure. Keep us posted. We love to know when things work out.
I dont have any of the waves noise reducers but I tried RX and that kinda helped but it make the vocal paper thin. Are the waves plugins lightyears better that you think that would benefit it at all or is it about the same, do you know?
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Addict
 

Sounds like either mic choice, or use a dynamic eq to tame the HF content of her voice without destroying the rest of the take

Last edited by acidlab; 1 week ago at 09:17 AM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
My two bobs worth. DO what you can to pick the best microphone for her and don't accentuate it, yet when it comes down to it, it's part of the character of her voice.

One of my favourite female artists is Marie Digby. She has a VERY breathy voice that's just part and parcel of her sound. She released an album a few years back where the engineers went to town to remove her breathy voice and it just destroyed her sound and vocal character. The live recordings of the same songs were much better in my view.

Anyway. Do what you can to tame it but don't be so obsessed about it that you destroy the very essence and character of the singer.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Nut
 

+1 to AnthonyG's answer. I think you should try to find a mic that works for your application rather than just picking the most expensive mic you have around. Like try a SM58 or beta 58.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
My two bobs worth. DO what you can to pick the best microphone for her and don't accentuate it, yet when it comes down to it, it's part of the character of her voice.

One of my favourite female artists is Marie Digby. She has a VERY breathy voice that's just part and parcel of her sound. She released an album a few years back where the engineers went to town to remove her breathy voice and it just destroyed her sound and vocal character. The live recordings of the same songs were much better in my view.

Anyway. Do what you can to tame it but don't be so obsessed about it that you destroy the very essence and character of the singer.
I actually really love this answer. Believe it or not, I'm not trying to take the breathiness away. In fact, we want to make it MORE present. The problem is that it has this high pitched whistling noise running straight up from 7k that sounds less like breath and more like someone squeezing a squeaky toy into a vase.

Ive read over some of the other answers too and want to give some things a try. Im glad you touched on that character bit though. I probably should have lead with, Im not trying to take the air OUT, just clean it up.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiospecific View Post
+1 to AnthonyG's answer. I think you should try to find a mic that works for your application rather than just picking the most expensive mic you have around. Like try a SM58 or beta 58.
I do have an SM58 so I may give that a try next time we are in the booth. What's confusing me is I know her other producers record her on a very old vintage U87 and she sounds completely different in the top end character of her voice. The color sounds similar but the texture is a bit nicer
Old 1 week ago
  #12
So heres a little update. I used neutron to create a wide band between 6.5k and 18k and lifted it about 2DB then createed 1 notch at 7k, another around 9k, and another around 15k, where I heard the crakling in the whistling sound. I set these 3 bands to dynamic mode and am hitting them with about 25db of reducion. Because of the wide band its not SUPER noticeable but it is a little telephonic sounding. It in no way resolved the issue but it did ease up a little on the werid crakling in the air. The bigger problem is this created small gaps that are generating an almot sin wave like whistle in the top end now. I can hide that with a normal EQ band but then it just begins to sound muddy.....

Still looking forward to trying out some more mics but if anyone else has any other thoughts still based on what I just described, maybe this will help hone in on the issue
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThorntonStrolia View Post
So heres a little update. I used neutron to create a wide band between 6.5k and 18k and lifted it about 2DB then createed 1 notch at 7k, another around 9k, and another around 15k, where I heard the crakling in the whistling sound. I set these 3 bands to dynamic mode and am hitting them with about 25db of reducion. Because of the wide band its not SUPER noticeable but it is a little telephonic sounding. It in no way resolved the issue but it did ease up a little on the werid crakling in the air. The bigger problem is this created small gaps that are generating an almot sin wave like whistle in the top end now. I can hide that with a normal EQ band but then it just begins to sound muddy.....

Still looking forward to trying out some more mics but if anyone else has any other thoughts still based on what I just described, maybe this will help hone in on the issue
Anything that high up is likely to be somewhat directional, right? I'd try putting the mic at different heights, maybe going to greater extremes than you'd normally explore because this seems to be an unusual case.

I do more distance mixing, and primarily instrumental work at that, so I can't give super specific advice on which direction or how far.

I just know that when trying to record my own voice the range of sounds as I move the mic around is stunning. There are boomy areas, dull areas, breathy areas, nasal areas, sibilant areas, etc. I would guess that this unwanted sound also occupies a certain area and that you can reduce it quite a bit by moving the mic (possibly a lot!)
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Lives for gear
You could use a graphic EQ to pull those frequencies down a bit and really hunt and pick the exact ones.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
Anything that high up is likely to be somewhat directional, right? I'd try putting the mic at different heights, maybe going to greater extremes than you'd normally explore because this seems to be an unusual case.

I do more distance mixing, and primarily instrumental work at that, so I can't give super specific advice on which direction or how far.

I just know that when trying to record my own voice the range of sounds as I move the mic around is stunning. There are boomy areas, dull areas, breathy areas, nasal areas, sibilant areas, etc. I would guess that this unwanted sound also occupies a certain area and that you can reduce it quite a bit by moving the mic (possibly a lot!)
I definitely feel like maybe that's playing a pretty big role. I have definitely played around a little bit with it but not a super whole lot. Mostly I've focused on mic distance.

If anyone has a lot of experience micing vocals from different angles id love to hear. We both liked the U87 more than the Blue (Blue Bottle is what's in the clip I provided in the second post) The U87 isn't as boxy in these small booths we've used. From farther than 8" away all the air in her vocals just gets washed out and its just this strange hissing at the top. The recording I posted was recorded from about 6-8" away. We put the capsule angled down slightly and just about the height of the tip of the nose. Theoretically, that would force out any nasal air sibilance. 2 Layer fabric mesh pop filter just to really reinforce the plosive reduction. Tried also with just a metal mesh pop filter and also no pop filter. Metal and no pop filter had a negligible difference in my opinion.

I really do think mic placement might be playing a big part in this issue. Being that it's already above her nose though, im not sure what specifically could be causing it and if theres an expert with off axis vocal micing I would really like to know if you spot anything between the audio and what ive said that really sticks out. You all have been super helpful and I appreciate it.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Unclenny's Avatar
Listening to that clip it sounds like the problem is occurring at the ends of phrases. If that's true you might be able to mitigate things with some careful volume automation at places where it really stands out and take the attention away from it.

I do that with my own vocals all the time as i tend to get breathy at the end of phrases just like that.

I wouldn't do anything that detracts from the character of her voice so i would be very careful about any really bold EQ moves.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
You could use a graphic EQ to pull those frequencies down a bit and really hunt and pick the exact ones.
Strangely the signal is pretty flat up in the top. The best I could tell to see where it was was to solo out a narrow band in EQ3 and try to isolate it that way. The whistling sound sorta moves around a bit so going too narrow just makes the whistling sound more inconsistent. Thats why I tried the Dynamic EQ approach to try and tame it down a bit that way. Like I said it sorta worked, kinda, a little....
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 
TobyToby's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThorntonStrolia View Post
Strangely the signal is pretty flat up in the top. The best I could tell to see where it was was to solo out a narrow band in EQ3 and try to isolate it that way. The whistling sound sorta moves around a bit so going too narrow just makes the whistling sound more inconsistent. Thats why I tried the Dynamic EQ approach to try and tame it down a bit that way. Like I said it sorta worked, kinda, a little....
Save yourself hours and just use Oeksound Soothe. It WILL solve your problem. This unique plugIn can even make the disturbing top-end sound of a Chinese Mic capsule bearable. . and I'm not saying this lightly
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Listening to that clip it sounds like the problem is occurring at the ends of phrases. If that's true you might be able to mitigate things with some careful volume automation at places where it really stands out and take the attention away from it.

I do that with my own vocals all the time as i tend to get breathy at the end of phrases just like that.

I wouldn't do anything that detracts from the character of her voice so i would be very careful about any really bold EQ moves.
I definitely feel that one. the harsh sound does wash out when I bring the volume down on it in the mix so Ill try that too. I love bright vocals which is why this hurts so much. This is a perfect opportunity for the bright breathy vocals and everything I've tried has sorta washed them out which has been upsetting.

Seriously appreciative for your reply.

I should add one other thing. Ill write this as an edit in the top post also. When she gets louder its not an issue. Its just these quiet vocals. The louder she gets the better it sounds. Its like the microphone has a built in gate thats half triggering in those high frequencies and is making a high pitch gurgling noise but then when she gets louder its getting everything and it goes away.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TobyToby View Post
Save yourself hours and just use Oeksound Soothe. It WILL solve your problem. This unique plugIn can even make the sound of a Chinese Mic capsule bearable. . and I'm not saying this lightly
Looking into it now Just downloaded the trial so ill play around with it a bit
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Lives for gear
I hate to say this because I'm not sure where it will get you as an engineer but is it just her voice going through a rough patch.

There is certainly more hiss in my voice when its not in the best form. This is going down a road that may not be the best to travel yet when my voice is suffering I take some vit D to help it along and I also nebulise apple cider vinegar to help keep it clear.

On the technical side could this be a time to use a tube condenser?
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
I hate to say this because I'm not sure where it will get you as an engineer but is it just her voice going through a rough patch.

There is certainly more hiss in my voice when its not in the best form. This is going down a road that may not be the best to travel yet when my voice is suffering I take some vit D to help it along and I also nebulise apple cider vinegar to help keep it clear.

On the technical side could this be a time to use a tube condenser?
It very well could be her voice on the day we recorded. Her vocals weren't as dynamic as usual so we already agreed to re-record at a later date. I was just making this thread now so I knew what to expect or what I can change when we record again for best results in case this is a setup issue that maybe someone has experienced. I like would hate to record again and then someone come out and say they know exactly what it is and its something I needed to do differently as an engineer.

In the way of tubes, the blue should have had that covered but it was still the same thing. Either way, I appreciate you saying something about the performance. It reinforces my feeling that maybe she was just having an off day. I know all too well that sometimes microphones will pick up things that are completely inaudible to us otherwise.

Since we arent set to record for a few more days, going to try to base it on when she feels best about it, I am still looking forward to any other responses that roll through. I really love looking through all your posts and hearing all your thoughts. They are a huge help.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TobyToby View Post
Save yourself hours and just use Oeksound Soothe. It WILL solve your problem. This unique plugIn can even make the disturbing top-end sound of a Chinese Mic capsule bearable. . and I'm not saying this lightly
Ok.... its not perfect and that just might be me being new to using the plugin... but thats really F. cool. I dont want to say this is by any means a replacement for getting it right in the first place but in terms of ""fixing""..... wow.... Definitely hoping to invest in a full license soon, regardless of whether I use it for this or not. Thats awesome.

Being that it seems you have a better grasp of this plugin than I do. Do you have any preferences suggestions maybe, based on the clip I provided?

I think if worse comes to worst, this along with some volume automation could really save this project if no better pre-mix solutions can be found.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Lives for gear
 
TobyToby's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThorntonStrolia View Post
Ok.... its not perfect and that just might be me being new to using the plugin... but thats really F. cool. I dont want to say this is by any means a replacement for getting it right in the first place but in terms of ""fixing""..... wow.... Definitely hoping to invest in a full license soon, regardless of whether I use it for this or not. Thats awesome.

Being that it seems you have a better grasp of this plugin than I do. Do you have any preferences suggestions maybe, based on the clip I provided?

I think if worse comes to worst, this along with some volume automation could really save this project if no better pre-mix solutions can be found.
Great
Could you provide a longer clip of the vox recording. It would be great to have a bouquet of syllables, vowels, consonants [especially the more sibilant or hissy] from this particular source.
We here in our studio would give it a treatment and would upload the result & post sreenshots from the settings we were using here in this thread.
Which mic was involved in this recording btw?
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Gear Nut
 

In terms of a white noise plug u asked about, in theory, they all pretty much work the same. Only difference is some might have more options in regards to how you use it. Compression on the way in helps tremendously with taming unwanted sound. I understand u want to capture her at the essence of her particular sound, and not take anything away from it, but mic choice, compression, EQ sweep and noise filter will yield excellent results for this particular artist. I would also suggest using an expander plug, it helps retain that signature sound she has.

It’s awesome when everyone chimes in with ideas and suggestions to help out. Collectively, you are bound to find something that helps, and I think that’s your ultimate goal.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by TobyToby View Post
Great
Could you provide a longer clip of the vox recording. It would be great to have a bouquet of syllables, vowels, consonants [especially the more sibilant or hissy] from this particular source.
We here in our studio would give it a treatment and would upload the result & post sreenshots from the settings we were using here in this thread.
Which mic was involved in this recording btw?
Yeah I would be happy to. Ill send it in just a bit.

This particular recording was on a Blue Babybottle. The blue bottle was a little worse in my opinion than the baby bottle. Normally she sounds great on the bottle but it came out super rumbly for some reason so with that hissing it sorta just sounded like there was a giant pit in the 3k range of her vocals. The ADK was definitely worse. I would say the U87 was around the same as the baby bottle but not as muddy sounding but they all have that same hissing sound.

Ill shoot for something that moves in and out of sibilance and various mouth shapes so you can hear where the S's are at too.

Side note.... I completely took off my de-esser because of soothe. I love my eiosis de-esser and this made it look like a toy.

If its OK, I would like to private message you the link. I know its a little unhelpful to others who may have ideas but I dont want to abuse her permission to post "a small snippet just to demonstrate."

Huge huge thanks again.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by locnus View Post
In terms of a white noise plug u asked about, in theory, they all pretty much work the same. Only difference is some might have more options in regards to how you use it. Compression on the way in helps tremendously with taming unwanted sound. I understand u want to capture her at the essence of her particular sound, and not take anything away from it, but mic choice, compression, EQ sweep and noise filter will yield excellent results for this particular artist. I would also suggest using an expander plug, it helps retain that signature sound she has.

It’s awesome when everyone chimes in with ideas and suggestions to help out. Collectively, you are bound to find something that helps, and I think that’s your ultimate goal.
Honestly it really is a huge help because its giving me ideas of how I can mix and match little pieces of different ideas to come up with a solution unique to her recordings, just like every recording is a little different.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Lives for gear
25 posts... Discussing what? There is a three second vocal clip that doesn’t have an intelligible word. It isn’t to music. The poster admits somewhere that the singer wasn’t at her best when the recording was made. So we have multiple hardware and software fixes suggested for this “maybe a problem”. Most of the suggested fixes, other than mic position and distance changes, tend to be destructive of the sound and performance, and way out of scale for the tiny/maybe nature of the problem.
Record her on a better day. Move the mic around, swap the mic... keep it simple and get out of the way of the performance. Stop with the hissy fit!
Old 1 week ago
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
25 posts... Discussing what? There is a three second vocal clip that doesn’t have an intelligible word. It isn’t to music. The poster admits somewhere that the singer wasn’t at her best when the recording was made. So we have multiple hardware and software fixes suggested for this “maybe a problem”. Most of the suggested fixes, other than mic position and distance changes, tend to be destructive of the sound and performance, and way out of scale for the tiny/maybe nature of the problem.
Record her on a better day. Move the mic around, swap the mic... keep it simple and get out of the way of the performance. Stop with the hissy fit!
So, I have 12 helpful comments to help me learn a thing or two, even in the event that nothing can be done performance wise. Please point me to which part of your comment is constructive? This is a discussion regarding trouble shooting to get past an issue. If it helps you can imagine this is the end all be all recording and I have to work with what I have. Either way everyone else has been extremely helpful and understanding. They seem to be able to hear the hissing Im talking about just fine and provide a helpful answer or at least ask questions which can lead to me providing information that may in turn lead to a helpful answer. Stop trolling. If you don't want to help then save the snarky comments.
Old 1 week ago
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThorntonStrolia View Post
So, I have 12 helpful comments to help me learn a thing or two, even in the event that nothing can be done performance wise. Please point me to which part of your comment is constructive? This is a discussion regarding trouble shooting to get past an issue. If it helps you can imagine this is the end all be all recording and I have to work with what I have. Either way everyone else has been extremely helpful and understanding. They seem to be able to hear the hissing Im talking about just fine and provide a helpful answer or at least ask questions which can lead to me providing information that may in turn lead to a helpful answer. Stop trolling. If you don't want to help then save the snarky comments.
The part of my comment that is constructive is to simply record her again without resorting to hardware or software manipulation, which can create artifacts or creep into the body of the vocal, which is destructive. Destructive is the opposite of constructive, so my comments are constructive in that respect.
NOT trying complicated solutions before you retry the vocalist on another day is a constructive comment. Reminding you to keep things simple when capturing a vocal is intended to be constructive.
“Snarky” and “trolling” don’t describe me at all. I’m trying to keep you from spending time and possibly money on things that may not be required to record a better vocal, and may result in an odd vocal, though it would probably be a less hissy vocal.
You want an orange? You don’t need to build a robot arm to pick a damn orange. You seem to want the GS scientists to help you build the robot arm you may not need. It is a much more exciting project than a simpler solution.
Sorry for focusing on simply recording a good vocal, which is not where your interest lies.
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