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Mic for a rapper with a harsh upper mid range?
Old 1st March 2014
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Mic for a rapper with a harsh upper mid range?

What's up guys? So... when I originally bought and set up my studio, the plan was to record myself and the other artist in my duo's vocals. Once we released our mixtape, other people were interested in having their vocals recorded/mixed here. I'm starting to build a decent clientele. That being said.. I need to expand my mic locker to deal with the different range or voices that come in and out of here.

I currently have an AT4040 and SP CS1. Preamp is a FocusRite ISA One. At this point it's all rap/hip hop.

I've been looking to replace my AT4040 as a vocal mic, but that's a different story. My problem is that one of my most reliable clients is a rapper who has an extremely strong upper mid presence. My AT4040 can sound a little thin and harsh at times, so when he starts rapping loudly, it sounds awful. His voice is extremely harsh and powerful from 1khz-5/6khz range, with the absolute hardest(and most problematic) area being the 2-4khz range.

I tried using different mic placements, and just couldn't get a good sound. I tried to cut my losses and leave it to EQ and processing, but garbage in, garbage out. By the time I cut all of the harsh frequencies, it sounded so unnatural and I was NOT happy with the sound. I actually had to throw in the towel on a song of his because I just couldn't get it to sound right. This was a very disturbing experience and made me second guess and question myself. I basically came to the conclusion that I just didn't have the right tools for the job... in this case, the wrong mic.

So basically, I'm looking for a mic that would sound good on a vocalist with a powerful, harsh upper mid range like his. He also lacks quite a bit of "chest" and lows in his voice. I want to leave money aside for other mics as well, so I'd like to spend around $200, MAYBE $250 tops.

I'd like it to be an LDC, because I don't want to lose the detail. He can rap fast, and I don't want to lose any clarity in each syllable. That being said, I haven't ruled out dynamic mics completely. The options I'm considering are:

KEL HM2D(Maybe it'll be TOO dark, maybe not)
Okatva MK319(Even though it's dark, IDK how the mids will sound with his voice)
MXL v67(heard it's not so great at handling high SPL, so IDK about this one..)
Maybe a used AT4047, though at this price point is unrealistic.

I'm also considering buying an SM58(or SM57 with the A2WS windscreen) and trying that on his voice, but I'm not sure if that will capture the detail as well. My main thing with dynamic mics, is that it's simply not the sound you hear in modern rap music. I'm looking for that modern sound, not a lo-fi hip hop style by any means. His style is very energetic. Think dirty south crunk and club music.

I'm open to any other recommendations as well. I thought the HM2D would be perfect, but when I listen to clips, I wonder if it's just too dark and muddy. I'm looking for the perfect balance of the modern rap sound, but that will fit his voice accordingly. A lot to ask for such a low budget, I know. Please help steer me in the right direction.
Old 1st March 2014
  #2
Old 1st March 2014
  #3
Gear Nut
 

I'm not familar with many mics in that price range but you could get a SM7B
Old 2nd March 2014
  #4
Gear Addict
 

At this point, I have other things that I need to buy for my studio as well, so an SM7B is a bit out of budget (by $100), so that's why I was considering the 57 with the foam windscreen. Maybe I should just suck it up n get the SM7B. Any other suggestions?
Old 2nd March 2014
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick87 View Post
At this point, I have other things that I need to buy for my studio as well, so an SM7B is a bit out of budget (by $100), so that's why I was considering the 57 with the foam windscreen. Maybe I should just suck it up n get the SM7B. Any other suggestions?
Ya Rode M3, didn't you see my reply? lol.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #6
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prizebeatz1's Avatar
Personally I feel like if you go with a condenser in the price range of the mics that you already have, you are going to get more of the same of what you've been getting. If I was forced to suggest a condenser for that kind of money my bet would be on a AKG535 or if you are really lucky, maybe an NT2A. I've never tried a Rode M3 but I have had a chance to hear what it sounds like and I was very surprised in a good way.

But my real advice would be not to sleep on dynamic mics. They may surprise you. Consider a used Beyer m201. It does not sacrifice detail. It's just a little different sound than the condensers that you're used to. You ought to give it a try for your own experience and to vary your mic collection and expose your taste buds a little. It would be a very tasty alternative to the condensers you already have. You may need to give it a few runs before making a determination. You may not like it at first but if you compare it to other mics in that price bracket it could put a smile on your face.

Condensers may sound bright and crispy but if you explore dynamic mics you may find that their value surpasses their condenser counter - parts in similar price categories, especially when you think long run. I find that dynamic mics tend to stay in the locker more so than your average mic-of-the-month condenser. The SM7B would probably be perfect. The SM57 is going to give you a similar sound but with a lot of midrange.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #7
Gear Head
 

SM 7b or KEL HM 2D. I'll post a shoot out between the two mics.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #9
Lives for gear
 
guitarboy94's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Ya Rode M3, didn't you see my reply? lol.
Curious how the M3 compares with the NT3? I've got an NT3 and I find that bad boy to be extremely bright. I used to own an M3, but it's been ages ago. I seem to remember it being kind of narrow and grainy sounding, but I could be remembering wrong.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarboy94 View Post
Curious how the M3 compares with the NT3? I've got an NT3 and I find that bad boy to be extremely bright. I used to own an M3, but it's been ages ago. I seem to remember it being kind of narrow and grainy sounding, but I could be remembering wrong.
I'd say it's not as bright, it's a more solid sounding version of an sm58 (condenser style), with a bit more top end to it. I personally like that mic. The NT3 is brighter and harsher no?
Old 2nd March 2014
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Thanks for the comparison! I would've liked to hear the HM2D without a foam windscreen over it and see how it compared. I preferred the SM7b. Somehow, even though the HM2D is the condenser, the SM7b seemed to have more clarity to my ears. The HM2D just seems TOO dark. I can't imagine the HM2D cutting through the busy, overly limited rap instrumentals out there today.

I'd be 100% sold on the SM7b if there were clips of mainstream rap/hip hop songs recorded with this mic on vocals, or at least songs with the same sonic integrity as what you hear on the radio today. I have yet to hear any, and this is what makes me skeptic, and the only thing stopping me from pulling the trigger.

The "Why Dynamic Mics like the SM7B can be a BAD choice" sticky thread in the Rap/Hip Hop engineering forum is what really has me second guessing it also.

I'll have to do some research on the Rode M3. Seeing as to how I'm looking to build a solid and versatile mic locker, I'm no doubt going to buy the SM7b at some point. Right now, I literally have clients on hold while my studio is "under construction"... a.k.a. me buying the appropriate tools for the job. So it's important for me to find the perfect tool for this particular vocalist and the challenge of capturing his voice clearly, with a tamed upper mid range, and still maintaining a modern rap sound.

Are there any other condensers that I may have overlooked that have a scooped upper mid range, but not as dark as the HM2D?
Old 2nd March 2014
  #12
Here is my own experience of what I've owned.

Sm7b: I like it but it's rather dark. nice room rejection, needs decent pre
HM2d: I prefer the SM7b over it frankly, not as good room rejection
M3: I prefer it compared the the Sm7b, needs a nice pre too
v69me: I prefer it to the other 3, except you do need a decent room, compared to a dynamic mic and a small condenser mic.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #13
Gear Addict
 

I forgot all about the v69!! I mixed a song with two other rappers, featuring the artist that I'm having a problem recording. Their vocals were recorded with the v69 through a Babyface and sent to me. I liked what I heard for sure!

I definitely liked the saturation and character that the mic had. I simply couldn't emulate it with the AT4040 and plugins. Then again, the 4040 is an uphill battle from the start with this particular vocalist.

For what it's worth, my room is thoroughly treated with fiberglass broadband absorbers.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #14
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guitarboy94's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
I'd say it's not as bright, it's a more solid sounding version of an sm58 (condenser style), with a bit more top end to it. I personally like that mic. The NT3 is brighter and harsher no?
Thanks, Chris. Maybe I need to give that M3 another chance.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #15
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guitarboy94's Avatar
 

OP,

I've owned both the SM7b and HM2d. Guess which mic I still own? SM7b. Honestly, after you remove the foam windscreen, it's a clearer, cleaner, punchier sounding mic than the HM2d for vocal duties.

Here's what I gradually started to not like about the HM2d:
1. Extremely dark compared to the SM7b. It's almost like somebody took an EQ and completely shaved off all of the top end, and not in a good way. It takes a ridiculous amount of EQ to bring back the top end. SM7b is a tad dark, but way more crisp sounding after the windscreen is removed.
2. The proximity effect is massive. It's got this low end to it that's very difficult to work in comparison to the gentle proximity effect of the SM7b. I found the HM2d very difficult to work unless you're standing 18 inches back from it. And in that case, your room really starts to show.
3. HM2D has an old school, grainy sound going on. That's not a bad thing if that's what you're going for. But in most applications, I find the SM7b to just have a clearer, more modern sound.

Personally, I think the HM2d is best left for instruments such as bass amps, guitar cabinets and drum kits. Anywhere you want to bring out a lot of low end warmth is where that mic excels. It's a bit like a ribbon mic.

Honestly, don't trust these voiceover tests. I appreciate Old Geazer taking the time do this, but the problem is that it's always some guy with a deep, smooth broadcast voice doing these tests. A guy with a voice like that will sound excellent and about the same on any mic. A more accurate tests is one with a person singing in a high range in the contest of a mix. Chris Lago, for example.

What's wrong with your Studio Projects CS1? That's a killer mic that's very nuetral.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #16
Gear Addict
 

The mid range doesn't really work with this particular vocalist either. I have yet to try that mic on vocals and be blown away, but that's just my opinion.

Then again, at this price point, I doubt I'm going to find any mic that's gonna blow me away. At this point, I'm done buying neutral, boring, mics. I'm ready to start buying mics that have particular strengths that will make them ideal for specific vocal ranges.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #17
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prizebeatz1's Avatar
Have you looked into an Oktava MK-319? The Audix CX112 is also a very good vocal mic. You'd be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with that one.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #18
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mahuska's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick87 View Post
The mid range doesn't really work with this particular vocalist either. I have yet to try that mic on vocals and be blown away, but that's just my opinion.

Then again, at this price point, I doubt I'm going to find any mic that's gonna blow me away. At this point, I'm done buying neutral, boring, mics. I'm ready to start buying mics that have particular strengths that will make them ideal for specific vocal ranges.
My advice is to save for the Sm7b. No Chinese mic under 300 is going to satisfy your needs. Another option and one I am thinking of adding to my mic locker is the Golden Age R1 Active MK3 ribbon mic at $229.00. Now I haven't tried it yet and sure welcome any GS forumites to jump in. Things to consider is ribbons need special care, a Good pop filter. This one is active so no need for a special preamp. You need a good room are some treatment as it is figure 8 polar pattern, just google and read the reviews. SOS had a ribbon shoot-out and it fared very well. Also perhaps what prizebeatz1 suggested the "Oktava MK-319" sounds like a nice choice however my main concern is the max SPL at 122 seems a little low but Octava Mics are great and ebay may be your friend on that one. Keep listening to what others have suggested. Good luck
Old 2nd March 2014
  #19
Gear Addict
 

I definitely have looked into the MK319. I have a feeling that the SM7b would work really well with this vocalist. When he really starts projecting, it's quite loud and exaggerates the harsh upper mids. This makes me think that the SM7B is just better suited to handle the high SPL.

A lot of people seem to say it plays well with an ISA One.

So my more refined options are:
Oktava MK319
Shure SM7b
MXL v69m

I'm really leaning towards the SM7B, though I really want the v69 as well. For this particular vocalist, I think I'm going to save for the SM7. Thanks everybody for the input. If I can get a good result with it later down the road, I'll post samples.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #20
Lives for gear
Might want to think about giving the MXL V67G a shot. My voice has the same kind of problems (harsh high mids, essy, nasally,etc.). I've always pretty much stuck with the AT4047 for my voice, although I have been trying a few ribbons and like the results. Anyway, I always wanted to try the V67G and ran into one in good shape at my local pawn shop. They wanted $50+tax-I got it for $40 all in. When I recorded a vocal with it I was really surprised. Seemed to scoop those offending frequencies right out without losing the detail. And if I ever decide I don't want it, I'm sure I won't lose any money. I wish I was set up to do some shootouts, but being extremely ill kind of cuts into my time. I also like the SM7b and the KEL HM2D, even though I don't own either of them anymore. Best of luck, my friend.

Larry
Old 2nd March 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
AKG c414b-uls, not usually a vocal mic for me, but has saved the day for me on a few nasally singers. As a bonus it sounds great on acoustic guitars and guitar cabinets.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #22
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mahuska's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick87 View Post
I definitely have looked into the MK319. I have a feeling that the SM7b would work really well with this vocalist. When he really starts projecting, it's quite loud and exaggerates the harsh upper mids. This makes me think that the SM7B is just better suited to handle the high SPL.

A lot of people seem to say it plays well with an ISA One.

So my more refined options are:
Oktava MK319
Shure SM7b
MXL v69m

I'm really leaning towards the SM7B, though I really want the v69 as well. For this particular vocalist, I think I'm going to save for the SM7. Thanks everybody for the input. If I can get a good result with it later down the road, I'll post samples.
Wise Man, like you say should play well with your ISA One
Old 2nd March 2014
  #23
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Honestly, don't trust these voiceover tests. I appreciate Old Geazer taking the time do this, but the problem is that it's always some guy with a deep, smooth broadcast voice doing these tests. A guy with a voice like that will sound excellent and about the same on any mic. A more accurate tests is one with a person singing in a high range in the contest of a mix. Chris Lago, for example.
Thanks for the compliments. Voice over is a different animal for sure. But the SM7b is one of those mics that I think everyone with a studio should have. It has been and is still used on countless recordings, I don't think you can go wrong with owning one. It does need a monster pre though....
Old 3rd March 2014
  #24
Gear Addict
 

While I'm still set on the SM7b, I was wondering if anyone here has experience with the Sennheiser MK4. This mic is supposed to be very warm and on the darker side of things as far as inexpensive condensers are concerned. Anyone tried one on vox?
Old 3rd March 2014
  #25
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Fast_Fingers's Avatar
 

I'm surprised the Electrovoice RE20 hasn't been mentioned yet. It's good at taming high voices. Maybe Heil's PR40 as a cross reference (PR30s are more neutral, IIRC).
Old 3rd March 2014
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick87 View Post
While I'm still set on the SM7b, I was wondering if anyone here has experience with the Sennheiser MK4. This mic is supposed to be very warm and on the darker side of things as far as inexpensive condensers are concerned. Anyone tried one on vox?
I used to have one, and I prefer the v69me!
Old 3rd March 2014
  #27
try recording the vocals slightly off axis. you`ll be surprised how positioning can change the sound.

Or a pencil tied with a rubber band in front of the capsule.

Various pop filters

All these things work well.

nowdays it`s natural instinct for guys to just step up close to a mic and blast away cause they`ve seen so much footage of that. But developing good mic techniques will serve you well instead of the need to keep buying more mics.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast_Fingers View Post
I'm surprised the Electrovoice RE20 hasn't been mentioned yet. It's good at taming high voices. Maybe Heil's PR40 as a cross reference (PR30s are more neutral, IIRC).
I used one for 5 years at the studio where I worked and vocal was about the one thing that I hated it on. It have some resonances in the upper midrange that sounds often bad (but good for enhancing kick drum for instance). I used it on midrangy sounding vocalist and guess what, sounded like a telephone (weird midrange + no proximity effect = not good). We tried Neumann SM69 and it was bad too (it's also midrange heavy sounding mic), we settled on some cheap tube chinese microphone which had mids scooped out. So -1 on RE20 from me in this instance, YMMV though.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #29
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mahuska's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast_Fingers View Post
I'm surprised the Electrovoice RE20 hasn't been mentioned yet. It's good at taming high voices. Maybe Heil's PR40 as a cross reference (PR30s are more neutral, IIRC).
hmmmm I have a PR-30, never tried it on Vox, just gtr cabs
Old 3rd March 2014
  #30
I`v used both the PR40 and PR35 on rap vocals.

The PR35 is clear and cuts thru the mix ,very articulate.

The PR40 is full, with a little bit of grain. a little hyped top end makes it seem sparkly. I used it with an ISA One, ISA 220 and Great River MP2NV.

These mics need very little EQ. And everybody commented on how clear the vocals were. You really hear every word with the PR35.

BUT YOU WON`T GO WRONG WITH A SM57. Don`t compare it with individual takes but in the whole mix. And play with the ISA Qne impedance settings
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