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minimum requirements for rec pro vocals? +upgrade question
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

minimum requirements for rec pro vocals? +upgrade question

hi guys
firstoff thx for replying
#1 - A general question
In regards to rec vocals only (as all i rec are vocals), i currently have a $400 usb interface (audient id14) paired with a similar priced mics (akg c214). In this budget calibre is it possible to record the raw vocals to a pro radio ready song level? (i know the importance of room treatment and skill of actually mixing/master plays a heavy role, so lets assume the room and mixing is utmost professionally done and the singer is awesome) Is the GEAR i mentioned going to cut it? or would i have to invest more to be able to get the raw vocal good enough ?

#2 which leads to question 2:
(im quite new to audiogear so pls forgive me if this is a dumb question) ive got $800 to spend and my goal is to be able to record vocal godo enough for commercial release, should i upgrade the interface to a higher end one (RME fireface UC or spl crimson etc used prices)

or should i buy a preamp such as ISA ONE, Grace m101 and add it to my chain

would upgrading from a 400$ tier to 1000$ tier interface make a difference? or would adding a external pre help more? or should i even upgrade at all?
#needing some pro advice thx
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Following with comments from real experts.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

IMHO a great learning experience, would be to go to the best recording studio, in your area... Book some time recording, and hear/see what the Pro's do.
Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 
ChaosCreation's Avatar
 

Upgrade to something with great converters apogee or universal audio , i found it easier to mix w a great conversion and an external pre I loved the MA5 preamp with apogee interface w just a little compression and eq - works well w a dynamic or condenser spend the money on your interface great pre before just a microphone upgrade ua unison technology is fun to work with to really colors the sound of your on a budget and at least learn how to compress and add delay and reverb on separate bus channels at the very least
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
Define Pro? This is very overgenalized, but I think this is what you are looking for. Lets call them low medium and high quality

Low: $1K mic, Preamp built into converters/mixer, USB conversion.
Mid: $3K+ mic, $1K+ preamp, $1K+ compressor, $1K+conversion.
High: $5K+ mic, $5K+EQ, $5K+ compressors, $2K+conversion.

Many hit albums have been done with the low quality level.

Until you get into the hiest tier, no need to get outboard EQ or compression. If you spend under say $800 on on EQ or compressor, better off with good plugs(Another can of worms)

Again this is very very general. Many exceptions.

A tube mic with a cap from Josophson, Bock, Flea, Neumann is the single most important factor unless you want a Ribbon sound or Moving coil sound. Then it's about a specific model. For ribbons, RU4, 44, Coles 4038 are at the top. A 4038 only runs about $1.3K, but is not the first choice for most singers and songs.

Advanced Audio makes great tube mic's for under $1K. So if that quality level is accetable, there you go.

A great engineer with low level gear will have better results than a new engineer with high level gear.

This all assumes a level field for quailty of song, talent, etc... that is always the most important thing.
And then there is the room. The further up the quality you go for a mic, the better the room tuning needs to be.

Each step of the recording chain is important is the sequence of the hookup. Mic, Preamp, conversion. The mic should cost more than the preamp, the preamp should cost more than the conversion. Diminishing rate of return past $1K for each device.

Big picture
Under $600 per channel per device, it's very difficult to get a good preamp, mic or converter. As you move up in cost to $1000, you can really start to get some good gear. Past $3K the rate of return really is diminishing.

For a nutshell answer. Spend more than $1K for a mic, more than $1K for a preamp, and $1K for conversion.

Just doing that will not make things sound good. they have to be the right things. A bright mic with a bright preamp will not give the desired results. The attached charts are about Color, NOT quality. The quality is all over the place.

Having one tube in the chain really helps. Either the mic or the preamp.

This is gearslutz! was this what you were looking for?
Attached Thumbnails
minimum requirements for rec pro vocals? +upgrade question-preamp-color.jpg   minimum requirements for rec pro vocals? +upgrade question-mic-graph1.jpg  
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Lunar Attic's Avatar
I'd say upgrading your interface won't make that much of a difference. Even pro-sumer converters are pretty damn good these days. Your Audient is just fine.

Your mic may be a factor but the 214 is no slouch.

A dedicated pre amp may help but you'd have to know what you want from it. Color? Transparency? It won't make that much of a difference. Again, most interfaces these days will have pretty decent pre's.

The one thing that'll make your (mixing) life a lot easier when it comes to vocals is the ability to compress on the way in. A channelstrip (pre/EQ/compressor) is something you might want to look in to/invest in. Usually not cheap but there's stuff from Drawmer, DBX and ART and such that'll get you on your way without breaking the bank.

Then again, as you said yourself, most important of all is a great performance from a great vocalist and a great song. You could record that with a 57 and a $50,- interface in Garageband and nobody would care less about the gear!

T
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
It is definitely possible to do pro-level work using the gear you own... if you're a pro! Yes, there is nicer stuff out there, but I cut final vocals on multiple albums using an AKG 414, a Mackie mixer and 16-bit converters. Your 214 has the same capsule as my 414, and your Audient electronics are better than what I had. I hear a lot of indie stuff on the radio now that doesn't sound near as good as what I did back then.

The most important question is whether a 214 actually suits the particular voice you're recording. If it's not a match, then you may need to change it out, but $800 won't get you something that's way better in any objective sense, just something that's different. "Better" starts around $1600, IMO, but your 214 might still beat the new mic on a randomly-chosen vocalist. So unless the 214 is clearly "wrong" for the voices you're working with today, my advice is to keep saving your money until you can buy something that's a clear upgrade. In the meantime, you can rest assured knowing that my 414's still get pulled out of the mic locker thirty years after I bought them.

This being Gearslutz, I should say something about outboard gear. In most genres, compression is an important aspect of a finished vocal, but elegantdrum is right to tell you to do it in the box at your present budget. While the recent Klark Teknik clones of classic compressors offer a lot of value for the money, you can't make use of one without also buying a preamp because your interface lacks insert jacks. You could probably get both a compressor and a decent preamp for $800, but you'll end up buying gear that you will quickly outgrow. Most of the really excellent channel strips cost upwards of $3k new, but you can find a used Grace m103 or Manley Labs Core (two completely different sonic textures!) for about half of that if you shop around. (My "desert island" channel strip is probably a Millennia STT-1.) None of these have built-in ADC's, and that's a good thing: Converters rapidly become obsolete, and gear that's saddled with out-of-date ones takes a hit in resale value. In the near term, there's not a big sonic penalty for continuing to use your Audient converters, if you're going in at line level.

In the near term, and long after that, you'll get the best results if you spend less time with your nose in a Sweetwater catalog, and more time in the studio practicing your craft, listening carefully, and comparing the results against those of engineers and producers whom you admire.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
thismercifulfate's Avatar
Are you a professional-level singer? If not, all the gear in the world won’t make your vocals pro-level.

Last edited by thismercifulfate; 4 weeks ago at 05:22 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Why are we assuming the room is good?

I'll ASSUME you've not got a dedicated vocal booth - in which case either ghetto yourself a booth (duvets hung over doors to deaden room reflections), possibly also something like the Aston Halo can help.

Also - good quality headphones for tracking can help!

The 214 is fine, the interface is fine. Yes you could spend more...but you shouldn't NEED to.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by nsta555 View Post
hi guys
firstoff thx for replying
#1 - A general question
In regards to rec vocals only (as all i rec are vocals), i currently have a $400 usb interface (audient id14) paired with a similar priced mics (akg c214). In this budget calibre is it possible to record the raw vocals to a pro radio ready song level? (i know the importance of room treatment and skill of actually mixing/master plays a heavy role, so lets assume the room and mixing is utmost professionally done and the singer is awesome) Is the GEAR i mentioned going to cut it? or would i have to invest more to be able to get the raw vocal good enough ?

#2 which leads to question 2:
(im quite new to audiogear so pls forgive me if this is a dumb question) ive got $800 to spend and my goal is to be able to record vocal godo enough for commercial release, should i upgrade the interface to a higher end one (RME fireface UC or spl crimson etc used prices)

or should i buy a preamp such as ISA ONE, Grace m101 and add it to my chain

would upgrading from a 400$ tier to 1000$ tier interface make a difference? or would adding a external pre help more? or should i even upgrade at all?
#needing some pro advice thx
I'm sure someone has already said this and I KNOW you don't want to hear it.....

....BUT YOUR GEAR DOESN'T MATTER!!

A real singer will give you a "Pro" sounding take with a 58 through a Makie, one possing as a singer will give you crap under ALL circumstances.

There is no pre-amp, Compressor, Converter, EQ that makes even the SLIGHTEST bit of difference to that.

If you have a good singer, how much better will good gear make it sound?

Mick Jagger, Brian Johnston, Bono...and bunch of "Major" singers like to record through 58's with no headphones...so yeah, not nearly as much as people here wish it did.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by terrible.dee View Post
I'm sure someone has already said this and I KNOW you don't want to hear it.....

....BUT YOUR GEAR DOESN'T MATTER!!

A real singer will give you a "Pro" sounding take with a 58 through a Makie, one possing as a singer will give you crap under ALL circumstances.

There is no pre-amp, Compressor, Converter, EQ that makes even the SLIGHTEST bit of difference to that.

If you have a good singer, how much better will good gear make it sound?

Mick Jagger, Brian Johnston, Bono...and bunch of "Major" singers like to record through 58's with no headphones...so yeah, not nearly as much as people here wish it did.
Well yes and no. A lot of Bono’s recorded vocals (for example) are sonically a bit suspect. They go for vibe over sonic there.

It’s disingenuous to suggest gear makes NO difference. I’ve recorded the same singer on a 58 (for guide takes) and a posh mix (for the real vocals) and they always sound better on the real takes, so that kind of rubbishes that theory.

Also - as an engineer, you can’t always control who you’re recording. So it’s not as simple as all that.

Still - the bottom line is the stated gear is perfectly usable. The OP should KNOW what he wants from new gear before replacing it really.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Addict
 
audiospecific's Avatar
 

Phantom power mics don't get powered that nice on small interfaces. Some phantoms mics get by because they don't pull a lot of current, and are capacitor coupled. Another factor is that the mic is a low-z transformer output phantom mic, so it should see a good termination on the mic pre input, with a good current supply. The mic pre that comes with these interfaces are more designed for capacitor coupled condensers, so just like the U87, it needs a nice low impedance termination and really good phantom power. I would suggest getting a UA LA-610 or something along that lines.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
...
Still - the bottom line is the stated gear is perfectly usable. The OP should KNOW what he wants from new gear before replacing it really.
This.

In order to upgrade you have to know how and why your current setup doesn't give you the sound you're looking to achieve. When you can articulate that on paper (write it down, really, it'll help you think about it), you'll begin to have an idea what you're looking for. Until then you're just throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping something sticks.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Or just simply get a U87.

Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Or just simply get a U87.
Chris
Not sure how tongue in cheek you’re being here, but whilst the 87 is a good mic on all (hence the reason for its ubiquity), it may not be the BEST mic for all, and there’s many other options without that name badge which might be better and cheaper.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Apogee or Apollo

I highly recommend upgrading your interface if you have the money to spend. I would go with either the Apogee or the Apollo.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Sorry PM, I posted with my phone and was unable to put a (since added) emoticon. If I had an AKG 214 to start with, along with an $800 budget...
(and pretty new to recording)

Step 1) Try recording with the 214, so the OP can see/hear how well it works with their voice.
Step 2) Ditch the 214, if needed (add that $$ to the home studio budget if so)
Step 3) Use the present set up to make "practice recordings" in preparation for Step 4

Step 4) Go record vocals in a local pro Commercial Studio, to create a "benchmark" for yourself.

If another vocal microphone, would be better than the 214, one good choice is either the Oktava 219 or 319. You can find excellent used ones online, at Guitar Center,
for under $150. Also a 45 day return policy, so you have plenty of time to evaluate one. Check out the Tigersonic video sometime on Youtube, of the pretty blonde singer (with a beautiful voice), where the Oktava 319 edges out a U87. What's cool is that you have an option of later modification-if you wish.

Just this may keep the OP busy, for some time. Then figure out what to do with the balance of the budget later.
Chris

P.S. In an untreated/"not treated enough" recording area, a used Sennheiser 441 in excellent condition,
would make an outstanding vocal mic choice IMHO. They street between $600-700 usually.
Actual access to a good-let alone great sounding room can be a BIG assumption.
For a "real" commercial release, I doubt I'd ever put out a "home recorded" vocal FWIW.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Sorry PM, I posted with my phone and was unable to put a (since added) emoticon. If I had an AKG 214 to start with, along with an $800 budget...
(and pretty new to recording)

Step 1) Try recording with the 214, so the OP can see/hear how well it works with their voice.
Step 2) Ditch the 214, if needed (add that $$ to the home studio budget if so)
Step 3) Use the present set up to make "practice recordings" in preparation for Step 4

Step 4) Go record vocals in a local pro Commercial Studio, to create a "benchmark" for yourself.

If another vocal microphone, would be better than the 214, one good choice is either the Oktava 219 or 319. You can find excellent used ones online, at Guitar Center,
for under $150. Also a 45 day return policy, so you have plenty of time to evaluate one. Check out the Tigersonic video sometime on Youtube, of the pretty blonde singer (with a beautiful voice), where the Oktava 319 edges out a U87. What's cool is that you have an option of later modification-if you wish.

Just this may keep the OP busy, for some time. Then figure out what to do with the balance of the budget later.
Chris

P.S. In an untreated/"not treated enough" recording area, a used Sennheiser 441 in excellent condition,
would make an outstanding vocal mic choice IMHO. They street between $600-700 usually.
Actual access to a good-let alone great sounding room can be a BIG assumption.
For a "real" commercial release, I doubt I'd ever put out a "home recorded" vocal FWIW.
https://open.spotify.com/track/2JGSY...QHuejJK2hkhC9g

Bedroom vocal over 6m plays!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Well yes and no. A lot of Bono’s recorded vocals (for example) are sonically a bit suspect. They go for vibe over sonic there.

It’s disingenuous to suggest gear makes NO difference. I’ve recorded the same singer on a 58 (for guide takes) and a posh mix (for the real vocals) and they always sound better on the real takes, so that kind of rubbishes that theory.

Also - as an engineer, you can’t always control who you’re recording. So it’s not as simple as all that.

Still - the bottom line is the stated gear is perfectly usable. The OP should KNOW what he wants from new gear before replacing it really.
Yes.

And just as important: Who is the audience? Is the majority listening on some small battery powered mono Bluetooth speaker? Or crappy headphones? Or directly from the phone’s speaker?

I my poor naive youth when I upgraded from a dynamic to a (very cheap no name) condenser mic it was a sonic leap. Now I could suddenly hear the early reflections from the room and noise from the computer. But apart from that the vocals sounded great. I would say that moved me from 50% to 80% in sonic quality. Room treatment will move me further to 90-95%. You can get a few %-points more with a more expensive mic, but until you make sure that your room is treated you’ll just be going from 80 to 83%.

The point is that the last 5% that separate a decent mic in a well treated bedroom with a pro studio is very expensive. On top of that only 5% of your audience is likely to have the equipment to hear the difference.... IMHO :-)

And as mentioned the singer and the song matters. That’s at least the first 70% (so I was only at 50 my self here ;-))
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by reverbmaster62 View Post
I highly recommend upgrading your interface if you have the money to spend. I would go with either the Apogee or the Apollo.
Disagree. I have both the ID14 and Apogee and I used both, sometimes within the same vocal edit on my most recent project. In fact if using the stock preamps, there’s something much more pleasing in the Audient preamps. I prefer monitoring through the Apogee outs, but the Audient chain in is certainly good. I would not spend money here first. Mic selection, maybe, or save it until you know what you need. If you do upgrade to Apogee, be sure to budget for a stand-alone pre because the stock preamps are very um clinical or something... hard to describe... not poor quality, but not what I’d want for voice, or vibe.

For reference, my high-end chain is 47 or 67 to 1073 to Apogee sent parallel to 1176/LA2A, but I also love SM7 to ID14. In a mix it might even sit better at times. You can certainly get a lot of mileage out of that cheaper setup.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post

A great engineer with low level gear will have better results than a new engineer with high level gear.
The best advice! This answers about 70% of the "should i upgrade my gear" questions.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dethbyoogabooga View Post
The best advice! This answers about 70% of the "should i upgrade my gear" questions.
While a true statement, I would hesitate to call it “advice” since it doesn’t specify any path by which the OP can simply become a “great engineer”. Probably one aspect of being able to get great results from low level gear is having had experience listening to high level gear and having consequently developed a sense of what details you’d like to hear more or less prominently from your low level gear.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dethbyoogabooga View Post
The best advice! This answers about 70% of the "should i upgrade my gear" questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zasterz View Post
While a true statement, I would hesitate to call it “advice” since it doesn’t specify any path by which the OP can simply become a “great engineer”. Probably one aspect of being able to get great results from low level gear is having had experience listening to high level gear and having consequently developed a sense of what details you’d like to hear more or less prominently from your low level gear.
And also a great engineer with great gear is the best of all - it’s never an either/or, so it’s a bit of s disingenuous statement.

There’s obviously a cutoff point - much like you wouldn’t waste a $400 bottle of wine on a teenager who’s only just tasted alcohol, your average newbie probably shouldn’t be spending on vintage 47s and so on, they won’t get the best out of it. But you can aspire to more than the cheapest of anything.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
IMHO a great learning experience, would be to go to the best recording studio, in your area... Book some time recording, and hear/see what the Pro's do.
Another learning experience would be to go to an open mic and see what a parade of different people can wring out of the same $100 SM58.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 

My only regret Brent, on your last post... Is that I have but one "like" to give! (SO true)

Thanks PM, for the "bedroom vocal" example. Fit the (excellent) music well.

Considering that besides yourself, there are a number of other strong AE's already on this thread...
I would still consider getting recorded by a Pro, "Plan A".
Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Quote:
minimum requirements for rec pro vocals? +upgrade question
There are no minimum requirements. You can record 'pro vocals' with a $99 mic and a $99 interface and a $15 cable.
So going form a $400 set up to a $1,000 will not help you, if you cannot record great vocals with what you have already.

Experience and knowledge in recording techniques and mixing techniques and maybe some attention to your room acoustics will help you.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Owen L T's Avatar
Your gear is more than fine. I'm willing to bet that the room is not - so spend your next $500 on that!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
Here for the gear
 

I wouldn't let bad advice sink into your head from others. That interface is amazing and the conversion is excellent, literally top notch.
and so are the pres for that matter.

and the 214 is a great mic (for 50% of vocals)

You will be disappointed as I was when I forked out $600-$800 on Preamps such as ISA one with conversion card Etc.. for a difference of 1-5%.

you'll be much happier with some microphone choices, Your gear is very clean as it is and if you don't have excellent monitors I'd use the money there instead. But assuming you already have those look into some mics!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
Lives for gear
I’m surprised that some posts start with recommending a new interface.
First, the Audient you have is a good interface with very good preamps.
Second, unless you are using some ancient interface with outdated conversion and a mediocre preamp, you won’t hear fifteen cents worth of difference from a preamp swap. And the Audient is neither outdated or mediocre.
Third, compared to preamp swaps, which are usually disappointing and undramatic, microphone swaps can change your recorded sound dramatically.
Unfortunately, the match of voice, genre, room, mic and expectations includes such a wide range of variables that it is difficult to nail the best mic you could possibly buy. Even if huge money is no object, the most expensive mic is not guaranteed to make any voice sound pro, or even noticeably better than some particular mid-priced mic. I’ve used an AKG kick drum mic on one very young vocalist and an Aston Starlight in “vintage” on a very polished voice. They clearly sounded better on those voices than the more expensive and more traditional dedicated vocal mics I tried.
To end my ramble... try vocal mics before you buy them, and try to LISTEN without prejudice to the results. If you have a friend with good ears who will tell when he thinks you are BSing yourself, bring that person to the auditions. Otherwise you may spend a bunch of money merely to come back at some point to the realization that the new stuff isn’t making your voice sound any more “pro” than your Audient/AKG combination.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Or just get an SM7.
Chris
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