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How to get that studio voice with SM7B? Dynamic Microphones
Old 5th March 2014
  #1
Gear Nut
 

How to get that studio voice with SM7B?

Hi,

I just got my hands on SM7B and have a hard time finding that sweet spot of strong meaty but clean sound.

Here's Jason Miller's test with SM7B and Onyx Black Jack pre-amp.
He claims to have used compression, de-essing, and limiting.

Here's my voice with SM7B on X2U and Cloudlifter.
I used EQ, Compression Limiting and de-essing.

Here's my voice without any EQ or compression.
  • This was recorded with the microphone 3 inches away and rotated 30 degrees from my mouth to avoid plosives.
  • The mic is pointing to my mouth as it was a shotgun mic.
  • The room is treated with sound blankets, minor reverb gets through but it can be treated with software.
  • The mic has he presence booster switch ON.

Screenshots:

EQ:


Comp:


Limting:


De-essing:


Suggestions?
Old 5th March 2014
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Thank you, I'm still wandering how the reference from Jason Miller sounds so tight and crisp specially in the high frequency (similar to a vibrato) without that extreme EQ.
Old 5th March 2014
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonrot View Post
Thank you, I'm still wandering how the reference from Jason Miller sounds so tight and crisp specially in the high frequency (similar to a vibrato) without that extreme EQ.
Because his voice has a texture that's different from yours. It's him, not his gear.
Old 5th March 2014
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Because his voice has a texture that's different from yours. It's him, not his gear.
That's very true. Still I believe there's some special treatment involved.
Old 5th March 2014
  #6
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bigdoghat's Avatar
 

Some people take the foam windscreen off the SM7. I have a friend who's used one for years and passed on that tip to her, I think her vocal tracks sound better without the foam windscreen and she does too and always records without it now.

You need to be 100% on-axis to get the best possible sound - but what do you mean "rotated 30 degrees"? This is a front address mic - rotating it won't change a thing. You'd need to be tilting it up or down to be 30 degree off axis.

3 inches is a tad close. A pop filter is a must - and try more like 4 inches away. The further back you get the more the sound will open up. The closer you are, the muddier it will sound with less detail. However, if you pull too far back it will sound thin and room-ey. So you need to find the happy medium

Edit: Lengthen the attack on the compressor, that should open up the sound a bit and also try backing off how much you're compressing by. Too much compression will render a track lifeless. The EQ boost in the top end is way too extreme, that tells me something is not right with the way it was recorded.
Old 5th March 2014
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdoghat View Post
Some people take the foam windscreen off the SM7. I have a friend who's used one for years and passed on that tip to her, I think her vocal tracks sound better without the foam windscreen and she does too and always records without it now.

You need to be 100% on-axis to get the best possible sound - but what do you mean "rotated 30 degrees"? This is a front address mic - rotating it won't change a thing. You'd need to be tilting it up or down to be 30 degree off axis.

3 inches is a tad close. A pop filter is a must - and try more like 4 inches away. The further back you get the more the sound will open up. The closer you are, the muddier it will sound with less detail. However, if you pull too far back it will sound thin and room-ey. So you need to find the happy medium

Edit: Lengthen the attack on the compressor, that should open up the sound a bit and also try backing off how much you're compressing by. Too much compression will render a track lifeless. The EQ boost in the top end is way too extreme, that tells me something is not right with the way it was recorded.
Thanks a lot for your great input.

Please elaborate a bit more about the following:
  1. For this recording I used the big foam that came on the box. Are you regarding to this foam or the foam that is part of the microphone itself?
  2. If the mic must be on axis and at least 4 inches away with the foam removed how do you avoid plosives? Just a pop filter?
Old 6th March 2014
  #8
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bigdoghat's Avatar
 

1. Yes the foam windscreen that's part of the mic - is it glued on there? I hope not! But I know my friend removed hers, I"m not sure how. Here's a little thread that mentions it too
SM7b Owners!

2. Yes, use a pop filter, it's a must for vocal tracking, non-negotiable!

Edit: I should also mention, the mic pre plays a fairly big part on how the mic is going to sound, does it mention what pre was used for the vocal sound you're trying to emulate? The SM7 requires quite a bit of gain, the Cloudlifter was made as a low budget (ish) solution to this, look it up, there's info about it online and a couple of mentions on it in here. Apparently it gives it a bit of a better sound. So this is a kind of a poor man's solution to not having a high end mic pre to run it thru. BUT, the pre will not be the reason you can't get an amazing sound, the pre will be let's say the fairy dust and the 'je ne sais quoi'. You should be able to get a nice sound with proper mic placement. All my friend has is an SM7 and an Apogee Duet, no fancy mic pre and no Cloudlifter and her vocal tracks sound good
Old 6th March 2014
  #9
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Lenzo's Avatar
The foam on mine just pulls off. The smaller one is a little tight, but is meant to be removed easily if you want to replace it with the larger one, or none at all.
L.
Old 6th March 2014
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Hey fellas! Thanks for the discussion.

There really was nothing to it, and everything has been covered in this thread. Eli has a great voice, and it just kind of has a natural "sizzle" to it. The room was very decent, but nothing terribly special. Here is the dry audio file with no processing.

SM-7B (flat) > Cloud Lifter > Mackie Blackjack interface.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/sh9987f2z5...loudlifter.wav

And here is a screenshot of the processing that was used for the final audio file.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2pl14cwfzy...Screenshot.png

The 1176 peaked between 5-7dB, the de-esser about 4dB, and the limiter caught a few peaks up to 4dB.

Eli was probably 4-5 inches from the mic... but keep in mind, the actual diaphragm sits somewhat far back in the housing so even if you're "kissing" the mic there's still some distance. It's designed to be used at close proximity. Take advantage of that if you have a "smaller" sounding voice.

Also note, the SM7 is a VERY directional mic so if it's off axis, even by 30 degrees, it will sound different. Definitely get a pop filter and speak directly into the mic. You can also use the pop filter to force your talent to remain a certain distance from the mic.

I agree with BigDog pretty much across the board. The first thing I do when I get a new SM7 is remove the windscreen. The second thing I do is flip the way it's positioned on its mount so the mic connector is on the back of the mic.

All things considered, I think your dry VO track sounds pretty good. Maybe noodle around with some compressor settings with a little EQ.
Old 6th March 2014
  #11
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bigdoghat's Avatar
 

Very cool Jason, thanks for posting. I completely missed that the OP already has a Cloudlifter, just noticed that now. I have the CLA76's too, really like them!
Old 6th March 2014
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Miller View Post
Hey fellas! Thanks for the discussion.

There really was nothing to it, and everything has been covered in this thread. Eli has a great voice, and it just kind of has a natural "sizzle" to it. The room was very decent, but nothing terribly special. Here is the dry audio file with no processing.

SM-7B (flat) > Cloud Lifter > Mackie Blackjack interface.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/sh9987f2z5...loudlifter.wav

And here is a screenshot of the processing that was used for the final audio file.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2pl14cwfzy...Screenshot.png

The 1176 peaked between 5-7dB, the de-esser about 4dB, and the limiter caught a few peaks up to 4dB.

Eli was probably 4-5 inches from the mic... but keep in mind, the actual diaphragm sits somewhat far back in the housing so even if you're "kissing" the mic there's still some distance. It's designed to be used at close proximity. Take advantage of that if you have a "smaller" sounding voice.

Also note, the SM7 is a VERY directional mic so if it's off axis, even by 30 degrees, it will sound different. Definitely get a pop filter and speak directly into the mic. You can also use the pop filter to force your talent to remain a certain distance from the mic.

I agree with BigDog pretty much across the board. The first thing I do when I get a new SM7 is remove the windscreen. The second thing I do is flip the way it's positioned on its mount so the mic connector is on the back of the mic.

All things considered, I think your dry VO track sounds pretty good. Maybe noodle around with some compressor settings with a little EQ.
Thanks a bunch Jason and bigdoghat!

I just did another test with your recommendations: removed the foam and recorded on axis with a pop filter. The difference is like day and night.

The sound is more crisp and clear. The only difference in the EQ is that the extreme curve has been reduced and de-essing is now gone.

Here's the clean audio.
Here's the Equalized/Compressed audio.

Still the voice feels saturated, but with the plugins you showed in your screenshot the quality will definitely get better!

Yet I'm a bit confused about the correct position of the mic. So here's how I have it right now:





Your thoughts?
Old 6th March 2014
  #13
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bigdoghat's Avatar
 

The only thing I'd say about your photo is you're still not fully on-axis, the mic should be fully horizontal like this main photo here. Shure SM7B | Sweetwater.com

You have yours tilting up slightly, so tilt it down slightly until it's a straight line like in the photo and raise the mic stand up so your mouth is directly opposite

The audio sounds very nice though unprocessed, I hear a little bit of the room, don't know if that's a big deal for your purposes?

The processed audio does sound saturated, how hard are you hitting the limiter? Or is it coming out of the compressor or EQ too hot?

Check your output levels at each plug-in stage and pull down the gain knob if need be. Leave say 1 db of headroom out of the eq and the same for the compressor.

The Fab Filter Liimiter is fairly forgiving, it would only sound saturated if you're hammering it, so if EQ or compressor output levels are good, revisit the limiter threshold/gain slider. I find that once you go past -6 on most limiters it will not sound so good. -1 to -4 into the red on the limiter are good ballpark settings, once you go beyond that you're taking a chance and it might start to sound a bit 'dirty'

Edit: the limiter should be the last thing in the chain, not the de-esser for future reference. If you have serious sibilance issues you can sometimes get more natural sounding results if you put the de-esser before the compressor. Either way put the eq first, then de-esser/compressor or compressor/de-esser, then limiter last
Old 6th March 2014
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Why are you putting the acoustic treatment behind the mic? Wouldn't it do more good behind your head?
Old 7th March 2014
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Here is my two cents, looking at the photo, in my opinion, it looks like your acoustical environment is too dampened? All the padding will decrease all your highs. You should put some....some sound dampening in the front, but it is better to have diffusion behind you. Even if the mic is a cardio mic it still picks up the room. If your room is dead your vocals will sound dead. If you want to record vocals in that room/booth you will have to extend the highs. Putting dampening behind the mic is good for eliminating cone filtering in bad rooms.

I guess if I had to choose recording vocals in a dead room OR a bad room.....I would choose the dead room and add eq.

If you are getting to much sibilance then pointing the capsule towards the upper part of your lip/nose will get rid of the sibilance. Kinda like how you have it now.

Try recording your vocals in a room that has a lot of furniture maybe carpet. If you can have a bookshelf behind you that will help a lot. Bookshelfs make great diffusers.
Old 7th March 2014
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
dirtythirties's Avatar
 

I thought your dry signal sounded ten times better than your processed one, and that 10k rocket boost sounds way over the top. Less is more? A tube pre or a neve style preamp would give you more warmth. And, yes, his voice is the other main difference.
Old 7th March 2014
  #17
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bigdoghat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by brotastic View Post
Here is my two cents, looking at the photo, in my opinion, it looks like your acoustical environment is too dampened? All the padding will decrease all your highs. You should put some....some sound dampening in the front, but it is better to have diffusion behind you. Even if the mic is a cardio mic it still picks up the room. If your room is dead your vocals will sound dead. If you want to record vocals in that room/booth you will have to extend the highs. Putting dampening behind the mic is good for eliminating cone filtering in bad rooms.

I guess if I had to choose recording vocals in a dead room OR a bad room.....I would choose the dead room and add eq.

If you are getting to much sibilance then pointing the capsule towards the upper part of your lip/nose will get rid of the sibilance. Kinda like how you have it now.

Try recording your vocals in a room that has a lot of furniture maybe carpet. If you can have a bookshelf behind you that will help a lot. Bookshelfs make great diffusers.
Brotastic, am I right in thinking you didn't listen to the clip he posted and these comments are based on how you think it "looks" like it might sound?
Old 7th March 2014
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdoghat View Post
Brotastic, am I right in thinking you didn't listen to the clip he posted and these comments are based on how you think it "looks" like it might sound?
Yes, the second test was rushed and I didn't close the blankets properly. It doesn't sound that bad once they are closed as you can hear in the first post.

Right now I'm recording with the mic completely horizontal as you showed in the picture. I detached the mic from the box so it will definitely sound different.

I will post very soon a sample with the corrected EQ/Comp as well as a EQ treatment identical to Jason's screenshot with the same plugins and settings.
Old 7th March 2014
  #19
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bigdoghat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonrot View Post

I will post very soon a sample with the corrected EQ/Comp as well as a EQ treatment identical to Jason's screenshot with the same plugins and settings.
Note Jason's limiter hits at -4 attenuation, your threshold might have to be slightly different to get the same result, the important thing is the amount of attenuation
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