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Why do SM7bs sound like ****? Condenser Microphones
Old 18th July 2014
  #1
Gear Head
 
Wondering Pigeon's Avatar
 

Why do SM7bs sound like ****?

So I'm not new to audio engineering and I know a thing or two but I recently bought the SM7b after I bought into the hype and was so displeased with it, I ****ing hate how muddy and dark it sounds, and it's worthless on stringed instruments, why is this? I know it's not a condenser but not even my sm58 sounds that dark and muddy on strings or vocals, my vocal chain is SM7b > Isa one > focusrite 2i2 and I use waves gold plugs, I know how to EQ, de es, compress, add slight reverb and tape delay, so am I missing something? I thought this mic was supposed to be the be all end all vocal mic, good on any vocal period, but it's the most over hyped mic in the industry imo, I should have ****ing got the blue baby bottle, I knew a dynamic mic for vocals was a stupid mistake.
Old 18th July 2014
  #2
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Do Thriller, Billie Jean, Bad, Off the Wall by Michael Jackson, Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the RHCP, Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars, Playing the Angel, Sounds of the Universe, Delta Machine by Depeche Mode, and It Won't be Soon Before too Long by Maroon 5 all have vocals sounding like ****?

'cause they were using SM7s.

I don't really know if there actually is a difference between the different versions of SM7s, some say it's night and day and some (including shure) say there's not a single difference in sound.
Even assuming a difference in sound was there, I reckon it wouldn't go from very good sounding, which in my opinion is how most of the vocals in the above recording sound, to **** like you claim it to be.

Maybe your source isn't that good?

Maybe you're using the wrong mic for the application?
I wouldn't record a female voice with an SM7 in most cases for example.

Maybe your pre isn't that good?
'cause I heard far more good stuff about the SM7 than about the ISA one.

Maybe your converters aren't that good?
I tried a focusrite 2i2 and the converters really weren't stellar.

Maybe you're not that good at mixing?
I checked out the unprocessed vocals in foster the people's "Helena Beat" and boy they sound bad...
Though in the mix, while I still don't think they sounded good, they sound muuuch less worse than the clean, unprocessed, solo'd vocals.
Old 18th July 2014
  #3
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

The SM7 needs a good preamp in front of it, much better than the Scarlet internal preamps.

Dynamic mikes are great for less than ideal recording situations where strong off axis rejection helps to reduce background noise.

Try a Sennheiser MD-421 or MD-441 or a Tab Funkenwerk upgraded SM57.
Old 18th July 2014
  #4
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spambot_2's Avatar
^ he's using an ISA one pre after the mic actually.
Or at least that's what's written in the OP...
Old 18th July 2014
  #5
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FFTT's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spambot_2 View Post
^ he's using an ISA one pre after the mic actually.
Or at least that's what's written in the OP...
Saw that too late.
Old 18th July 2014
  #6
I use my SM7b with a GA Pre73DLX regularly and couldn't be happier with the sound.

It is a dark mic and needs a ton of gain but I find it EQs beautifully. Normally dipping some 400-500 and maybe adding a high shelf around 12-16k if the singer and song need it!
Old 18th July 2014
  #7
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Tinderwet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wondering Pigeon View Post
...and it's worthless on stringed instruments
I agree. In most situations, it ain't worth the hassle to record stuff like acoustic guitars through an SM7, just to show it can be done. It's dark indeed, which comes as a blessing on sibilant/thin vocals, horns or "ice picky" electric guitar cabinets.
Old 18th July 2014
  #8
Deleted User
Guest
love mine in front of a very loud guitar or bass cab... other mics for other things
Old 18th July 2014
  #9
Mine works ! and my gear is very limited, focusrite pre, it beats the hell out of the cheap condensers I was using. As already pointed out many famous tracks made with this, so that might suggest, it doesn't suit your needs ? Or you need to play with it more ?

Last edited by Scouser; 18th July 2014 at 02:54 PM.. Reason: forgot point
Old 18th July 2014
  #10
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wondering Pigeon View Post
So I'm not new to audio engineering and I know a thing or two <><><><><><> I knew a dynamic mic for vocals was a stupid mistake.
If your posts in other threads are any indication, well, you're actually relatively inexperienced. You bought a popular mic solely on the basis of stuff you've read about it and it isn't working out for you, and you're upset. Get over it. Now you know a thing or three.
Old 18th July 2014
  #11
Wouldn't be something I'd even consider on strings.

Vocals, Snare, elec guitars, acoustic in some circumstances yes - even hi hat for darker sounding material.

Does require a fair amount of gain, and no it's not great on EVERY voice - for most female vocals I'd use a condenser mic for sure.

Over hyped? possibly - but that doesn't mean it's not a good purchase.

Stupid mistake? only if you didn't try it out first!

I do think with most male voices I'd struggle to get a "muddy" sound out of it - although it does sound much fuller than a 58 or similar, whenever I've compared the 2, the 58 always sounds a bit tinny by comparison.
Old 18th July 2014
  #12
KEL
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maybe there's a nut loose on the mic
Old 18th July 2014
  #13
Gear Nut
 

If it sounds too muddy you can try using the bass roll off switch on the mic.
Old 18th July 2014
  #14
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loujudson's Avatar
**** makes no sound, ecept maybe plop splash.

Compare your SM7b to a 57 and see how they are different or similar...
Old 18th July 2014
  #15
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TobyToby's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wondering Pigeon View Post
So I'm not new to audio engineering and I know a thing or two but I recently bought the SM7b after I bought into the hype and was so displeased with it, I ****ing hate how muddy and dark it sounds, and it's worthless on stringed instruments, why is this? I know it's not a condenser but not even my sm58 sounds that dark and muddy on strings or vocals, my vocal chain is SM7b > Isa one > focusrite 2i2 and I use waves gold plugs, I know how to EQ, de es, compress, add slight reverb and tape delay, so am I missing something? I thought this mic was supposed to be the be all end all vocal mic, good on any vocal period, but it's the most over hyped mic in the industry imo, I should have ****ing got the blue baby bottle, I knew a dynamic mic for vocals was a stupid mistake.
If you going to get the Blue Brash Bottle you'll swap a darkish mic for a harsh sounding one and have a real ****ty mic.
I would rather go for any AKG C414 for having a proven professional multi purpose mic that always gives workable (or even better) results and keeps its value as well.
Old 18th July 2014
  #16
Gear Head
 
Yippie37's Avatar
 

Everytime I wondered how they got that vocal sound, it was an smb7, now for strings? Can't judge a fish by how it climbs trees!
Old 19th July 2014
  #17
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johnwayne's Avatar
 

Did you take the pop filter off? That will give you some more presence for sure.
Old 19th July 2014
  #18
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matucha's Avatar
I'd say its low experience. SM7 is for loud stuff and things that you want to tame/softer in the HF. It takes EQ really well, top shelf boost with some cuts in the mids do it for me. The slower HF response is nice on sibilance. If the source fits SM7, you get quite velvety classy sound. Just because of this alone it's worth having one in the locker.

Strings? Schoeps
Old 19th July 2014
  #19
Gear Head
 
MC_Transcendent's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TobyToby View Post
If you going to get the Blue Brash Bottle you'll swap a darkish mic for a harsh sounding one and have a real ****ty mic.
I would rather go for any AKG C414 for having a proven professional multi purpose mic that always gives workable (or even better) results and keeps its value as well.
I'm fairly sure that more often than not a $1,000+ mic like the C414 is going to sound better than a $399 mic like the Baby Bottle. For the money, it's not bad though I do agree you can find better alternatives out there for the same price.
Old 19th July 2014
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post

...Strings? Schoeps
Right, for currently available production mics.

For strings a CMC62, or 64 is a 9.5 on a "subjective strings scale" which I just invented and reflects my personal preferences only. A rating of 10.0 is perfect and represents an impossible level of utter perfection that will never be achieved by humans or even some of the more advanced aliens among us.

The current Sennheiser MKH8020 or 8040 is also at the same high level. A solid 9.5 and on a really good day the 8020 might reach a possible a 9.6.

A MiLab DC-196 is very close at around 9.0 and is not a bad vocal mic either

I'd rate the C414 XLS at about 8.0 to 8.5 and the C414 XL-II a 7.5 to 8.0.

Neumann KM183/184 SDCs probably deserve a similar rating of maybe 7.2 to 8.0 depending on the specific strings you're talking about.

At a similar price point a Shure KSM44A is quite nice on strings and probably rates a nice 7.0 to 7.5 rating.

The AT 4050 LDC is in the same ballpark, especially for lower strings (cello and bass) at a solid 7.0 to maybe 7.8.

For a LDC the Shure KSM137 is a bargain and might bring a subjective strings rating of 6 or 6.5.

At half that price there are the line Audio CM3 (cardioid) and OM1 (omni) which perform way above what you'd expect at their cost. I'd rate them near the KSM44A LDC at around 7.5. They are clearly some of the best bargains in the SDC mic world at the moment.

The CAD e70s also are remarkably good for their price point and are good bargain choices for string recording. A "SSS" rating of 6.0 to 6.4 is well deserved.

The usual Rode, Blue and the vast range of MXL LDCs can be used in a pinch if you don't have access to anything else, but on the average they hardly rate a 5.0 on the subjective strings scale.

Then there is the venerable SM57 at around a 3.0 or 3.5 on the subjective scale. A decent dynamic that will at least let you probably hear the difference between a violin and a viola.

Which brings us to the bottom of the subjective string scale with the SM7b with a rating of 1.25. It's probably the last choice for recording strings that any engineer with over an hour's worth of recording experience would ever choose for strings, unless those "strings" referred to recording an electric bass amp output, and you don't mind using a lot of EQ.

How the O.P. ever thought that a SM7b would work on strings is beyond me. It's akin to climbing Mt. Everest in a rowboat wearing a bathing suit.
Old 19th July 2014
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotus 7 View Post
Right, for currently available production mics.

For strings a CMC62... <><><><><> at least 17 other mics <><><><><> … in a rowboat wearing a bathing suit.
Sounds like business is booming for string players in Area 51, NV. And the patience of your clients must be infinite. :-)
Old 19th July 2014
  #22
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TurboJets's Avatar
@OP, are you going into the 2i2 with an XLR cable? You should be going into the 2i2 with a 1/4" balanced cable to bypass the 2i2's preamps.
Old 19th July 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wondering Pigeon View Post
I thought this mic was supposed to be the be all end all vocal mic, good on any vocal period
I'm not sure where you got that idea. I think perhaps it was a bit of wishful thinking. If you talk with knowledgable people you'll know that a general consensus is that there is no such thing as a "be all and end all" mic. Especially for vocals. The SM7 is very useful in an acoustically challenging space. It can sound really good on a vocalist that has a loud and bright voice. Using it on a quite singer will yield a tone that is not commonly heard on professional recordings.

The most important thing to take away (I think) is that placing too much value on other people's opinions (especially unqualified opinions posted on the internet) is the road to disappointment. The only way to "know" whether a piece of equipment is right for you is to get it and try it in your studio. Opinions, sample audio files, shoot out threads, they're all just smoke and mirrors and mean nothing compared to real experience. If you can't afford to buy something knowing you might choose to return it then you're just gear lusting which for the most part is just an avoidance tactic or an attempt to convince yourself that "gear is the answer to my personal shortcomings".

If you're serious about expanding your equipment collection then be prepared for surprises and disappointments along the road to success. Also remember that the price to performance ratio is an exponential curve. A $500 mic will usually be way better than a $100 mic but a $5000 mic may not be *way* better than a $1000 mic. More likely it will be different and perhaps better (by degrees) in some ways but perhaps weaker in other ways.

As someone (probably famous) once said: the best mic for the job is the one you have.
Old 19th July 2014
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Sounds like business is booming for string players in Area 51, NV. And the patience of your clients must be infinite. :-)
The "ratings" are from years (decades actually) of trial and error. I almost always start with the 8020s if it's a good room or CMC64s or 8040s if not. On cello or double bass the DC-196s are a first choice. My clients have no patience at all. I'm lucky to get a 15 second sound-check.

The supply of string players seems to be infinite. The major conservatories stamp them out like cookies at thousands per year.
Old 20th July 2014
  #25
Gear Head
 
Wondering Pigeon's Avatar
 

Well I appreciate all the feedback, I really got it for recording screams, guitar/bass cabinets and occasionally quite vocals for a meta band, I had never gotten it for strings, I just thought I'd try it out and even boosting the presence and eqing the **** out of it still kind of dark and muddy, I seriously don't see why it's so hyped for music? It's perfect for broadcasting though, anyway I just really want a mic under 400 that is good for vocals and acoustic guitar, To help you out I sing in the key of c a lot and I have a semi deep voice, any suggestion would be nice
Old 20th July 2014
  #26
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wondering Pigeon View Post
Well I appreciate all the feedback, I really got it for recording screams, guitar/bass cabinets and occasionally quite vocals for a meta band, I had never gotten it for strings...
The thread got a bit derailed by the strings discussion.

I'm a little surprised that you don't like the SM7B for screams. It's kind of the standard for that.
Old 20th July 2014
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Sounds to me like you're looking for a large diaphragm condenser if its for vox and guitar(acoustic?). Try Audio Technical(various 20- and 40- series models), Shure KSM series(entry and mid-level models), KEL audio has several models that might suit you. There's also several Rode mics in your range, and maybe some entry level AKG models. Probably hundreds of choices made in China of widely variable quality(including several listed above). These are in a generally decending order of (solely personal) preference. One last thing: whatever you get, try to settle on one with multiple settings(cardioid, figure-8, omni, lo-cut) since it sounds like you want this mic to cover lots of applications.
Old 20th July 2014
  #28
Gear Addict
 

And never record with the foam windscreen on your sm7b: always use a pop filter instead, and a quality pre with LOTS of gain
Old 20th July 2014
  #29
Gear Head
 
Wondering Pigeon's Avatar
 

Does anyone think My 2i2 could be causing this problem? I think something is wrong with it because when I go to raise the volume of my monitors it makes a white noise and when I plug a guitar into it clips with little gain
Old 20th July 2014
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Not familiar with that particular model. Put it this way; if you've recorded other things recently with that same audio chain and were happy with the results, then your problem isn't the conversion. My guess is the preamps can't produce enough gain to handle the SM7b very well for your sound source. Either use a preamp with more gain or use something like a condenser, which doesn't need nearly the same gain.

Last edited by CRASHBOX; 20th July 2014 at 02:58 AM.. Reason: typo
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