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Need advice on a mic pre for rap vocals
Old 5th October 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
Need advice on a mic pre for rap vocals

Hello, guys. I have Rode Nt1 kit microphone and a Focusrite 2i4, but I am not very satisfied with the results, so I'm considering buying a new audio interface. Basically, I've read a bunch of good opinions about Audient ID14 and Audient ID22. I have around 400$ budget - I would love if someone with experience can give me an advice what should I go for. I will mainly record rap vocals, so the advice should be centered around that, as this is the main thing I will be doing.

Certain sound I am going for:
Earl Sweatshirt, Ka.

TL;DR

I have a home studio and I'm looking to upgrade. I'm a rapper and I need the audio interface/pre to be most useful for that. Microphone is Rode NT1 Kit.

Thank you!
Old 5th October 2018
  #2
Quote:
I have Rode Nt1 kit microphone and a Focusrite 2i4, but I am not very satisfied with the results, so I'm considering buying a new audio interface. Basically,
I have around 400$ budget -
A new $400 interface is not going to help you with your vocal recording sound quality, if you cannot get it with what you already have.

What you need to improve on is your recording techniques. Throwing $400 at this problem is not the solution. Recording techniques and ware you record your vocals is your solution.

CJ
Old 5th October 2018
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Cj mastering def knows what he's talking about, but let me tell you what worked for me

I also rap and have some undertone and raspiness, not too much but enough to feel like jumping through hoops in order to get a somewhat pro recording, I had a Focusrite clarett($500) and a akg c314($650) and could not get a professional recording at all, I mean it was good and decent but I wasn't going for good and decent, after mixing and all the bells and whistles on the vocal chain I wanted to reference against the pros and be like yup, sounds great but never was able to, keep in my mind my mix down and master were extremely stable and even, mixed really well, nothing to take away or add to the vocals, it was the recording that lacked, even before anything, just a plain recording just didn't sound truly great, just decent. After watching a good amount tutorials and other peoples recording techniques I noticed that so many people were using a Apollo mk2(they start at $699) you prob want to get the duo at $899 which has more a lil more DSP which allows you to use UA powered plug-ins, not that you have to just good to be able to at least use a couple if need be for the unison preamps and compressors, the A/D converters are really great on that thing, with all that said my recordings were still not pro, really good, not pro, well what could it be? everyone told me its your room, your mic is fine, I saw shoot outs with the best to the worst and how you can work with almost any mic, and I recorded some singers that seem to get a professional sound out of the c314, ok, so its the room. I built a make shift vocal booth with pvc and moving blankets but still didn't get the sound I wanted, had to def eq a lot of boxiness out but still nothing that made me smile, I just could not achieve that pro sound, finally I bought an isovox and that thing was even boxier than the make shift vocal booth. so i returned it. What was left, I decided to buy a U87($2750 off Sweetwater BRAND NEW!) I told myself I'm gonna start from the top and work backwards, there has to be a weak link. It wasn't recording techniques, mic placement, room or any of that as hours upon hours upon days I tried getting better results with every possible configuration or placement. As soon as I got my U87 and did a take with only a couple moving blankets up in my room I was blown away! for me it was the mic the whole time, right away on playback my vocals were spot on, mind you I was going into a unison Neve preamp on the Apollo which helps also, there was no jumping through hoops. Now I'm able to plug in the mic and hit record and the recordings sound amazing.

This was my experience, as I said, I could record singers with my akg c314 and they really knocked it out the park, but it wasn't the case for my voice. Back in 2002 when I had my old set up I used a Shure KSM27 which is like a $300 dollar mic and seemed to get great results going into a $100 dollar mic tube pre amp then into a echo gina interface/sound card and Cubase, maybe during those years I didn't care as much about how things sounded, i have songs and recordings from then and they sound really good, not pro but really good, better than what I was getting with the AKG c314, I was 19 at that time and I ended up losing everything and being a drug addict and got back into making music in 2016, but I noticed how unflattering Ableton, the akg c314 and my foucsrite setup sounded and its been a two year testing and troubleshooting ordeal to finally get the sound I've been wanting, countless reviews opinions and advice telling me my mic was fine just prolonged me from investing in the U87, plus didn't have the coin for it haha but would have gotten if I knew that would solve my problem, but the things I learned through that time about recording and everything in between was invaluable

you can't excpect to use your rhode($300) mic and get the real deal sound, or put a $3000 mic into a scarlet and get a real deal sound either, but maybe I'm wrong, it seems too vary with people, it's like a movie review, people say how awful or meh it is but you give it five out of five stars.

I can to tell you that you can get a decent recording with what you have, but no amount of recording technique will give you a pro sound, maybe get a lil mic tube pre amp, tubes help a lot and see if your recordings get better

BTW it's important that you bypass the Scarlett preamp by going 1/4 line in and turning the gain all the way down on the interface as to just be using the signal from your external preamp and the Scarletts A/D converters
Old 5th October 2018
  #4
Gear Head
 
MRAUTOMATIC's Avatar
 

I know you mentioned it, but I really would look up some diy sound treatment. You can hook your room up for cheap, and it will help a lot.
Old 5th October 2018
  #5
DAH
Lives for gear
 
DAH's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artcutech View Post
Cj mastering def knows what he's talking about, but let me tell you what worked for me

I also rap and have some undertone and raspiness, not too much but enough to feel like jumping through hoops in order to get a somewhat pro recording, I had a Focusrite clarett($500) and a akg c314($650) and could not get a professional recording at all, I mean it was good and decent but I wasn't going for good and decent, after mixing and all the bells and whistles on the vocal chain I wanted to reference against the pros and be like yup, sounds great but never was able to, keep in my mind my mix down and master were extremely stable and even, mixed really well, nothing to take away or add to the vocals, it was the recording that lacked, even before anything, just a plain recording just didn't sound truly great, just decent. After watching a good amount tutorials and other peoples recording techniques I noticed that so many people were using a Apollo mk2(they start at $699) you prob want to get the duo at $899 which has more a lil more DSP which allows you to use UA powered plug-ins, not that you have to just good to be able to at least use a couple if need be for the unison preamps and compressors, the A/D converters are really great on that thing, with all that said my recordings were still not pro, really good, not pro, well what could it be? everyone told me its your room, your mic is fine, I saw shoot outs with the best to the worst and how you can work with almost any mic, and I recorded some singers that seem to get a professional sound out of the c314, ok, so its the room. I built a make shift vocal booth with pvc and moving blankets but still didn't get the sound I wanted, had to def eq a lot of boxiness out but still nothing that made me smile, I just could not achieve that pro sound, finally I bought an isovox and that thing was even boxier than the make shift vocal booth. so i returned it. What was left, I decided to buy a U87($2750 off Sweetwater BRAND NEW!) I told myself I'm gonna start from the top and work backwards, there has to be a weak link. It wasn't recording techniques, mic placement, room or any of that as hours upon hours upon days I tried getting better results with every possible configuration or placement. As soon as I got my U87 and did a take with only a couple moving blankets up in my room I was blown away! for me it was the mic the whole time, right away on playback my vocals were spot on, mind you I was going into a unison Neve preamp on the Apollo which helps also, there was no jumping through hoops. Now I'm able to plug in the mic and hit record and the recordings sound amazing.

This was my experience, as I said, I could record singers with my akg c314 and they really knocked it out the park, but it wasn't the case for my voice. Back in 2002 when I had my old set up I used a Shure KSM27 which is like a $300 dollar mic and seemed to get great results going into a $100 dollar mic tube pre amp then into a echo gina interface/sound card and Cubase, maybe during those years I didn't care as much about how things sounded, i have songs and recordings from then and they sound really good, not pro but really good, better than what I was getting with the AKG c314, I was 19 at that time and I ended up losing everything and being a drug addict and got back into making music in 2016, but I noticed how unflattering Ableton, the akg c314 and my foucsrite setup sounded and its been a two year testing and troubleshooting ordeal to finally get the sound I've been wanting, countless reviews opinions and advice telling me my mic was fine just prolonged me from investing in the U87, plus didn't have the coin for it haha but would have gotten if I knew that would solve my problem, but the things I learned through that time about recording and everything in between was invaluable

you can't excpect to use your rhode($300) mic and get the real deal sound, or put a $3000 mic into a scarlet and get a real deal sound either, but maybe I'm wrong, it seems too vary with people, it's like a movie review, people say how awful or meh it is but you give it five out of five stars.

I can to tell you that you can get a decent recording with what you have, but no amount of recording technique will give you a pro sound, maybe get a lil mic tube pre amp, tubes help a lot and see if your recordings get better

BTW it's important that you bypass the Scarlett preamp by going 1/4 line in and turning the gain all the way down on the interface as to just be using the signal from your external preamp and the Scarletts A/D converters
is Ableton more unflattering than Reaper or PT?
Old 6th October 2018
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
is Ableton more unflattering than Reaper or PT?
I love Ableton and wasn’t trying to sound like it was inferior to any other Daw

No, I think it’s all the same, it was just a head shocker the first time I sampled into Ableton with the clarett and dropped the sample into simpler and the playback was was so dang cheap and toy compared to the results I would get with my motief in the past and Cubase, but I realize now that the motief had a certain saturation that I took for granted and was baffled how awful and thin everything sounded in Ableton, prob would have sounded exactly the same with any daw, could been cubase or logic or whatever, but for me it was Ableton.

Same with the vocals, in the past it seemed like my recordings were much better going into cubase, but I also didn’t take into consideration the lil external mic tube preamp, that was prob a major factor but my interface in the past(echo Gina) didn’t have preamps so I figured that the preamps on the clarett were prob as good, but far from it, so maybe starting off when I got back into music again completely in the box with Ableton gave me a subconsciously bad vibe on the recording mixing front with Ableton, but there all the same
Old 6th October 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
I would invest the money in a portable vocal booth, or some kind of similar acoustic treatment.

The number 1 cause of sub-par sounding vocal recordings in home studios is the actual acoustics of the recording space itself.

I cannot stress this enough:

If you don't have a properly treated space, &/or some kind of portable vocal booth, it isn't going to matter what mic or preamp you're using, period.

The mic preamp choice is going to give the least audible change in quality of any alteration in your signal chain (other than converters).
Old 6th October 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
Reasons, in order, for unsatisfying vocal results.

#1 ) the performance. That trumps everything by a mile.
#2 ) acoustics. Put absorption behind you. Make a cave/wall/etc. out of blankets and stand in it facing OUT towards the mic with the mic pointing IN.
#3 ) tracking too hot. Either clipping one of the preamp stages or clipping the converter. Or just lousy gain staging.
#4 ) lousy mic placement
#5 ) bad mic choice
#6 ) bad preamp choice.
Old 8th October 2018
  #9
Gear Nut
 
zukan's Avatar
 

I have to agree with Atma. Look to your room first and if it isn't up to par then use something like the Aston Halo which I have.

I use a TLM 103 through my ID44 and the results are good.
Old 8th October 2018
  #10
Here for the gear
Okey. Notes taken. But all the other stuff aside, as I mentioned, I have around 400$ that I saved and I've read very good reviews on the Audient ID22. In your opinion should I buy one, and is it a good option for recording rap vocals? I have read that the PRE's are very good and professional and that they are the best in the price range. Can anyone give me advice on that specifically, because I am going to treat my room as well soon, so for now I need to decide if I should buy the Audient or not.

P.s. Thank you guys, you are awesome, and I'm taking notes on all your replies and advices.
Old 8th October 2018
  #11
DAH
Lives for gear
 
DAH's Avatar
Sort the room first. It will be the most ROI increase factor.
Old 8th October 2018
  #12
Gear Addict
 

To each his own, room is really important, but don’t be shocked when you buy a new interface and treat your room and wonder why your takes don’t sound like Gold, for me it was the U87 along with everything else
Old 9th October 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crushingblow View Post
Okey. Notes taken. But all the other stuff aside, as I mentioned, I have around 400$ that I saved and I've read very good reviews on the Audient ID22. In your opinion should I buy one, and is it a good option for recording rap vocals? I have read that the PRE's are very good and professional and that they are the best in the price range. Can anyone give me advice on that specifically, because I am going to treat my room as well soon, so for now I need to decide if I should buy the Audient or not.

P.s. Thank you guys, you are awesome, and I'm taking notes on all your replies and advices.
I wouldn't buy an entirely new interface, if you only want a good mic preamp, so no. You'd be better off getting something like the GAP-73 for that price; as all your money is going into the quality components in that single channel pre, rather than spending it on another budget interface, where the preamps are often an afterthought.
Old 12th October 2018
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crushingblow View Post
Hello, guys. I have Rode Nt1 kit microphone and a Focusrite 2i4, but I am not very satisfied with the results, so I'm considering buying a new audio interface. Basically, I've read a bunch of good opinions about Audient ID14 and Audient ID22. I have around 400$ budget - I would love if someone with experience can give me an advice what should I go for. I will mainly record rap vocals, so the advice should be centered around that, as this is the main thing I will be doing.

Certain sound I am going for:
Earl Sweatshirt, Ka.

TL;DR

I have a home studio and I'm looking to upgrade. I'm a rapper and I need the audio interface/pre to be most useful for that. Microphone is Rode NT1 Kit.

Thank you!
Personally I think you have good equipment already. Just add a box guard to your setup. I would have the rapper be behind the popper stopper at 6 inches. And have the mic away from the stopper at 3 inches. Use the phantom power on that interface for the mic. Bring the input in high enough to where when the rapper is at his highest and loudest rap level. He peaks no higher than -12db or -14db. Record him there. If you have the beat or waveform of the track in your DAW. Just adjust the level of that so he can here himself clean enough to be confident. If he needs more of his vocal in the phones. Try turning his headphone knob up. Not the input gain settings. You should be good. I do this all the time and I have a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40. No external pre amp. It sounds good. It’s all about the engineer.
Old 12th October 2018
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagicorn35 View Post
Use the phantom power on that interface for the mic.
This had me laughing, using the phantom power is not an option, it makes the mic work

All your other advice was good and I’m sure he’s been through every possible scenario as I had been and really for the most part got some really good recordings, but they were not professional GOLD STANDARD recordings as what I was looking to achieve and i think might have been his goal as well, I don’t care what type of engineer you put behind that set up and mic, the recording will always be lackluster, some people might not know/care cause how decent and good they might sound especially with all the treatment post recording an engineer or most of us can do after years of doing it ourselves, the point is to be able to do a take and be like WOW, sounds perfect before anything, and then start dressing it up
Old 12th October 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 
47radAR's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crushingblow View Post
Hello, guys. I have Rode Nt1 kit microphone and a Focusrite 2i4, but I am not very satisfied with the results, so I'm considering buying a new audio interface. Basically, I've read a bunch of good opinions about Audient ID14 and Audient ID22. I have around 400$ budget - I would love if someone with experience can give me an advice what should I go for. I will mainly record rap vocals, so the advice should be centered around that, as this is the main thing I will be doing.

Certain sound I am going for:
Earl Sweatshirt, Ka.

TL;DR

I have a home studio and I'm looking to upgrade. I'm a rapper and I need the audio interface/pre to be most useful for that. Microphone is Rode NT1 Kit.

Thank you!

A very important question I haven't seen asked: Exactly what aren't you satisfied with when it comes to the results? It might be best to figure that out first and foremost.
Old 12th October 2018
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artcutech View Post
This had me laughing, using the phantom power is not an option, it makes the mic work

All your other advice was good and I’m sure he’s been through every possible scenario as I had been and really for the most part got some really good recordings, but they were not professional GOLD STANDARD recordings as what I was looking to achieve and i think might have been his goal as well, I don’t care what type of engineer you put behind that set up and mic, the recording will always be lackluster, some people might not know/care cause how decent and good they might sound especially with all the treatment post recording an engineer or most of us can do after years of doing it ourselves, the point is to be able to do a take and be like WOW, sounds perfect before anything, and then start dressing it up

I’m glad I could make somebody laugh on this site. It’s seems like most people are madd and arrogant here. But anyway. That’s the best way I could explain without showing him what I mean. And you would be surprised at how many producers and engineers, so called engineers with use a condenser mic and don’t know to hit the phantom power button. And complain about it. Say they have a ****ty interface and go run out and buy a Avalon mic pre amp. Lmao.
Old 12th October 2018
  #18
Gear Addict
 
Zargg's Avatar
Hi. I agree with those that said get some treatment of some sort before upgrading to another AI.
Pop filter, something behind the vocalist, perhaps some kind of portable vocal booth behind/around the mic, enough distance to the mic and don't record too hot.
Hope it helps, and best of luck.
All the best.
Old 12th October 2018
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagicorn35 View Post
I’m glad I could make somebody laugh on this site. It’s seems like most people are madd and arrogant here. But anyway. That’s the best way I could explain without showing him what I mean. And you would be surprised at how many producers and engineers, so called engineers with use a condenser mic and don’t know to hit the phantom power button. And complain about it. Say they have a ****ty interface and go run out and buy a Avalon mic pre amp. Lmao.
Haha this sub forum is actually much better with that than some of the other sub forums, where stuff gets super technical and brutal which is cool too, not saying it’s bad, sometimes I fell like I’m reading a novel when people are going back and forth and have to just step away for a second
Old 14th October 2018
  #20
Here for the gear
Actually I sold my Focusrite already and I ordered Audient ID22. I will tell you how it goes, when it is delivered to me.
Old 17th October 2018
  #21
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
I have the feeling you might be a bit disappointed when the Audient preamps don't really sound different from the Focusrite.
Old 17th October 2018
  #22
Gear Addict
 

I remember spending money on stuff not to long ago and being really disappointed, like this definitely did nothing I was hoping it would, if something does even somewhat what I wanted it to do then i wouldn’t get rid of it, so eventually I ended up selling these pieces of gear or trading them in for half of what i paid and somebody told me sometimes you have to spend money in order to finally get where you need to be, this is something to keep in mind. It’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t sound how you want them too, but if it was as easy as buying a interface and plugging in a mic and getting a pro sound then everybody on here and everywhere else would sound like that but it’s not that easy, keep working at it and after so many tries you’ll get to where you want to be.

But like Atma just said, dont be disaapointed if that interface is not the missing link
Old 19th October 2018
  #23
Here for the gear
Actually, I really like the sound I get from the interface! But a problem with it appeared. It has latency issues.
Old 19th October 2018
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crushingblow View Post
Actually, I really like the sound I get from the interface! But a problem with it appeared. It has latency issues.
One of my brothers clients from my day job is a successful guitar player and we got to talking about stuff, he said he had a apogee interface but it was giving him latency problems, I said dude, get an Apollo, you monitor everything through console, ZER0 latency, I suggest returning the audient and getting an Apollo, you dont have to use their plug-ins if you don’t want, the interface itself is great!
Old 21st October 2018
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crushingblow View Post
Hello, guys. I have Rode Nt1 kit microphone and a Focusrite 2i4, but I am not very satisfied with the results, so I'm considering buying a new audio interface. Basically, I've read a bunch of good opinions about Audient ID14 and Audient ID22. I have around 400$ budget - I would love if someone with experience can give me an advice what should I go for. I will mainly record rap vocals, so the advice should be centered around that, as this is the main thing I will be doing.

Certain sound I am going for:
Earl Sweatshirt, Ka.

TL;DR

I have a home studio and I'm looking to upgrade. I'm a rapper and I need the audio interface/pre to be most useful for that. Microphone is Rode NT1 Kit.

Thank you!
I always hear of Neve 1073 and 1081s and their variants being used for hip hop. The GAP 73 would fit your budget. It’s a neve clone at an inexpensive price. You might be able to find one used also.
Old 21st October 2018
  #26
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crushingblow View Post
Actually, I really like the sound I get from the interface! But a problem with it appeared. It has latency issues.
How do you mean? Are you using an ASIO driver?
Old 22nd October 2018
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

I can tell you dont have enough money to even bribe physics, and certainly not enough to purchase enough gear to undermine it's rule set. But lets say you go buy a better mic and interface with ten times your budget+$4000....What do you have better recording gear......What will it do? it will record better. What will it be recording? you bad room... so what will you oend up with....? A better recording of a bad room!! Find you some fiberglass panels locally save on shipping and re-evaluate your gear then!

Or you can not listen and do like I did...and wonder how your spent $25,000 on gear and don't hear anything representative of that amount until you spend another $300 on treatment


Quote:
Originally Posted by Artcutech View Post
To each his own, room is really important, but don’t be shocked when you buy a new interface and treat your room and wonder why your takes don’t sound like Gold, for me it was the U87 along with everything else
Old 23rd October 2018
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Lando Calrissian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by phaceless View Post
Or you can not listen and do like I did...and wonder how your spent $25,000 on gear and don't hear anything representative of that amount until you spend another $300 on treatment
I’m probably the worst offender of acoustic treatment here on this forum...

I have the U87Ai > 1073 > CL1B > Lynx Hilo.
It doesn’t get much better than that...unless of course you’re recording in my untreated apartment...then my vocal recordings sound like reflective muddy garbage.

Untreated, my SM57 > Apogee Duet absolutely destroys that chain above. Trust us, it’s the reflections. Buy a dynamic mic, treat your room, or record in a studio. Those are your only choices. Physics can suck.
Old 25th October 2018
  #29
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
This seems like a very common recurring theme:

Person buys a mic, and records through their interface preamps, gets poor results, asks for advice about upgrading their preamp (thinking that will fix the problem), people with experience chime in and tell them that if their room sounds terrible &/or is untreated, it won't matter what preamp (or even mic) they buy, that it will still sound terrible... person goes and buys a more expensive preamp (&/or mic) anyway and totally ignores all the advice.

I don't quite understand what the aversion is to investing in room treatment or portable vocal booths, etc. ? I suppose it's the least exciting thing one can spend money on? It's just so weird as I've seen this happen dozens and dozens of times, and nobody really listens.
Old 25th October 2018
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Yes treatment first, it doesn’t take much to really help, but after the treatment when your preamp and mic aren’t giving you the sound you want, do you add more treatment? because by what im reading on here is if your rooms treated you should be able to get a pro sound, wasn’t the case for me till I treated and upgraded my mic and preamp, jus saying
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