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Rap vocals too harsh... do I need a new mic?
Old 25th May 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Rap vocals too harsh... do I need a new mic?

How's it going y'all!

My name is Blake, I'm new to the forum. Since 2013 I have been rapping and writing my own songs. In 2015 I purchased a Neumann TLM-102 mic, and loved the clarity. However, I find that my vocals, while clear, tend to be a bit thin and harsh. My delivery is normally pretty intense, and I do have a higher register to my voice.

My chain is - Neumann TLM-102 - Komplete Audio 1 - Logic Pro X (I have used an Apogee One interface in the past with similar issues)

Here is a track that was mixed by a very prolific engineer. I find the vocal to be harsh personally.. (I'm the first rapper on the track)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnoOH-wPi3E

I find while recording that I can't rap with the full force that I want to sometimes because it becomes too loud.. I'm wondering to what extent its my own voice and what amount a different microphone / interface combo might be of benefit. Maybe I'm going crazy. Would love to hear what y'all think!

I also recently recorded at a studio on a C-800G.. the vocal sounds nice but in my personal opinion they're still too harsh.. beginning to wonder if the register of my voice itself is IMPOSSIBLE to tame. Or maybe I need a mic with less high end response. I'm stressing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW1lm2mlceg

I appreciate any insights! Hopefully this will be a relevant post for the forum. Thanks!
Old 25th May 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Skamm Goodiez's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by blakeg703 View Post
How's it going y'all!

My name is Blake, I'm new to the forum. Since 2013 I have been rapping and writing my own songs. In 2015 I purchased a Neumann TLM-102 mic, and loved the clarity. However, I find that my vocals, while clear, tend to be a bit thin and harsh. My delivery is normally pretty intense, and I do have a higher register to my voice.

My chain is - Neumann TLM-102 - Komplete Audio 1 - Logic Pro X (I have used an Apogee One interface in the past with similar issues)

Here is a track that was mixed by a very prolific engineer. I find the vocal to be harsh personally.. (I'm the first rapper on the track)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnoOH-wPi3E

I find while recording that I can't rap with the full force that I want to sometimes because it becomes too loud.. I'm wondering to what extent its my own voice and what amount a different microphone / interface combo might be of benefit. Maybe I'm going crazy. Would love to hear what y'all think!

I also recently recorded at a studio on a C-800G.. the vocal sounds nice but in my personal opinion they're still too harsh.. beginning to wonder if the register of my voice itself is IMPOSSIBLE to tame. Or maybe I need a mic with less high end response. I'm stressing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW1lm2mlceg

I appreciate any insights! Hopefully this will be a relevant post for the forum. Thanks!
Check your pm
Old 25th May 2020
  #3
Gear Head
 

I like the voice tone better in the "They tell me I should be signed already", there is a cool variation from high to low pitch that make flow more interesting. Voice could be heard as harsh if you stay too much in high register, I don't know...
Old 25th May 2020
  #4
Gear Head
 

Have you tried to record one take closer to the mic with low input then another take further away from mic but with input higher? Also notice you don't use any preamp, that can help create the "tone/mojo" your missing, also a la2a or 1176 would help on this, you can also try to tame the harshness after recording with plugins like Soothe or DeEdger or even Tape. Keep trying till you find the chain that fits your voice!
Old 26th May 2020
  #5
Gear Nut
 

i thought the vocal was pretty decent honestly...bright and upfront like most of todays rap
Old 26th May 2020
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by keefaz View Post
I like the voice tone better in the "They tell me I should be signed already", there is a cool variation from high to low pitch that make flow more interesting. Voice could be heard as harsh if you stay too much in high register, I don't know...
I definitely feel what you're saying. Appreciate the input!
Old 26th May 2020
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rowan_rashard View Post
i thought the vocal was pretty decent honestly...bright and upfront like most of todays rap
Thanks Rowan! I think I'm definitely overthinking to an extent but I'm also a perfectionist, just trying to reach my optimum sound.
Old 26th May 2020
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6ixcore View Post
Have you tried to record one take closer to the mic with low input then another take further away from mic but with input higher? Also notice you don't use any preamp, that can help create the "tone/mojo" your missing, also a la2a or 1176 would help on this, you can also try to tame the harshness after recording with plugins like Soothe or DeEdger or even Tape. Keep trying till you find the chain that fits your voice!
Thanks for the input 6! That's interesting, I haven't tried that. Will try messing with the gain on the interface. I have thought about a preamp before, I was wondering if it really makes that big a difference. I think I may need to experiment with plug-ins before investing in a big hardware purchase.. are those plug ins you mentioned WAVEs?
Old 26th May 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Your "sound" is already excellent. But I stumbled across a very low cost vocal mic sleeper, a while back. It's the AKG P120 (black).

Don't let the low cost fool you. Not saying this to replace your TLM 102, as I respect that mic a whole lot.
But the P120, would make a nice/almost no risk addition. It will sound "less airy" compared to the TLM 102.
You may like that sometimes.

Here's an acapella clip below (just a singer here-not a Rapper), so you can hear its "warmth"...
Chris
Attached Files

handlewithcareP120edit.mp3 (663.9 KB, 476 views)

Old 26th May 2020
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Your "sound" is already excellent. But I stumbled across a very low cost vocal mic sleeper, a while back. It's the AKG P120 (black).

Don't let the low cost fool you. Not saying this to replace your TLM 102, as I respect that mic a whole lot.
But the P120, would make a nice/almost no risk addition. It will sound "less airy" compared to the TLM 102.
You may like that sometimes.

Here's an acapella clip below (just a singer here-not a Rapper), so you can hear its "warmth"...
Chris
Thanks Chris! That sounds pretty nice.. and under 100 bucks wow! I'll look into it.
Old 26th May 2020
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Sure thing. Cool worry free "travel"/practice vocal mic too.

Here's another example below, where I was recorded more professionally with the P120.
That's me on the funny/robotic "streeeeaamm onnnnnn" and the Lead vocal ending.

So, takes Processing very well!
Chris
Attached Files

Mangle Me 44.1_16 (1).mp3 (542.9 KB, 438 views)

Old 26th May 2020
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
elgee's Avatar
 

Mic position can be huge. I've had a few sessions where a singer/rapper sounds better off-axis. I'd try experimenting with that first then try finding a mic where you sound how you want to sound.

GL

Mic Position SOS
Old 26th May 2020
  #13
Gear Addict
 
Progger's Avatar
You've already gotten some great suggestions! If I were you I'd also consider a good dynamic mic. If you have a powerful voice, a good dynamic will easily handle everything you throw at it without getting harsh, and you can get a top-quality dynamic for the price of a mid-tier condenser. Sennheiser 441 or Beyerdynamic M88 would be worth trying out!
Old 26th May 2020
  #14
Lives for gear
 

M88TG will sound a little bit more Modern, than the 441. But maybe the OP might like that too. IMHO sometimes there's an overemphasis on the "bright" microphones, for Modern R&B/Hip Hop/Rap. As mentioned though, the M88 has a smoooooth top end nonetheless!
Chris
Old 27th May 2020
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
fragilo's Avatar
 

ya you need a new mic imo . no matter what great pres, gear and talent i (briefly, disgustedly) used around those TLM mics, the 103 being a most retched thing
who's intended purpose beguiles everyone who has every tried to record anything with the bastard.

Its not easy to get the right magic mic, but if i was you, i would cop the 800 ish one from AA if u want modern pap, a 70s 87 in good original shape
for all around killer, or a particular 414 if you like that kind of plasticy grainy warm sound form the underground 90s.

my chain right now and im super stoked on it, having been through so many variation incl 47s neves las all that old great siht , is '72 87 into Pheonix drpq4 or whtve the fk the model is with 45 gain output at noon, only the hpf engaged, into a daking fetiii catching the peaks into a warm 2a (modern, haha) or retro 176 (yes retro) for avg -8 limiting. waves shep eq and l2 are great basics of any lead vocal mix chain
Old 1st June 2020
  #16
Lives for gear
 

I listened back on my notebook speakers, which really tend to emphasize annoying frequencies. It didn't sound terrible. Maybe some of the transients were a little smeared, but certainly not epically bad or anything like that. I heard some annoying midrange. Here is a common trick for that:

Make a really narrow eq band (high q) with a lot of gain (it should look like a giant narrow mountain on your eq chart). That acts like an annoying frequency detection flashlight. Sweep that eq band around until you find a frequency range that makes the vocals sound brutally terrible. It will make everything sound bad. But find a spot where the sound becomes absurdly harsh and terrible. That's your resonance spot that is too hot. Dip that range a little bit (maybe 2-3 decibles or so) using a mid-width q . Sometimes just a little bit of a dip here and there can tame a harsh vocal. As a guess, your annoying frequencies are somewhere in the 1k-5k range.

You can also try a preamp that is known to settle in the sounds a bit. A Neve 1073 (solid state) or a D.W. Fearn (tube) can do that. Neve-Neumann is a great combination. So if you already have the TLM 102, see if you can try out a 1073 with it.

Preamps make a huge difference. Second in importance to the mics themselves. But getting good at eq won't cost you a penny. Since you are finding the same problem across several good quality mics, you might want to get good at eq. You can carry that solution wherever you go.
Old 2nd June 2020
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elgee View Post
Mic position can be huge. I've had a few sessions where a singer/rapper sounds better off-axis. I'd try experimenting with that first then try finding a mic where you sound how you want to sound.

GL

Mic Position SOS
Interesting... what exactly do you mean by off axis?
Old 2nd June 2020
  #18
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Progger View Post
You've already gotten some great suggestions! If I were you I'd also consider a good dynamic mic. If you have a powerful voice, a good dynamic will easily handle everything you throw at it without getting harsh, and you can get a top-quality dynamic for the price of a mid-tier condenser. Sennheiser 441 or Beyerdynamic M88 would be worth trying out!
Thanks for the suggestions! I think I am definitely gonna try out some dynamic mics... my buddy actually a 441 I think, gonna get over there and try it once the Corona dies down.
Old 2nd June 2020
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
M88TG will sound a little bit more Modern, than the 441. But maybe the OP might like that too. IMHO sometimes there's an overemphasis on the "bright" microphones, for Modern R&B/Hip Hop/Rap. As mentioned though, the M88 has a smoooooth top end nonetheless!
Chris
Thanks for the suggestion Chris! I'll check those out
Old 2nd June 2020
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fragilo View Post
ya you need a new mic imo . no matter what great pres, gear and talent i (briefly, disgustedly) used around those TLM mics, the 103 being a most retched thing
who's intended purpose beguiles everyone who has every tried to record anything with the bastard.

Its not easy to get the right magic mic, but if i was you, i would cop the 800 ish one from AA if u want modern pap, a 70s 87 in good original shape
for all around killer, or a particular 414 if you like that kind of plasticy grainy warm sound form the underground 90s.

my chain right now and im super stoked on it, having been through so many variation incl 47s neves las all that old great siht , is '72 87 into Pheonix drpq4 or whtve the fk the model is with 45 gain output at noon, only the hpf engaged, into a daking fetiii catching the peaks into a warm 2a (modern, haha) or retro 176 (yes retro) for avg -8 limiting. waves shep eq and l2 are great basics of any lead vocal mix chain
You're the first person confirming the thoughts creeping in the back of my mind.. that the TLM is too bright, artificially so... at first I was impressed with its clarity but I've come to detest it. I will look into your suggestions, thanks a ton!
Old 2nd June 2020
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gearstudent View Post
I listened back on my notebook speakers, which really tend to emphasize annoying frequencies. It didn't sound terrible. Maybe some of the transients were a little smeared, but certainly not epically bad or anything like that. I heard some annoying midrange. Here is a common trick for that:

Make a really narrow eq band (high q) with a lot of gain (it should look like a giant narrow mountain on your eq chart). That acts like an annoying frequency detection flashlight. Sweep that eq band around until you find a frequency range that makes the vocals sound brutally terrible. It will make everything sound bad. But find a spot where the sound becomes absurdly harsh and terrible. That's your resonance spot that is too hot. Dip that range a little bit (maybe 2-3 decibles or so) using a mid-width q . Sometimes just a little bit of a dip here and there can tame a harsh vocal. As a guess, your annoying frequencies are somewhere in the 1k-5k range.

You can also try a preamp that is known to settle in the sounds a bit. A Neve 1073 (solid state) or a D.W. Fearn (tube) can do that. Neve-Neumann is a great combination. So if you already have the TLM 102, see if you can try out a 1073 with it.

Preamps make a huge difference. Second in importance to the mics themselves. But getting good at eq won't cost you a penny. Since you are finding the same problem across several good quality mics, you might want to get good at eq. You can carry that solution wherever you go.
Thanks for taking the time to listen! Very good point here about EQ.. I'm actually looking at investing in an Apollo Twin interface (currently using that Komplete audio). Really trying to hone in on my ideal vocal production. Appreciate the tips!!
Old 3rd June 2020
  #22
Gear Addict
 
Progger's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by blakeg703 View Post
Thanks for the suggestions! I think I am definitely gonna try out some dynamic mics... my buddy actually a 441 I think, gonna get over there and try it once the Corona dies down.
For sure, if you can try out a 441 and you dig it, that would be a great way to go! That's a top-tier microphone, generally considered to be the very best dynamic mic ever, but it's so very affordable compared to the very best condenser or ribbon mics ever.

My next a Beyer M88, but I'll own a 441 eventually, no question.
Old 6th June 2020
  #23
DAH
Lives for gear
 
DAH's Avatar
Do you have any unprocessed track of vocals? The first Youtube link's song has two performers mixed differently, you have been compressed much more than the second rapper. Don't try to get on the beat so hard in terms of accuracy and speed, relax, it will bring back those balls and swagger. It is NOT the mic.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by blakeg703 View Post
How's it going y'all!

My name is Blake, I'm new to the forum. Since 2013 I have been rapping and writing my own songs. In 2015 I purchased a Neumann TLM-102 mic, and loved the clarity. However, I find that my vocals, while clear, tend to be a bit thin and harsh. My delivery is normally pretty intense, and I do have a higher register to my voice.

My chain is - Neumann TLM-102 - Komplete Audio 1 - Logic Pro X (I have used an Apogee One interface in the past with similar issues)

Here is a track that was mixed by a very prolific engineer. I find the vocal to be harsh personally.. (I'm the first rapper on the track)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnoOH-wPi3E

I find while recording that I can't rap with the full force that I want to sometimes because it becomes too loud.. I'm wondering to what extent its my own voice and what amount a different microphone / interface combo might be of benefit. Maybe I'm going crazy. Would love to hear what y'all think!

I also recently recorded at a studio on a C-800G.. the vocal sounds nice but in my personal opinion they're still too harsh.. beginning to wonder if the register of my voice itself is IMPOSSIBLE to tame. Or maybe I need a mic with less high end response. I'm stressing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW1lm2mlceg

I appreciate any insights! Hopefully this will be a relevant post for the forum. Thanks!
I'd suggest you to stay at what you do, which you do great, which is rapping. Stop being an engineer. The first vocal sounds really good.

Plus, if you have problem even with a C800G, the problem is in you and not the gear.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 

On the cheap. I predict that AKG P120 (black) for less than $100... Would suit the OP's voice very well. Nice (even flatter!)complement to the TLM102.
It takes processing amazingly well. (listen to my clip!)
Chris
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