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Starting new vocal chain from Scratch... $3,500 budget
Old 19th February 2012
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Starting new vocal chain from Scratch... $3,500 budget

Hey guys, my previous vocal chain was TLM49-->Great River pre--> Distressor--> M-Audio Profire 610.. The reason for me selling these pieces of gear was mostly the TLM49 which wasn't for my voice.. It was really strident/harsh in the high end, also the distressor was way to aggressive on my vocals. It colored the sound to much. The great River was awesome it gave my vocal alot of beef but I wanted something alot cleaner. I felt the Profire 610 was ok.. But I feel this is only because I've never used high end converters. So guys I just wanted to know if you guys can help pick some gear for a much cleaner vocal chain.. I am debating on which would give me more of an immediate improvement right now a high end converter or a hardware compressor.. My Budget is $3,500

Any thoughts on the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5015 so I knock out a nice preamp and hardware compression in one? Haven't ruled out getting into the 500 series either.

Thanks

Last edited by rcoket3; 19th February 2012 at 05:55 PM.. Reason: Grammar
Old 19th February 2012
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Bump..
Old 19th February 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
ddageek's Avatar
 

Best Advice I can tell you is to go somewhere you can demo a ton of different combinations ! As you now know it's all about what works for you!
Old 19th February 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Oldone's Avatar
Get to a studio with a nice mic locker and outboard gear, pay for a couple of hours of time and have them take you through some choices. No one here is going to be able to make recommendations without hearing your voice and what will follow will be a long thread with a variety of recommendations all of which could be wrong. The most recorded chain in commercial history is a U47 tube mic into a 1073 Neve preamp then into either an LA2A or 1176.

Your Great River is not far off the mark for the 1073 sound but yes a Portico is in the same vein. The TLM49 is the place to make a change, look for a tube mic, the converters would be the other place I would make a change first.
Old 19th February 2012
  #5
Call up a rental company, ask if you can do a shoot out of a couple mics and they'll usually let you just pay for the one you like if you bring the rest back in a timely manner.
Old 19th February 2012
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Hey guys, thanks for the advice etc.. I would love to rent but the problem is I sold all my gear so if I were to rent a mic I have no preamp or anything at the moment to test it out.. But I am thinking of first purchasing a preamp... Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5015 or Avalon 737sp? I prefer a cleaner sound which based off reviews would seem to be the Avalons advantage but I've heard it's also sterile and it gets bashed alot on here. One thing i've learned for sure is that there are times when price tags of a microphone does not mean it will sound great on all voices. I learned that quickly with my TLM49 i'm looking at the Rode K2 cheaper yes but I feel it would would handle the treble range of my voice a lot better. Should have went the tube route in terms of microphones in the first place...Smh
Old 19th February 2012
  #7
Gear Addict
 
tedpenn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcoket3 View Post
Hey guys, my previous vocal chain was TLM49-->Great River pre--> Distressor--> M-Audio Profire 610.. The reason for me selling these pieces of gear was mostly the TLM49 which wasn't for my voice.. It was really strident/harsh in the high end, also the distressor was way to aggressive on my vocals. It colored the sound to much. The great River was awesome it gave my vocal alot of beef but I wanted something alot cleaner. I felt the Profire 610 was ok.. But I feel this is only because I've never used high end converters. So guys I just wanted to know if you guys can help pick some gear for a much cleaner vocal chain.. I am debating on which would give me more of an immediate improvement right now a high end converter or a hardware compressor.. My Budget is $3,500

Any thoughts on the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5015 so I knock out a nice preamp and hardware compression in one? Haven't ruled out getting into the 500 series either.

Thanks
Well, it's a shame you gave up the Great River and Distressor, as they're both great quality and versatile. A 1073 or similar (like the GR) is such a goto pre when cutting vocals, with all sorts of mics.

I can't emphasize this enough: Start with the microphone. Far and away over the rest of your chain, it will have a great impact on your final result. Take the advice above and go shoot out a bunch of them from a rental company or at a studio. Avoid the temptation to hear anything that's "brighter", as automatically "better". Listen to the way each mic brings out various characteristics of your voice. Likewise, pay a lot of attention to any negative characteristics that get exaggerated, such as nasal or harsh peaks in the upper midrange (1-6kHz). Ideally, do all of this over an existing bed of music tracks you have, to see how each mic will fit into a mix.

Next in priority is your preamp. You Great River was...great. But that or just about any other high quality pre should fit the bill. Try a few if you get the chance. The differences will be more subtle than the mics, but go through a few.

If you're wanting to use a compressor, there are a few thousand opinions around here. Popular options will include your former Distressor, the TubeTech CL1B (personal favorite of mine), and the classic LA2A and 1176 (although the latter is not nearly as versatile or transparent IMO). To be honest, if you found the Distressor too "colored" or aggressive, I would suggest that you just haven't spent enough time with it. It's a total chameleon in the right hands.

I'm not familiar with your converter, but it is most likely adequate at the very least. Like the preamp choice, your converter will impact the final sound captured, but nowhere near as much as the mic. As long as it's decent, I wouldn't lose sleep over it. There are plenty of other options out there if you're concerned about it though. What DAW are you using?
Old 19th February 2012
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Hey man, thank you for the in depth response I'm absorbing all of it and agree with everything you said. I feel that TLM49 through off my whole chain..
Old 19th February 2012
  #9
Gear Nut
 

I alternate I record on Logic 9, pro tools 8, and cubase 6 I have a pc and a mac. The problem is I would love to record in protools as my main DAW but I would then have to upgrade if I don't want to be forced to use and M-Audio interface or Mbox. And Apogee I would be tied too Mac.
Old 20th February 2012
  #10
Gear Addict
 
tedpenn's Avatar
 

Oh ok, gotcha. The only reason I asked is because of the mac vs. PC, and PT vs. Other compatibility issues when it comes to interfaces. But you seem like you're already plugged into those factors.

I'm an Apogee fan, and also like Digi's 192 (which may be blasphemy around here ), but I'm a total mac guy, so I may not be much help in that department.

RME, Lavry, Lynx, and a few others are well liked by many, but it really depends what you're looking for, budget, etc.. The RME stuff has gained a reputation for having a lot of bang for the buck. I also like Cranesong's converter, but it's not the cheapest.

One option out there that is a bit of an oddball is the API A2D. It's a 2 channel mic pre and converter. I've used one of these quite a bit, and it was fantastic. Ton of value there too. Their pre's alone are worth the price of that thing (and you can bypass the converter and go direct into another one if you decide you don't like it down the road). Anyway, that's one option to look at.

If those are all out of your price range, there are a TON of other options out there, but I'm not well versed in the entry level devices (and there are hundreds of them). Your best bet there may be to hunt down one of the magazine shootouts for converters.

Are you in or near a decent studio where you could go shoot out some mics? It'd probably only take you a few hrs of studio time and would be well worth it to find a mic that works well with your voice.
Old 20th February 2012
  #11
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Seems like you had two weak links [the mic and the converter] but you got rid of the stuff in the middle as well... oh well, it is what it is.

You might want to look at doing an upgrade to your conversion system first... and then try to find a microphone that couples best with your voice... then pair it with a pre-amp [etc.] that suits that chain well.

Rental companies can be of great assistance in that endeavor as can resellers with whom you build a relationship.

Best of luck with your search.

Peace
Old 24th February 2012
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Hey guys again thanks for the tips and advice... I was finally able to try out a couple of tube mics. I really loved the K2 and the Mitek CV4... This was through a Metric Halo ULN-2. Compared to my old setup it was night and day how my vocal sounded the mud was gone, each word came out clearly and I was not afraid to hit certain notes or say certain words due to fear of harshness occurring like I was on my old chain. I am very happy because I wanted a cleaner sound and I feel that i can get this all in one package with the Metric Halo ULN-2.. The preamps sounded pretty good to me.. Do you guys think i can skip an external pre and get a great sound with the on board pre's on this this unit? It's not as colored as my Great river was...
Old 25th February 2012
  #13
Gear Nut
 

bump
Old 25th February 2012
  #14
Gear Addict
 
Rappy's Avatar
 

A vocal chain I use quite often is TLM-49 -> Great River -> RNC -> Toft channel (HPF only) -> Apogee AD-16x -> Pro Tools. I don't find the TLM-49 harsh at all, even on more aggressive singers. Have you considered your room treatment and placement as possible issues? If you are singing loud in a bedroom or living room with 8 ft. ceilings and reflective walls and not a lot of treatment then yeah, it is going to sound harsh. The TLM 49 sounds great in my vocal booth or surrounded by my ASC Tube Traps in a basement. The sound is totally pro and I have no complaints. I also spend a lot of time with placing the mic by listening on headphones and moving it around in front of the singer to find the sweet spot. Not as easy to do when you record yourself. I'm sure there are better mics but I don't consider it a weak part of my chain at all. I don't know about the converters in your M-Audio but if they are anything like Digi 002 they really suck.

Good luck,
Rappy
Old 25th February 2012
  #15
How about a shadow hills mono gama. It has a choice between transformerless for completely clean and choices for nickel and steel transformers all on a dial. The nickle transformer is quite different sounding than neve style iron from your great river. Its bright and shiny sounding instead of heavy or velvety.
Old 25th February 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
 
cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tedpenn View Post
I can't emphasize this enough: Start with the microphone. Far and away over the rest of your chain, it will have a great impact on your final result. Take the advice above and go shoot out a bunch of them from a rental company or at a studio. Avoid the temptation to hear anything that's "brighter", as automatically "better". Listen to the way each mic brings out various characteristics of your voice. Likewise, pay a lot of attention to any negative characteristics that get exaggerated, such as nasal or harsh peaks in the upper midrange (1-6kHz). Ideally, do all of this over an existing bed of music tracks you have, to see how each mic will fit into a mix.

Like the preamp choice, your converter will impact the final sound captured, but nowhere near as much as the mic. As long as it's decent, I wouldn't lose sleep over it.
+1!!
Search the right mic for your voice..try them out... Don't rule out ribbons.. For some vocals and/or genres are very very nice (Coles, AEA, Royer, Shure KSM formerly crowley and tripp, Shinybox)..
On the condenser side I'd suggest to try a Violet Design Globe Vintage (or standard if you want something that cuts a bit more through the mix)..very nice microphone at a friendly price and totally under the radar..

Regarding the preamp check out the Avedis MA5 for the 500 series (you could read my review in the reviews section here on GS), you might want to build your chain slowly with other modules later.. Maybe also a different preamp like the Forssell, very clean but musical.. Or an Hardy..

Compressors: depending what do you need.. Summit Audio TLA-50 are cheap and nice sounding IMO.. Not aggressive at all..they have a color though..

Converters: anything from RME to Apogee or Mytek will do it.. IMHO

Just my 0.02$,



Cheu
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