Female rock singer seeks escape from mic/pre amp purgatory

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nativeangeleno
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Female rock singer seeks escape from mic/pre amp purgatory

Post by nativeangeleno » Fri Nov 17, 2006 11:50 pm

Tamra, the singer I play guitar for, asked me to post this here. thank you for any advice you can offer.


Hello my name is Tamra and I am a problem singer for engineers. I'm a girl who sings like a guy. I have a big powerful voice but I like to whisper and bellow sometimes in the same sentence. Please check my profile for samples.

I've been busting my ass looking for the right signal chain. I've tried the Blue Baby Bottle, AKG C-4000, Area 51 TT, SM58, SM57, Meek JTM blah blah blah. Neumann and Neumann derived mics are too dark for my voice.

Pre-amp wise I've tried two of the old OSA black face modules and a newer OSA, an M160, an Altec 1556A modded by Bob Paine, a Meek channel strip, a TL Audio Ivory 5051.

So far the only success has been an Sm57 into the Altec recording simultaneously with the A51 into one of the old black face OSAs. It's a good rock and roll sound with keen ring to it but useless for quiet songs where you want lots of detail.

I admit we need to spend more time fine tuning to bring out the best of each combination but I've recorded with enough good engineers to know when we're in the ballpark or not and I don't think we are.

The goal is transparency. I just want to capture how my voice sounds in the room. So far what I get is either too dark or too tinny, bleached out, or browned out.

If anybody has a few minutes please give a listen. I'm not asking you to diagnose and prescribe, but if I were standing sulking in your studio what mic and pre-amp would you put me through. I'm praying I won't need to spend ten grand on a neve and a C12 or something!
thank you
Tamra

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Post by drumsound » Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:59 am

Two things...

First where is the profile mentioned. Second please let Tamra know that she is as welcome as you are here at the TOMB. I'd love to see more women participating.

Have you tried an AT 4050? They have a pretty open top, but can get sibilant if not careful.

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Post by darjama » Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:44 am

I found the link to the myspace page linked on the site in her profile, it's:

http://www.myspace.com/lucidnation

Not really sure what to specifically recommend, but maybe one mic for all situations isn't really what you want. Use the sm57 (or sm7b) for the parts you sing louder, use something else for the quieter parts.

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Post by kayagum » Sat Nov 18, 2006 6:12 am

Have you tried ribbons?

Also, have you tried modded Oktava mics? http://oktavamod.com - they may provide just the extra air and extended high end you want.

Maybe a higher end Rode too, like the NTK/K2/Classic II end of things.
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Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:27 am

Awesome. I haven't heard Lucid Nation since the Stillness of Over came out. Damnit did I love that record. I need to dig that one out of the closet....

Anyway, there are about 10,000 options worth mentioning, but its pretty much impossible to judge what's going to work on someone's voice without sitting down and trying it. The obvious and impossible to achieve ones worth checking out are a c12 or a elam251 or all the ridiculously expensive ones. However a few cheaper ones that people might not mention off the bat are:

Groove Tubes MD1-a (they just rereleased this, though I haven't tried the new ones. Sometimes a great vocal mic where other ones fail)

Mojave Audio MA-200 (a Neumann U67 derived mic, but not all neumann's are dark).

I can't wait to get a chance to check out the new Lucid Nation material. Glad you posted.

-marc goodman
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Post by nativeangeleno » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:42 am

Thanks everyone. I will follow up on all your suggestions. I really appreciate you taking the time to give them.

Marc, you might enjoy checking out our 100SongMarch at Lucidnation.com. We've put up every song, live recording, and outtake along with a story for each, divided up into episodes. We've played with alot of different musicians since Stillness, but that's still my favorite record.

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Post by ubertar » Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:33 pm

Since the problem you're talking about has to do with dynamics, maybe a compressor or limiter is what you need, and not so much a specific mic or preamp.
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Post by nativeangeleno » Sat Nov 18, 2006 2:18 pm

It's not just the dynamics, it's that we're not getting that intimate, detailed, transparent sound that says quality vocal chain
Tamra

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Post by I'm Painting Again » Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:12 pm

go for a high resolution mic preamp and microphone and ADC if it's detail you want..as far as gear is related..maybe try something like a B&K, Schoeps, etc. into a Martinsound, Millenia, Gordon, etc. pre into a Lavry, Benchmark, Prism, etc. converter..

then the other thing you can do is tweek the arrangements of the songs and choose instruments with timbres that don't step on each other in terms of frequency..that is a key thing in creating space and detail in a mix..It sounds to me like in those myspace songs you have a bit of competition in that aspect going on..

I'm a bit of a detail obsessed recordist..I think about this stuff laying awake in bed every night..

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Post by philbo » Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:51 pm

Toolshed of Death wrote: then the other thing you can do is tweek the arrangements of the songs and choose instruments with timbres that don't step on each other in terms of frequency..that is a key thing in creating space and detail in a mix..It sounds to me like in those myspace songs you have a bit of competition in that aspect going on..

I'm a bit of a detail obsessed recordist..I think about this stuff laying awake in bed every night..
Yep - - there's too much going on with instruments sitting in the frequency range your vocals fall into - - try having the mix engineer carve out a bit of a hole in the spectrum for your voice to live in, and I believe your problems with clarity will vanish.

BTW, I really dig your music!
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Post by tommy » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:11 pm

I havent heard the track yet but a couple of things I would try. Maybe a hand held mic being hand held. Like an sm58 or Beyer m88. Sometimes with really dynamic singers, vocal technique is a little easier or at least more intuitive when you are actually holding the mic.
I would also maybe try using both a dynamic as well as a condenser at the same time with the capsules right next to each other so that you are singing into them at the same time.
It kind of sounds like there are aspects of the sm57 as well as large diaphram condensers you like but neither are quite cutting it. Maybe both of em blended might do the trick..?? Ya never know. If you try this, make sure you check the phase so that no unpleasant comb filtering is happening.

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Post by nativeangeleno » Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:49 am

This is so awesome. I feel like a princess. : )
It's what I imagined Salons like Gertrude Steins were like. Thanks everybody
Tamra

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Post by Kilroy » Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:38 am

what are you doing with mic placement? It might be worth it with your current setup to try moving the mic around. Try getting closer or farther away. It might help, it might not. Just something to try without spending more bread for something new.

-Chris

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Post by Angie » Sun Nov 19, 2006 8:30 am

philbo wrote:
Toolshed of Death wrote: .It sounds to me like in those myspace songs you have a bit of competition in that aspect going on..
Yep - - there's too much going on with instruments sitting in the frequency range your vocals fall into - - try having the mix engineer carve out a bit of a hole in the spectrum for your voice to live in, and I believe your problems with clarity will vanish.
Tamara,
I agree with all of the above with most of what I heard. That said, I also think I understand what you're talking about. Have you tried the AT-4050 suggested above? Another mic I usually try on women is the RE-20. I think female voices are the hardest to capture. There is no one combination that is going to work for every one. And we are our worst critics, you may not find exactly what you want. Still, a good mix will do wonders.

Angie

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Post by 8th_note » Mon Nov 20, 2006 8:06 am

Toolshed and Philbo brought up some good points. I'm hearing more of a mix problem than a vocal track problem. Here's a couple more things to try;

Record the quiet breathy parts separate from the loud parts then comp the vocals. That will allow the use of a different mic or at least allow the mic to be be turned up louder or change your singing position which will can change the level of perceived detail.

This was mentioned above but experiment with mic position, particularly on the quiet parts. If a particular mic has a significant proximity effect (the lows get relatively louder the closer you get) you can change the sound of your vocals.

The engineer may want to pan the guitars further to the outside to leave room for your vocals. Then you'll want to experiment with the reverb. The easiest way to muddy a vocal is to add a little too much reverb.

On the two songs I listened to it sounded like the song was mixed with the guitars being the center of attention, not the vocals. I think you're wanting the songs to feature the vocals and be mixed around the vocals. If you haven't communicated this to the engineer this will be help him/her with their mixing strategy.

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