Need advice from video sound and VO engineers.

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kmacbeatle
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Need advice from video sound and VO engineers.

Post by kmacbeatle » Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:53 pm

I have recorded a lot of music in the past, but I am building my first studio that will be used mainly to record voice overs and some video interviews. Can anyone help me with equipment choices?

Microphone: As for the microphone, I need something to use as a boom microphone and also a microphone for voice-overs. I hear the Sennheiser 416 does both great. But I don?t know if my company will want to spend $1,200 on a microphone. Any cheaper options that would work for both, or one or the other? Any sub-$400 shotgun mics worth a darn?

Preamp: I currently have an ART MPA Gold. I definitely won?t have the money to get a Avalon 737 or anything. Is it worth buying a Symetrix 528E or another good $500-700 preamp, or would the improvement over the ART not be that noticeable over the art?

Compressor: I have an ART VLA, though I haven?t had much luck when using it w/ voice-overs. Any cheap suggestions? Or should I just rely on post-production plug-ins?

Thanks so much for all of your help!
Last edited by kmacbeatle on Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JGriffin
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Post by JGriffin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:18 pm

I thnk you mean the Sennheiser 416 MKH? That's the standard VO short shotgun these days.
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kmacbeatle
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Post by kmacbeatle » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:20 pm

dwlb wrote:I thnk you mean the Sennheiser 416 MKH? That's the standard VO short shotgun these days.
i did-- thanks!

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Post by E-Rock » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:24 pm

Senn 416 is def and industry 'standard'. Do you need one? I don't know. If you ever have to match something recorded elsewhere, it sure helps. :)
I would step up your pre as well. I'm not saying you couldn't get great tracks with it, but you could do better.
Let me put it in perspective a little.
We do ISDN patches, or phone patches (and download files later) with other studios all over the country, all the time.
If a studio sounds bad (bad gear, bad rooms, noisy, etc..) or they can't get their shit together (losing scripts that were faxed 3 days prior) they don't get called again.
Now, I've patched to places, recorded everything we needed, released the talent, then said to the engineer on the other end "Hey, those tracks sounded great, what was your chain?", and had them say something like "cheap Rode into a Mackie pre."
Great voices sound great.
Then I've patched to places with drool-worthy gear, and you can hear trucks driving by, and it sounds like the talent is in the shower.

Also, if you are doing books on tape, or things like that, the client will expect really clean tracks. A high noise floor will not be tolerated.

Hope this helps.

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Post by JGriffin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:57 pm

E-Rock wrote:Senn 416 is def and industry 'standard'. Do you need one? I don't know. If you ever have to match something recorded elsewhere, it sure helps. :)
I would step up your pre as well. I'm not saying you couldn't get great tracks with it, but you could do better.
Let me put it in perspective a little.
We do ISDN patches, or phone patches (and download files later) with other studios all over the country, all the time.
If a studio sounds bad (bad gear, bad rooms, noisy, etc..) or they can't get their shit together (losing scripts that were faxed 3 days prior) they don't get called again.
Now, I've patched to places, recorded everything we needed, released the talent, then said to the engineer on the other end "Hey, those tracks sounded great, what was your chain?", and had them say something like "cheap Rode into a Mackie pre."
Great voices sound great.
Then I've patched to places with drool-worthy gear, and you can hear trucks driving by, and it sounds like the talent is in the shower.

Also, if you are doing books on tape, or things like that, the client will expect really clean tracks. A high noise floor will not be tolerated.

Hope this helps.
Agreed on all counts. I did national radio and TV for years with a U89 through a Mackie. But the room and voices were good, which helped the mic pre issue somewhat. (I am now a little better set up: Senn 416 and Neumann U87 through GML pre. The voice is still the important thing though.)

some of the Audio-Technica shotguns are nice, but they do sound different than a Senn416. It's also a good idea to have a good LDC, since the shotguns are not as forgiving to less-than-awesome announcer voices. Neumanns tend to be really forgiving IME. Pricey, of course.

I also get ISDN feeds from all over the country--heck, all over the world. I've heard stuff recorded with a U87 through a megadollar pre that sounded --no exaggeration-- like a 64kbps mp3, just because the actor's voice sucked. I've gotten tracks sent to me with music bleeding in from the next room, and sounded like a pillowcase was draped over the mic. Then of course there's the coffin-ambience booths. Urgh.
Last edited by JGriffin on Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

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Post by newfuturevintage » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:57 pm

E-Rock wrote: We do ISDN patches, or phone patches (and download files later) with other studios all over the country, all the time.
What studio are you at? I'm in the tech support dept over at ednet...

to the OP: Listen to E-Rock, he speaketh the truth.

As for shotguns on the cheap, I just posted this thread:
http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopi ... highlight=
and got some good feedback.

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Post by JGriffin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:00 pm

newfuturevintage wrote:
What studio are you at? I'm in the tech support dept over at ednet...
Hey, we've probably spoken once or twice. Though I haven't used EDNet for a long time.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

kmacbeatle
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Post by kmacbeatle » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:09 pm

great! thanks so much for your help!

specifically, what sub$1000 preamps (maybe preamp/ compressor combos) would you suggest?

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Post by newfuturevintage » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:31 pm

dwlb wrote: Hey, we've probably spoken once or twice. Though I haven't used EDNet for a long time.
Probably so, I've been with them for quite a while. You must be at Clatter & Din then? When you've got both apt and a telos, the need to bridge goes down in a hurry.

To the OP, some of the best VO sends I've heard have been from 416's. Some of the worst too. Depends on how well the mic treats the talent's voice. As for a preamp, I like something simple and clean like a grace 101, but have heard great signals coming from AT4033s and Mackie 1202's too.

As for compression, at least in my little corner of VO-land, generally, we don't want signal compressed on the way in because we don't know how it'll fit into the production quite yet. That said, I'm often working with VO talent connecting to studios, and it's better to not put that kind of power in their hands.

For fun, check out Corey Burton's (was the voice of Old Navy, a lot of Disney, among others) opinion of the 416: http://www.coreyburton.com/

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Post by JGriffin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:35 pm

newfuturevintage wrote:
dwlb wrote: Hey, we've probably spoken once or twice. Though I haven't used EDNet for a long time.
Probably so, I've been with them for quite a while. You must be at Clatter & Din then? When you've got both apt and a telos, the need to bridge goes down in a hurry.
No, I'm at an ad agency in Chicago. Clatter & Din must be E-rock. We only have the Telos, but lots of the LA and NYC places have both so it works out.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

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Post by JGriffin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:38 pm

newfuturevintage wrote: As for compression, at least in my little corner of VO-land, generally, we don't want signal compressed on the way in because we don't know how it'll fit into the production quite yet. That said, I'm often working with VO talent connecting to studios, and it's better to not put that kind of power in their hands.
Amen. I don't know how I'm gonna mix the spot, don't be making decisions for me. No EQ, no compression. Even if you're a better engineer than me (and most of the LA/NYC guys I get feeds from can probably mix circles around me), give it to me flat 'cos neither of us knows what's gonna happen come mix time and I'm the only one's gonna be there! 8)
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

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Post by electrofloss » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:44 pm

Everybody on the west coast seems to use the Senn 416 for voice-overs, but I've never really been too crazy about them. Though I've been fortunate enough to use U87s in the past, these days I am using an AT4047 and it does an amazing job for a $500 microphone.

If you are only going to buy 1 mic, however, shotgun is the way to go. Having a shotgun handy to do ADR and match production sound will make life so much easier.

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Post by newfuturevintage » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:48 pm

dwlb wrote: No, I'm at an ad agency in Chicago. Clatter & Din must be E-rock. We only have the Telos, but lots of the LA and NYC places have both so it works out.
d'oh...sorry, that was aimed at E-Rock...yea, for agency work (outside of the Detriot area, for some reason), Telos / CCS rule the roost.

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Post by JGriffin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:06 pm

newfuturevintage wrote: For fun, check out Corey Burton's (was the voice of Old Navy, a lot of Disney, among others) opinion of the 416: http://www.coreyburton.com/

Interesting; I hadn't read that before. Wow, he really hates that mic.

Just for the hell of it:
I agree with some of what he has to say, though I'd take issue with a couple of things. Production engineers aren't necessarily trying to avoid EQ and compression because it's extra work; sometimes even when using a 416 I also use compression, EQ and limiting. But why use it if it's not needed? I know too many guys who use EQ and compression just 'cause they have 'em, and that's wrong too. Just like trying to fit a bottom-heavy guitar into an already bottom-heavy mix, all those rich overtones he's so in love with in his voice might be what I need to get rid of to make the mix work.

Also, not all production engineers are dismissive of VO recording, because like this guy, it's what they do for a living. That "it's only a voiceover" attitude is probably coming from a repurposed video editor or some guy who predominantly records music and thinks of VO gigs as "slumming" or "an easy way to pay the bills." Which it ain't; it's a specialized skill.

Anyway, if I'm coming off as defensive, it's primarily because it seems he has a bone to pick with engineers. I don't mean to be. I know a bunch of VO folks who think they sound dynamite on the 416. And I do take suggestions from VO actors seriously--I've made headphone and mic purchases based on their advice, including buying my 416.

Bottom line is, just like miking a guitar or a singer, you should use the mic that best suits what you're trying to accomplish.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

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Post by JGriffin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:07 pm

newfuturevintage wrote:
dwlb wrote: No, I'm at an ad agency in Chicago. Clatter & Din must be E-rock. We only have the Telos, but lots of the LA and NYC places have both so it works out.
d'oh...sorry, that was aimed at E-Rock...yea, for agency work (outside of the Detriot area, for some reason), Telos / CCS rule the roost.

we got our Zephyr about 12 years ago and it's still doing a fine job.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

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