SM7 on Vocals... Am I doing it wrong?

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Recycled_Brains
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SM7 on Vocals... Am I doing it wrong?

Post by Recycled_Brains » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:53 am

I'm realizing lately that I just really don't like the sounds I'm geting, using my SM7 as a vocal mic. No matter the genre, gender, type of singer... it always comes out sounding tubby in the lowend, and exhibits way too much "honk" in the 500/1000hz range.

I've tried different preamps, eq'ing, mic techniques... Heavy EQ gets me there eventually, but I still feel like I'm missing something.

am I doing it wrong? Are there some tricks with this thing? I know so many love this mic on vocals, and some of my favorite recordings feature it... I just don't know what I'm doing that makes it sound like shit.

I dig my TAB modded 57 more in many cases.
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losthighway
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Post by losthighway » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:14 am

It took me a second to "get it" with that mic on vocals too. I think part of it is when you're used to the sparkle that a lot of LDC's have on the top end the SM7 sounds a little dull.

As with all mics it depends greatly on the singer (I prefer to use it with male singers more often and then with certain types of voices). At first it sits in the mix sounding full, a little dark and not that thrilling. I find after the right compression and a little eq lifting the top end it just sounds..... classy. Maybe it's the articulate mids with out the shrill brightness that makes me call it classy.

Rules on electric guitar and bass too.

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tonewoods
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Post by tonewoods » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:30 am

losthighway wrote:It took me a second to "get it" with that mic on vocals too. I think part of it is when you're used to the sparkle that a lot of LDC's have on the top end the SM7 sounds a little dull.
I think the SM7's strong point is not so much the way it sounds ( :roll: ), but how it allows you to fit the vocal in the mix, which has always been a huge issue for me...

Ribbons are kinda like this too...

If you just A/B the SM7 with a nice LDC, you're gonna ask "What's the fuss"?
The LDC is gonna kick it's ass...
But when it comes to mix time, the SM7 slides in there so-ooo nicely...

YMMV... :wink:

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Post by jgimbel » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:55 am

Yeah the magic of the SM7 really comes out when used in a mix. Like tonewoods says, if you put it next to an LDC you'd probably feel it's lacking some qualities that are common in a lot of LDCs people use for vocals - namely that boost in the very high frequencies (which personally I hate!). But when I use an LDC with those characteristics I usually find that unless the arrangement has frequencies that work perfectly around that LDC/voice, I need to do a bit of EQ to get things to sit right. The SM7 on the other hand rarely needs much at all done to it. I usually use a little bit of compression, specifically a compressor that seems to make things sound a little brighter (doesn't cut high frequencies off), and it's perfect. I've used it on a ton of voices, mostly male but females too, and it just always sounds great.

Here's a video from one session I did, I believe there was just a little bit of light compression on the bus and a little low end taken out of the guitar mic (AT4050). SM7 on vocals:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjRRmYl441s (sounds much better in HD)
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Post by CedarSound » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:58 am

I know that you mentioned eq, but did you play with the eq settings on the mic itself? I find that engaging those settings can make a big difference if that's the sound you are looking for..

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Post by accordion squeezist » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:15 am

same experience here.
hell, go with the TAB mod 57 if that's your mic.

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Post by trodden » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:58 pm

tonewoods wrote:
losthighway wrote:It took me a second to "get it" with that mic on vocals too. I think part of it is when you're used to the sparkle that a lot of LDC's have on the top end the SM7 sounds a little dull.
I think the SM7's strong point is not so much the way it sounds ( :roll: ), but how it allows you to fit the vocal in the mix, which has always been a huge issue for me...

Ribbons are kinda like this too...

If you just A/B the SM7 with a nice LDC, you're gonna ask "What's the fuss"?
The LDC is gonna kick it's ass...
But when it comes to mix time, the SM7 slides in there so-ooo nicely...

YMMV... :wink:
Totally.
Current record I'm mixing, went with the 4047 for vox instead of the sm7. I think this was still a good choice cause the sm7 was just way to muffled/dark. but at the same time, vocals are totally sitting on TOP of the mix rather than in it.

but yeah, usually after some compression and a little eq, vox with the sm7 slide right in. I usually use an API pre and dbx 160xt when tracking vox with the sm7. Then use the massey compressor and the sonnex eq in PT when mixing.

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Post by ??????? » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:07 pm

SM7 is often made out as some sort of low-budget panacea. It's not. That would be unrealistic.

It's a cool dynamic mic with lots of uses. Like most mics, some voices it works great on, and others it doesn't work too well at all.

It's a $300 moving coil dynamic. It's not going to rival a U47 for the things a U47 does, or a U87 for the things a U87 does, or whatever. It's a solid, workhorse dynamic mic that overperforms its price point in terms of versatility--nothing more or less.

Sometimes it can be kind of a stylistic thing. On a cool gritty rock vocal or Michael Jackson, it could be just the thing. If you want it to sound like Nat Cole or Frank Sinatra, it will be terrible. There's of course a whole range between and beyond those two extremes.

Use your ears. It's not working for you, so you try something else. It goes without saying that a good singer, a good take, and a good mix will not be denied no matter what. For example, I don't know what they used on Al Green "Belle." Sounds like something not-too-nice. But I still love the vocal. Know what I mean?

Good luck!!

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Post by kslight » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:47 pm

I have found it to sound the best on baritone voices, with a little boost for high end but otherwise "flat". If you're a Slipknot fan, that's a Corey Taylor mic....nothing else quite nails it.

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Post by Recycled_Brains » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:27 am

It's not the lack of top end that bothers me. I like that aspect of it. I realize that I'm not using an LDC, or U47, and am not comparing it as such, or expecting it to perform in a similar fashion. I've had the mic for years now. It's most often the midrange/low midrange that is troublesome to me. Seems as though I'm always doing a bunch of subtractive eq'ing to get it to "slide" in there and clean the mud out.

I shouldn't have said it sounds like shit, that's an obvious exhaggeration. I can get it to work. It just seems to require more effort, after the fact, specifically on vocals.

It is a great elec. guitar mic, and I've found it suited nicely to dobro, toms, bass drum, etc... it gets used a lot.

I was more curious about technique in using it I guess... Not a "how-to", but..... ya know, man? haha. For instance, are you guys getting right up on it, or backing off 2'? Angles?, etc... stuff like that.

I'll keep experimenting, because I feel like there's something good in there, I just need to get to the bottom of how to use it to my advantage.
Ryan Slowey
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losthighway
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Post by losthighway » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:56 am

I usually tell people to get right up on the foam. That seems to do something nice to their presence. If you back them off six inches you will get rid of a bit of the low mids, but also need another pile of gain. Something about the mic seems to demand vocalists really "fill it up" if that makes sense. I guess I like to hear them really get that big diaphragm moving before it sounds right to me.

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Post by justinf » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:58 am

My experience is that if you have a singer with a voice that's a powerful instrument, the SM7 can kick serious ass. Mixability is fantastic, as mentioned. If your singer is a little less than, I'd go with something else.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:07 am

Maybe some of this will help(??):

A thread on the SM7--

>>>>http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much- ... chain.html<<<<

>>>>http://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end- ... -mike.html<<<<

Didn't read the whole thing, but it looks like there might be some info in here--

>>>>http://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/ ... wedien.htm<<<<

GJ

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Post by ott0bot » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:08 am

I've found the the sm7 really really works when you have a loud vocalist, who projects their voice.

Not a big fan on quieter or whisper vox. I really like sdc's in omni for this, or an re20, which sounds more natural to me.

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Post by tonewoods » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:34 am

ott0bot wrote:I really like sdc's in omni for this...
Hmmm, something new to try... :wink:

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