Airy mic to compliment SM7b and vintage U87 for vocals?

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Post by jgimbel » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:44 pm

joninc wrote:I am a fan of character tones and for a long time my Lawson l47 was my go to mic for everything vocally but i after I did a few albums with female singers I started to want something airier and eventually I landed on the Peluso p12. I hate super bright mics but I find this one to be bright but not harsh. Can be very creamy with a tube pre like
A solo 610. I use it a lot. If you hunt around people will trash on pelusos but that model seems to get pretty solid reviews across the board. I first read about it in a thread on gsluts where UBK raved about it and I like a lot of the gear he designs.

It's not fat in the bass but I have never really missed that.

I have a friend who get amazing vocal tones out of his 414 uls by tweaking that eq on his millennia sst channel strip. Maybe an outboard eq could serve you well. The air band on the maag is pretty great and not expensive.

I have another friend with a soundelux 251 which is sort of the best middle ground if you have the bucks. The richness of a 47 with the airy top of a c12.

Good luck!
Thank you! I think we're very much on the same page. The Soundelux/Bock 251 (or Telefunken 251) are, I think, kind of the holy grail to me for what I'm trying to get something like. Obviously not necessarily to that caliber (or more importantly, price point), but that's the idea anyway.

You've nailed some other mics I've been looking at for just the right reasons too. I've always liked darker mics and hate harshness, I'm just finding that often some nice shimmer can be gorgeous when sitting in a darker mix. I'm liking the idea of messing with the presence of different instruments by not just placing them forward and back by using room mics, reverb, or the stereo field, but also bringing out that really high clarity without just blasting people with 2-5k.

I've thought of getting a 414 for a while, and the kind of singers I'm looking to get this kind of mic for are the kind of singers I like a 414 for, but I don't have one myself. I know at some point I'll have at least a pair, but I thought I'd keep looking for other options too. The Peluso P12 is actually the first mic I looked at when I thought I might want a mic like this. I found some good HD Youtube examples (for example some from Weston College, on some female voices). I liked the sound but didn't get an instant feeling it was the one. Certainly doesn't rule it out, but didn't grab me enough to make me sure from that alone. I'll be trying to get my hands on one.
blungo2 wrote:This may be way off the mark, but it's one i've had an interest in lately, maybe not airy enough? The blackspade model with the Thiersch capsule? I guess it's supposed to be similar to an M49. Seems interesting anyhow...
It's certainly piqued my interest, certainly not off the mark. The main reason I haven't really looked more into it is just trying to keep the price a bit lower. The Blackspade UM25C is actually the exact price of the Manley I've looked at that has in a way sparked this search. Trying to keep things around $2000 or less or so, otherwise this one would definitely be more in my radar. Interesting to hear a comparison to the M49 though. That kind of sound is something I've really fallen in love with, but isn't exactly the hole in my mic locker I'm looking to fill right yet, nor what I'd expect from a mic I assumed was much closer to a 251 than an M49. I haven't found a ton of samples though, or looked, since it's a little beyond the budget right now. Who knows though, if I don't love the AR51 that I'm going to get a chance to demo beforehand then the budget could stretch.
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Post by blungo2 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:17 am

The one i was thinking of is the UM17R, it streets for 2K.

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Post by jgimbel » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:55 am

blungo2 wrote:The one i was thinking of is the UM17R, it streets for 2K.
Ah, right right, my mistake. I've looked at that one a number of times but it didn't pop into my head for "airy". I'll look more into some samples.
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Post by blungo2 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:38 am

I've never heard it, but people who have that model and m49s say their pretty similar.

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Re: Airy mic to compliment SM7b and vintage U87 for vocals?

Post by Mixwell » Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:58 am

jgimbel wrote:Blackspace UM25
here is an example of this mic on acoustic, to give you an idea of it's tonal quality
https://soundcloud.com/dspdoctor-llc/blackspade-um25

For $1,899 it is a fantastic option for a sweetly bright and clear microphone with smooth mojo.

I favor the premium version, with a European made custom CK12, and Oliver's "NG" style PSU. I have a UM25C and I recently upgraded mine with a Accusound ACX7 cable. IME, for $2699, this mic runs with the best ELAM style mic's on the market.
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Post by jgimbel » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:25 pm

Thanks for sharing your sample, Adam, I appreciate it. It sounds like a pretty nice mic, it's a definite contender.

For now I'm going with my original gut feeling, the Telefunken AR51 - I placed an order the other day, should be in early this week. If it turns out not to be the best fit then I'll sell it and try something else. I went with this first because it has a couple qualities that seem good for addressing my situation:

- I am often boosting those very high frequencies at which the AR51 seems to have a nice peak
- it shares similarities in response and overall tone with the ELAM 251/C12 (picked blindly out of samples of a variety of new and vintage microphones)
- it also seem to slightly subdue lower frequencies, which I am often pulling out anyway

The variable patterns will be a nice bonus too, as it's been a couple years since I've had a mic with variable patterns, short of the three patterns on the U87. The last one I had that I sold was also the last tube mic I owned, so it'll be nice to use one again. I'll post my results here, and if it's not working out I'll move onto something else. Hopefully this thread will help some other folks in similar situations.
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Post by jgimbel » Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:46 pm

Long review here, apologies, read at your own risk:

I wanted to wait a bit after the Telefunken arrived so I could make sure to get to know the mic a bit rather than just posting about very first impressions. I bought it fully ready to return it and get something else if it wasn't a good fit. I've only got to do some testing, no major use in sessions yet, but I've done a lot of listening. I've recorded a quick, non-scientific test (links at bottom) so anyone can hear what I'm talking about if they'd like. It's an outtro for a future album of mine, so pardon the length and repetition. It is also a very soft song, which is the kind of thing I've recorded before that has made me want some of that air, especially on a long-term client I've been producing for a few years. The test for me was more about the mic on vocals, though the guitar was also recorded with the AR51.

In short, I think the Telefunken is very much what I was looking for. It has a lot of similarities with the U87 I have (original vintage U87, 1974) - namely a similar sensitivity and level of detail, and the overall way it seems to pick up loud and soft evenly and almost compresses a bit on its own. That being said, the Telefunken really seems to bring out the exact things that the U87 subdues. The obvious thing that sticks out is that "air" range I was hoping it would have - it's right around 12k and is exactly what I was looking for. Certainly not great on everyone's voice, or every type of vocal and genre, but it's something I do find a need for often enough to want a mic that excels at this. The proximity effect is somewhat similar between the AR51 and U87, but a bit more subdued on the AR51. The low end is definitely more present than on the first version of the AR51 that had the 67-style capsule, and I know people fear a bit that even the current version is too light on the low end. A comment I read somewhere once was definitely accurate, where I wouldn't say there's a big boost in the low end, but there is certainly plenty of low end. A lot of folks are used to really huge proximity effects with LDCs, and I think this is just..less big. I can't imagine ever having an issue with not getting enough low end out of the mic, and in fact if my test were a real track I'd probably be taking some more out than I did for this, if that's any indication.

Image

The other thing I really notice is this slight dip right in the center mids of the AR51. With the U87 this range, paired with a smooth high end especially, is what I find can be responsible for having a "vintage warm" kind of sound. However I have had some tracks where I'm trying to chase this sound away, and it's a vibe that can be difficult to remove if it's not right for the production. While I do get a lot of indie rock, folk music, things that need warm, earthy sounds, I do also sometimes get projects that need very clear, not sterile but clean sounds, especially for my clients that get some radio play and want to have that kind of production. The AR51 feels like it dips slightly in that spot and then boosts a bit above it, so if the U87 is a touch murky on a voice, the AR51 seems like it'll sit just right.

While it may not be the best mic for my voice, I'm surprised it sounded as good as it did (the mic, not my voice!). I was looking for an airy mic for vocals that I don't feel the U87 covers that well, and I've been really enjoying the U87 for the vocals on the album I've been working on. But there is definitely a quality that the AR51 has that makes me think next time I might not be as instantly set on the U87.

I originally planned to do no EQ, no compression, anything, but the dryer was running upstairs so there was some really low rumble, and the low mid bump that my space has is present in everything here and is something I'd have to be addressing even in the most natural and untouched of recordings done here. So just some very, very subtle EQ to reduce that bump, and some HPF we'd all do anyway!

Acoustic Rhythm (AR51):
- HPF at 30hz to get rid of some rumble that was going on here at the time
- Tiny, couple decibel notch out at 170hz, my room has an annoying slight bump
- Light transparent compression (just a utility compressor, nothing with character)

Vocals (same for both the AR51 and U87 test, separate takes, I only have one of the preamp I was using):
- HPF at 80hz
- Even tinier notch at 243hz
- Same VERY light compression

Acoustic overdub (AR51):
- HPF at 47hz
- Notch at 338hz and 186hz so it'd be a little lighter sitting on top of the rhythm
- Slightly heavier transparent compression with same compressor so not so many notes get lost

A bit of reverb on the guitar and vocal so they're not so dry.

48k, 24 bit WAVs:

http://jessegimbel.com/AR51TapeOpTest.wav
http://jessegimbel.com/U87TapeOpTest.wav
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Post by digitaldrummer » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:51 am

sounds like you are on to some higher end mics but I thought I would throw in the AKG 4033 (I think mine is a 4033a). Yeah it's pretty inexpensive but I find the top end sorta "airy". I have a Mojave 201fet and a MA200 too. I like them both a lot but I'd classify the top end as more smooth than airy. I have used the 4033 on vocals but it can get a little too sibilant sometimes - depends on the singer - but not like a cheap MXL or similar. I use the 4033 (into a Vintech 573) a lot for a drum room mic - up high in the corner facing away from the drums. compress it and YEAH!

also, what about running your mic through something like the Avedis MA5 that has the 28K boost?

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Post by blungo2 » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:17 am

Wow! Those tests are impressive.

As i was listening to the u-87 test i was thinking to myself that it sounded fine, but when i heard the Telefunken, it was like a whole new world opened up when you started singing. There's just so much more there with Telefunken. Really eye opening on how the right mic can make such a huge difference.

Dang, now i think i want one... :evil:

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Post by jgimbel » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:39 pm

blungo2 wrote:Wow! Those tests are impressive.

As i was listening to the u-87 test i was thinking to myself that it sounded fine, but when i heard the Telefunken, it was like a whole new world opened up when you started singing. There's just so much more there with Telefunken. Really eye opening on how the right mic can make such a huge difference.

Dang, now i think i want one... :evil:
Thanks for the input! Interesting difference isn't it? The U87 has endless smoothness and sounds vintage namely in that it is pretty clear without being crisp sounding. It can really help solve some sibilance issues and is a pretty stunning mic. But I've had more than a handful of projects with the U87 on vocals where I end up boosting 12-15k, maybe a little around 2k, cutting out some boxiness around 330hz, and easing up on the low end. In the end, the Telefunken sounds so much like that result.

I got to use it as a drum room mic for a session the other day and that sounded great. I often use the U87 there, and still might, but they both sound pretty natural, with the U87 maybe being a little better for a slightly crushed room by not going overboard with the cymbals as much as getting a lot of mids and lows, while the AR51 gets a little more higher detail and might be better for a more natural room sound.
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Post by blungo2 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:59 am

jgimbel wrote: Thanks for the input! Interesting difference isn't it? The U87 has endless smoothness and sounds vintage namely in that it is pretty clear without being crisp sounding. It can really help solve some sibilance issues and is a pretty stunning mic. But I've had more than a handful of projects with the U87 on vocals where I end up boosting 12-15k, maybe a little around 2k, cutting out some boxiness around 330hz, and easing up on the low end. In the end, the Telefunken sounds so much like that result.

I got to use it as a drum room mic for a session the other day and that sounded great. I often use the U87 there, and still might, but they both sound pretty natural, with the U87 maybe being a little better for a slightly crushed room by not going overboard with the cymbals as much as getting a lot of mids and lows, while the AR51 gets a little more higher detail and might be better for a more natural room sound.
I've been pretty used to using ribbons (aea, cloud) or dynamics on most stuff from overheads to vocals, partly because most of the condensors I could afford sounded just a tad "tizzy" on most singers. My first experience with a really decent mic that didn't roll off the high end but didn't have any tizz was with my recently aquired red type a body and Violet VIN-67 capsule (supposedly sounds somewhat like a u-67, but physically it's very differrent). Especially as i'm recording to tape mostly, it's nice to have that "air" in some things.

Still really impressed with your shootout. If I had a need for a mic like that right I'd buy one whether I could afford it or not.
I'm also interested in how the new Kel, Vertical mic with the Thiersch (M7?) capsule sounds as well as some of the LeWilson offerings.
Good stuff with that Telefunken.

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Post by jgimbel » Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:22 pm

Just one last post on this thread. I hope this isn't too much shameless self promotion, but every once in a while I do a random pop cover video. I decided to use the Telefunken for the vocal in this to see how it sounded on vocals that weren't whisper quiet and it performed really well. It held up to vocals loud enough that my old U87 would have crackled a bit. If you're interested in hearing it how the mic sounds in this situation here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXBmtJZxPAw

The vocal chain was the Telefunken AR-51 going into a BAE 1073MPF with the HPF at 50hz, going into an FMR RNLA with a fast attack, relatively fast release, and only really hitting on the loud stuff but knocking off a handful of decibels.
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Post by vvv » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:08 am

Nice cover, and the mic seems right. 8)
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Post by Rufer » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:31 am

No need to apologize for the self-promotion. Not enough quality self-promotion on this board these days.

The cover sounds really good. Not sure if I have the ears to comment on the vocal mic specifically but very nice production and execution.

I'm most interested in your video process. What kind of camera shot that? It has particular high-def quality that looks like really cool. I've seen it elsewhere. Some sort of enhancement? Special frame rate?

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Post by vvv » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:17 am

I'm thinking about naming my next band, "Random Pop Cover ".

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