No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

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No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by permanent hearing damage » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:43 am

I mostly record punk/hardcore and metal. I do other things as well, but the bulk of my work is with screamers. I have a decent mic locker. When it comes to non screamers (and screamers), I can grab my U195, my Oktavamod MKL2500 tube mic, 414B ULS, 4050, Oktavamod MK319 or an SM7, among other things.

Every once in a while, I go down the rabbit hole of looking at used tube LDCs, but as I'm often not working on productions where the vocal is the focus of it all, it seems like overkill. I did recently have to track additional vocals for a project where the bulk had been done with a Flea U47 and that was not easy to match, but I got pretty damn close with EQ and some compression (Flea tracks were compressed as well). I'm sure it would be pretty damn cool to have some fancy old tube mics, but if I'm dropping $1500+ on a mic, I could probably get a lot more bang for my buck in my mixes, no?

What about you folks who work on heavier projects? Do you think having a fancy tube mic for the vocal makes a huge difference?

I know I could find other uses for it - guitar amps, front of kit, etc, but I think those applications would give me pretty diminishing returns. i've been pretty happy/satisfied with my drum sounds, especially. bass as well - Blue mouse is tough to beat!

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by losthighway » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:07 am

permanent hearing damage wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:43 am
I mostly record punk/hardcore and metal. I do other things as well, but the bulk of my work is with screamers. I have a decent mic locker. When it comes to non screamers (and screamers), I can grab my U195, my Oktavamod MKL2500 tube mic, 414B ULS, 4050, Oktavamod MK319 or an SM7, among other things.

Every once in a while, I go down the rabbit hole of looking at used tube LDCs, but as I'm often not working on productions where the vocal is the focus of it all, it seems like overkill. I did recently have to track additional vocals for a project where the bulk had been done with a Flea U47 and that was not easy to match, but I got pretty damn close with EQ and some compression (Flea tracks were compressed as well). I'm sure it would be pretty damn cool to have some fancy old tube mics, but if I'm dropping $1500+ on a mic, I could probably get a lot more bang for my buck in my mixes, no?

What about you folks who work on heavier projects? Do you think having a fancy tube mic for the vocal makes a huge difference?

I know I could find other uses for it - guitar amps, front of kit, etc, but I think those applications would give me pretty diminishing returns. i've been pretty happy/satisfied with my drum sounds, especially. bass as well - Blue mouse is tough to beat!
I'm in a similar boat: I record a lot of louder rockin stuff, I have a great collection of workhorses and none of the bling mics (my Soundelux U95 is kind of in the "in between" category) .

I've steered towards nicer ribbons as my next upgrade since they can be overheads, piano mics, amp mics, acoustic guitar mics, and sometimes vocal mics. But I get it, there's something about the idea of having a U47 in front of a singer that sounds like a dream come true. It's also going to be only 1-3 channels on your mix whereas the other stuff is another 8-16 tracks on a mix.

It also doesn't help when you find out that Neko Case always records with a 4050, or Jeff Tweedy (and dozens of other great singers) always records with an SM7. It makes you wonder if it's worth the cash to have that fancy mic....

I guess I'm no help. Just commiserating. How do you like that U195 though?

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by roscoenyc » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:10 am

permanent hearing damage wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:43 am


What about you folks who work on heavier projects? Do you think having a fancy tube mic for the vocal makes a huge difference?
Really depends on the singer.

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by drumsound » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:33 pm

I think a big part of having one (or more) of the major classics has to do with who you're selling the studio to. I think if you're trying to attract independent engineers, those things become a bigger deal. If you're the guy in the chair and people are coming to your place to get what YOU bring to the table, those things are a little less important.

I'm in NO WAY saying those mics are not awesome, or are not worth owning. Those mics are the thing of legend for a reason.

RE: the 4050, they are really great mics, ESPECIALLY for many female singers. I taught 2 classes last Saturday. In the morning session doing drums (and using 4050s in omni for room) the drummer mentioned the Neko Case interview and her preference for that mic. In the afternoon session, with 11 different mics set up, the moment the female singer sang into the 4050, my first thought was "Why don't I use that on women more often?" Everyone in the room agreed.

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:00 pm

I did a record earlier this year and had the good fortune to be in a studio with a Wunder U47 clone (the model # escapes me). The record was for a female singer songwriter that I've worked with a bunch of times. We've always fought a battle between presence and sibilance with her vocals. We fully intended to do a shootout with a bunch of mics but she tried the 47 close first and we were done. It was all I've ever wanted on her voice and come mix time I really didn't do to much to the vocal track. I don't recall much or any eq and for the most part I rode levels instead of compressing. It just worked.
I lusted after that mic for a few months afterwards but came to the very grown up realization that as a working engineer there's no point on dropping the money to own the mic when I can just rent that studio for a day or two (and have the client cover the cost). In my perfect fantasy world I'd own it but in reality if I only "need" it occasionally I can't justify it.
But still............

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by permanent hearing damage » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:20 am

losthighway wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:07 am

I guess I'm no help. Just commiserating. How do you like that U195 though?
the U195 is great! the "fat" switch makes it pretty damn versatile. i use it on vocals often, guitar amps almost as often and sometimes for FOK

and hell yeah, the 4050s are great. i wish i had 10. i think i could make a whole record only using them!

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by TapeOpLarry » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:25 am

If it sounds good stop buying gear and just make records. Fuck all these forums and gear marketing. Oops, did I say that?
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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by markjazzbassist » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:44 am

TapeOpLarry wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:25 am
If it sounds good stop buying gear and just make records. Fuck all these forums and gear marketing. Oops, did I say that?
we love you too larry :biggergrin:

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by losthighway » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:11 am

U47OwnerLarry wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:25 am
If it sounds good stop buying gear and just make records. Fuck all these forums and gear marketing. Oops, did I say that?
See what I did there?

I kid, I kid. But I think Larry's right.

Sexy German microphone is a want and not a need. I would need to feel like there weren't 4-5 other really good mics that would be helpful before I'd drop their collective price on a cool Wunder, or a used CMV563, and a legit U47 isn't even within the realm of possible.

Meanwhile, art is happening! And it cares not about my mic's pedigree.

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by digitaldrummer » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:05 pm

I'm always looking at fancy mics too. just can't help it. I've got some that work pretty good for what I need though. I also had one of those ($4K to 6K?) Wunder CM7's in my studio recently for a female vocalist. It was going into a Wunder PEQ2R. I put up my Advanced Audio CM47 (through a Hairball Copper mic pre if I recall...) as a backup and there were some slight differences -- maybe because the CM7 was in the optimal position, or because it slightly EQ'd, or maybe just because its a complete badass... either way I probably could have easily used pieces of the CM47 track in the other if needed. They were very close in the end. Of course the track with the Wunder sounded great, but for me it was not $5k better. I had another client that recorded some great vocals but just had to redo them with a vintage AKG C12. Ok. sounded nice too. Was it better? We'll never know.

As a side story, Texas has great BBQ. Some people will stand in line starting at 6am to get "the best of the best" (search franklin bbq). The 100%. I'm ok with the 99.5% and I rarely stand in line for it. heck I've even had 99.9% with no wait. It's not as off-topic as it may seem. :-)

and don't get me wrong, I'd love one of those CM7's too...

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by TapeOpLarry » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:33 pm

The first tube LDC mic I bought was a Manley Cardioid Reference (not the gold one!). It blew my mind, as mostly I had heard AKG 414s (elsewhere, I hate them) or the Langevin CR3A's that Elliott Smith and I had. It was $1800 I think. But then I got a Soundelux 251 and it was even better on more people. But then I recorded the Decemberists and Colin's midrange sounded way better on the Manley. But then I got even more mics, like the Brauner Valvet Voice or the Blue Bottle (the real, big one). I would even do 9 mic shootouts, all LDC tube mics. And then I sorta stopped doing that and began using a Telefunken U 47 (new one, not cool old one) and it's a pretty damn good most of the time. But then I got a MicShop MS47. Sometimes it sounds better than the Tele on certain people. And then I sold the Blue Bottle because the case was so big and no one would open it or try it out.

Grab a mic. Track the vocal. Work on your coaching and help them phrase and fix busy lines and move them close or away from the mic and tilt the mic up or down for effect and baffle the room or not and look at the lyric sheet and ask "What are you saying here?" and keep pushing if something sounds off and sing the parts to them as you'd like to hear and cover the window if they are shy and kick the drunk band out so they can focus and talk quietly in the TB and give praise when it feels emotional.

Fuck the mic.
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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by Magnetic Services » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:53 pm

Just so everyone can read this one more time:
TapeOpLarry wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:33 pm
Grab a mic. Track the vocal. Work on your coaching and help them phrase and fix busy lines and move them close or away from the mic and tilt the mic up or down for effect and baffle the room or not and look at the lyric sheet and ask "What are you saying here?" and keep pushing if something sounds off and sing the parts to them as you'd like to hear and cover the window if they are shy and kick the drunk band out so they can focus and talk quietly in the TB and give praise when it feels emotional.
And again:
TapeOpLarry wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:33 pm
Grab a mic. Track the vocal. Work on your coaching and help them phrase and fix busy lines and move them close or away from the mic and tilt the mic up or down for effect and baffle the room or not and look at the lyric sheet and ask "What are you saying here?" and keep pushing if something sounds off and sing the parts to them as you'd like to hear and cover the window if they are shy and kick the drunk band out so they can focus and talk quietly in the TB and give praise when it feels emotional.
Dante Fumo
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Misty Mountain Audio

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by digitaldrummer » Wed Oct 24, 2018 1:35 pm

I didn't see an applause smiley... so yeah... if the performance sucks, the mic don't matter.

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by losthighway » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:20 pm

TapeOpLarry wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:33 pm
and cover the window if they are shy and kick the drunk band out so they can focus and talk quietly in the TB and give praise when it feels emotional.
Seriously. You can put a singer in front of a million dollar signal chain and if they don't believe in themselves and they feel awkward the results won't amount to much.

That's where it has more to do with being a director, or a sports psychologist than a scientist.

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Re: No fancy tube mics - am I missing out?

Post by drumsound » Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:43 pm

As per usual, Larry in ON POINT!

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