dynamic mic for recording vocals....read my argument/opinion

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dynamic mic for recording vocals....read my argument/opinion

Post by versuviusx » Wed Jul 18, 2007 3:06 pm

i have this tube condenser mic that i love. but unfortunately it really doesn't mix very well with everything else in the mix. i have this SM57 that i use for vocals and it mixes well with the mix. WTF?
here's what i think is happening. i'm thinking that the tube condenser is picking up more of the sound of the room. and unfortunatley my room sounds like shit. the 57 is a dynamic mic which only picks up shit that is directly in front of it. so the question is do most people feel that dynamic mics for some people may be a better solution to record vocals with if the person has a shitty untreated room? cause as of now i'm thinking so.
it sucks to say it but the tube condenser is just so sensitive and big sounding but it records everything. where as the 57 only records what is directly in front of it and not much of the room at all. and so sense the 57 only stuff that is right infront of it it doesn't really get the room sound consequently sitting better in the mix. i'm thinking though that if my room was treated the tube condenser would win. that's my theory. i'd love to know what other people think.
and id other people feel this way what other dynamic mics have you used to get great vocals with?

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Post by nlmd311 » Wed Jul 18, 2007 3:34 pm

I think you've got it figured out in your case.
Different room characteristics will be enhanced/decreased and will vary depending on the mic you throw up. This is why microphone selection is stressed so much. For a long time I just assumed that, "oh, Microphone 1 is better than Microphone 2 so I'll just use it on everything...".
The condenser is, like you figured, most likely picking up much more of the room sound than the 57 and may be one factor leading to why you prefer the 57 over the condenser for that application (especially if you are looking for a more controlled "focused" vocal sound).
The other thing is that the person whose vocals you are recording may be benefiting from the use of the 57 and it's particular sound and may not be as flattered by the condenser. Once again, mic selection dependent on application.
That's why I, and I'm so many others are into this so much...There are so many variables to getting a sound. Experimentation is key.

As a quick experiment you could try rigging up a small vocal booth and A/B'ing the mics in that to see if cutting out some of the room makes a difference.
You could try getting on top of the condenser more, using a pop fliter to limit you from licking the thing and see if some proximity effect might change the sound you are getting.
Try mic'ing off axis with the condenser as well. Without knowing the sound you are getting and what it is lacking or not lacking and what you are looking for, it is hard to say, but your ears are your best tool. Listen and do what they say! :wink:

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Post by thethingwiththestuff » Wed Jul 18, 2007 3:39 pm

i'm willing to bet both are cardioid, so both are only picking up whats directly in front of it (at high frequencies, directionality is frequency dependent). the 57 is a much slower mic with a lot less high frequency response than what i guess is your large diaphragm condenser. tubes dont really factor into the equation.

and the right mic is always the one that sounds better. dont listen to "57 is crappy, toobz and condensers are good!"

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Post by swelle » Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:01 pm

For what it's worth, I've heard that Nina Persson (Cardigans) using a Sennheiser 421 almost exclusively for vocals, and I doubt she's recording in shitty rooms... and it always sounds silky and detailed. Whatever works for the individuals voice is the best one to use, I guess.
Last edited by swelle on Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by lionaudio » Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:10 pm

i've used a 57 numerous times on different vocals, and i can say that 25% of the time it was the definite right choice.. some voices are very well suited to that mic, and yes, if your room sounds like shit, a condenser is more likely to enhance that shit sound.. however, if you are using a condenser that you know does sound good and funtions properly, i would suggest using something like a sofa, blankets, whatever you can to stop the reflections in your room to figure out if that condenser is actually the best mic for the job, and you just need to treat your room. but yes, even if it's an e602 on vocals.. if it's the mic that sounds perfect, then it's the mic you should go with.

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Post by Recycled_Brains » Wed Jul 18, 2007 6:12 pm

i'm experiencing a similar issue. my room is all parallel surfaces, so there's a lot of unwanted reflection getting into the vocals when i use my LDC. i'm going to be treating the room as soon as i scrounge up the funds. it's much less of an issue if i use my 441 instead, and it sounds great.

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Post by kayagum » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:38 pm

Something that sounds great with the solo button may not be the best in a mix.

"Speed" is important too. A "fast" mic or preamp will sound very different from a "slow" mic or preamp. Which one (fast or slow) is right? It depends, but it's your choice. Application first, gear second.

For me, the closer to the source, the heavier the element on a mic. E.g large diaphragm dynamic for right next to source, dynamic if you're within a couple of inches, LDC a foot or 2 out, and SDC farther out. Adjust distance by source, character of the mic and room, and where it will fix in an overall mix. You can do the same kind of reckoning with preamps and frankly anything else in your signal chain.

Two examples using two much maligned pieces of gear. The Rode NT1 is almost universally dismissed as an overly bright ice pick, but have you tried it as a distant/room mic? Or into a 4 track cassette recorder? And, the preamps on the original Mackie 1202 aren't close to being boutique, and often described as "smeary", but you can use that characteristic as a tool to put a track in the background of a mix, especially when you have a more "forward","solid" or "accurate" preamp to use for your primary tracks. The combination works surprisingly well.

In the case of the SM57 on voice, I think two things are going on here. Yes, it's not picking up the room as much. But I think it surprisingly fits mixes because it's not as big and detailed like a tube condenser on the voice. You probably would need some kind of compressor on the tube condenser anyway to tone it down. The EQ response curve on the 57 and 58 was originally designed for vocal intelligibility. Dynamics are also a bit "slower", which I like in the current era of spiky sounds.

Lots of permutations and combinations- more art than science.
Last edited by kayagum on Thu Jul 19, 2007 4:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by floid » Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:09 pm

i swear by 57 on my own vox simply because i've been using one so long i know exactly what i'm gonna get - which isn't to say that i don't love experimenting with other options when they seem called for... room sound being one of the most obvious factors. even in a crap room, setting up your mic in a different area can drastically change the final product. especially consider the surface you're singing toward - even though a cardiod isn't picking up that reflection point very much at all (if you're on axis), singing at a reflective surface is gonna let your voice bounce around the room more than if you're facing your velveteen elvis tapestry for inspiration
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Post by vvv » Thu Jul 19, 2007 11:36 am

kayagum wrote: And, the preamps on the original Mackie 1202 aren't close to being boutique, and often described as "smeary", but you can use that characteristic as a tool to put a track in the background of a mix, especially when you have a more "forward","solid" or "accurate" preamp to use for your primary tracks. The combination works surprisingly well.
Thank you for articulating why I used to use it for rhythm guitars so often, and why I will next tracking date!
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Post by bickle » Thu Jul 19, 2007 11:46 am

I agree thoroughly w/ all that's been said - I use a 57 for my own vocals exclusively, and have liked it for vox more than "better" mics on many occasions. Just depends on the voice, the room, the song, etc., etc.

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Post by mjau » Thu Jul 19, 2007 11:54 am

My "singing" voice is odd, and it seems like most LDC's exaggerate what I already don't like about my voice. Virtually any dynamic I've used to record my own vocals is a vast improvement - 57's, 58's, beyer's, 421, d12, whatever.

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