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Recording vox.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by TUEP, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. TUEP


    Apr 8, 2007
    I am having trouble recording vocals, every time me and my singer sit down to put some tracks and ideas down, I can kinda record everything so-so but the vox.

    We are using a audio-technica low impedenceATR 30 mic for vocals Going stright into a AC-97 soundcard on some old Home Studio 2 software.

    He is a good singer but every time I try to record him, I miss the richness in his voice. Its kinda sharp and flat across.

    Any advice would be helpful.
  2. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
  3. I'm not trying to piss in your campfire or anything, but you are using a toy microphone and a toy mic pre. The human voice is probably the single thing that our ears are most attuned to, and will most easily sound artificial if captured with poor gear. Cheapest genuinely great vocal mic I know of is the Shure SM7. Should be able to get one used for a couple hundred bucks.
  4. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    The SM7 is a great mic but you're basically telling this guy to drop a grand if he wants to record vocals. The SM7 is $350 new, and if you want it to sound good you need a nice preamp (I use a grace 101 which runs $565 new). Then since he doesn't have an interface, he'll still need to drop more cash for that.

    Might as well say don't bother recording vocals without a U87 and a Neve.
  5. I disagree. I didn't recognize the model mic he mentioned so I googled it, you can get them things for like 30 bucks. I was trying to provide some perspective on what a decent vocal mic costs. That figure is for what I characterized as a genuinely GREAT vocal mic.
  6. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Not trying to start an argument over the sound quality of an ATR30 vs. an SM7.. He's recording using a $30 mic into his onboard sound card and using Sonar Home Studio 2 (the current version is 6), and you think the next logical upgrade path is to get an SM7?

    Listen to what he asked for in his original question. If you were working in sales this is called qualifying the customer.
  7. I am suggesting that someone who needs to ask why vocals recorded with a 30 dollar mic don't sound good needs a reality check. I didn't suggest he buy anything. I provided the point at which he would be getting in to professional quality stuff. The original poster can adjust downward as budget requires.
  8. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    Look the OP said 'Why does my recording of vox suck' then stated he is using a ridiculously cheap mic, straight into the computer.

    LOL. He's answered the question already.

    And yes if you want really high quality recordings you do need to throw money at it.

    Not only do you need a really really good mic (and anything serious nothing less than a Neuman TLM103 or an AKG C414 will do), but you also need a decent channel strip (even a Focusrite Trackmaster Pro will be infinitely better than what he is using currently) and a decent interface.

    Then you need a place to record that is virtually silent, with a good acoustic for vox, so some sound treatment is a must. IMHO & IME you cant do that for less than about $2000, anything else is going to be less good, how much depends on how clever you are, but it will always sound less good.

    And no, nothing I have mentioned steps even close to a serious 'boutique cost' studio, this is project studio level kit IMO.

    This is why recording studios exist......

  9. I think you can do pretty good for pretty cheap if you are a bit clever. For what it's worth on vocals I've chosen a SM7 over a C414 pretty much every time I've had both of them in the same room. Never used that Neumann. 414 might be less picky about the pre.

    As has been pointed out however, we are talking about entry level recording of (presumably) bedroom demos.

    Just get an SM57. Use it on everything. It won't sound great, but it will be adequate and reasonably flexible for getting started. Start with whatever mic pres come bundled in a USB or Firewire interface. Don't invest in like 8 channels or something like that.
  10. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    "Good quality" means different things to different people. I seriously doubt he's trying to get pro studio quality vocals out of a $30 mic, he just wants something that isn't going to sound like crap (note: to HIM not to YOU).

    Everyone has to start somewhere, very very few people start with the kind of gear you guys are talking about.
  11. I think lots of people start with a 57 and whatever pres are in the interface. I started with a 57 and cassette 4 track. I'd be hard pressed to come up with something useful for less than that.


    honestly, what are you going to do for cheaper that won't drive you insane trying to solve problems? I'd like to know.
  12. thefruitfarmer


    Feb 25, 2006
    Kent UK
    The thing that will make the most difference is the room you record the vocal in......

    .....the room needs to be treated to dampen out the reverb. You can do this by hanging duvets behind the vocalist, with him/her singing in a corner. If you don't treat the room the vocal will always sound like it was sung in the bedroom, no matter what you do with it!!

    IME a Shure SM 58 and a dbx 286A will give *acceptable* results.

    If you use a Large Diaphram Condensor then you will record more detail, but you will also record all the sounds you don't want to and you may have to de-ess, edit out breath sounds etc etc

    If you go here and go "the project" and then "home vocal session" there is an article I wrote, which may be of help.
  13. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    Actually you can achieve the same affect in a nicer way by having a wall full of shelves with very different sized books on - it works just like a far more expensive diffuser, and can really suck the reverb out of a room in a very nice way - just make sure the shelves don't rattle!
  14. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    For a cheap mic capable of recording great vox (if the singer's voice suits) that has been used on top albums try a Sennheiser E845 (used by Marty whatshisface from Wet Wet Wet on one of their late 90's albums apparently). Cheap as chips but a credible performer (the mic that is :D).

    I still stand by the fact that if you want to get a good result you have to have a good signal chain and a good room.
  15. I do not know this mic. I suppose this is the point in the thread in which Bono using an SM58 should come up? Or that the vocal mic on Thriller was an SM7?

    You can do good work for cheap. It should be noted however that in all of the above cases one can assume that the mic pre cost several times as much as the mic. At least in the case of the U2 and Michael Jackson recordings. I have never heard of Wet Wet Wet, and I have never heard a Senn 845. I like the 421 on some things, Sennheiser is a generally solid brand.
  16. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Exactly! Advising him to get an SM57 and an interface is completely reasonable. You started out saying an SM7 was the lowest acceptable quality and then you backtracked to an SM57. There's a huge difference. I would absolutely recommend he get an SM57. I would put an interface at a higher priority. If he has money to get both then cool. If not, I would get the interface first and the mic later.

    I don't think we're really disagreeing about much here, I'm just not sure why your first suggestion was an SM7. It's a good mic, but bad advice based on the OP's situation. I also don't think it's really necessary to insult the guy by telling him he has "a toy microphone and a toy mic pre." But that's just me...
  17. thefruitfarmer


    Feb 25, 2006
    Kent UK
    Lots of rock singers and rappers have recorded successfully using an SM 58 (which is an SM 57 with a singer friendly "knob" on the business end).....it is a perfectly good mic. It only hears close to the diaphram so does n't pick up too much of the room either...

    I have noticed that there is a necessary technique a singer has to use with the SM 58 to get the best results.

    I would n't get too hung up about spending big money on a pre amp. Sure it makes a difference but only in a treated room with a sensitive mic.

    A spirited performance thru an SM 58 in the bedroom will sound better than a slack performance in Abbey Road...

    It's rock'n'roll rather than rocket science...:bag:
  18. Id say the biggest problem is using the onboard sound.

    But a small firewire or USB unit, like a Presonus Firebox or M-Audio Fasttrack. I'd also suggest a condensor. Ive got a Behringer B-2 Pro and a T.Bone SCT800 (generic chinese rebrand). Both of which are pretty good for vocals. While neither are a U87, I dont think the U87 is 10x (+) better quality. Many people might disagree, but cheap (not the cheapest) condensors are getting pretty decent.

    Get better results than an SM57/SM58 and they arent too much more expensive (tho you will need phantom power unless using a tube mic as most have thier own power units)
  19. SERPENT865


    Jan 1, 2007
    Wichita , KS
    I would say you need a better mic and preamp if you want good vocals , go and check out some stuff then figure out what you want to spend.
  20. Grantrudd


    Jun 26, 2007
    Boston MA
    good recording equiptment costs money. that is all there is to it. if you want to be able to record well, and get the best possible sound, you are probably going to have to put out the big bucks. that is why studios can charge rediculous rates. I have gotten pretty good results using sm58's through just an Mbox with my singers vox.

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