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Thread: What counts

  1. #1
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    What counts

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    You can talk gear all day long...all year long.

    You can debate gear hierarchy...

    You can suppose what you need.

    You can refurbishtweaktinker

    But there is nothing like tracking something to bring you back to reality; to tell you what is actually useful; to take your little comfort zone of confidence in your suppositions and put it to trial; to present to you, leaving no room for debate, what really counts in your studio.

    Tracking session tonight...

    I am exhausted.

    We were just grabbing vocal/piano scratch tracks tonight for the rest of the ensemble.

    The female vocalist has a great voice but something about where the vocal cut sits in her voice totally put my system/limited knowledge to the test.

    No analog recorders ready yet so this was to hard disk, but this is the analog-only forum so to keep it real I will have you know I depended on my vintage Tascam gear.

    The signal path started out as a Studio Projects C1 > Presonus Digimax FS preamp with ART TCS compressor inserted. Sounded terrible...harsh and grainy. Tried it without the compressor...same thing. I've been really happy with the Digimax in the past.

    So we tried a Studio Projects B3 in polar pattern. Same problem...this buzzy harsh quality at around 4kHz...same thing I have so much trouble with a lot of contemporary music...can't hear past it...maybe its a problem with my ears but the vocalist heard it too.

    So then we tried B3 > Stewart Audio phantom supply > Tascam MX-80 > Digimax FS line in...no better...switch back to C1. No better, and to make matters worse the trim pots on the MX-80 were unacceptably scratchy.

    So I power up the Tascam M-520 and run the C1 direct to that with the compressor. Its better, but we're not happy yet. I try the B3 again, and I try pulling the compressor out of the chain. I start experimenting with the eq on the M-520. Some help, but I'm needing a more surgical solution.

    Realizing that the C1 and B3 use the same element I try a 57...not it. Then I pull out the Audix D-6...a kick drum mic. Sounds best yet and I'm running out of options so we go with it. So now the signal path is Audix D-6 > Tascam M-520 with compressor and Tascam PE-40 eq inserted > Yamaha i88x line in. M-520 eq is out, compressor is dialed in to an optical vocal preset, and I've set it to about 2:1 and the attack and release are set so the gain reduction VU dances with her voice. Max gain reduction at about -5, and there is a de-essing filter and tube filter in the compressor circuit. The PE-40 is set to a medium band conservative cut at about 400Hz, relatively narrow deep cut at 4kHz, and a wide-band minor boost centered around 12kHz...the 60Hz HPF is also switched in. I don't like that much eq'ing, but it was pretty much necessary to my (and her) ears.

    The mp3 has only been normalized and, other than a dithering plugin, no other processing was applied.

    So anyway, all comments welcome. We're still not totally happy yet, and it wouldn't be a big deal (since these are just scratch tracks for drums, bass and guitar), but we're kind of taking this opportunity to learn ahead of time how we'll want to approach the signal path for final tracking.

    What counts...not a bunch options, but something that works...not something with super bright blue LED's, but analog VU's...not the LDC vocal mic that you were sure was the mic, but a kick drum mic...

    Good news is the vocalist is drawn to the idea of using the reel-to-reel for final tracking.

  2. #2
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    those Studio Projects mics tend to be bright and harsh, as do many of the low priced condensors... I have a C3, it helps to keep the vocalist backed a little further off the mic, although I find that I am using an SM58 on more and more vocalists. Recently tried my Oktava MK12 on vocals for the first time, and it wasn't bad either.

    I think my next mic purchase will be something along the lines of an RE20 or some other better dynamic. I'll never be able to afford a high end condensor, but I think something like an RE20 would serve me pretty well, not only on vox, but elec guitar, drums etc...

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    Hi_Flyer,

    Thank for the input. Did you happen to listen to the mp3?

    We tried positioning the C1 and B3 mics obliquely, and we tried a number of distances as well from 4~5" to maybe 12". The further out we got the worse it seemed to get as we lost the depth which enhanced that bite at around 4kHz...I recently recorded my friend on vocal and acoustic guitar with a pair of the B3's in an M+S configuration from about 3~4 feet back and it came out sounding great to my ears...I was really pleased, but I'm really struggling with this current client.

    I concluded last night that a dynamic mic might fit better which led me to the 57 and then the D-6 and its interesting that you mention the RE-20 because that has always had an allure for me...I've heard really great things about it and I've been impressed with work I've listened to using that mic. I've also had my eye on Sennheiser's MD421 over the years.

    See???? There I go again!!!...making suppositions about what gear I need......I just know it wasn't working last night. But I guess that was really my original point to make with this thread; that, for anybody else like me, at some point you've either got to poop or get off the potty and you might just find yourself with gear you thought you needed but it isn't "all that".

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    Sweet,
    Glad your finally doing some tracking I listened to the mp3 and I would say this singer certainly has somewhat of an edge to her voice. Especially being that you recorded with those eq cuts in....you would think that would tame it. I'm not familar with the D6 but a lot of kick mic's have a little bump up there around 2k to get some beater snap. Wonder if that could be working against you ? Hi flyers suggestion on the RE20 is probably a good choice as well as a Shure SM7 might be. A good ribbon might work well with her voice too if you have one to try. The warmer the better Honestly I hear some pitchy-ness with her voice which to me was more annoying then the edge. Make sure she is relaxed and give her a nice sweet cue mix Good Luck, Dave

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    Dave,

    Thank you so much for the comments/suggestions.

    Yeah, you're right about the response curve on the D-6...I knew I would have to fight the high-mid rise but the LDC's sounded so brittle...hm...

    My mic selections are limited...no ribbons

    • Studio Projects C1
    • Studio Projects B3 (x2)
    • Shure SM57 (x3)
    • Shure SM94
    • Audix D-6
    • AKG D112


    Regarding the pitchy-ness, yeah... She's nervous. Never been recorded before...knew literally nothing about the process before we started so lots of new things for her, but I have to say she's dealing really well with all of it. She's high-school age too which is a rough age for a lot of young people relative to self-confidence and such. I'll work with the cue mix. I think she's holding back a bit which may be mix related. I have to do a lot of fishing to find out how things are in the cans for her. I think some things will work themselves out as we go, plus I've rounded up some quality gents as a studio band and I think that will help to drive her when we re-track and she has an instrumental foundation to stand on.

    Wow...lots to consider...It would help if I had the M-520 fully connected...right now it is just serving as single-channel pre because I wasn't sure if it would be ready for this project, so the patch bays and all the virtual routing on the computer were setup using the Yamaha 01X for everything, and it is limited on monitoring. I think one thing I'll do before the next session is get the M-520 hooked up as the central hub in the studio so I can easily solo the cue mix.

    How do you utilize effects in cue mixes? I kind of wondered if some reverb in her mix would help her to lose herself in the music a little better, and she's not going to know to ask.

    I think the other thing is that she's forced to play that horrible digital piano. Its got a good feel but the sound is terrible.

    Hm...

    Hm, hm, hm...

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    Somebody stop me...

    I'm going to open up the C1 and see what's inside...

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    You might give the mxl v67 a shot also. 100.00 Istnt bad and I like mine.
    One thing I use to do with a girl that was a little shy was to not let everyone including myself was to not look at her while tracking. Act like its everyday crap going on in the control room. If thats possible. But dont sit there and stair out the window at her. I watch the machine or the board.
    And if a second take is needed alot of the times I would blame it on me. I would say I had the levels a little to low or high some story like that.

  8. #8
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    My control room has a really cool feature...no window.

    Thanks, Herm. I appreciate the suggestions.

    v67...hm

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    Do you have baffles (foam, blankets, etc.) up right behind the mic? That helps take all of the room reflections out. Kids can be hard to get a performance out of (you cant give them a drink to loosen them up). Sometimes it helps them to bring a friend. One of my last sesions with a teen girl brought her sister.

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    try the sm57 with a plopfilter up close and a condenser a few feet back pointing at her forehead. blend those signals and eq if nescesary. (or maybe she's just not ready?) You should be able to record well with the mics you have i think...

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