Microphone for Bass/ Baritone Voice

blindspotlighti

New member
I am looking to invest in a quality microphone. I do not have a limitless budget, but do want the best value purchase that can deliver listenable home studio quality.

I have been using an Audio-Technica AT-2020 for years, and am now realizing that all my vocal recordings sound terrible because it is not picking up the low end of my voice. I am in the baritone range, but sound my best in the bass range. I got this microphone for free used, it may even have some damage, but it's very clear what it's capturing is nothing like I hear even when I sing live through a basic dynamic mic.

I also use this to capture acoustic guitar and other live sound in a variety of settings, so being something all purpose is ideal. My understanding is much of the value of more expensive mics is capturing the low end more efficiently, so hoping I can get a do-it-all mic that captures my bass voice sound effectively.

Primary use is home studio, so assuming a condenser mic is the best option (running through a Babyface Pro, so preamps should be good), but if there is a dynamic option that I can then bring to gigs and be guaranteed quality, that would be exciting. If there's a second, cheaper option anyone knows of for that purpose, please let me know.

Thanks so much for any advice you may have!
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Welcome to bedlam!
The specification for the AT2020 only says "frequency response 20Hz to 20kHz" no dB limits of curves given so the LF response could well be limited although that is not usually the case with Large Diaphragm Capacitor mics. Another issue is that you have to keep a decent distance from a capacitor mic to avoid popping and sometimes overload and are therefore mizzing out on the bass boost you get from the proximity effect.

Dynamic mic almost all have a response that falls off below about 1kHz, often by design for vocal clarity. The vastly more experience peeps here will no doubt know of a more 'bassy' dynamic? There are handhelp capacitor mics that are intended to be used as you would a dynamic on stage but I don't know if the LF response is any better? They are all in any case rather expensive.

When performing live you could use a dynamic but put some bass boost into the FOH sound with EQ on the PA mixer? You are almost however battling acoustic feedback and any kind of EQ boost can make that harder to subdue.

I have another idea but I KNOW I am going to get slapped for it so I shall keep my powder dry until others have contributed!

Dave.
 

arcaxis

Well-known member
Dave mentioned 'proximity effect'. Have you tried getting closer to your AT2020 (with a pop filter)? Closeness will give an apparent boost to lower frequencies to directional mics (cardioid). Give a try with different distances to the mic and see if that gets you close to where you want. If you have occasional louder vocal parts back off a bit at those times.

For vocals I've been partial to mics that have transformer coupling. One that I particularly like is the Miktek C1 that I got used. The Lauten LA-220 and sE2200, also transformer coupled are a couple others I use for vocals that sound good. Try before you buy if you can.

Miktek C1 Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone | Sweetwater
Lauten Audio LA-220 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone | Sweetwater
sE Electronics sE2200 Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone | Sweetwater

Just one of many videos explaining/demoing 'proximity effect'.....

 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I'm surprised you don't like the AT - I have one, and I don't use it much because it's actually a bit lacking in character, but it has a very good low frequency response - so your bad results might not be the mic, but where the mic, and you are located. Can you stick a 30 second example of what you don't like on soundcloud or similar? One of us will be able to determine what is causing the problem. If I was doing a recording of a baritone or a bass baritone, and only had the 2020 available, I'd use it without worries - it EQ's quite nicely, so something is adrift. Being honest, more expensive mics don't record bass better - they just sound different. You can take a dynamic, or something like a Shure SM7B and slap it on a bass voice and discover it's rather warm and nice, but if you try an expensive 414 AKG in too close, they don't sound nice at all.

Have a search on YouTube for this guy he does all sorts of microphone tests on his bass baritone voice and you can hear the differences - he's a singing teacher here in the UK. This isn't the mic test one - but just go through his collection of videos.How To Choose A Microphone - Part 1 - YouTube
 

blindspotlighti

New member
Thanks so much for these thoughts, I will record some examples, and share them.

I have definitely noticed the proximity effect, and part of this came out of a sense that I just can't get close enough... Think it is probably less about frequency, as capturing a certain tone/feel, and maybe we can diagnose what kind of mic might deliver, appreciate it!
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Thanks so much for these thoughts, I will record some examples, and share them.

I have definitely noticed the proximity effect, and part of this came out of a sense that I just can't get close enough... Think it is probably less about frequency, as capturing a certain tone/feel, and maybe we can diagnose what kind of mic might deliver, appreciate it!

A 320k MP3 attachment suits me best chap! Yes, getting close to an LDC is problematic. Even with a good pop filter you can get 'blasting' and the output is going to be very hot. I would expect the Babyface pre amps to have more headroom than most but even they have limits. If you are looking for another capacitor mic maybe get one with a 20dB pad such as my Sontronoics STC-2?

Dave.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The fella I linked to is interesting - he's a specialist in singing - not so much, but in the microphone videos he takes some quite well know mics and you can actually hear how they respond to his voice, which has a very specific character - as in it's a good voice, and trained - but unlike most of us, it's very deep and resonant. Some mics that frankly I thought would flatter his voice do not, and conversely, others I'd not have picked myself, do. They go on a bit while he makes odd noises but he is quite right. There's a good dose of flowery adjectives - I'm not quite sure what "buttery" is, but in the context he used it, it made sense.

I have noticed trained singers fall into two distinct camps - those who can listen to their voice objectively and use the mic as a tool to improve it, or those who hear their voice only through their ears and head and expect the engineer to capture what they hear - and that rarely is successful. It's odd many singers just don't realise their voice when they sing is not what others hear. In the videos he wears headphones and he hears tiny differences. This is by far the best way.
 

PDP

There once was a note
Frank Sinatra, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, are just a few Baritones who love Neumann U47s this is a demo of a Warm Audio WA-47 , U47 clone. It gets bashed by a lot of gear enthusiast's because it's design is quite different from an original U47, but a lot producers like the sound AND the price $899.00 new. The acoustic guitar is going through a WA-14 which is an AKG 414 clone.

Warm Audio // Dave Fenley "Into the Mystic" (Van Morrison cover) - WA-47 & WA-14 - YouTube

If the tube version is too pricey they make a Solid State FET version too.

Yamaha CSF-TA TransAcoustic Parlor Acoustic-Electric Guitar Vintage Natural | Musician's Friend
 

notCardio

I walk the line
I'm in an opposite camp of thinking. I'd vote for something like an SM-7 because you CAN get close and make the most of the proximity effect.
 

blindspotlighti

New member
Really appreciate your responses-

My audio interface has been broken so I had to dig and find two comparable old recordings, embarassed and apologize for quality.

One is in a bedroom with AT-2020 into Babyface Pro into Ableton. The other is a Zoomh4n's onboard microphones and an XLR direct from a line array with a cheap dynamic mic and guitar coming in. You'll really have to read between the lines to see what I'm getting at, but take a quick listen, especially towards the end of 'Vocal Test Room':

https://soundcloud.com/austin-conroy-2%2Fsets%2Fmicrophone-comparison
I know it's in large part reverb that seems to fill the sound when my voice gets it right. And perhaps higher end detail with the rest of my voice actually buries the richer lower sound when something is too bright. But I also just don't like the feel of anything I have ever recorded myself doing with that mic. Random other recordings, even phone recordings, I sometimes like. So I definitely need a new mic.

I appreciated the suggestions in the $300 range, I can swing that. Though when comparing WA-47 to WA-47jr, got me thinking maybe need to think of this as lifetime investment and bite the bullet buy one really excellent mic and be done. Thoughts on that welcome.

Think the discussion of whether to notCardio brought up of getting a mic that can take advantage of proximity effect without problems and what that would be is also very interesting, let me know what you think, this would mean a lot to help get sorted out!
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The soundlcoud link doesn't work, I'm afraid.

Without hearing, I'm guessing bit I think you may have just summed it up when you say "I also just don't like the feel of anything I have ever recorded myself doing with that mic." That is something you just hate - and even if it was the best mic in the world to others, you'd not change your mind. With lower voices it's interesting to see how different mics can be.

The UK Brit School have Anton Browne teaching and he's been doing mic tests with his rather interesting voice - search him out on YouTube and hear his voice on different mics. One video is here to get you going.
 
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