Working on a project where the artist I am producing as a very sweet voice but does not carry well. I am looking for a few good mics to rent from Blackbird or other to record her. I do not own very many vocal mics as I mostly record guitars. For this project I am recording vocals in my studio. I will use a Martek pre but need a few suggestion on good mics that would fit her voice. Guitars no problem. Vocals I could use some suggestions.
The Neumann M-149 is a great vocal mic! I have used them several times in the studio and have always gotten great results. Very smooth and a lot of clarity. With the opportunity to try one for free it would definitely be worth a shot to call Pete and set that up. I don't know about the Fathead II on vocals. It might be cool. I have one, but have not put it to work in that application. Good on guitar cabs though.
At Gear For Days we have always tried to work with people in this type of situation. If you are unsure which mic is best for a particular singer we can work with you to setup a mic shootout. This way you can get your vocalist in to try several mics at once and then you can rent the one that you feel is the best choice for your project. We run into this dilemma all the time, where someone is thinking ex. "I just don't know what would be better for my artist, a 47 or a 67". Our solution is: Let's set it up where you can try both mics out and pick the one you like. We want to give people what they came for.
Normally, it's a good rule of thumb to compress conservatively whilst recording vocals, however sometimes a little too much (or more...?) will make the singer feel like they're "able to fly" and get their juices flowing. And of course you can have the aggressive compression in the monitor path, but if it's working, make sure you note the settings!
I use a Tube Tech CL-1b 99% of the time, but for voice overs I'll use a DBX 160 @ 1.5 to 2.0 ratio. A REAL LA-2A can be nice also. As much as the Neve / 1176 combo is praised, I have never gotten the hang of the 1176,,,,,,,
How about vocal mic pres: Summit TPA-200a / Api 512 or I recently fell in love with the AMEK pre's in the console @ Skaggs Place......
Used to have a Tube Tech but traded it for an 1176 and while it is a pain to set up and I'm still learning how to use it, even after 5 or so years, I really dig what it can do.
Mic pres can be anything for me but it depends on the mic I'm using. A V76 can be great with a tube mic but it has to be the right combo or it sounds overly saturated/compressed, even with no compressors in line. Also, you may need to put an eq in line to help out the top end. I have a 215 that is real similar to a 1073. Did the shootout and I was very surprised at how close the two were sonicly. And you're right about the AMEK's, I've had a 9098 for years and it's solid. The Martech is real good too.
Honestly, so many good choices and combos that it's really hard to say because it all depends on the singer and the song.
This may sound too vague, but there are so many that I or others (in my assisting days) have used successfully, that I find it is as much in the application of the unit as the unit itself. I do like my Neve 3314 (with Fred Hill attack-time mod.), because it seems to add an "air" to the sound, but I'm always happy with Distressors, Tubetech CL-1Bs, 1176's, LA-3As, etal. I had the benefit to be on the Wang Chung "Mosaic" sessions and saw Brian Malouf use a dbx160X on Michael McDonald's vocal instead of the other compressors available in the room and it sounded great. Go figure. In regards to the "hit 'em hard" comment above, it can be a problem if the attack time is such that it lets the esses and other nastiness get through at full level and then clamps the real goodness down. I usually set the attack slower but not always.
(*not liable for your results - credits available at allmusic.com) ;-)
Remember that we're talking 22 years ago (ouch!), but I remember 3:1 ratio, overeasy was on (hated by most for vocals), and probably showing up to 6 db of gain reduction. Michael's vocals of course probably always sound great! I recorded him here in Nashville in '96, and I remember pulling up the fader and thinking, "that sounds just like him!"
Speaking of "SSSSS" that gets in there. Question: When you guys have a singer that is heavy on the "S" or any other particularly annoyingly protruding letter of the alphabet, what types of quick tricks are you using, mainly in the mic placement to get that outta there? I was taught YEARS ago to just get them off axis by a little, and I've always used that, but still fight it with some. And I HATE using a de-esser. I keep forgetting to ask everyone I know about this.
Some of the more experienced guys on here may have some good mic placement tricks to help reduce sibilance, but it never hurts to throw up a nice de-esser and give it a shot. We have the dbx 902s here at the shop. I think they work pretty well and sound very natural. Steve Massey rented one of our 902s from us, for a few weeks, earlier this year to help him model his new de-esser plugin which he just finished. He has a free unlimited demo on his site. http://masseyplugins.com/?page=deesser . I think he has done a great job with his other plugs. I have not had a chance to sit down and fool with the de-esser yet, but all of his other stuff is top notch and is very affordable. If you don't have access to an outboard de-esser Massey might be a great choice, and the demo is free and does not expire. All of his stuff is good in my book, and very reasonably priced, and are all available in free demo downloads! Most of the demos are fully functionable, but do not retain their settings once you have closed your session. When you purchase the full versions they will pop back up where you left them. http://masseyplugins.com/
John, I think you are right, don't be afraid to de-ess. The problem is, it has to be done right and at the right frequencies (male and female voices are different). The largest challenge is not over doing it....