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Worth changing, or not?

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Worth changing, or not?

Postby turtles » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:08 pm

Recently done a bit of recording/ mixing in anger. It's been a while, and I'm not pretending that I'm very good at it, but the results are currently churning out on a smallish run so it can't all be bad.

Everything's been done on a fairly minmal budget, with reaper as the daw and a tascam 1804 as the interface/preamps. Most of the musos were tracked with sm57/58s and some sub-£50 sdcs. Overdubs and lead vocals were taken with either a samson c03, or a CAD GXL2200 which i've had in the cupboard for a bit but never really used (95% of the time i work live).

Listening back, i am amazed at what a bit of modern tech can do... Wasn't like this last time with tape! There's a fairly good chance of doing some more similar work, so I'm thinking of gearing up a little... Slowly, slowly, though. I don't have a great deal of capital for new stuff, but am wondering about tapping the second hand market for a more flattering vocal mic and using the GXL for instruments (which it excels at).

For £100-200 second hand, what would be worth looking at? I need something that will add a little more body to a fairly natural sounding male vocal, putting a bit of texture and warmth in and just a little less high-end than the GXL has. I don't care about the brand, or even the looks (i don't need the bling or wow factor) as long as it sounds good.

Not for one moment trying to get 'pro'- there are several great studios around for that, and i know my limitations. Just trying to flatter the talent a little more. All suggestions gratefully received.
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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby Dave B » Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:48 am

AT4033 is pretty much a standard response to this. It does not have the high end lift designed to 'flatter' voices that most modern cheap condensers have. For the price it's a steal
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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby turtles » Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:39 am

Great. Thanks.
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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:55 am

I'm going to suggest the new Sennheiser MK4. I've just bought one after auditioning one last month (check out the microphone forum where I put up some samples). It's a mic which is far classier than its price suggests. I predict it will become THE budget studio mic of choice.

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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby Dark Fader » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:25 pm

Hi Bob, I was also going to suggest the AT4033a, what's the top end like on the MK4?

Cheers,

Jim
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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:20 pm

It's been awhile since I've used AT4033, so hard to make a direct comparison.

Here's a link to the files I prepared MK4 Tests where you can hear the MK4 compared with a Neumann TLM103, TLM193 and an AKG C414 TLII.

I feel the MK4 stands well beside any of these mics, albeit with a different character. In many ways not dissimilar to the TLM103, but perhaps with a smoother top end.

Anyway, decide for yourself!

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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby turtles » Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:57 pm

At risk of sounding heretical and going against the tide of buying better: am I going to notice an enormous difference in a £90 ldc versus a £200 ldc?
(Assume for argument's sake that I have a reasonably treated recording space)
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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:41 pm

turtles wrote:At risk of sounding heretical and going against the tide of buying better: am I going to notice an enormous difference in a £90 ldc versus a £200 ldc?
(Assume for argument's sake that I have a reasonably treated recording space)

I don't think that question is valid, as you could argue there are enormous or subtle differences between ldc mics regardless of price comparisons! You may find a £90 mic suits your particular application more than a £1000. It's all dependent on what you're looking for. I preferred my CAD M9 over a TLM193 on certain voices (until it became noisy). I sometimes use an SM7 over a TLM103. Having said that I don't have any sub-£200 mics, so maybe I'm missing out on something?

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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby turtles » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:56 pm

Fair point. I've spent a couple of days playing with a few sub-£200 ldcs and there is indeed a deal of difference, but not as much as I had hoped for, perhaps. The major differences seemed to be in the noise floor and the placement of the inevitable presence peak in the high end: I couldn't really find the lower warmth that seems to elude my ears, though.
Given the budget isn't going to change, I might take a wander down the valve route and see if something like thomann's SCT-800 has any nice surprises.

Don't think you're missing out on much with no sub-£200 mics, though. As with all things, one is content with what one can afford until one tries something more expensive... I'm therefore not tempting fate by trying what is outside the budget :-)
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Re: Worth changing, or not?

Postby turtles » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:21 pm

So: nice private seller transaction later (thanks Dave), one stock t-bone SCT8000 is warming my room nicely, and A/B/C/D'd against a SamsonC03, CAD, and SE2200- i.e. the lower end of the LDC market but that's what I've had to play with on my budget.

It takes about 15 minutes to sound stable.
The noise floor is a bit higher than the SE- but only a tiny bit, and for vocal or close instrument work I'd be hard pressed to notice it as a difference once in a mix.
The valve is rather microphonic.
The casing is a bit resonant- needs some gaffer around the inside or something to deaden it a bit.

The sound, however... wooo. Compared to the others, it's very definitely a different voice. I'm getting hints of Radio 2 voiceover, comfortable slippers, a decent red wine. The just-a-bit-brittle higher end of the CAD and SE- just not there, at all. Sibilance sounds silky and blends into the rest of the vocal more naturally, rather than standing over the top.
It's a bit like the difference in taste between proper chocolate, and a Galaxy (Herschey, for our friends across the water) bar. Both give a quick hit, but one melts properly and has a smooth texture without any slight bitter aftertaste.

...and I know it's still a fairly cheap branded mic and there are many others out there, but this is a completely different sound, not one that I've been able to emulate ITB very well, and definitely worth it at the price. Happiness.
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