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Shure SM 58 clipping

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Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Pat Nghia Long » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:15 pm

Hello,
I use a shure SM58 to record vocals, and one of the difficulties
I am faced with with this mic is that it tends to clip, even when gaining distance
from it physically for the louder/crescendo bits.
My question is: have you encountered the same problem with the 58 or with
other industry standard dynamic mics?
Thanks
Patrick, France
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:27 pm

It's not likely to be the mic clipping. Is it perhaps the pre or converter?
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Scramble » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:43 pm

As Jack suggests, the 58 is hard to clip, especially from a distance. So unless you have the loudest vocalist in the Universe, it's far more likely to be the gain on your pre-amp/mixer/audio interface (or even something to do with your gain setup on whatever it is that you're recording to).
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby laptop stand » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:02 pm

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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Pat Nghia Long » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:04 pm

Thank you very much for both your anwsers.
Preamplifier, yes, indeed I had thought of that, still I wasn't sure that the preamp was the element clipping.
I use a Yamaha four-track machine (MT 50) as a preamp to track to Reaper using a Hercules USB soundcard. The MT50 has three gain trim levels: line, instrument and mic. I use the mic level of course, with the fader of the track at 4, its maximum being 10. I tend to like the quality of the sound with the fader above 2, as the signal seems richer, more "alive". What I mean is no matter how much I normalize in Reaper (or any software for that matter), the sound never has the body and life I am looking for if it is not tracked with the proper gain setting on the front-end in the first place.
I am aware that the equipment mentioned above is dated and not professional.
Still, there must be something I am doing wrong, and it could well be I would be doing it just as wrong using a UA preamp going into an MOTU soundcard.
If I may ask another question: what, as a rule of thumb would be the top level you admit
on a vocal when tracking it, ie regardless of treatment of the level in a DAW?
In any case, thank you for your answer, it means I am either using improper gains settings or I fell upon a faulty 58.
Many Thanks,
Regards
Patrick
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Pat Nghia Long » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:08 pm

Again, thank you so much for your answer. I was surprised to see your name.
I am a huge fan of your song "Sticking With You", that was published in SOS.
Such a great melody and feel, and really cool acoustic guitar playing!
Best regards
P.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Scramble » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:05 am

>Preamplifier, yes, indeed I had thought of that, still I wasn't sure that the preamp was the element clipping.

Sometimes there's something clipping and you think you've checked everything out but it's still there -- in that case you've got to check absolutely everything again. Try everything in another signal chain if possible (including the mic, in case it's a faulty one, although this is unlikely). Or try a different mic in the same signal chain. (Still probably a knob turned up too high somewhere -- turn everything down and start again).

>I am aware that the equipment mentioned above is dated and not professional.

Reaper is professional (despite being cheap). MT-50: old cassette multitracker -- never used it, but I suspect it would be pretty hard to get "Jack Ruston" type results with it. Even a cheap second-hand dedicated pre-amp would be better. But I'm not sure this is the source of your problem.

>no matter how much I normalize in Reaper (or any software for that matter), the sound never has the body and life I am looking for

Normalizing won't change the sound at all, it just turns up the volume.

Bear in mind that Jack's songs are the result of not only being a talented guy, but one who has spent a lifetime being both a professional musician and a professional engineer/producer (and he has access to more pro gear than you or I). But your results should improve a lot with some better gear, and -- more importantly -- the more you get to know how to record and mix.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby ef37a » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:33 am

Jack Ruston wrote:It's not likely to be the mic clipping. Is it perhaps the pre or converter?

This is true^ I found some numbers a while ago for another forum. Went something like, 150dB SPL at 100Hz(worse case F) 1% THD and the output was about a volt rms!

They are OTTOMH and I can check them if anybody wishes but ballpark right.

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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:37 am

Thanks for the very kind and quite undeserved comments.

The cassette multitracker is probably distorting. I bet it sounds great but it might be hard to get what you could call a hifi recording with it.

Do make sure that you're leaving a good ten dB above your loudest peaks in reaper. It might be that you're driving the multitracker output hard to get a higher level in reaper. And it might be that the multitracker is outputting consumer line level where the computer is expecting professional line level. This could lead to distortion at the analogue output of the multitracker.

Honestly you should get yourself a little preamp if budget allows. But use that multitracker for creative grit!

J
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby John Willett » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:29 pm

I assume it *is* a genuine Shure SM58 and not some cheap copy bought off e-bay or the like?

If the latter ..........................
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Pat Nghia Long » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:05 pm

John Willett wrote:I assume it *is* a genuine Shure SM58 and not some cheap copy bought off e-bay or the like?

If the latter ..........................

Hello,
Thanks. No, this is an actual Shure SM 58, purchased new
in a real-world music shop.
Most probably, like forum users and members
have kindly pointed out, it is the
preamp/front-end element that is causing clipping.
I will try and carry out simple tests so as to isolate
the faulty parameter.
Regards,
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby John Willett » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:30 pm

Pat Nghia Long wrote:
John Willett wrote:I assume it *is* a genuine Shure SM58 and not some cheap copy bought off e-bay or the like?

If the latter ..........................
Hello,
Thanks. No, this is an actual Shure SM 58, purchased new
in a real-world music shop.
Most probably, like forum users and members
have kindly pointed out, it is the
preamp/front-end element that is causing clipping.
I will try and carry out simple tests so as to isolate
the faulty parameter.
Regards,

Good - if it's not a fake it's almost certainly the front end.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Bossman » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:52 am

Pat Nghia Long wrote:
John Willett wrote:I assume it *is* a genuine Shure SM58 and not some cheap copy bought off e-bay or the like?

If the latter ..........................
No, this is an actual Shure SM 58, purchased new
in a real-world music shop.


I've seen fake SM58/57s being sold in real world music shops. Do you have another 58 to compare it to. The ones I saw were lighter and the Shure logo was ever so slightly different to the real ones I have.. also the handling noise was a lot worse on the fake ones. And it was cheaper than the normal price (about £10 cheaper than every other shop).

Make sure the shop is an authorised Shure retailer.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby ef37a » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:44 pm

Bossman wrote:
Pat Nghia Long wrote:
John Willett wrote:I assume it *is* a genuine Shure SM58 and not some cheap copy bought off e-bay or the like?

If the latter ..........................
No, this is an actual Shure SM 58, purchased new
in a real-world music shop.

I've seen fake SM58/57s being sold in real world music shops. Do you have another 58 to compare it to. The ones I saw were lighter and the Shure logo was ever so slightly different to the real ones I have.. also the handling noise was a lot worse on the fake ones. And it was cheaper than the normal price (about £10 cheaper than every other shop).

Make sure the shop is an authorised Shure retailer.
Well, even a "fake" dynamic cell is going to be hard to overload at any SPL you could tolerate tho' inside a kick would get hairy I admit! I suspect that the pukah Shure overload is due to the transformer since it is at 100Hz? Fakes will have much poorer transformers of course IF they have one at all!

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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Pat Nghia Long » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:52 pm

Thanks so much to all for the answers and hints and elements of information. I am very grateful.
I have tried at the gain levels suggested by Jack, and I have not succeeded in clipping so far.
I set the output knob of the MT50 at 10 o'clock, which resulted in the peak levels reaching -10dB on the reaper Vu-meter (input monitoring).
So it is pretty certain that it was a question of front-end gain.
As to the reason why I was recording too "hot", well it's basically lack of basic recording knowledge and the fact I am looking for a sound that the shure 58 doesn't deliver naturally. I can't afford another mic right now and I am happy to own a 58. The thing is, having had the pleasure to record myself -- it was on guitar, but still it made an impression... -- just once with a Neumann U87 (I wasn't behind the desk), I am little frustrated with the dullness of the shure. It has body, the vocals certainly have flesh but it lacks precision and certainly doesn't 'help' a mellow voice. Please take no offense, I *experimented* a little with a consumer philips electret (SBC ME 570). Of course it is just not usable because the level of noise is mad, it has very little low end and sounds thin. However, it has much more high end transparency, and a far higher output level, which reduces the temptation to raise the entry gain.
As regards the authenticity of the mic, thanks for raising that issue. The shop I bought it from (a while back) has become an authorized Gibson retailer in the meantime. But as for Shure I don't know. The one I bought came in a Shure box, with a certificate of warranty, a pouch, a clip etc... Made in Mexico. It looks like this:
SM 58
Regards,
Patrick
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby James Perrett » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:06 am

Pat Nghia Long wrote:Please take no offense, I *experimented* a little with a consumer philips electret (SBC ME 570). Of course it is just not usable because the level of noise is mad, it has very little low end and sounds thin. However, it has much more high end transparency, and a far higher output level, which reduces the temptation to raise the entry gain.

Keep experimenting with mics like this as you may well find a gem that performs far better than it should for the price. Along the same lines, try plugging your headphones into a mic input.

James.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:58 am

Pat Nghia Long wrote:I *experimented* a little with a consumer philips electret (SBC ME 570). Of course it is just not usable because the level of noise is mad, it has very little low end and sounds thin.
Did you put a new battery into it? Those should sound pretty good, it certainly shouldn't have "mad" noise. And it's an omni, so will be great on acoustic guitar.

Keep the Yamaha for funky stuff and treat yourself to an ART Tube MP or Studio V3 microphone amplifier, and and Audio Technica AT2020 for vocal work.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby James Perrett » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:14 pm

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:
Pat Nghia Long wrote:I *experimented* a little with a consumer philips electret (SBC ME 570). Of course it is just not usable because the level of noise is mad, it has very little low end and sounds thin.
Did you put a new battery into it? Those should sound pretty good, it certainly shouldn't have "mad" noise. And it's an omni, so will be great on acoustic guitar.

After actually checking that mic out online, I'd agree with Tomás that you ought to be able to get a decent sound out of it. I suspect that you need to read the manual for the mic as there seems to be conflicting information as to exactly what it does - some people say it is an M-S mic while other sources say it is mono. You may even have to make up a special cable for it.

James.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Pat Nghia Long » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:40 pm

James Perrett wrote:
Tomás Mulcahy wrote:
Pat Nghia Long wrote:I *experimented* a little with a consumer philips electret (SBC ME 570). Of course it is just not usable because the level of noise is mad, it has very little low end and sounds thin.

Did you put a new battery into it? Those should sound pretty good, it certainly shouldn't have "mad" noise. And it's an omni, so will be great on acoustic guitar.


After actually checking that mic out online, I'd agree with Tomás that you ought to be able to get a decent sound out of it. I suspect that you need to read the manual for the mic as there seems to be conflicting information as to exactly what it does - some people say it is an M-S mic while other sources say it is mono. You may even have to make up a special cable for it.

James.


For the price (40 EUR!) it's not bad at all. Still, I have both mics plugged in to the MT 50, the level of noise (ambient noise, but self noise too I'd say) is far higher with the electret mic than with the 58.
The SBC ME 570 is actually an M+S couple, ie stereo, sold and described as an omni... There are in fact two electret capsules in it, one mounted axially (front address) and the other one facing one side... You can see it through the grid and the output jack is stereo. I have tried both using a Y cable to feed it to two strips or just the stereo out into one mono strip. Noisy in both cases.
As this type of mics goes, ie *consumer* electret mics, it's not a bad one. But I have found with all mics of that kind I tried over the years that it's hard to get any consistency in the lower range. Also, even on non stereo-models, it's very hard to get a sound that is not ambient. Reflections always seem to be more emphasized than the source, even at close range, it's really surprising -- to me, I mean....
So my feeling about back-electret mics in this range of price is they have a flavour reminiscent of a true condenser mic, with fast transients etc... but they are still like a toy version of a professional capacitor mic....
I was thinking, for the future, of a Studio Projects B1. From the tests I listened to on youtube it seems to have very low self-noise level and not to be too harsh in the high-end.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:56 pm

Pat Nghia Long wrote:Reflections always seem to be more emphasized than the source, even at close range, it's really surprising -- to me, I mean....
That's because of the pick up pattern, not the transducer type. For example I have an Audio Technica 4033a, it's an electret (most AT mics are) and it has a similar pickup range to an AKG C-414 (which is a "true" condenser).
Pat Nghia Long wrote:So my feeling about back-electret mics in this range of price is they have a flavour reminiscent of a true condenser mic, with fast transients etc... but they are still like a toy version of a professional capacitor mic....
I was thinking, for the future, of a Studio Projects B1. From the tests I listened to on youtube it seems to have very low self-noise level and not to be too harsh in the high-end.
IMO the 4033 is a much better mic than the B1 (this is reflected in the price) and the AT2020 is better too. But a youtube demo won't tell you much, you need to try some mics in real life, particularly with your voice. Just speaking will tell you a lot. If you can record a selection of mics and listen blind later, that's the best way to test.
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Re: Shure SM 58 clipping

Postby Parco » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:35 am

I have Shure Beta57A
with Mackie 1202 pre-amplifying and input into Echo Audiofire4
I can never here this mic clipping through the hardware monitoring but only experienced digital PCM clipping when overgain. (simplying just apply my Altair CL-532 analog Compressor/Limiter then level controlling would become easy )
And I never know microphone would be clipping in physical analog way.
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