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On mics and the acoustic environment

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On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:39 am

Occasionally, I've thrown a post into a thread about mics, usually more of a question than an answer but as I'm about as far from a mic-savvy person as it gets I think I may not be asking the right questions.

I don't do much work acoustically, it's 99% synth-to-desk but I do have a number of songs I've written and recently I've been collaborating with a fellow forumite who has done some really nice vocal stuff which has lifted my awareness of how enjoyable it is (and how much it improves a piece of work) to record something involving vocals. He's been sending me WAVs and I've been working with them here.

My home studio has zero acoustic treatment. It's actually a converted within-the-house single garage (converted before I bought the house), and is about 6 x.2.5 meters in size with an 8-foot-ish ceiling.

My monitors are placed at one of the 'thin' ends, facing down the length of the room. Although I have no acoustic treatment, it's a relatively small space and I have a number of synthesizers on various double and A-frame stands around the periphery. Above them are shelves (which I built myself, and are heavily compartmentalised), most of one of the long walls is all but covered in them, as is the end opposite the monitors and I have all the knick-knackery associated with a home studio in those shelves - books, ornaments, CDs, heaphones, manuals, chargers etc. so the room is anything but echo-y.

It's not an acoustic environment, and I can't sing but I have done placeholder vox for other folks to work against. I've used an SM58-like mic as well as a Rodes NT-1000 and the results from the Rodes are markedly better than the other one.

Given that one mic is obviously better than the other, even in this environment, I was wondering if there's any wisdom to be gleaned from those of you in the know about mics that might produce better results than the NT-1000 in here. This might be a 'how long is a piece of string' question, but given that acoustic treatment is not hugely practical in here other than on the ceiling (which would be an option) I was just curious on any thoughts that might be of use to me.

I've snapped a couple of pics on my phone of the room as it is now. It's dark, the walls are painted black, my phone is very old and half my bulbs don't work so the pics are rubbish but I think it should convey a sense of the space if it helps. These are of each end of the room looking the other way.

I should possibly add that the white surface behind the monitors is a double-glazed window (permanently) covered with a blind.

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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby awjoe » Fri Jun 21, 2019 3:37 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:I don't do much work acoustically, it's 99% synth-to-desk but I do have a number of songs I've written and recently I've been collaborating with a fellow forumite who has done some really nice vocal stuff which has lifted my awareness of how enjoyable it is (and how much it improves a piece of work) to record something involving vocals. He's been sending me WAVs and I've been working with them here.

I'd like to hear it. The best time I have with audio is recording with mics. Except for the occasional excursions into Garageband and keyboard parts.

Eddy Deegan wrote:My home studio has zero acoustic treatment. It's actually a converted within-the-house single garage (converted before I bought the house), and is about 6 x.2.5 meters in size with an 8-foot-ish ceiling.

Well, get some acoustic treatment, then. I recorded yesterday in an ordinary room with no permanent treatment, but with a reflection filter around the mic area and the standard SOS bedding array behind me to dampen things a bit. Lovely sound. Captured on a Zoom unit. But I digress. The room I mix in is heavily treated and I'm running Sonarworks Reference 4 all the time. It ain't pro, but neither am I, and it works.

Eddy Deegan wrote:I've snapped a couple of pics on my phone of the room as it is now. It's dark, the walls are painted black, my phone is very old and half my bulbs don't work so the pics are rubbish but I think it should convey a sense of the space if it helps. These are of each end of the room looking the other way.

The bit I liked best was the 6 tuner skull. 'For fine adjustments.'
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:25 am

Actual answer is: The length of the string you had in mind.

Talking about mics, the NT1000 is certainly a workable microphone any change/improvement would be dependent on budget and what sources you wish to record.

In a less than ideal environment, I’ll often recommend the Shure SM7b for vocals, working as per a stage mic. It can deliver very good results and would give you a different flavour to the NT1000.

If my memory serves me correctly from when I owned a couple, the NT1000, whilst very workable, had a slightly grainy or harsh high end lift, not as bad as some Chinese capsules, both not as smooth as some more sophisticated microphones either.

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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby CS70 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:30 am

Being that the room comes generally before the mic, you either treat the room a little or try to remove it by using a dynamic mic close up like Bob says, and something like a reflection filter. Position in the room also makes a difference even if your room size limits the options a little but worth experimenting.

Treating the room for vocals can be as simple as reducing back and side reflections using a temporary duvet behind you when you sing. Lots of stuff in your room so high diffusion which is good. Maybe a panel on the ceiling could help if you hear a lot of hi freq ringing.

As of mics, there's a gazillion choices, I have used for example the Neumann TLM102 when recording vocalists on location in similar settings and it's been working very nicely.
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Dave B » Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:29 am

Step 1. Announce a BBQ
Step 2. Invite SSG/Max
Step 3. Ply him with Caffreys
Step 4. Start recording device
Step 5. Take him into the room and ask him what could be done
Step 6. At a later date, review the recording and decide how much you want to do

Simples! :)
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:22 am

If you're serious about using decent mics and if the recorded results will be/have to be heard elsewhere then get some acoustic treatment... simples.

Any other approach/route will be compromised. What sounds good in your room will probably not translate well into another space. Our ear-brain combination is attuned and primarily designed for the human voice. That's why some of us always recommend voice recordings for evaluating items in the recording/reproduction chain. Anything that's slightly 'off' voice-wise is immediately apparent.

Mics are much more exciting that panels, but panels are more important. ;)
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:15 am

Thanks chaps.. looks like panels is the way to go. I wasn't sure it was a particularly panel-compatible space but I reckon it's time for some further research on the subject :-)

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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby John Willett » Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:03 am

Acoustics wise - use the duvet :thumbup:

Mic. wise - try several out and make your own choice. The Gefell M 930 is an excellent vocal mic. (but I would say that as I distribute them in the UK). But loan units are available for you to try of any Gefell mic.

I know Neumann also have loan mics available, as do almost any good mic. company.

So - decide on a budget - get your short list and try the microphones out for yourself. What is great for one person may not be best for you, and what someone else hates may be perfect for you. So try them out. :thumbup:
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Ramirez » Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:05 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:Thanks chaps.. looks like panels is the way to go. I wasn't sure it was a particularly panel-compatible space but I reckon it's time for some further research on the subject :-)

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If you're looking for some pre-made panels, I can recommend http://www.bluefrogaudio.co.uk
Good product, good service, good prices.
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:14 pm

GIK also do decent, not to expensive, panels but a duvet hung from the ceiling over the recording position would probably work just as well. You have loads of diffusion in there so a little bass trapping and some broad band absorbers should help tidy up any rogue frequencies.
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:05 pm

Can vouch for the duvet approach. I've got one permanently hanging a few inches from the wall where I do most recording (the space between is a very convenient place to keep mic stands). Works pretty well.

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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby CS70 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:38 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:GIK also do decent, not to expensive, panels but a duvet hung from the ceiling over the recording position would probably work just as well. You have loads of diffusion in there so a little bass trapping and some broad band absorbers should help tidy up any rogue frequencies.

Just to go cheap, don't think that vocals can generate so much bass energy to require traps.. maybe operatic bass singers.. :D
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:36 am

Synths do generate bass though and some traps may improve the mix environment.
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby CS70 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:37 am

Ha that shows how much I know about synths, I didn't think one mic-ed them :)
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:45 am

One doesn't but one does listen to them when mixing ;) And if one is using speakers for that purpose then some bass treatment will usually improve the mix environment.

Eddy does very well in the room he has but if treatment is going to happen it might as well cover as many bases (and bass's :D ) as possible.
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby CS70 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:50 am

RIght!
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Rich Hanson » Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:46 am

I am that mysterious forumite who is collaboration with Eddie, and I can confirm the Eddie's studio is as dark as it looks, and I'm surprised I didn't short anything out with my drooling.

Acoustically, it isn't terrible, there were certainly no noticeable resonances or other anomalies in there and things were clearly audible. I suspect the number of synths in there breaks up the parallel surfaces of the walls quite nicely :lol:

I've been quite surprised how well my vocal recordings have come out as I have no acoustic treatment either (although some is planned when funds permit), other than the obligatory duvet hanging over a mic stand behind me.
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:32 pm

Thank you again for the responses and links everyone!

John Willett wrote:Acoustics wise - use the duvet :thumbup:

I think I'll have to get something panelly sorted out as in here a duvet is something of a lethal weapon with all the stuff in such a small space :)

John Willett wrote:Acoustics wise - use the duvet :thumbup:
Mic. wise - try several out and make your own choice. The Gefell M 930 is an excellent vocal mic. (but I would say that as I distribute them in the UK). But loan units are available for you to try of any Gefell mic.

I know Neumann also have loan mics available, as do almost any good mic. company.

So - decide on a budget - get your short list and try the microphones out for yourself. What is great for one person may not be best for you, and what someone else hates may be perfect for you. So try them out.

A very sensible plan, thanks John, I'd seen mention of companies that provide loads to try out but completely forgotten about that option - I'll investigate once I've got a few panels in place.

Sam Spoons wrote:Synths do generate bass though and some traps may improve the mix environment.

I hadn't thought of this but of course you're spot on. Mixing in here is definitely a bit of a challenge, and I use headphones for most of it but it would be nice to do more using the monitors (I certainly prefer them to headphones).

Rich Hanson wrote:I am that mysterious forumite who is collaboration with Eddie, and I can confirm the Eddie's studio is as dark as it looks, and I'm surprised I didn't short anything out with my drooling.

Acoustically, it isn't terrible, there were certainly no noticeable resonances or other anomalies in there and things were clearly audible. I suspect the number of synths in there breaks up the parallel surfaces of the walls quite nicely :lol:

I'm glad you didn't notice anything terrible acoustically Rich. Thanks for coming down, it was good fun jamming :thumbup:
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby The Red Bladder » Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:45 pm

1. There's enough rubbish and clutter in that room to obviate any need for acoustic treatment, though a bit might be a good idea - who knows - suck it and see!

2. The NT1000 is a cheap Chinese mic, so it will have a bit of an edge. Everybody needs an SM58 - use both and mix the two to taste.

3. Declutter the place! Make it look nice and you'll enjoy working there! Put a self-built acoustic panel over the window and get rid of the blind and all that rubbish stuck to it and elsewhere in the room!
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Re: On mics and the acoustic environment

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:45 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:The NT1000 is a cheap Chinese mic...

Quote from Rode's website: The RØDE NT1000 microphone is designed and made in Australia
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