I am re-recording vocals for a live album on which the vocals were originally recorded with an SM58. On the multitrack there are audience mics with some vocals from the main speakers on them. Would it be best to re-record the main vocals using the same mic to preserve the live feel, or to use a proper studio condenser mic for better sonic quality?
Sveinung S. Nygaard
Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: You could get acceptable results with either — it is a matter of personal preference and depends upon the character you want in your final version. There are plenty of commercial tracks on which artists have used an SM58 in the studio. While the technical quality of the mic is not up to that of a good large-diaphragm studio condenser mic, sometimes it provides the sound that the song needs, and sometimes the artist just performs better when working with a familiar stage mic. So it's your call, but I think most live albums like this are re-voiced using a conventional large diaphragm condenser mic.
The live vocal spill via the PA and audience mics will be very coloured, inherently, and you won't match it with the SM58 or a studio condenser anyway, so all you can do is keep the spill as low as is practicable during each track and bring it up between tracks in the time-honoured way.