Cheap upgrade for us, mic pre or sound card?

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TimRP

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Ok we have a Studio Projects VTB-1 and a Delta 1010LT and from my inlaws for Christmas I got a Audio Technica AT3035 (they let me have it a month early!).
 

Calgary

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Nov 25, 2005
If you are really on an extreme budget consider one of these and bypass the soundcard altogether:


If you have a small budget then here's a recipe for killer sound on a budget which will allow you to record great sounding vocals:

1. Soundcard for $200 with top notch D/A converters and a variety of other fantastic features. I've used this card extensively and can verify firsthand that the sound quality is excellent.


2. A pre-amp for your mic. Here you go, $50 with a real tube, phantom power, etc. And you can easily change the tube if you like for $10-20 (any good music store offers a selection) to really get the sound as warm as possible for her voice. Again this is a piece I have used extensively and can vouch for.


3. If you need a mic too then this will all come down to budget. There's lot of great mics around these days. You can even rent a top notch mic for the weekend for very little when you're recording stuff 'to keep". Anyhow here's a surprisingly decent mic for $200 with a free shockmount:

4. Unless your wife has a severe problem with dynamics the compressor is not necessary, it's a luxury. With just the preamp and card above you can get entry level pro quality sound with any decent mic. You can always compress using software and there are many good free compressors around. The fish filets are great sounding free plug-ins as are the Slim Slow Slider compressors. Anyhow here's the hardware compressor I use, it's only $200 yet pro studio grade. Ask any experienced engineer about the RNC, it's got a fantastic reputation. Check the gear lists at some top studios, they almost all seem to own a couple RNCs.


My recommendation to you is to make the Emu 1212m a Tube MP your first priority. I've used that combo extensively and I can guarantee you for $250 it's the finest quality sound you're going to get into for basic mic setup. Here's an audio sample of me singing and playing guitar through that very setup for your reference. This is through the AT4033 into the Tube MP (refitted with Groove tube) into the Emu 1212m. No compression or EQ has been added, pardon the crappy singing.

Here's the same setup used to track a couple guitar instrumentals. In this case I ran my guitar straight in through the Tube MP specifically just as a test to see if I could get a decent recorded sound. I was not disappointed, again no compression or EQ has been added here.

And last but not least here's the same rig with the RNC inline in a voiceover I recorded for a Flash thing I did a while back:

As you can see It's very respectable sound quality for $250 total. Anyhow best of luck. Look at it this way, as long as you're having fun making music, you win. Read some of the reviews on the Emu 1212m it's a favorite of prosumers everywhere. Bear in mind these are just my opinions and not intended to negate anyone else's opinions. Cheers. :cool:
 

Calgary

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Nov 25, 2005
Oops I just saw your last post, we must have posted at the same time. Oh well, I'll leave the post up for others. :)

Your MP3 sounds nice Tim, great job. The audio quality sounds very decent here in my little home studio. :cool:

You might enjoy checking out the de-esser/compressor/gate from the "Fish Filets" (Google) plug-ins collection. They are really good quality and free. Another thing which you might have fun experimenting with is "off axis" micing. I've found that for some vocalists it gives a more even response and can eliminate occasional sibilance. Also even when micing from in front changing the angle of the mic and whether it points directly at the mouth or just above/below will alter how much of the "head voice" you pick up.

One more "trick" which would probably sound good on your wife's voice is to send a copy of her vocal track to an FX track. EQ all the low end off this track and compress it very heavily then just mix it back in a tiny bit. It can often add a nice dimension to the lead vocal. If you do this in addition to double tracking th e lead vocal you can get some very large sounds. It's also sometimes good to add the reverb via a separate FX channel and EQ all the low end out of that as well. Quite often when I add reverb to a lead vocal I EQ all the low end out of the reverb track, it seems to help keep the bottom end of the entire mix tight. The human ear can't really distinguish the detail in reverb in the low range anyhow, so... :cool:
 

TimRP

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I did use a DeEsser, maybe not enough? Ya her S's kind'a sizzle don't they?

I will try the off the axis micing, have read about it, just haven't tried it yet, is 30-50 degrees off axis enough? Or should I try more?

And thanks for taking a listen, it helps hearing what others hear themselves.
 

TimRP

Guest
Added a spitfish version on the site instead of the built in de-esser. I don't know, doesn't seem much of a difference, and I cranked the spitfish settings almost to max de-essing.
 

TimRP

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I updated the Life is Hard track, sounds better then the last one I had up there......this project is really coming along.
 

Calgary

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Nov 25, 2005
Yep nice job, I'm no expert in micing but I find for a lot of the stuff I do that off axis works great. So I'm basically micing from slightly above and to the right pointed/angled toward the bottom lip or so, seems to work good.

It's not that you have a great problem on your hands or anything, just a matter of improving on it. Have you ever considered renting a tube mic for a weekend? It's pretty cheap and you might like the sound. Not strictly neccesary though. If you have a little patience and kepe experimenting with new ways of micing her singing my guess is that you'll find a sweet spot eventually that will work well for you all around. Cheers. :cool:
 

TeddyG

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Joined
Jan 20, 2005
No time, at the moment, to go through all the posts, but, just incase it hasn't been mentioned, have you tried:

Turning down the volume of your mixes - W-A-Y down, to like, whisper-level..?

Then listen to all parts(In this case, the vocal obviously the most important and you're not going to do much about other pre-recorded individual instruments anyway...). What I listen for is to make sure the vocal is not "covered up" or obscured by anything else... Words may, at times(Maybe for very short times?) "disappear" under an instrumental part(Particularly brass), often as the frequency of the instrument and the frequency of the vocal appear to match..? It sounds almost like a "cancellation" effect? Continuing to replay and turn up the vocal(Or other affected part) a bit at a time, until ALL the vocal is good.

CHECK THAT!!! After doing the vocal, turn off the music - period, and work on the vocal alone(Comp/reverb/EQ/limiting, etc. Get as high a level, overall, as possible - no distortion! Now, bring the music back in - listen at very low levels and just bring the music up so as to get through the entire piece without covering the vocal(s). Of course you can "gain ride" the music, turning it up when no vocal, down when vocal, whatever - but be very careful with that! It can be way too obvious. Try not to do it at all.

Sorry if my explanation is poor, just try to listen to your mixes at very low volumes(As just one more reference) -- I even turn off the speakers and listen to a pair of headphones sitting on a table in front of me - also at very low volume - "just" enough to hear the part I'm listening for...

Helps me,


Teddy G.

Of course: Your wife sounds great! What is her name? My wife dislikes me referring to her as "my wife" all the time... Likes to hear her name once in awhile(It's, ahhhh, Karen... yeah. My wife, Karen).
 

FoundSounds

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Calgary said:
1. Soundcard for $200 with top notch D/A converters and a variety of other fantastic features. I've used this card extensively and can verify firsthand that the sound quality is excellent.

:cool:

I was looking at which converters were used in different sound cards and found that the EMU1212 uses the same converters as Lynx (AKM AK5394.)
 

Calgary

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Joined
Nov 25, 2005
The Emu1212m is the best quality card under $200 as far as I'm concerned. I just ordered the 1820m to add on to my 1212m and I'm confident it'll result in the quality I need. There's opamp and capacitor mods/upgrades out there on the net for the truly intrepid also to really tweak them. Anyhow the DACs are top notch, the tech guys who have taken them apart were very impressed with their componentry also.
Once those caps are bypassed, the 1212M is one of the fastest-sounding DAC's I've ever heard

Considering he's talking about a $200 piece of gear I think that speaks for itself. At the end of the day all that matters to me is reasonably accurate tracking and monitoring. As for the off-axis thing check out this picture of one setup, this guy has a weak ego and an unlimited budget, and this is what they went with for his vocals so you can bet it's a decent setup. (he's not wearing a lav)
 

RemyRAD

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Joined
Sep 26, 2005
All this stuff is the same crap from the same IC chip manUfracturers. Again U don't have to believe me but IT IS NOT WHAT U GOT IT'S WHAT U DO WITH IT. Cheap stuff is great if U know what U're doing with it. Everybody hear wants perfection and the ULTIMATE DB. Just remember the only perfection there is IS DEATH! It's the one thing U CAN'T change.

Shure SM7s and the little brothers, SM58 n 57s are GREAT mics and as good as U87s which are just made for U fools if U think U need one. (Michael Jacksons vocals where recorded on an SM7 produced by that "Q" fool and engineered by the big fat Swede, BrUce. What do they know that other FUULS on this foUm don't Know? ? A hUllava lot more than most of U ).

Just remember if U use Uor talent and ears with Uor brains YULE have a Great HolUday and recording!!

Remy Ann David :-?
with a Bachelor of U
from the U of FUULS University
 

RemyRAD

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Sep 26, 2005
In responce to the picture of "Howie" I concure with the above coments but also notice even though HE has a NeUmann Robin Quivers is on a Shure SM7 (not shown in the above pictUre) and sounds no wUrce that he does.

Ha U knUe I'de be back!
 

Calgary

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Joined
Nov 25, 2005
You are wrong, it was an sm7 not 57:

Bruce Swedien himself identified the sm7 as his vocal mic of choice for Jackson on the thriller album in a Mix article. Do a search on rec.pro.audio, Harvey Gerst and Scott Dorsey among others all claim that the the sm7 was used for Jackson's voice.

So let's see here, which has more validity...Swedien, Gerst, and countless knowledgable others...or the shure website.

http://homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=121065

Vendor web sites mean *nothing*. Bruce Swedien, Harvey Gerst, and Scott Dorsey (amonsgt others) stating categorically that it was an sm7 and not an sm57 means everything. :cool:

Quivers most certainly does not use an SM57 nor do the guests, you're 0-2.
 
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RemyRAD

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Sep 26, 2005
Calgary, that's what I said!

Bruce used an SM7. I did not say he used an SM57 or 58 which are little brothers to the 7 (open them up and take a look inside). But when I did talk to Bruce at the AES show two years ago, I asked him about the use of the 7 and his response was "sweet sounding microphone".

This from a man that also cherishes his M49s and M50s.

I believe U are having problems with the transducers on either side of your head? Or perhaps you need to get your head relaped? So start scraping it on a piece if Emory board on top of a piece of glass but be careful you do not take too much hair off in the process.

Happy Hollisdkjfawifghio days!

RemyRAD
who does know what's going on
 
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FoundSounds

Guest
Calgary said:
The Emu1212m is the best quality card under $200 as far as I'm concerned.

It does seem to be the best converters for the price. But if you search different forums around the net the 1212 seems to cause people a lot of problems. It seems to be a very finicky card, especially when you have other audio interfaces in the same machine. There is also a common issue with random clicks and pops that many people have not been able to fix.
 

Calgary

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Joined
Nov 25, 2005
I've read up *extensively* on the 1212m and overwhelmingly the vast majority of user experiences seem to be 100% positive. There may be exceptions but they are few and far between. Inter-operability between multiple audio cards in Windows is hardly an issue E-mu can control. No brand of card in existence boasts that claim.

I've had one for years, great card, never had a single problem. I've heard they suck for gaming though. :cool:
 

RemyRAD

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Joined
Sep 26, 2005
Well Calgary, you must be a real expert now at age 18.

Of course, Bruce has used every microphone known to man and maybe some not known to man or women.

What are you saying?

I am saying all microphones good and bad are good microphones in good hands. Provided you know what you are doing which I doubt is true in your case? You probably make your decisions by looking at specification sheets.

You know it does not matter what kind or type of microphone, preamplifier and other stupid techno speak stuff you use as long as it is good for the sound you are trying to create, in your experience and opinion.

That is all.

Ms. Remy Ann David
audio professor at Gallaudet University


what, eh?
 
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