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Old 02-18-2018, 11:04 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Default Questions about recording and vocal microphones

It's a generally accepted precept about recording and microphones: it's best to use an LDC condenser microphone for recording vocals. Most of the time if anyone asks "what mic for vocals," the discussion will then proceed with suggestions for various LDC condenser models. They're more able to pick up nuances in vocals, more "air" and high frequency response.

OK.

Something else that increasingly occurs in such discussions is how highly desirable room treatment is. That sensitive condenser mic is going to pickup every reflection from any surface and "print" it to your vocal track. And if you have any ambient noise in your recording space, that too will be recorded.

And while there are some great values in lower priced condenser mics, the "industry standard" models can be more than $1,000 pricey.

Now onto my two questions. These are not meant to be contrarian statement of things that I know, disguised as questions. They are real questions, based on things I don't know, but wonder about.

How come when I see professional concert broadcasts or videos where I see inexpensive dynamic mics used in a live setting (perhaps something like the Shure SM58 or Beta58, or the like) do I not invariably notice how much the vocal looses from use of these inexpensive mics of the "wrong" type? Yes, I know there are reasons the SM588 and the like are used for live performance. Yes, I know there are good sound techs working the board who will have some outboard gear, and in the case of DVDs there may even be a good deal of considered post-processing, but this continues to puzzle me.

Next question. It may be poorly-calibrated ears, but I notice dynamic mics lower sensitivity makes them less sensitive to room sound, and they often do not pickup undesirable off-mic noises or high levels of "bleed" where a condenser would. Would these side-effects of using a less-expensive dynamic mic make them even more cost-effective for those who are recording in less than ideal environments, such as are common for home recordists?

As I said, these are questions I don't know the answer to. In practice, I'm using a dynamic Electro-Voice RE20 mic in my "Studio B" (a typical "home office") for voice, including my singing. Before the RE20, I used a Shure SM58 that I used for live performances. My singing has issues that no microphone will solve, but as a practical matter, the RE20 doesn't pickup the fans of the three computers in the room or most of the routine noises of other people in the house or outside the window or the HVAC vent about a yard from it. Some of my "vocals" are spoken word, and the EV20 is one of the "industry standard" choices for that, but I don't dislike what it does to my singing voice.

In summary: Seems like good, even excellent, vocal recordings can be made with dynamic mics. Roughly speaking, dynamic mics are not more expensive. Common issues with home recordings are mitigated by the nature of dynamic mics. So why do I rarely see dynamic mics recommended as candidates to consider for home recordings of vocals?
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:34 AM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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Frank, dynamic mics are used all the time in studios for recording vocals. Head on over to Gearslutz where they are discussed and recommended often.

I still use a Shure Unidyne 545 (precursor to the SM57) and an EV664a as my main vocal mics (for my voice) even though I have three nice LDCs (that are too revealing on my voice).

The story goes that MJ used a Shure SM7 almost exclusively on the "Killer" album.

The EV-20 is another favorite.
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Old 02-19-2018, 08:04 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Dynamic mics are the go-to in live performance situations just because of the reasons you have stated. They are less prone to feedback, too because they are less sensitive.
Why can't you hear their lack of 'air', etc? Because of the compression of video/audio in the medium (DVD, or live stream) and playback system, chances are you wouldn't hear it if they did use more-sensitive condenser mics.
If you are comparing to studio recordings, your ears just may not be trained to understand what you are hearing.

When recording, one big advantage of using an LDC (with pop shield) is you remove the proximity effect of a dynamic mic (closer you get, the more bass response). Set the pop shield a few inches from the mic, and keep your lips right up against it, and you get a more consistent recording.
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Old 02-19-2018, 08:40 AM
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Some good questions to which there are not really quick simple complete answers.

Yes there are several reasons Dynamic mics are popular But you answered some of them yourself
They are relatively inexpensive, they have good off axis rejection, they are less sensitive to room reflections , they are much more bomb proof for the rigors of travel and stage use.
Then are also some additional reasons that for example the Shure SM58 is probably the most ubiquitous stage vocal mic in history. The frequency response is favorable to a lot of (particularly male vocalists) it has a steady rise
from just above 1k to 5k dips into 7k (helps with less siblence ) and rises again form about 8k to 12k for some air. And is subject to a steady increasing proximity effect of rising from about 1500k down to about 150 hz (that can used by the singer for effect.)
All of this can play well with live vocals . And last but not least almost every singer who has performed in multiple venues where the venue provides the mic, has sung through a 58 many many times and knows how to use it .

BUT that stage performance situation has very little in common to a home studio or professional studio situation. And much of the reasons for using a stage dynamic don't really apply
Which is why you seldom see/read it as recommended .
Now it certainly can and is used for recording (particularly if the goal of the recording is to capture an all in one room live band type sound) but an off the top of my head and strictly guess, would be 20% or less of the time.
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Old 02-19-2018, 10:24 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
BUT that stage performance situation has very little in common to a home studio or professional studio situation. And much of the reasons for using a stage dynamic don't really apply
Which is why you seldom see/read it as recommended .
Nearby noisemakers are a big factor, at least for me. I mix a live internet radio show called The Life Changes Show (Mondays at 7pm Pacific) and while I'll mic the vocals of a quiet soloist or duo with an LDC, if there's a bunch of other racket in the room I'll use a dynamic because they're way more directional.

Go here: http://studio-noho.net/liveradio.html

There are about 40 recordings on the 4 pages. Of those, Whitney Myer, Dawn Frinta and the McMains Bros. all have vocals recorded with SM58's, while Alice Austin and Trevor Green were on a Sennheiser 421. All the others were done with a big ol' tube/transformer LDC, but I don't think the dynamic recordings are all that much worse. See what you think.
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Old 02-19-2018, 10:36 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Here's what I've learned: All of audio and microphony is a trade-off. We, the audio industry, have gone through many fads while trying to bring up the quality of our audio. If you look back at the 1977 concert included in the History of the Eagles video series, you'll see a whole lot of Beyer Dynamic M400 Soundstar Mk.II vocal mics used. When I became an engineer in 1979, they were all the rage for recording live events because they had a finer frequency response with fewer humps and less presence effect. When I landed my first full-time recording job in '81 the company I worked for had a bunch for that very purpose. It took a few very large events for us to figure out that while all the above was true, they also had far less rejection to the sides and back and thus experienced more feedback. It was one of those early lessons in the trade-offs of audio.

Yes, there are trade-offs available with small diaphragm dynamics. But there are also trade-offs available with large diaphragm condensers. If you want an intimate picture of a vocalista who doesn't sing horribly loudy, there is no better way to get really intimate with that person's voice. Think about Norah Jone's lovely album Come Away With Me. There's no dynamic mic that could match the Neumann M49 that was used to make Norah sound like she is in YOUR LIVING ROOM.



Yes, you need to think about the environment you work in. Yes, LDCs cost more, but we've never been in a better time to buy inexpensive LDCs. The lead vocal on this video was recorded in a bedroom on a tube LDC that is available from PSSL for $399 and sounds quite nice.



The big thing is that you've got to get to know your tools and learn to use them properly.

Have fun,

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Old 02-19-2018, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Nearby noisemakers are a big factor, at least for me. I mix a live internet radio show called The Life Changes Show (Mondays at 7pm Pacific) and while I'll mic the vocals of a quiet soloist or duo with an LDC, if there's a bunch of other racket in the room I'll use a dynamic because they're way more directional.

Go here: http://studio-noho.net/liveradio.html

There are about 40 recordings on the 4 pages. Of those, Whitney Myer, Dawn Frinta and the McMains Bros. all have vocals recorded with SM58's, while Alice Austin and Trevor Green were on a Sennheiser 421. All the others were done with a big ol' tube/transformer LDC, but I don't think the dynamic recordings are all that much worse. See what you think.
Well to clarify I was speaking in general terms and there are always exceptions and about the AGF where most of us are not pros.

"All that much worse" well if ya put it that way then no not "all that much worse" But that may be as much a reflection of your recording and mix skills, as a general statement of mic performance. Even so right off the bat even on Apple earbuds on my Macbook Air once I level matched Hayrold Payne and Whitney Meyer .I thought there was a bit more presence, and flatter response in Harolds vocal performance. Maybe it's expectation bias but maybe not
Any way outstanding job regardless
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Old 02-19-2018, 11:17 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Well to clarify I was speaking in general terms and there are always exceptions and about the AGF where most of us are not pros.
It really isn't about pro versus non, it's about what else is sonically going on. If a big concern is keeping other stuff out, you simply don't want a big condenser.

Case in point -- this Flatt & Scruggs TV performance. One RCA 77. Look at how far away Earl goes when it's time for Lester to sing. And when Earl eases back in to sing harmony, he stops playing. And I don't think it's because he can't sing and play at the same time.

I can't get the Youtube embedder to work, so...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW_YGXqQq6c

Point being, if you've got a big Dread and your playing is as loud as or louder than your singing, you don't want a vocal mic that hears as much guitar as vocal, even if it's a great mic. Especially if you record sitting down, as I think most of us do, because that puts the guitar even closer to your face than it is when you're standing.
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Old 02-19-2018, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
It really isn't about pro versus non, it's about what else is sonically going on. If a big concern is keeping other stuff out, you simply don't want a big condenser.

Case in point -- this Flatt & Scruggs TV performance. One RCA 77. Look at how far away Earl goes when it's time for Lester to sing. And when Earl eases back in to sing harmony, he stops playing. And I don't think it's because he can't sing and play at the same time.

I can't get the Youtube embedder to work, so...


Point being, if you've got a big Dread and your playing is as loud as or louder than your singing, you don't want a vocal mic that hears as much guitar as vocal, even if it's a great mic. Especially if you record sitting down, as I think most of us do, because that puts the guitar even closer to your face than it is when you're standing.
Fixed it for you. And I understand what you are saying and do not disagree per se. And I agree a LDC may not be the best choice especially if your dealing which a lot of additional sonics . But that also depends on a number of variables.
We are not disagreeing as much as perhaps looking at it from different perspectives.

BUT lets back up: the OP was asking about using a dynamic for at home recordings to compensate for bad room reflections and or ambient noise ( in lieu of room treatment )
So IMO no, simply going to a dynamic may not be an optimum solution
I think room treatment is an important component in home recording regardless of mic used.

Also I think the level of knowledge (pro vs non pro as a metaphor ) is very much a factor, for example how to get more air and presence in the mix from a dynamic

Again many variables to the possible solutions involved also

At home if your sitting playing a dread you could certainly use a more directional less sensitive mic
Or you could play softer
Or you could boom the LDC to be upside down with the diaphragm up between your nose and eyes and angled slightly back (away from the guitar)
Or you could dampen the Guitar slightly
Or you could play the guitar and dub the vocal

And lastly for my humorous intended smart alec tongue in cheek retort... Lester and Earl are also not using an SM 58
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Old 02-19-2018, 12:49 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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... lastly for my humorous intended smart alec tongue in cheek retort... Lester and Earl are also not using an SM 58
Entirely my point. If they had been, Earl wouldn't have had to go out the door and halfway down the hall while Lester was singing.

And please -- explain to me about the Youtube thing.
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:04 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Studio conditions != live performance conditions.

Studios are typically highly controlled environments. Live performances are less controlled (and sometimes chaotically out of control).

If you use a mic in the studio that picks up something it shouldn't, you have the option to redo. In live shows, you have one chance, no do overs.

In the studio, it is common to spend time swapping out different mics to see which one sounds best on a certain voice. That just isn't practical in a live situation.

Also, context matters. Dynamics for recording are popular in genres of music that typically have denser production and less nuance. Classic rock, to my ear, is defined by the dominant use of dynamics for vocals.

On the other hand, you will never see e.g. Alison Krauss and Union Station using SM-57s live.
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:23 PM
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Entirely my point. If they had been, Earl wouldn't have had to go out the door and halfway down the hall while Lester was singing.
maybe he had go

Quote:
And please -- explain to me about the Youtube thing.
Copy the address that pops up on Youtube when you click " SHARE" below the video player on the right side

Then click the Youtube icon in the AGF toolbar the cursor flashes between these boxes [YOUTUBE] [YOUTUBE]
Paste the SHARE address between them.... BUT..... delete everything in the address from the single forward slash and to the left so that this SHARE address (https://youtu.be/dKv-m0q1S9U) becomes this address (dKv-m0q1S9U) Then preview or submit ... Why I have no clue, but that's how I do it .
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Old 02-19-2018, 02:53 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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How come when I see professional concert broadcasts or videos where I see inexpensive dynamic mics used in a live setting (perhaps something like the Shure SM58 or Beta58, or the like) do I not invariably notice how much the vocal looses from use of these inexpensive mics of the "wrong" type? Yes, I know there are reasons the SM588 and the like are used for live performance. Yes, I know there are good sound techs working the board who will have some outboard gear, and in the case of DVDs there may even be a good deal of considered post-processing, but this continues to puzzle me.

Next question. It may be poorly-calibrated ears, but I notice dynamic mics lower sensitivity makes them less sensitive to room sound, and they often do not pickup undesirable off-mic noises or high levels of "bleed" where a condenser would. Would these side-effects of using a less-expensive dynamic mic make them even more cost-effective for those who are recording in less than ideal environments, such as are common for home recordists?

As I said, these are questions I don't know the answer to. In practice, I'm using a dynamic Electro-Voice RE20 mic in my "Studio B" (a typical "home office") for voice, including my singing. Before the RE20, I used a Shure SM58 that I used for live performances. My singing has issues that no microphone will solve, but as a practical matter, the RE20 doesn't pickup the fans of the three computers in the room or most of the routine noises of other people in the house or outside the window or the HVAC vent about a yard from it. Some of my "vocals" are spoken word, and the EV20 is one of the "industry standard" choices for that, but I don't dislike what it does to my singing voice.
Both good questions.

For the first, I would say with proper outboard gear you can get a good sound out of the dynamics. But the amount of time that goes into post processing of some live concert DVDs is sometimes enormous. For an example of what can be done in post... https://www.soundonsound.com/people/...ppelin-reunion

For the second, many people in home studios love the RE20 for just the reasons you cited. And it's been used in big time productions like Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney's voice! Along with the RE20, the Shure SM7 gets the job done (as long as you have a lot of preamp gain) and is also popular for the same reasons. That said, the first time I sang through a good LDC in a good room (vintage AKG C12 and Vintage Neumann U47) I realized how great they are in capturing detail that gets missed when using dynamics while also adding something magic to the take. Here's a good listing of famous recording made with what mic... https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-m...mate-list.html
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Old 02-19-2018, 04:46 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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... the amount of time that goes into post processing of some live concert DVDs is sometimes enormous.
The post-processing often includes a lot of replacing, and it's been that way for a long time. In September of 1981, Simon and Garfunkel recorded a live album in Central Park. It was supposed to be out in plenty of time for Christmas. Actually came out the following February. That's a lot of "mixing."
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Old 02-19-2018, 08:41 PM
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Saturday morning I needed to get a bolt out of a hole but I didn't have a hammer within reach so I whacked it a few times with the side some heavy pliers. It wasn't the best solution but it worked well enough for my purposes at the moment. I feel the same way about recording gear. Sure... I can record songs with an SM58 on a Digi 001 (and I have if we go back to 2003 or so). And if I spend enough time in post-processing, I might even get it sounding okay. And if I had the equipment resources and knowledge of a mixing engineer in Abbey Road Studios, I might even be able to make it sound great. But I have what I have and I'm unlikely to even be able to make that leap from "okay" to "good" if I start with a 58 and an 001.

The OP is curious about using dynamic mics as a way to reduce reflections finding their way onto tracks. But as has been discussed, that comes with a trade-off of sorts. If the sound from the dynamic is the kind of sound that works well for your particular music, the trade-off is minimal. But if that's not the sound you're going for, the trade-off can be difficult to overcome. Go back to 2003 and I was right there with the OP. I was pretty sure that with my inexpensive hardware and collection of plugins, I could get things sounding as I wanted.

Nope. "Okay" was the ceiling.

Underlying the original post seems to be the issue of how to avoid room treatment. I spent years in that neighborhood before I finally accepted the fact that if I wanted to do better than "okay," I needed to address some of the problems in my room.

But we all have different goals and expectations. If the OP is happy with the sound he's getting, there's no need to do anything more. I can only speak from my own experiences and for myself, I don't care for what most dynamics bring to the table in the studio. Live performances are one-offs and no one is going to be playing them back over and over or comparing them to the production values of other music. I can accept that and so I have no issue using dynamic mics on stage. But what I do in the studio may be hanging in the ether long after I'm gone and I'd like it to represent me as best as is possible.
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