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How do you compare vocal mics? #3003434 08/16/19 02:23 AM
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matthew mcglynn Offline OP
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We've all had sessions where we put up our go-to vocal mic, listen to the singer's first take, and realize "that's not the right mic for this song!"

The question is, what do you do next?

I see photos periodically where guys hang up six mics in a cluster. It makes a great photo op, but I'm not sure any of those 6-way mic tests fairly represent the mics in question. Some of those mics are (relatively speaking) a lot farther away from the singer than others.

Ronan Chris Murphy described his process at the Mountain Recording Retreat recently. He puts up two mics, has the artist sing a verse and a chorus, then listens to the results. They pick the winning mic, and replace the losing mic with another choice. Rinse and repeat. 15 minutes later, they've heard a handful of mics, and whatever is left standing is apparently the best of the available mics for that particular track.

How do you manage vocal mic selection?

(Even if you don't have a bunch of classic LDCs to choose from, it's absolutely worth auditioning whatever you have. You never know what might win for any given song.)

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Re: How do you compare vocal mics? [Re: matthew mcglynn] #3003440 08/16/19 04:17 AM
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Dr Mike Metlay Online Content
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Originally Posted by matthew mcglynn

I see photos periodically where guys hang up six mics in a cluster. It makes a great photo op, but I'm not sure any of those 6-way mic tests fairly represent the mics in question. Some of those mics are (relatively speaking) a lot farther away from the singer than others.


Paul Vnuk has been testing mics this way for years and is pretty happy with his results doing so. The "star array" actually works decently well if you're careful about distances. Another key is that setting up six or seven mics looks better than it works, and the sweet spot is 2 to 4 at a time.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, whoop de doo)
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Re: How do you compare vocal mics? [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3003538 08/16/19 06:40 PM
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matthew mcglynn Offline OP
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Hi Mike! I trust Paul's results and ears, no question. And I agree 100% with this point:

Originally Posted by Dr(!)Mike Metlay

Another key is that setting up six or seven mics looks better than it works, and the sweet spot is 2 to 4 at a time.


... and this one too...
Originally Posted by Dr(!)Mike Metlay

Everyone on this forum is a friend I haven't met yet
-- except for Bryce, who's, well, YOU know.


:-)


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Re: How do you compare vocal mics? [Re: matthew mcglynn] #3003693 08/17/19 05:23 PM
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Dave Bryce Offline
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Originally Posted by matthew mcglynn
Ronan Chris Murphy described his process at the Mountain Recording Retreat recently. He puts up two mics, has the artist sing a verse and a chorus, then listens to the results. They pick the winning mic, and replace the losing mic with another choice. Rinse and repeat. 15 minutes later, they've heard a handful of mics, and whatever is left standing is apparently the best of the available mics for that particular track.

Me, too. It just makes the most sense to me.

dB

Re: How do you compare vocal mics? [Re: matthew mcglynn] #3003694 08/17/19 05:26 PM
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Dave Bryce Offline
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Originally Posted by matthew mcglynn

... and this one too...
Originally Posted by Dr(!)Mike Metlay

Everyone on this forum is a friend I haven't met yet
-- except for Bryce, who's, well, YOU know.


:-)

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dB


Last edited by Dave Bryce; 08/17/19 05:28 PM.
Re: How do you compare vocal mics? [Re: matthew mcglynn] #3003801 08/18/19 11:03 AM
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Mike Rivers Offline
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Originally Posted by matthew mcglynn
We've all had sessions where we put up our go-to vocal mic, listen to the singer's first take, and realize "that's not the right mic for this song!"
The question is, what do you do next?


I fully agree with an evaluation that a particular mic isn't right for the voice - our favorite mic for kick drum isn't the same mic as our favorite for trombone, and individual voices vary widely. But I think "not the right mic for this song" is, in general, one of those things that's mostly good fodder for magazine articles (Dr, Mike notwithstanding). If you think you don't have the correct mic for the song, more likely, you don't have the correct singer for the song, or you and the singer are interpreting it differently.

Microphones can be production tricks, and that's for sure. You might want to use a particularly crappy mic for a short phrase - that's a favorite trick of Sylvia Massy's and she has a knack for picking out just the right crappy mic from her collection - but in general, once I find a good mic for the voice, it'll work in any song that's right for that singer.

But then, I'm just a recording hack and never had a Grammy nomination, so could this be what I'm missing? smirk


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