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What is the Standard Mic for Recording Vocals?

Discussion in 'Home Recording Studio' started by misterwogan, Dec 22, 2019.

  1. misterwogan

    misterwogan Senior Stratmaster

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    As some of you may be aware, I produce a lot of covers: Irish, Country, Rock etc... on which I play bass, guitar, acoustic and piano. What I have never done though is sing, because I have no range to speak of and what limited range I have sounds more suited to the altar-boys choir than a Johnny Cash cover. However, I'm just finishing the mixing on a popular Irish traditional/country style song and for some reason I decided to try doing the lead vocal (beer courage). It wasn't great, but it wasn't crap either - I was hitting all the notes, no pitch issues, no need for autotune. I'm using my Shure SM57 which I usually use for amps so I need to know what mic do I need for recording vocals - or is the SM57 ok? I think I need a pop-screen as well. What is the optimal pro setup?
     
  2. jball85

    jball85 Strat-O-Master

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    SM57 worked for Michael Jackson on "Thriller", many others too. My old band's singer used an SM58 beta. It's all about your personal preference. I've also used a Blue Bluebird condenser and a MXL 990 back when I was broke. Though you will need a preamp with a 48v phantom power supply for any condenser. Any decent condenser mic will do, same with dynamic mics.

    Again, it's all about preference, no rules here.
     
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  3. misterwogan

    misterwogan Senior Stratmaster

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    Thanks, I'm grateful. Sounds like the SM57 is not a no-no, so I'll proceed with that.
     
  4. pazman6

    pazman6 Senior Stratmaster

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    I used an MXL 990 for most of my vocals on my cd. $49 when on sale. You may want to record in a closet (really dead space) and then add ambience through a plug in. Lately I have been using a Rode NT2A.
     
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  5. mjea80

    mjea80 Strat-Talker

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    I think you may be thinking of something else. Michael used an SM7 for Thriller.

    Its an excellent mic for vocals but it needs a ton of gain.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  6. CigBurn

    CigBurn Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I also use an MXL 990 most of the time for recording.
     
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  7. clydethecat

    clydethecat Strat-O-Master

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    Well if you're asking for "The Standard" that would be a vintage Neumann U47 or U87. The cost may be an issue though...

    AKG C12 and Shure SM7 have been on a lot of recordings too.
     
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  8. clydethecat

    clydethecat Strat-O-Master

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    That was the SM7 on "Thriller".
     
  9. MartinoTJ

    MartinoTJ Strat-Talker

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    Vocals are really subjective and singer dependent. I personally prefer to record vocals with a ribbon mic, I generally prefer soft transients. If you want something that you can use live and in studio I recomend the Blue Encore 300 a great hand heald condenser microphone that won't break the bank.
     
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  10. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

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    There is no standard in my opinion. There are levels of quality and it all depends on what you can either afford or rent.

    My personal experience: I've used NTK, Sputnik and U87.

    The U87 was the better of the three and the last one I purchased. I wish I could have had it for my first three CD's. I used on my fourth and last CD, and have put it away indefinitely as I have moved over to live playing exclusively.

    I bought mine used for $2500. Canadian. That's a lot of groceries.

    Until you use a high end mic like a U87, you will never really know the quality they impart on vocals (or anything really).
     
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  11. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

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    If there's a "standard" mic for recording vocals it's probably a U87 or possibly TLM103.
    But most importantly the mic needs to be matched to the individual voice for the best result.
    Where one voice might sound sweet on the bright Neumann another voice might sound shrill.
    Choose the mic that sounds good on YOUR voice, not one that sounds acceptable on the widest variety of voices.

    The SM57 is rather peaky in the upper midrange.
    This helps the mic sound good for guitar amps and snare drums.
    Your voice may or may not benefit from those frequencies.
    I'd listen to playback on a variety of systems to determine if it's going to translate well.
     
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  12. misterwogan

    misterwogan Senior Stratmaster

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    Is this why I'm finding huge spikes where the vocals feature a "P' or "A' accent?
     
  13. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Yes and no. You need a P-pop screen/filter in front of the mic if the singer isn't well trained in mic techniques and turning the head/mouth so it's slightly off axis when using hard consonants.....and when breathing etc....

    about 4-5 inches away from mic is normal, with the filter/screen in between.....

    a larger diaphragm mic, condenser type with phantom power - will give you a lot more depth/color/nuance to the voice with a nicer more pleasing flatter EQ profile....

    SM57's have a bit of a spike around 2-5k which is perfect for instrument recording. Not so much for vocals....
     
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  14. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

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    The P's, you're PoPPing your P's, Possibly because you're not using a PoP filter.
    The '57 was designed as an instrument mic without a lot of built-in pop filtering.
    Use an external pop screen and/or adjust your technique and position.

    The A's may be something else ...
     
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  15. misterwogan

    misterwogan Senior Stratmaster

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    Can I just raise my head when I do Ps...
     
  16. misterwogan

    misterwogan Senior Stratmaster

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    Also, my basic setup is that the mic is on the stand raised up at 45 degrees and I'm standing in front of it, looking ahead and over it at 90 degrees, is that ok?
     
  17. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Strat-Talker

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    Is nobody just gonna say SM58?
    It's everybody's workhorse.
    You could beat a junkie trying to steal your gear with it, then go play the gig.
    I've been using the same one since about 1985.
     
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  18. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Great live vocal mic, for studio recording it's lacking in a lot of detail....
     
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  19. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Strat-Talker

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    Ooops...recording...duh.
    I'm on my phone and it cuts out part of the title of the thread.
     
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  20. CigBurn

    CigBurn Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Yeah both are right.. I love the sound of a 58 live. I'm often tempted into using it while recording but invariably if I record back to back with the MXL990 the 990 wins.

    I know it makes me a vintage looking toady but the Shure 55sh is my favorite live mic.. Same basic guts as a 58 but vintage sexy.
     
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