I know that this has been beaten to death, but I'm trying to talk myself out of buying one.
...long story sort-of short...I started recording my band at home after recording at a local studio for many years. I already had a Daking mic Pre one and an RNC compressor for making demos, so I picked up a 4-channel Focusrite ISA unit to help track drums. I just use the interface preamps for toms and "less critical" things. We put out a CD (locally) that I recorded in my very small house. The recordings got better with every session, as I learned things, upgraded gear and worked to learn to tune drums (I'm a guitar player.) I feel like the drum sound is pretty good now. I'm also happy with the bass and guitars. The vocals are missing something. The best vocals that I've ever recorded were at the local studio, using a high-end tube U47 clone, a Brent Averill 1073 and a distressor. I also once recorded through an old U67 into a vintage Trident console. That sounded good, but not as good. We actually borrowed the U47 clone once to try it out, and it didn't sound better than what I have. I already have some really solid microphones. I suspect that the great vocal was either a really good day, or it's the preamp and EQ or compressor. Interestingly, that U47 clone was broken at one session, and they made me sing through an AT4050, which sounded really lifeless to me. The preamp and compressor were probably the same as before....Perhaps I am just overly critical of my vocal? Maybe the songs were just better suited for my voice?
There are now a million relatively affordable 1073 clones, and I'm also interested in an 1176 or Distressor. The Empirical Labs EL9 puts a mic pre and compressor in one box. UK sound has a 1073 and 1176 style compressor in one box. Does anyone have experience with them, and do they really make that much of a difference? Certainly, I can work with what I have, but I've resorted to adding grit with plugins before. I have spent alot of money on gear, and I am trying to be smarter about it...But, we've started a new CD. I've been wasting too much time searching for 1073 clone reviews!
I think vocals are mic, mic mic.....compressor(settings as much as unit-but things like a 76 or LA don't really HAVE many settings, so they kind of become synonymous)......................everything else.
I can tell you that for MY voice, you get a good mic match and the rest I can be fine with a pretty broad window of gear to mix....if you dont-use a 414, say and I struggle to find a small window of gear that will mix it into what I need.
I think it's some "quality" that I miss, but I have honestly never operated a 1073 preamp. I don't even know if that's where it came from. Interestingly, I think it was missing with an AT4050 into the same vocal chain, and when we tried the same U47 clone into a different chain, I didn't like it.
To answer your question, I've tried several vocal mics with reasonably good results. I currently have a TLM102, a Miktek C1, Miktek MK300 and an old SM7...along with the mics that I use for other stuff. I kind of prefer the C1.
After thinking about this today, I may just try a 1073 plug-in to see if it helps to add a little of what I think may be missing. Like I said, I have added mild amounts of overdrive with an amp plug-in before. A new plug-in will certainly be much cheaper than a 1073 clone! Right now, I'm really only using the Waves gold plug-ins for everything.
This isn't the greatest song in the world, but it's the last thing that I recorded here. It represents the level of recording quality that I've gotten so far. To me, the vocal sounds less alive. I can't remember what mic was used, but I think it was the SM7.
This is one of the songs that I recorded at the local studio that day, almost 20 years ago. There were no plug-ins involved. It was recorded to one of those 24 track Alesis machines and mixed through an old analog live monitor console, with extremely limited outboard gear. They did "master" the two-track mix in a computer.
If you send me that newer vocal isolated--the raw track....I can hear what we're dealing with....I think sometimes people who don't mix a lot are so concerned with "controlling peaks" that they mess a lot of with the compression in a mix down. It's easy to do. OR the boxiness can be in the room....if you're near a wall that isn't dead AF in the low mids....or in a spare bedroom with a cardioid only condenser....
To my ears, it's the engineering more than the gear. The old clip just sounds "normal" to me. Normal can be hard to get if you're the singer and the engineer....rather than hearing what the mic hears, adjusting the preamp/EQ/limiter for the best tracking sound....
I'd start Sm7+Daking into a line input at 96khz on the interface. Remove the foam....it pops off....and use a normal pop stopper on the end of the Sm7's grill. The ISA might be brighter....but, keep the impedance on the "Classic". I found those ISA transformers can get shrill if you bump the impedance up. And do something "odd" to the midrange of the Sm7. I don't know WHY my Millenia are great--with their 6000ohm or some crazy high and those aren't--but, I'd much rather goose that virtual Pultec up than mess with the midrange dynamics on the input.
Thanks Popmann. I normally track through the Daking with an RNC compressor set to very minimal compression...maybe 4:1 ratio with 6 db of gain reduction. There is no EQ going in. I use very little EQ in general, except for a high-pass filter. I was experimenting with the different settings on the SM7 at the time. I did not document where it was. I am sure that I compressed again in the mix. I am forced to record alone, so I am doing the engineering. Maybe I do need to make a temporary "vocal booth." I do record in a small bedroom. I got my SM7 used. It's pretty old. The wind screen has pretty much disintegrated. It was removed, and I used a regular stand-mounted pop filter.
That plug-in is on sale today for around $30, so I'll order it when I get home. I'll be tracking vocals on a few new songs this month, so I'll be able to give it a shot as well as some of these other suggestions.
I just tried the focusrite isa one with the optional digital output. I have bought it because of the good reviews here on vsplanet. I tried analog (7 o' Clock ) and digital, I was surprised that also the analog output sounds clearer than directly with the guitar and bass in the vs. OK I think at the end of the day at the complete mix with 20 channels it makes no big difference...but nice to have.
Edited by daemberg (02/19/2001:43 PM)
VS2480HD,VS2400CD, MB-24, 2xVS8f-3, Plugin: LA-1176, Antares Autotune, Hi-Res EQ, T-Racks, 3 x VS8f-2, VE7000,Focusrite Isa one A/D, Behringer C4, Rode Nt-1