First, I got around to finding and researching a few articles about recording vocals. I decided to go with one article that was a bit older but more comprehensive, and then an article about what NOT to do when recording vocals.
The first article was found here:
The first issue they went through was location; thankfully, the location is already there for us in Studio E. The next was the choice of microphone; I actually had to look up the capacitor microphone. I didn’t realize it was the same as a condenser, but wanted to make sure. One thing I hadn’t known before was to playback the performance for the singer and flip the polarity of the vocal track to see if one phase is easier to sing to than the other.
The second article was found here:
This article even recommended doing a shootout, since mic quality can change based on day as well as the performer. Also, for singers that move around a lot, a gentle reminder of some gaffer’s tape on the ground is a good method to have them always stay the same distance from the mic.
I implemented a few bits of advice into this session. The first I found really worked was the tape on the ground. It was a really simple way of making sure everything stayed in place, especially with me having to switch out a lot of microphones. As well, I made sure to always have the pop filter on each microphone.
Here’s my four microphones of choice!
- Blue Kiwi - a condenser mic
- Neumann M147 - a tube condensor
- AEA R84 - a ribbon mic
- Shure SM57 - a dynamic mic
Next, I’ll go through each mic and describe the sounds and characteristics of each that I learned from this session.
The Blue Kiwi was first to be recorded. The overall sound really cut through the rest of the recordings really well, although it makes the sound more harsh. It naturally sounds louder than the others as well as feeling more ‘excited’ sounding, having more mid range. The Kiwi was different from the rest in that it captured harsh noises that sounded almost ‘growly,’ somewhat more of the natural singing voice.
The Neumann M147 was second, and sounded very similar to the Kiwi in that it was loud as well as harsh in the sounds it captured. It also exhibited the excited qualities of the Kiwi explained above. Overall, this mic sounded a lot like the Kiwi except it was a bit more refined and didn’t quite capture all the mid range.
The AEA R84 added a bit of variety to the mix. The ribbon microphone sounded the smoothest of them all, but was naturally very quiet. The sound never got to the same level as the others, even with the preamp all the way up. It also sounds like the highs got cut off more than the other microphones.
The Shure SM57 always surprises me in some way. This microphone as well was very soft (as soft as the R84), as can be expected from dynamic microphones as it was made to be durable and able to handle loud noises. It was also a bit duller than the rest, but it was actually the cleanest sound of the bunch. It wasn’t harsh, and was very well rounded.
Now, I will rank them!
1. Blue Kiwi - The Blue Kiwi to me had the most character. It was a bit harsh, but I really liked being about to hear that part of the voice as well as the growly quality.