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Noob struggling with vocal mic placement

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Leonfrost, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Leonfrost

    Leonfrost New Metal Member

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    I tried searching, didn't turn up anything of promise, forgive me if this has been discussed already.

    Essentially, I feel that the topic of micing an amp has pretty much been boiled down to a science on this forum. There's no shortage of information on that here. What I can't seem to find, is a good guide to mic'ing vocals that discusses placement. So perhaps I just need to ask.

    The vocalist is female, singing clean prog metal type stuff...I feel like she sounds like a cross between Annette Olzon and Katy Perry. We have for recording an SM58 into an M-Audio Fast Track...we actually have the mic in a closet surrounded by clothing, which seems to tame the admittedly bad room acoustics rather nicely.

    What I struggle with, though, is actually figuring out the optimal placement, you know? There's not some infamous "inch off grill, inch off center" kind of thing for this stuff. I've tried searching around on Google, found a lot of people saying six inches back is optimal, but then I found people HERE saying that no more than two inches is optimal. Then another person contradicted that, saying it would cause too much proximity effect through something like a 58, which seems to echo my experience.

    Are there any definitive starting ideas you guys would be willing to share?

    P.S. Sorry for my English.
     
  2. Sloan

    Sloan Sounds like shit!

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    Are you using a pop filter?

    Vocal mic placement doesn't seem to typically be a problem. I like being close to the mic so the sound of the room has less of an effect. Sometimes proximity effect is good, I haven't done many female vocalists, but I would imagine it helps fill out some of the lows that would be lacking in a typical higher female voice.
     
  3. heshian46

    heshian46 Member

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    With a 58 just have her hold it and sing into it like she would at a live show. If you prefer to mount it on a stand, just point it directly to her mouth and have her stand 4-6" away from the capsule. If you hear a lack of low end have her move closer to the capsule.
     
  4. decoy205

    decoy205 STUCK IN HELL

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    Yes. To record a 58 the singer must know how to hold and control the distance of the mic. Watch a professional singer perform live. If using any mic on a stand they will move their head back and forth and side to side depending on the part of the song and sound they are trying to achieve. They also control proximity effect this way.
    Use one of those foam pop filters to control sibilants and have her hold the mic and rely on technique for distance.
     
  5. Leonfrost

    Leonfrost New Metal Member

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    We've got a ghetto panty hose pop filter...no problem picking up a real one if that's what needs to be done.

    The reason I'm asking is because we did a recording with her about 4 inches back if memory serves, maybe a little more, and it sounded pretty clean but noticeably harsh. I actually had to put a band comp on 2.8k to deal with an icepick-like attack on certain words.

    Then we did another with her about an inch and a half away, and it was REALLY muddy and boomy and just generally ugly sounding. Had to take a LOT of low mids out to get it sounding anywhere near good, but just ended up deciding it was an unusable recording given how fake it sounded after all the processing.

    Any idea what is incorrect in the equation here?
     
  6. Nimvi

    Nimvi Member

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    Another thing to try when dealing with harshness/sibilance is to let her sing into the microphone from a slight angle, or putting the microphone slightly below her mouth instead of straight in front of it (so she would be singing "over" the mic, instead of into it). This can sometimes smooth things out so you don't have to process it so much.

    About the distance, you are already giving an answer yourself. If she is too far away it's too thin and harsh, if she is too close, it's muddy and boomy. So the sweetspot lies inbetween :)

    Btw, I always just imagine the distance to the mic like a blend knob between the direct signal and the roomsound. The further away the source is, the higher the amount of room gets. Compression brings this out even more, which can be good or bad, depending on what you are trying to do.
     
  7. Sloan

    Sloan Sounds like shit!

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    This sounds like my experience with sm58's in live useage. Always highpassing them, and getting rid of that nasty crispy stuff.
     
  8. decoy205

    decoy205 STUCK IN HELL

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    Also you have to remember some mics just don't sound good with some voices. That's why some engineers spend time matching different mics to different singers. Sometimes one mic will kill for one vocalist and then sound like ass for the next one. Everyone's voice is different.

    I will also agree about having the singer sing over the mic instead of directly into it, or varying angles try things out and see what works.
     
  9. arv_foh

    arv_foh Brian K

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    You're gonna have to experiment. It's hard for anyone to say without hearing what you are hearing (clips would help).

    The SM58 is a rather dark sounding microphone (IMO), I'd try adding a few dB with a high shelf at 6.3K, and finding the right distance so the vocal is not too boomy. Be careful with how much high end you add though because those frequencies can make vocals very ess-y and sibilant if you add too much. Female vocals can often be harsh in the 2k-3k range, so what you're hearing is normal, as far as having to smash that frequency down a bit. You can also set up a de-esser to engage at that frequency and see if you like that more than what the multiband comp is doing.
     
  10. jackbraglia

    jackbraglia Member

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    you're problem is the 58. for clean vocals, when it comes to recording, you should be using a large diaphragm condenser, 6 inches away. the 58 would only ever sound "useable" with gutturals or screaming
     
  11. Headof75

    Headof75 Somewhere in Brum

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    Sorry Jack, but I don't agree with that. As others have already said for some people the SM58 sounds great - for singing as well as extreme vocals.

    To the OP - try borrowing some different mics if you can't afford to buy any, but just experiment a bit. Unfortunately there aren't easy answers to this kind of thing you've just got to find the mic that will suit your singer best and that isn't necessarily the best known, or the most expensive models.
     
  12. jackbraglia

    jackbraglia Member

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    the sm58 rolls off at 15k, you lose all that air, thats no good for regular singing if you ask me.
     
  13. Leonfrost

    Leonfrost New Metal Member

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    I'll try to get a clip up at some point, although I'm right in the middle of re-tweaking the lowend of my mix, trying to get a bit more cab thump.

    Let's see...looking at the EQ, I really haven't had to do much. I've cut about 1 db apiece from 300, 600, and 2k, a 2.5 db high shelf at 6k, hp at 100 and lp at 15k. Made a de-esser out of reacomp, and a de-harshness-er (need to come up with a word for this) out of another intance of reacomp, between 2.5 and 2.8k, as stated before. Nothing's doing too much to those frequencies either.
     
  14. Terminus

    Terminus Member

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    I've always heard that pointing the mic towards the space between the mouth and nose (where that little indentation is we all have - the philtrum) is a good way to record vox, and for placement I've always heard that putting the mic six inches away from the pop filter and then singing a few inches away from the filter works well.
     
  15. locus_coeruleus

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    If I place my sm58 6 inches away from the pop filter I get a kinda low signal. How loud are vocals supposed to be tracked?
     

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