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  • handheld mic for recording vocals?

    using handheld mic, i seem to have more power in vocal delivery when I'm holding the mic in the studio rather than having it on a stand. anyone else feel the same way or it's nothing more than because it's a "raw" form of recording vocals?
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  • #2
    When I first read the topic I was thinking you were asking if recording with a dynamic mic is ok. The response in my head was, "Yeah, if it works, go with it." I know a few people that record with 58s for vocals. But you mean physically holding it in your hand... I would think condensors are out, just because of the transference of noise. I suppose if you could keep the 'handling' noise down it would be fine. Try it both ways and see what your results are.
    Reduced to roadie, sound guy, and "hey-boy" for a 16 year old.

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    • #3
      Hand held Condensers can do a wonderful job if they are the right type.

      If you can get your hands on an Electro Voice PL84 they blow the doors off a regular Dynamic mic. They were sold for about a year through MF at an excellent price. I bought one and the quality knocked my socks off so I bought three more so I could use them live or for recording. The mic is very heavy, handling noise is super quiet and has minimal thump. Head basket more solid then a Shure.

      My lead singer uses a Shure Beta 87 which is another excellent choice. They aren't cheap though, they cost about $250 new. The EV Frequency response tops the Shure and can get you that air at the top without being harsh. You can get right up on it like you would a normal dynamic too without it crushing your words or having major pops from your breath so you can work it up close like you would singing live through a PA.

      Using a Stand can be more difficult for singers who aren't used to it. Some recording mics like Ribbon and large diaphragm condensers can't be handled because of their sensitivity. You even have to use a pop filter to prevent blowing out the diaphragm. You can get better quality recordings with many of these but the singer has to completely retrain themselves in how they sing into a mic. One way is to use two mics. Have the singer use a hand held and also use a higher end recording mic, then just track both. So long as the voice isn't blocked by the hand held you can get the best of both wo9rlds.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by samal50 View Post
        using handheld mic, i seem to have more power in vocal delivery when I'm holding the mic in the studio rather than having it on a stand. anyone else feel the same way or it's nothing more than because it's a "raw" form of recording vocals?
        When I was tracking vocals for Firme by Voodoo Glow Skulls we had a large PA set up in the tracking room, with the speaker stacks on two sides aimed in towards Frank, who was using a hand-held SM58. There was a lot of nicer microphones available a few feet away in the mic locker (251's, etc.) but that's the way Frank and Garth wanted to do it, so that's what we did. It made Frank a lot more comfortable and put him into a far more natural environment, and there's a lot to be said for that. That's what you hear on the record - a SM58.

        I'm not the first and far from the only engineer who's ever done that with a PA, or who has used a handheld dynamic mic on a lead vocalist. I will often use a expensive large diaphragm condenser for the lead vocals, but not always... if a SM58 works, then use it!
        **********

        "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
        - George Carlin

        "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
        - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

        "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
        - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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        • #5
          I've used all kinds of dynamic mics tracking over the years on a quest to find the best mic for my voice which has an edginess like Joe Walsh.
          I can do pretty good with a Shure SM 57 or 58. I have a beta 58 too which is pretty good, but it actually does better as a live PA mic then a recording mic for me.

          The Beta has a bump in the highs that makes the mic more prominent then a regular SM58 so it projects from PA speakers better. When I use it recording that bump is in a spot where my voice is its strongest and I wind up with too much upper mids and wind up having to flatten that peak out which leaves my vocal recordings lifeless. The regular 57 and 57 do that too. I have a Shure Axis mic that does a little better. I must have 3 dozen others, AKG, Budget stuff, Vintage, you name it.

          I actually got some great rock tunes out of a cheapo Samson mic. It cut my highs in just the right spot for those songs and you wouldn't know the recordings came form some cheap $20 mic by listening.

          I'm into using ribbon mice lately. I picked up an MXL R144 and R40 with bad ribbons for chump change. Bought the ribbon material and replaced them. The mics give my voice exactly what they been needing, roll off on the high end and the right kind of bass boost.

          When I mixed Dynamic mic recordings I could EQ and jack with the track for days and never get it right because they simply didn't produce the right mixture of frequencies for my voice so I'd make things worse by projecting my voice differently when I sang to make up for what the mics lacked.

          With the ribbon I can sing 100% natural and it gets it what Its supposed to without a peaks and valleys designed to minimize feedback and hype the sound from a PA.

          This is where the rubber meets the road in the end. If you can sing naturally and hear yourself as singing naturally you'll sing better then a mic you have to fight and compensate for what a mic lacks or has too much of.

          Getting that ideal match isn't always easy, especially of you don't have the luxury of having an engineer use his ears to pick the right mic out of his mic locker for you based on what he hears as good for your voice.

          I rarely have issues picking mics for others because I hear their voices in the open air. When I hear my own voice I'm hearing half open air and the rest is what I call direct skull tone, the direct sound is what you hear when you stick your fingers in your ears. It comes directly from the vocal cords to your ears from the inside and is mostly bass tones which darken what we hear when we speak.

          When I hear a recording of my voice it lacks that skull tone and sounds much thinner. Using a Ribbon mic gives me that back without the boom I get form a dynamic mic. It doesn't sound that much different when I'm actually singing but when I mix it the richness I cant get from a dynamic is there.
          Last edited by WRGKMC; 08-17-2016, 03:07 PM.

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          • #6
            So mic types do make a difference in music style and or depending on the singer? My old mic was a Shure AXS1 (or 2?). It was a cheap mic under $100. I thought it was a great dynamic mic. I bought a more expensive condenser mic Shure KSM32 and I think it felt too "elegant-y" for my taste no wonder I haven't really tried it much. I just wasn't used to it. It's like driving a bus when I'm used to driving a coupe. LOL.

            I haven't tried other types of mics other than dynamic and condenser so is a "ribbon" mic something to look into as well? I have a 20% discount code for Blue Microphones and I'm wondering if they have any good ribbon mics? I just bought the Blue Mic Encore 100 dynamic ($60). Can't beat that. I feel comfortable with this one.
            Earn $25 when one friend makes a purchase. They'll get $10.
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            • #7
              Learn to use whatever you have and make it produce the best results possible, from the lest expensive dynamic mic to the best condensers and ribbons you can afford. if you're into recording then having the variety of many options and developing the experience to use them all is what its all about.

              Its like owning a guitar. If all you have is a Strat, you learn to get the classic Strat tones, then you use tricks to expand the tonal options to get sounds from it that aren't normally used. Then you may expand your guitar collection to get a Gibson with humbuckers. You may not be used to the Gibson tones at first, just like you aren't used to using a condenser, but you eventually learn how to get its best tones and switch between the two guitars depending on the music you play. You play a Clapton song so you grab the Strat. You play a Zepplin song so you grab a Les Paul. If you want a Rickenbacker tone you grab a ribbon Mic. You want some other tone you grab another mic.

              You see how this analogy ties in. Your preference may be tied to a dynamic mic simply because its something you've used the longest. Use that experience by backtracking and putting in the hours learning to use other mics. Yes it will require retraining. Chances are you may be used to singing live with a dynamic mic that has a proximity effect. Its gain is turned down to prevent feedback so you have to get up close to it to be heard and the treble and bass increases as you do. In a studio with closed back headphones feedback isn't an issue. You can crank that gain and back off the mic and get more room tone as you sing. A Large diaphragm condenser has very little proximity effect because it has a built in preamp so learning to sing into it from a farther distance requires you to learn a new way of singing that doesn't require you eating the mic to boost its response.

              Put in the hours and learn and all of this will become clear. You may even prefer it once you discover how useful those additional frequencies can be used when mixing.

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              • #8
                i'll often do vocals holding an SM7

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                • #9
                  just found out ribbons are expensive. What are some good cheap ribbons I can start out with? Are ribbons also good for using as a handheld while recording?
                  Earn $25 when one friend makes a purchase. They'll get $10.
                  https://www.ebates.com/r/CHICHI1336?eeid=28187

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by samal50 View Post
                    just found out ribbons are expensive. What are some good cheap ribbons I can start out with? Are ribbons also good for using as a handheld while recording?
                    Ribbons aren't always expensive, but with very few exceptions, they're always fragile, and most of them suffer from handling noise, so they're not a good choice for using hand-held. A slight blast of wind is all it takes to shred the ribbon element, so they're very rarely used in a live situation. Condensers and dynamics are your best bet there. There are other condensers that may be better suited for your voice and that are definitely better suited to using hand-held than the KSM32, as well as plenty of good dynamic mics to check out.
                    **********

                    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
                    - George Carlin

                    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
                    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
                    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                    Comment

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