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Stupid Question about EQing for Vocal Mics


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This is probably a stupid question but...

I'm working on an album. I recorded vocal tracks for 7 songs using an old AKG Perception 200. They sounded pretty nice, until I bought a Shure SM7B and tracked 3 songs on that. I'm definitely using the Shure for the last 4 songs. It suits my voice (and, of course, cost more)!

So, I'd really hate to go redo 7 songs. I like the performances (if not the capturing of them), and they're probably similar enough to fool most (BUT I'LL ALWAYS KNOW).

I'm wondering if there's a way to EQ the AKG to sound more like the Shure?

That's pretty vague, so I'll tell you what I'm hearing. The Shure is a little more full and bass-y, but the biggest difference is in the high-end. The AKG gives an almost whisper-y quality to everything, and especially to really breath-y phrases. If you compare them, it sounds like someone is very lightly breathing along with my words on the AKG track.

I'm no EQ master (in fact, I'm an idiot, but I can move dots around), but I played with it and could kind of get the bassiness approximated, but couldn't remove the whisperiness without really dulling the overall tone.

Anyhow... any advice?

ps. I use Reaper.

pps. This really is a stupid question (or at least a dumb way to try to get an answer) but I'd love any clues whatsoever!

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In general, I'd say, just re-track the part. Uniformity between tracks isn't the goal to getting a good mix. The goal is to take what you have and make it fit the best it can which means the vocals on every song will vary depending on the other tracks in the mix and where you have space within the total frequency response to make them come through and shine.

 

On one song you may have allot of ride and placing the vocals in that same treble response range will mask it. On another you may have a high hat and no ride so you have all that area available to place vocals and get the best from the track to optimize the song as a whole.

 

If you want to try and match them, you can give it a shot however. I'll just note it will come at a cost. EQ is a destructive tool. Normally you'd use it to eliminate things you don't want. You can loose more then you gain by trying to make a track sound like something it isn't, but it is an excellent learning exercise. You will learn what can and cant be done in the process.

 

There is a tool I use that does a good job matching files. Its a program called Har Bal. You are able to take one track (vocals with the Shure) and use it as a reference, then open the track your want to manipulate (the AKG) then you can use the match button to make the response curves the same.

 

From there you can tweak the two to match "if" the track doesn't have any major deficiencies. For example if the low and high end response of the AKG rolls off below the Shure this program cant manufacturer frequencies that don't exist, but it can take what you have and do an amazing job matching them.

 

Normally the program is used for mastering but you can take individual tracks from a project and process them this way. Of course you have to be able to find the individual tracks on your hard drive, extract them, process them then save them where you found them so thay can either be opened by the daw automatically or imported in, and properly aligned.

 

The other method would be to import a vocal track using the shure from another song, then compare it to your AKG track using a Frequency analyzer. Voxengo has one for free called Span which will allow you to view two tracks at the same time.

 

You can put the plugin in your master buss, then solo the AKG and the Shure tracks at the same time, then open an EQ and tweak the AKG track response curve so it matches the Shure track. You can use your ears in this process too.

 

Of course the two tracks will be from two different songs and the Keys/Pitches you sing in will influence the response curves, but it does do a pretty good job compared to using your ears only.

 

The thing is, there's allot more to what a mic produces then just a frequency response. Different mics are made from different materials and have diaphragms with different sensitivity levels based on the coil strength and diaphragm softness/flexibility. Trying to match two diaphragm responses is can be like trying to make a Humbucker sound like a single coil. If it were possible, you'd only need one pickup type in all guitars and simple change the tones electronically after the wave is produced.

 

Still you can get very close and it will be an excellent exercise to perform. You'll learn just how far you can manipulate a recording to change its results to suit your needs.

 

You shouldn't consider this a short cut either. You can spend many hours tweaking and there's no guarantee you'll be successful. I used this method trying to get a guitar track to match and it took me about 16 solid hours over several days to get a 30 second lead part to match an existing track. When you compare that to just re-tracking the a 5 minute vocal part it seems ridiculous but bringing the guitarist and amp back over wasn't possible so I had to slug it out the hard way.

 

You'll have to decide for yourself but I do suggest you give it a valiant try. Its a wonderful training exercise that will improve your ability to mix. Your focus on small details and your skill improvement using an EQ wont hurt one bit, even if you aren't completely successful.

 

You'll learn more then you know, plus there's nothing wrong if the songs simply come closer then they are. There are no rules in recording. Having every vocal track match may be something you feel is essential. You may think "uniformity" insures peace of mind, but its simply a self imposed boundary you've setup. Beware of those boundaries.

 

They may work for you one time and you feel like its a path to getting good recordings so you use them over an over. You don't even realize they are fencing you in and becoming a hindrance to creativity. You have to learn how to sweep them all away and start from scratch with a fresh canvas like a painter does when he starts a new painting. Then you can put all of those methodologies in your tool box and draw on them at will as your intuition dictates.

 

Edited by WRGKMC
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I don't know beans about the studio but I will venture one thing.

 

If you want it done right, just do it.

 

By "just do it" do you mean re-track the vocals with the new microphone? :confused2:

 

On one hand, that's not unheard-of. OTOH, that's a lot of work - and he's already said he was very pleased with the performances he's already waxed.

 

For me, that's the key - the performances.

 

If you have exceptional performances, IMHO, that usually trumps all else. We can work with a track with a bit of distortion, an off-pitch note here or there, or a weird tonal balance, but you can't fake a great performance. Heart. Feel. Soul. Emotion.

 

If those things are there in abundance and the performances simply can't be matched / replicated or exceeded, then I'd stick with the current tracks if possible and find a way to make them work. If those things can be repeated or exceeded in a new performance - and the new mic, and your perception of how it sounds better to you may prove to be inspiring in that respect - then by all means, re-track the vocals.

 

In fact, I'd suggest trying it on a few songs. Pick the ones you like least insofar as the sound of the mic / recording, and try redoing them with the Shure. If you get better performances, remix with the new vocals - that should be relatively easy if you have the rest of the mix already dialed in. If you still prefer the performance of the original, but want something that sounds more like the Shure, then maybe consider what I suggested over on SSS:

 

 

"Have you considered trying something like Waves Q-Clone EQ? You could use that to sample a SM7 track and apply its frequency curve to the AKG tracks... then follow that up with another EQ for whatever general tone shaping (if any) you want to do for the individual tracks.

 

It's a hundred dollar plugin, so it's not a free option, but it's not that expensive. I'd recommend downloading the demo version (if they offer one) and trying it out to see if it works for you or not."

 

 

Sorry for quoting myself... :o

 

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[uSER=27709]Phil[/uSER], yes that's what I meant. While you do have a point about "feel" the OP's lament is about an errant process hence; redo the mofo. I think maybe if the OP is under a deadline then obviously that's what the fixes are for. A studio is ALL fixes right? :) For the amateur/struggling artist/producer hopeful/ or even beginner - and I would be sub beginner albeit thusly informed, quality output and the tireless work involved should be a major consideration.

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