Vocal Mic Comparison -- Whaaaaaat????

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
I'll make a long story short. Remember that Rode NTK large diaphragm tube mic I liked and told you guys about? I sold it of course, but this past week I picked up another one. Yeah, I know, if I liked it why did I sell it?

Because I'm a BLUE man. I like Blue mics better. Or so I thought....

Anyway, this week, a giant beer company offered a guy whose record I produced some promotion. The catch is that they didn't want the word, "f^ck" on their website, could we replace the one word in one of the tracks they liked?

Well, that was kind of a no-brainer. Of COURSE we could accomodate them! ;)

So, we decided to recut one line. I happened to have the Rode NTK up on the boom; the plan was to recut the one phrase with the original Blue Kiwi we cut the track with, same singer, same room, same Focusrite ISA 220 settings, same recording system, and match the existing track that was on the record.

But for fun, we decided to cut a rehearsal track with the Rode, because, well, because I wanted to putz around comparing how the mics record. This was because I hadn't yet cut a vocal with the new Rode, and because I was revisiting a track cut with the Kiwi. Perfect opportunity.

Well, I will make it short. To my utter astonishment, and that of everyone in the room, the Rode was the better mic for this vocalist, a guy I've worked with for years!

The Rode was ever so slightly less airy, but it made up for it with the most three dimensional, focused, vocal I've ever tracked, and it was perfect for this singer. The vocal sat well in the mix, very little EQ was needed (I was able to use the very same setting I had with the Kiwi!), and the vocal was simply more "there." That's all I can say. It wasn't peaky, it wasn't harsh, it wasn't too polite, it was just the way you'd want this vocal to sound.

Believe me, I went back and forth between the takes, the one with the Kiwi, and the one with the Rode, and I honestly preferred the Rode to the point that we decided to retrack the entire song with it, including backup vocals.

This particular Rode seemed to sound a bit better than my memory of the one I had a while back. Maybe that's how it is with tube mics...you get a great sounding tube in the mic and power supply, and the whole mic sounds better, like with amps. Then again, maybe it's my imagination. Who can say. Maybe I got lucky!

So I tried recording my Collings with it. Again, it was rich sounding, smooth, with a lot of presence. It sounded sweet.

Anyway...this is a mic that sells for $499, comparing well with a mic that ran $1999. Come on! That's gotta be the mic bargain of the century.

Michael K told me these mics are good, and he was absolutely right.
 

Scott Peterson

TGP Co-Founder and Administrator
Staff member
Messages
37,690
Cheap and good? Goooooooooooooooood.

Coolness man.

And congrats on the promo grab!
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
You know me, if it sounds good, it IS good.

The fun thing is when it sounds good and it's not expensive (I realize that even $500 isn't dirt cheap)!

And thanks, everyone needs promotion, especially the artists on my little label!
 

Red Ant

Member
Messages
1,358
Wanna hear a once-in-a-lifetime "cheap & good" story?

1993, i'm sitting in Power Play Studios in NYC working on my album. The studio buzzer rings.

"Who is it?"

"Um, I'm selling a microphone"

I let the guy in - well-dressed middle-aged guy, has a travel bag in his hand. Hands it to me. Inside is a Telefunken U67 tube, with power supply. Everything but mic case. I look at the serial #..... its #263. Ok, i say - let me hook it up and see if it works. I call my singer from the lounge and have her cut a quick verse with it. Not only does it work, it sounds GODLIKE.

"How much you want for this mic?"

"How much you got?"

Ok... i look in my wallet - there are 5 $20s in it.

"100 bucks"

"Ok, mic is yours"

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

Next morning, my guilt overwhelms me and i call Klaus, Rogue, Mercenary Audio.. all the Neumann/Telefunken guys i know... i pass the serial # around.... its NOT stolen!

Still use that mic on every session i do. I had Blue make me a case for it and the case cost me more than the mic! :)
 

Chiba

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,830
Les...you're setting a dangerous precedent here. If we start admitting ... publicly ... that MK knows what he's talking about ... well, let's just say I shudder to think of the repercussions of such a turn of events ...

:D

Sounds like a mic to check out.

--chiba
 

straticus

Member
Messages
3,101
I know I've mentioned this before but I love my NTV! I get similar results with it using just the mic pres in my Q10.

I can't imagine how good it would sound with the nice front end you're using.
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
Red Ant, you are one very lucky man!

BTW, I admire your work!

>>I can't imagine how good it would sound with the nice front end you're using<<

Straticus, I think the main advantage of the ISA 220 is its compressor; I love that part of the box, and that's why I bought it. And the main reason I love it is that I can dial it in by ear quite easily.

I'm not saying you can't hear the differences between mic preamps, of course you can if you listen hard. But the differences between decent mic preamps and great mic preamps is very unimportant, IMHO, compared to the differences between mics and compressors.

It really distresses me to see people wasting money on expensive mic preamps, that will give them maybe one percent more than a more moderately priced unit, and then match them up with compromised gear that will not give them the important 99% of the sound they're looking for, that comes from mics and a good compressor.

I am certain that I could use the mic preamp on a dirt-cheap $50 Behringer mixerpad, but use a good compressor and good mic, and still create a good sounding track.

I have done it with my son's little $50 mixerpad that I got him while he was still in high school, just to prove it could be done. ;)

Note: I had to use an outboard phantom power supply to get the mic working, which cost more than the damn little mixerpad. LOL
 

Bassomatic

Member
Messages
12,336
Les-

Sweet news, and funny considering how much smack you've talked about Rodes (i know, i know, certain models, but still!).;)

I dig my Tube Classic II for a lot of stuff.

BTW, have you put a Bluebird thru its paces? looks to combine the 2-3kHz bump of the Baby Bottle with some of the nice top end BLUE's mics are known for.
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
>>BTW, have you put a Bluebird thru its paces?<<

Not yet. I'm sure I will in the near future.

For some reason, I thought they were only available in Digidesign or Focusrite package deals.

Am I wrong?

BTW - what's the Classic II like? I haven't heard one yet.
 

MichaelK

Member
Messages
6,476
Originally posted by Red Ant
"100 bucks"

"Ok, mic is yours"
Arrrrggghhh!!!

You shouldn't tell stories like that, man. Now that I know it happened, I know it can NEVER happen to me. :(
 

straticus

Member
Messages
3,101
Originally posted by LSchefman
Red Ant, you are one very lucky man!

BTW, I admire your work!

>>I can't imagine how good it would sound with the nice front end you're using<<

Straticus, I think the main advantage of the ISA 220 is its compressor; I love that part of the box, and that's why I bought it. And the main reason I love it is that I can dial it in by ear quite easily.

I'm not saying you can't hear the differences between mic preamps, of course you can if you listen hard. But the differences between decent mic preamps and great mic preamps is very unimportant, IMHO, compared to the differences between mics and compressors.

It really distresses me to see people wasting money on expensive mic preamps, that will give them maybe one percent more than a more moderately priced unit, and then match them up with compromised gear that will not give them the important 99% of the sound they're looking for, that comes from mics and a good compressor.

I am certain that I could use the mic preamp on a dirt-cheap $50 Behringer mixerpad, but use a good compressor and good mic, and still create a good sounding track.

I have done it with my son's little $50 mixerpad that I got him while he was still in high school, just to prove it could be done. ;)

Note: I had to use an outboard phantom power supply to get the mic working, which cost more than the damn little mixerpad. LOL
Thanks. That makes perfect sense to me and also explains why the NTV tracks sound so dang good!

I love that mic on most vocals and it's amazing on acoustic guitar too.:)
 

Bassomatic

Member
Messages
12,336
Originally posted by LSchefman
BTW - what's the Classic II like? I haven't heard one yet.
A really smooth, forward sounding mic with a nice top end. Not a hint of hype or stridency in the high end. It's rounded but very detailed. A nice combo.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,316
Originally posted by LSchefman


BTW - what's the Classic II like? I haven't heard one yet.
We've got a Classic (not a II) and it's really very nice on a variety sources, but can get strident and flatten out, if you hit it hard with a singer who's got a lot of upper mid stuff in their voice. Usually not my choice for females.

It's amazing on male folk-style voices - fat, big and crisp. It also works well on screamo stuff - probably because it's got a lot of cut, and sounds compressed when you hit it hard.

We use everything on vocals, hitting that magic combo is really great. It's usually different on every project, and the price of the mic generally has the least to do with it.

Loudboy
 

Bassomatic

Member
Messages
12,336
Originally posted by loudboy
We've got a Classic (not a II) and it's really very nice on a variety sources, but can get strident and flatten out, if you hit it hard with a singer who's got a lot of upper mid stuff in their voice. Usually not my choice for females.

It's amazing on male folk-style voices - fat, big and crisp. It also works well on screamo stuff - probably because it's got a lot of cut, and sounds compressed when you hit it hard.
Either they changed the design substantially (as they dif the chassis, etc.) or we've tracked some very diff females with the thing. It killed on a particular woman's voice (which was a great one to begin with), even back in the bad old Cubase VST days.

As to cut, i assume you're talking in a mix, and not freq wise.

Another place i've had it sound pretty swell is as an oldskool mono 1 mic drum mic, 2-4' in front and about chest high.
 




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