RECORDING: Choosing a vocal mic

So, I’m never really fully satisfied with the way my vocals sound in the studio. I’ve tried various mics through the years:

2002-2010 – AKG C2000B condenser
2011 to present – MXL V67G (the green/gold condenser mic), MXL v63m (Mogami-wired or whatever), Shure SM7B (meh…), Shure SM57 (didn’t really work for me… works on some voices, though)

I have also gone through several mic pres, including the Golden Age Pre73 MKII ($350), Focusrite ISAOne ($500), and Great River ME-1NV ($1100). Never been impressed with the performance of any of these. Maybe the Golden Age Pre73 MKII the most… but it sounded weird when connected to the Line In of my main audio interface (M-Audio Delta 66 with OMNI I/O breakout box). It worked fine with the standard Delta breakout box, though. I don’t know… I just didn’t have the patience to fully troubleshoot.

When I connected the Great River the same way, it was absolutely fine. But for $1100? I sold it a few weeks later at a loss, for a few hundred less.

I do a lot of A/B comparisons when trying to mix my songs…. mainly, I’ll drop a song file from some established band into my arrangement… Go back and forth from soloing that track, to listening to my mix… setting markers in Reaper to jump to, where the singing is on my song, and where the singing is, on theirs.

I can never get my vocals to simply “sit right” in the mix. I feel I have a very bassy/warm voice… and even though the MXL mics provide a high boost (cheap Chinese mics do, to make themselves sound “better”), it’s still a bit too bassy and warm. I tweak the EQ to my liking, and it helps a bit. But I don’t know. Overall, I just hate the sound of my vocals. Guess I’m like John Lennon in that way…. never happy with the dry sound, so he always asked the engineer to effect it in some way (slapback delay, chorus, heavy reverb, overdrive, etc).

Dear readers, I am curious. What vocal mic do YOU use on your recordings? Are you male/female? High or low singer? Breathy voice or chesty voice? What have you used that you did not enjoy? Do you hate the way you sound?


About chriscaulder

Posted on October 11, 2014, in mic preamps, microphones, recording. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I have also have similar issues trying to find the right Vocal mic for studio use. For the last few years I have used a Shure SM58 with great results. I have tried more expensive mics such as the Neumann TLM 1902 and the Audio-Technica AT4047MP. With my voice the Shure SM58 sounds just as good as the more expensive mics that I have tried. I am thinking about giving the Shure Beta58 A a try.
    The reality is you may have to try several mics to find the one that works for your voice. However given the price tag on some vocal mics, you may want to try out lower priced mics first to see if you can find one that works for you. Good luck !

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