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Please help me decide among 3 recording options

Ran Dumb Dots...... .. .
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permalink   Sat, Apr 22, 2006 @ 4:20 AM
I’m not going to say which is which (feel free to guess ;), but here is the same vocal line done three different ways (this is not the same order as the file I posted):
- one is completely dry (just a Studio Projects B1 large diaphragm condensor mic into a Presonus Firebox)
- another is the same mic routed through an M-Audio AudioBuddy mic preamp, then an Alesis NanoCompressor (cheap hardware compressor I bought in the mid-90’s), then into the Firebox
- a third option is another dry track with the same mic processed using the "loud and punchy" preset of Endorphin, the best free vst compressor i could find after doing some research

by the way, from just playing with it, endorphin is way worth checking out for lots of applications, including mastering (it’s quiet & sounds really good in my opinion). i’m going to start using it for some tasks, even if it isn’t the option you all decide sounds best.

please just reply to this post with your opinion about which option (the first, second, or third repetition in the sound file i linked to at the top of the post) is best / most usable and why. Thanks to anyone who listens and helps….. .. .
teru
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permalink   Sat, Apr 22, 2006 @ 1:42 PM
The last one sounds too "punchy" on the P’s and T’s.

The second one gets a little low on the last line but that may be part of the delivery. And may sound a little too compressed overall.

So I have to go with the first one. It sounds the flattest, dryest and most natural.


Just so you know. I always pick the first one. : )
PorchCat
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permalink   Sat, Apr 22, 2006 @ 9:27 PM
Quote: I’m not going to say which is which (feel free to guess ;), but here is the same vocal line done three different ways (this is not the same order as the file I posted):
- one is completely dry (just a Studio Projects B1 large diaphragm condensor mic into a Presonus Firebox)
- another is the same mic routed through an M-Audio AudioBuddy mic preamp, then an Alesis NanoCompressor (cheap hardware compressor I bought in the mid-90’s), then into the Firebox
- a third option is another dry track with the same mic processed using the "loud and punchy" preset of Endorphin, the best free vst compressor i could find after doing some research

by the way, from just playing with it, endorphin is way worth checking out for lots of applications, including mastering (it’s quiet & sounds really good in my opinion). i’m going to start using it for some tasks, even if it isn’t the option you all decide sounds best.

please just reply to this post with your opinion about which option (the first, second, or third repetition in the sound file i linked to at the top of the post) is best / most usable and why. Thanks to anyone who listens and helps….. .. .


I must say the first sounds by far the "cleanest". It’s the best blank slate. The third sounds too poppy, the second too compressed.

Just my opinion.

*meow*
shagrugge
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permalink   Sun, Apr 23, 2006 @ 9:13 AM
I agree with the assessment on the first vocal…although the second vocal I thought hit the correct pitch on the word magazines…whereas the first one seemed a little flat.
Ran Dumb Dots...... .. .
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permalink   Sun, Apr 23, 2006 @ 12:34 PM
Thanks a lot for listening and providing feedback.

The version (#1) you all preferred was the hardware-compressed version (microphone—>M-Audio Preamp—>Alesis Compressor—>Presonus Firebox). I agree the vocal dynamics seem under control in that one, but it also seems the noisiest to me when the volume of the vocal itself is normalized with respect to the other versions. I may be able to cure the noise with a freeware vst noise gate.

Version #2 was the completely dry one. Even though I normalized it compared to the other two and even though it contains the least noise (to my ears), the dynamic range (difference between the loudest & softest sound) makes it sound softer overall.

Version #3 was the software compressed one. I realized last night after reading further that I probably used both a poor choice of a compressor (designed more for final mix rather than monophonic material) and a poor setting on the compressor (too boomy). So I haven’t abandoned the idea of using a software compressor. I found a bunch more free or donationware VST’s last night that seem promising.

In the long run, I think I’d like to have a quieter, higher quality hardware compressor, like the "Really Nice Compressor" (RNC) I’ve read about. I’m pretty sure that will be way to go. If I find a way to use just free software compressor(s), then I’ll post that information. Tacet & I have been emailing off-forum about initiating a working DIY thread for recording & processing vocals (probably with links to the best content & tools we can find on the subject as opposed to creating a lot of content, because there is a LOT of good content already out there). Thanks again for listening….. .. .
PorchCat
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permalink   Sun, Apr 23, 2006 @ 3:19 PM
Quote: Thanks a lot for listening and providing feedback.

The version (#1) you all preferred was the hardware-compressed version (microphone—>M-Audio Preamp—>Alesis Compressor—>Presonus Firebox). I agree the vocal dynamics seem under control in that one, but it also seems the noisiest to me when the volume of the vocal itself is normalized with respect to the other versions. I may be able to cure the noise with a freeware vst noise gate.

Version #2 was the completely dry one. Even though I normalized it compared to the other two and even though it contains the least noise (to my ears), the dynamic range (difference between the loudest & softest sound) makes it sound softer overall.

Version #3 was the software compressed one. I realized last night after reading further that I probably used both a poor choice of a compressor (designed more for final mix rather than monophonic material) and a poor setting on the compressor (too boomy). So I haven’t abandoned the idea of using a software compressor. I found a bunch more free or donationware VST’s last night that seem promising.

In the long run, I think I’d like to have a quieter, higher quality hardware compressor, like the "Really Nice Compressor" (RNC) I’ve read about. I’m pretty sure that will be way to go. If I find a way to use just free software compressor(s), then I’ll post that information. Tacet & I have been emailing off-forum about initiating a working DIY thread for recording & processing vocals (probably with links to the best content & tools we can find on the subject as opposed to creating a lot of content, because there is a LOT of good content already out there). Thanks again for listening….. .. .


Wow I never would have guessed it as the compressed version.

Hmmm. Maybe the preamp is what makes the differance. I know doing "after the fact" preamping (using filters) really makes a lot of samples sound more crisp.

Still, the first is definately what I would go with for recording quality.

*meow*
Ran Dumb Dots...... .. .
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permalink   Mon, Apr 24, 2006 @ 2:56 AM
Yep - it was the hardware compressed one - multiple articles I’ve read and a few people more into recording than I am (including one full-time engineer) have told me judicious hardware compression is the way to go. I kept the compression ratio fairly low (somewhere between 2:1 and 4:1) and used the "soft" knee setting in an attempt to make the peaks and valleys closer together but not eliminate dynamic contrast completely. I tried some gates and also the "reduce noise" setting on the Fruity Filter with this recording, because there is a fair amount of noise, and I liked the Filter better than the gates (sounded more natural).

I also tried several free software compressors tonight (including some very well reviewed ones and some with gates built in), and I couldn’t get any of them to sound quite as good as the recording processed through my cheap little 10+-year-old hardware compressor. A Waves plug in (pretty expensive) might work better. Anyway, not done experimenting yet, but it seems like hardware will be the way to go right now. Now I’m definitely going to save up for that Really Nice Compressor by FMR Audio. Any tips from people that have done more extensive comparisons between hardware & software compression are welcome (thx).

Thanks again for listening….. .. .
Ran Dumb Dots...... .. .
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permalink   Wed, Apr 26, 2006 @ 2:28 PM
Thanks to everyone who listened and provided feedback.

First of all, here are some plug-ins I’ve found through this research that seem helpful to vocalists:
- GSnap: free autotune (and it seems to work in a
fairly helpful, subtle way - yea!)
- Compressor/Limiters: I broke out my old cheap
Alesis Nanocompressor (hardware), recorded a little
with it, and put it out there on ccM with a couple
other options, and people preferred hardware
compression over dry, so I guess I’ll start using the
thing (even though it adds some noise). As far as
free vst compressors, the FL Studio stock one (free
with FL) actually seems pretty good, and there are
lots of others like GComp, mda Dynamics, Blockfish,
Ultrasoft Compressor, and Endorphin.
-Reverb: The reverb I like the best is donationware -
Ambiance.
- de-esser: Spitfish

So as of now, the signal path I intend to try is as
follows:
RECORDING:
1. Studio Projects B1 mic
2. M-Audio Audio Buddy mic pre
3. Alesis Nanocompressor
4. Presonus Firebox
5. Kristal Audio Engine (free basic multi-track)
PROCESSING:
6. SPITFISH (if needed, to cut down on sss sounds and maybe help on plosives on words that start with "p" or "t")
7. GSnap auto tune plug-in
8. Ambiance reverb (of course I’ll leave this off if I
want a "dry" track)….. .. .