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Problems recording a classically trained soprano
Old 23rd January 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Problems recording a classically trained soprano

My daughter is an eighteen-year old soprano who is studying for a career in opera. I've been recording her at home in a small room since she was fourteen, using an SE220A mic with an SE Reflexion Filter and a Cakewalk SPS-25 pre-amp.

It is enormously frustrating that, as her voice has become increasingly big, rich and vibrant, the quality of the recordings I have been able to make have flattered her less and less. They contain an edge and harshness that are not features of her voice. (No, I never let the recordings come anywhere close to peaking!) One ever-present problem is her wide dynamic range, but I'm able to regulate that during mixing with gain envelopes (I never use a compressor on her). I've tried using EQ to regain some of the natural quality of her voice, but it's rarely successful.

I'm pretty sure that the issue lies with the mic and/or pre-amp, but I'm unsure about what to try next.

Any suggestions?

Steve
Old 23rd January 2013
  #2
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Helge's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
My initial thought is that sheΒ΄s probably way too close to the mic for the "classical sound". Have you got the chance to get in a well sounding bigger room and bring some space between her and the mic ? And get rid of that reflection filter in this case of course....
Old 23rd January 2013
  #3
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edva's Avatar
 
26 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssilverm ➑️
I've been recording her at home in a small room....reflexion filter....


Steve
THIS.
Old 23rd January 2013 | Show parent
  #4
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Silent Sound's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helge ➑️
Have you got the chance to get in a well sounding bigger room and bring some space between her and the mic ?
This was the first thought that popped up in my mind as well.

Otherwise, since you're recording just one singer, any microphone recommendations would be irrelevant to your needs. I'm sure a better mic would help, (maybe not fix anything, per se) but you really need to match the singer to the mic, and the only way to do that is trial and error.

As for preamps, they're pretty expensive, so your budget is going to dictate that one. But I'd fix the room first, the mic second, and lastly the preamp.
Old 24th January 2013
  #5
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virgobrown72's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I'm under the impression that part of the "Opera Sound" includes a bit of air and space as well as direct sound. Maybe backing off of the mic a foot or two would help? Idk, I've not recorded someone like this...
Old 24th January 2013
  #6
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Back off the mic 2-3 feet and experiment with 2 mics - the second for the room. This works i suppose
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #7
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks for the responses.

I should have said that although I record her dry with the Reflexion Filter, I add reverb back in at the mixing stage. It goes some way to improving things, but doesn't come anywhere near to fixing the problem.

I'll follow the general advice to lose the filter and increase the distance between singer and mic, and see where that gets me.

Steve
Old 24th January 2013
  #8
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
I've had some good results placing a mic in an adjacent room to get a nice natural reverb and mixing just a little bit in.
Old 24th January 2013
  #9
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
find a church and put the mic about 6 feet away - and add a stereo pair way back. Artificial reverb aint gonna cut it here....
Old 27th January 2013
  #10
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I agree with the back up approach. Chances are you don't need new gear but honestly it's probably the room. If you don't want to move your rig maybe move the mic (and the talent) to a bigger room and run a long cable. Now you can use headphones and monitor as you record. Hopefully you don't need to use a love accompaniment on a piano that is in the small room or else that wouldn't work
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva ➑️
THIS.
+1
Old 27th January 2013
  #12
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apartment dog's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
the tips above +;

-Focusrite Isa One preamp is not that expensive and will give you a very classy sound to record and lots of headroom. Adjust the impedance to get a better sound out of the mic.

Then later you could try a different mic, I would stay with a condenser for classical vocals. Better to try that in a shop.
Old 28th January 2013
  #13
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I would corroborate the earlier posts about the 'compression' of the room. A number of years ago I was playing my vintage drum kit in a new place in our home, and I just did not like the sound at all - it didn't sound like I remembered the drums sounding (and I'd many years of experience). I visited with some of my seasoned drummer colleagues and they asked me where I had them. When I described the room, they said, "that's it". When we moved and I put them in another place "they opened up" - but they didn't really do anything, the room did.

A great room will make a great difference, and it needn't be a 'tuned' room - just one that sounds cool. I recall an interview with Dion (and the Belmonts) where they said they'd sing in the alleys between the buildings and it sounded so great, but when they went inside it was a completely different atmosphere, and notably less engaging. Same idea.
Old 28th January 2013
  #14
Gear Head
 
ROBOCOPROBOT's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Use a good large room like the others were saying. Try having her sing into a really good ribbon mic. That might kill a bit of harshness. Or pick a good LDC and throw a ribbon in the back of the room for a room mic.
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