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U87AI on female singer
Old 24th September 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
U87AI on female singer

Hi to all from Italy,
I'm using an U87Ai with an HV3/C as main vocal chain.
Especially with a female jazzy singer that has a nice and hot voice, (here in Italy we could say "blackie") there's a sort of annoying britlle/harshness in the upper mids.
Maybe I'm setting the HV3 gain too much high, I tend to set it slightly less than clip to capture a good S/N, but I suspect that the mic could be the guilty.
In case I decide to spend some money to solve this problem should I buy a new pre to "smooth" the U87AI, so to say GR NV1, or pick a different mic?
Many thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Sorry for my English
Ciao
Roberto
Old 24th September 2012
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
bonnybilly's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I would say you get another mic as it will make a much bigger difference
than changing preamp. I regularly use an 87 and if it's not happening for the reasons you stated I use a Rode K2 which is a lot "thicker" sounding and less aggressive.
Old 24th September 2012
  #3
RiF
Lives for gear
 
RiF's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
From my experience with the U87ai, I'd check the following:
- Vary the distance to the mic. Don't let her sing too close into the mic. 30 cm or more distance is a good start.
- Vary the polar pattern (omni or even fig8 if the room permits) as it changes the frequency response.
- Try to not let her sing directly and straight into the capsule, but tilt the mic down a bit to let it point at her chin or even chest. This can tame some aggressiveness and brings in some more warmth. But the U87 has already some big low-mids, so be careful to find the right spot.

I don't know your preamp, but if the pre induces some aggressiveness when driven harder, I'd back it off a bit.

To sum it up, I'd try to play with what you have and if it does not work, try a different mic (good luck finding one that suits her better). Switching preamps does not change the sound too much (unless you're running them at their limits, like full on saturation. But that's not what you're doing or trying to do).

PS: For female voices that tend to have some piercing quality in the upper mids, I like the U87ai going into a Distressor with that 6KHz bump engaged that compresses that upper mids more than the rest.

And if nothing works, use heavy machinery like a multiband-compressor in the mix to tame those frequencies.
Old 24th September 2012
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
I'm not really in a position to say anything about your preamp because I've never used one. However, I have read quite frequently that it can introduce harshness in the high mid frequencies so I would suggest trying another preamp for this application before you discount the mic.
Old 24th September 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Use a different mic? The U87 does have that push in the upper mids which often does not flatter female singers. A nice 414 might be a better option.
Old 24th September 2012 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peller ➑️
Use a different mic? The U87 does have that push in the upper mids which often does not flatter female singers. A nice 414 might be a better option.
Or a U89?
Old 24th September 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
baskervils's Avatar
You may try moving the mic at a slight angle so she isn't singing straight on.
Old 24th September 2012
  #8
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mellow yellow ➑️
Hi to all from Italy,
I'm using an U87Ai with an HV3/C as main vocal chain.
Especially with a female jazzy singer that has a nice and hot voice, (here in Italy we could say "blackie") there's a sort of annoying britlle/harshness in the upper mids.
Maybe I'm setting the HV3 gain too much high, I tend to set it slightly less than clip to capture a good S/N, but I suspect that the mic could be the guilty.
In case I decide to spend some money to solve this problem should I buy a new pre to "smooth" the U87AI, so to say GR NV1, or pick a different mic?
Many thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Sorry for my English
Ciao
Roberto
I have the same problem with my wife's vocals with a very-well kept vintage U87. She has a very powerful Janis Joplin-esque voice that gets fairly harsh with that mic and pretty much any preamp I've tried. I actually get better results with an SM58 WITH HER. I bought an SM7b specifically for recording her and that was the definitely the right choice. If budget would have permitted I would've bought a ribbon but I'm very happy with the smoothness of the Shure. Sometimes the expensive mic is not the right one for the job.
Old 24th September 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
celticrogues's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've had the same problem doing voiceover sessions with a U87ai and an HV3C. To be honest I really am not the biggest fan of the 87ai in general because of this harshness. A different mic or preamp can work wonders - I love the sound of a TLM170 through the HV3C. Likewise, if you have a Neve 1073 or similar, running the 87 through that tends to tame the highs a bit.

When i was doing this, I also found out that putting a -10db inline pad between the 87ai and the HV3C helps to tame the highs a bit. The built in pad won't work for this - but an inline pad does change the sound of the mic a b it - for the better I think. May be an option if you can't change mics or pres.

Cheers!
-Mike
Old 24th September 2012
  #10
Lives for gear
 
mowmow's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
U87 does have peaks around high mids on its own so I'd use EQ to dip it down.
Nothing wrong with HV3.
Old 24th September 2012
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Larry Villella's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The thing to remember is the HV3 is so clean you can eat off it!

I have ten channels of that pre so I'm intimately familiar with it.

Indeed, there is no softening of the harshness that you might get
from a Manley, UA, or A-Designs Valve Pre-amp. I agree with the
other posters who said try a different mic. Like a U-67 flavor !!!

Nothing says Jazz to me like a U-67 or U-47 . . .
Old 24th September 2012
  #12
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Well, if you're getting into U47 territory then the 251 is worth a look, too. One of my favourite modern Jazz / soul records used the 251 throughout for vocals, horns, guitars etc. It's truly incredible.

Check out Brian Culbertson's album "XII" and you'll hear how nice it sounds.
Old 24th September 2012
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Larry Villella's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I agree that on some vocalists the 251 is sublime.

And on F-Hole Guitars thru clean cabs, awesome.

Moreover, on the right female vocals, insanely good.

BUT - 251 can be the perfectly Wrong Mic on a singer
with sibilance or nasality issues. If his vocalist sounds
harsh on an 87, my first grab would be a mellower mic.

Like a 67.

40 years ago my recording mentor used to say:

"If you love her voice, put her on a 251, if she
needs a little help (sib / nasal) put her on a 67."
Old 24th September 2012
  #14
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Can't argue with that, Larry. It makes sense.
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
I agree, a U67 is usually a much better call than a U87ai.

On just about any singer IMHO.

U87ai's have the harsher hi mids, but in addition they somewhat lack headroom, even compared to a vintage U87, and they can distort if hit hard.

If you have to use it, try backing her off a bit.
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