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Blue over MXL v69 woes (sad little newbie seeks help)
Old 25th January 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Blue over MXL v69 woes (sad little newbie seeks help)

Hello everyone,

This is my first post and I'm kind of a newbie to gear, I spend the good part of a decade recording my ideas into garageband using an SM58 and leaving it to the engineers/producers in the studio to record the proper thing... but I'm trying to up my home game a bit now and could use a little advice.

I use Logic 8 Pro on a Mac G5 and have an old Roland Midi Keyboard going into an EMU-0404 and an SM57. So it's pretty basic. First thing I decided to upgrade was my MIC!

After browsing the forums here I settled on an MXL v69 and was very excited about using it but I'm having a horrible time so far... I cannot figure it out!! I've been playing around with it but I'm sure I am doing something wrong. It is like it's way too sensitive and distorts on high notes or anything more than very soft singing, I turn it down and it's way too quiet. I've tried adding various inserts/compression tools but I don't really know what I'm doing. Am I missing something ?? Working with my SM57 and SM58 mics has always been so simple but I know they are seriously lacking compared to what I could be achieving.

If it's helpful to know, I am a female singer with a voice in the vein of Kate Bush, Kate Rusby, Liz Fraser.

Please help, feeling pretty blue and the poor old MXL has been relegated to his case for nearly a month now : (
Old 25th January 2013
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
You are probably right that you will need compression to hear the softer notes without distorting the louder ones. Try to apply it on the phones only, so you still record the full dynamic range signal. Room treatment also matters because the resonance/modes on an untreated room may cause some notes to be much louder than others.

Sent from my MB860
Old 25th January 2013
  #3
Gear Head
 
realstreet936's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
You need to turn ur mic down on the interface so that at the loudest you sing the meter in logic is still in the green then get a stock compressor and compress your vocals.... then add an eq if you want... and finally put on a limiter so you can hear yourself... if you are singing over a 2 track instrumental chances are that when the fader for the track is set at zero there is no headroom since its most likely already master so turn it down to negative 12 make a master fader and put a limiter on it to turn it up or just turn the master fader up a little since your interface monitor channel most likely wont play it loud enough even though its on the highest setting... if you decide to mix make sure you take the limiter off the master or turn it back to zero first since the other studio will need it that way when they do a final mix...

Sent from my SCH-I535
Old 25th January 2013
  #4
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks to you both, realstreet936 your reply leaves my head spinning a bit but I will try to follow step by step! I'm also wondering if the EMU 0404 is just not up to task?
Old 25th January 2013
  #5
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
It sounds to me like you're relying on software compression, which is past the gain stages of the microphone. What you might need to look into would be a hardware compressor, or a microphone preamp that has hardware compression.

Hardware compression works under the same concepts, but it's placement in the gain stage is what makes it essential. Using a software based compressor can be helpful in terms of mixing, but if your input source has already clipped and that's recorded into the track, it's too late: You can't remove the distortion caused by clipping. However, hardware compression will assist in keeping it from clipping in the first place.
Old 25th January 2013
  #6
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Ahh yes! That makes sense. Any suggestions on one that won't break the bank? Thankss Matt R!
Old 25th January 2013
  #7
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I doubt it's the Emu. There are better interfaces, but if that one is working for you, stick with it. Since it doesn't allow for hardware inserts, a standalone compressor wouldn't work. I would look into some of the Art preamps that have built in compression. They're not too horribly expensive and they seem to get decent ratings, although I haven't used them personally (I've only used Avalon, UA, Aphex, etc...)

I think what the other person was saying was to watch your input levels carefully.

When you're monitoring your input, constantly watch the VU meter. If you're seeing it go red, then you're clipping (or getting very close to it). Try and standardize your input gain structures so the highest level you see coming in is maybe -12 rather than 0. That way, you're always left with a bit of headroom on the bus if you do get louder. It's something you need to experiment with to get right.

A good comparison would be when I record drums: I tend to get the kick and snare set so that when they're hit at their hardest, the input level is just below unity (the 0 db mark). Same goes for toms, overheads, and whatever special mics I have placed around the kit. That leaves all microphones at an even playing field that I can then fine-tune later on during the mixing process by adjusting the levels.

Keep watching your inputs carefully and see what happens
Old 25th January 2013
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
Budda's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
How about this.

Go to a REAL studio with an engineer who's been doing it for a while, or at least someone you trust. Bring your mic. Set up "whatever you want to record" and see how that engineer does it. Ask questions. At that point, you may at least get a better handle on what others in the thread are talking about - gain staging, watching your meters, etc. It will be a LOT easier to appreciate what these concepts are by actually listening to them instead of asking everyone how to get the particular shade of blue that's in your head.

At that point, you will at least conceptually start to understand gain staging.

You can buy a cheap compressor, but you may become disappointed with its "character" (whatever that may be) and find that you can't resell it or trade it in for more than 20-30% of what you paid for it, if at all. There are oddball cheapies like the FMR "RNC" (Real Nice Compressor) that punch above their weight class, but REALLY really, by and large, you get what you pay for. On the other hand, if you invest in a nice mid-grade compressor (you don't necessarily need the most expensive - just don't get the bottom of the barrel stuff), it ought to be decent enough that it does what you expect it to do. At that point, you can decide if it gives you the "shade of blue" that you're expecting... and if not, ideally you've purchased something of quality that you can probably still resell for at LEAST 60-70% of what you paid for it, or you could trade it in at a similar value towards something else. If you invest in a "not bottom of the barrel" piece, the store you buy it from should be giving you some sort of in-home trial or return privilege anyway (assuming you don't break it or abuse it) such that within a week or 30 days, you can exchange it without penalty towards something else you want to try.

But asking for all this is like asking someone else what shoe is going to fit you... which is why you have to try them on.

So first, go to school - learn about the gain staging thing from a pro. What you are trying to do is not complicated enough that you can't do well with what you've got, but there are dumb little things that you learn along the way by doing it wrong LOTS. Take advantage of a guy in a studio who's already done that, pay them for their time... it will likely save you a ton of money and grief in wasted time and poor purchases.

Then once you have a handle on it... try on them shoes.
Old 25th January 2013
  #9
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Check the tube. Might be bad. They ship with very cheap Chinese tubes, and they are very inconsistent. Not sure if MXL even checks them at the factory.

I've got one. I changed the tube to a NOS ECC81 and it made a difference in usable dynamic range. You can get a good NOS 12AT7 for about 12-14 bucks. Check this...

JAN Philips/Sylvania 12AT7 | 12AT7/ECC81/CV4024 | kcanostubes.com

The ECC81 Mullard I put in is only 29 right now. I paid about 50. Ouch!

http://tubedepot.com/nos-12at7-mullard.html
Old 25th January 2013
  #10
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
When you sing into the SM58, are you very close to the mic? A LDC like the v69 (great mic, by the way) is way more sensitive and so will distort easier than a dynamic like a 58. Try stepping away from the mic and see if your loudest singing still distorts. If its the mic that's getting overloaded, all the compression, etc further down the chain will help you none....
Old 25th January 2013 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisbramble ➑️
When you sing into the SM58, are you very close to the mic? A LDC like the v69 (great mic, by the way) is way more sensitive and so will distort easier than a dynamic like a 58. Try stepping away from the mic and see if your loudest singing still distorts. If its the mic that's getting overloaded, all the compression, etc further down the chain will help you none....
No doubt. You'd need a compressor between your mouth and the mic capsule. The only one available there is control of your singing volume and mouth-to-mic distance.
Old 25th January 2013
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Before buying a compressor I recommend you try the software option.
For that you should make sure you are monitoring only the software returns. Then set the latency as low as possible without crackling or dropouts. Then make sure you sing at least 15cm away from the mic (probably a bit more would be even better, maybe a little off-axis if you get distorted plosives on Ps, Ts). Sing the loudest/highest notes on the song you're recording and make sure the meters aren't going past -10. Then you put a compressor, or for simplicity's sake a limiter, and crank up the gain on the software channel strip before the limiter so the sound gets kind of smashed but not clipping (maybe you will need a gain plugin for that, depending on the limiter you choose).
There you have it, should be enough for you to hear yourself while performing.

Sent from my MB860
Old 26th January 2013 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisbramble ➑️
When you sing into the SM58, are you very close to the mic? A LDC like the v69 (great mic, by the way) is way more sensitive and so will distort easier than a dynamic like a 58. Try stepping away from the mic and see if your loudest singing still distorts. If its the mic that's getting overloaded, all the compression, etc further down the chain will help you none....
My thoughts exactly - if she's singing into this really close up like SM58 users do, it won't work! Try eight inches away.
Also, it will need a lot less gain than an SM58, so turn the gain down.
Old 29th January 2013
  #14
Gear Nut
 
Openreel24's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
V69

For the benefit of Kennybro, EVERY tube mic is tested here before being packaged and shipped.

Attached Thumbnails
Blue over MXL v69 woes (sad little newbie seeks help)-v69.jpg  
Old 30th January 2013 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Openreel24 ➑️
For the benefit of Kennybro, EVERY tube mic is tested here before being packaged and shipped.

Wow! That photo is crazy!

OK, Got ya, thanks. Didn't know. The guy my repairman buys tubes from offers to replace anything that's not right, no questions. There is so much inconsistency in new tubes, he says he returns 20-25% of what he buys. I'm no techie, so I'm ignorant of details.

I'll say I find the V69 to be very a usable, nice sounding mic on a variety of sources. I didn't notice any change in sound when I swapped the tube but I did notice cleaner signal with louder sources.
Old 30th January 2013
  #16
Gear Guru
If only their cables would last. Mine is totally destroyed, and it's not like I stomped on it relentlessly. Don't feel like buying their expensive replacement cable either, I'm going DIY for that.
πŸ“ Reply

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