Archive for September 2nd, 2009

02
Sep
09

Studio for Beginners: Proximity Effect on Vocals

While recording vocals in the studio I found that trying the vocalist way up on the mic and taking advantage of what is called the ‘proximity effect’ was really useful to capture a great performance. The ‘proximity effect’ is something that happens when you get all up on a mic and it seems to the listener that the bass, or low end, gets louder. (If you want to read more about it, check this article out on Wikipedia.) The advantage of this is two-fold to my ears 1) your vocalists voice sounds fuller and 2) you get a recording that sits in the mix better.

The interesting thing is that this also seemed to free up the performer a bit. They backed off and relaxed knowing they were getting a super positive sound on the mic.

The only challenge I had was a) I needed to really control the input gain especially on stronger/louder passages and b) the vocalist sometimes wanted to get *too* close. Rather than creating an intimate sound, I ended up needing to re-take the passage since we ended up with some muffling, etc.

I should point out that I am using large diaphragm condenser mics such as the Studio Projects C1, CAD Trion series, Octava 314, Shure KSM27, MXL V63, etc. Usually mics like these will be noted in instructional books and videos as properly being recorded at roughly 12″ (1 foot) away. I was trying some things as close as 3″ with the vocalist’s nose almost touching the pop filter! And yes, this was recording a very dynamic vocalist. (No compression used.)

Side note: I will be getting my hands on a cool dynamic mic (think Shure SM58 like what you would use in a live situation) called a Shure SM7B which has proven to produce some great close up vocal recordings.

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