The current buzz word in the recording world is "vintage sound". All kinds of new (but vintage styled) gear has flooded the market, claiming to have been designed for that "vintage sound". Tube mics, tube mic preamps, opto compressors, and all kinds of vintage modeling for plug-ins. You can literally get a vacuum tube preamp for as little as a couple hundred bucks, with the promise that it'll warm up your recordings.
I always cringe when I read this because things just aren't so simple. The greatest misconception amongst novice recordists is that tube equipment "warms up your sound". Well, that is just not true. Tubes create a harmonic distortion that can sound richer, fuller, but not warmer, especially if it is cheap electronic circuitry. Vacuum tubes are high voltage devices and only sound good if they are properly "fed" with high voltage- otherwise they can sound thin and distorted. The good tube equipment will still cost you a pretty penny (thousands, my friends), and sometimes its not even what you need for a particular recording. So, it is good to have a variety of tools available. One really interesting aspect to discover in the studio is what equipment combinations work. Which mic with which preamp? Or when you are mixing, which plug-in with which analog equalizer through which compressors? It gets esoteric very quickly. especially when it comes to recording vocals.
So, what do I use these days on vocals? Usually it is a large diaphragm ribbon mic- a Cascade Vinjet. These mics are based on old designs (originally as far back as the 1920s) but now newly redeveloped. But they aren't very user friendly- they can break easily, and their impedance is very high, so their electrical signal output is very low. You have to have special mic preamps and impedance matching devices to bring them to life. It gets pricey to use ribbon mics properly. But once you have the right gear, combined with a quiet recording environment, they are unmatched in their warmth and low frequency response. I have 10 ribbon mics at STUDIO 330 for drum overheads, acoustic guitar, percussion, and vocals. Cymbals sound warmer, acoustic guitars aren't as brittle, and hand drums are full and resonant.
But then there are always the moments when these mics woun't do it. Instead I may pull out a Neumann M147 tube mic, feeding into an Avalon 737 tube preamp. Or if I want a very, very clean sound, my newest addition to the studio- a German boutique preamp called Advocis (hand built by KID Broadcasting) paired with a Neumann condenser mic will deliver the goodies.
I love to get into these details and could blurb for hours. For now, please know that STUDIO 330 is committed to deliver great sounding recordings, no matter what style music, what instrument, or what genre we're talking. Drop me a line if you have any questions, or want to geek out a bit more...
Yours in full geek gear...
Hans Christian shares his ideas about the studio world