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Topic: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

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  1. #1
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    Question Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    I was wondering what microphone / plugin effect you could use to get the same kind of breathiness that George Michael achieves on his slower night club type pieces (ie kissing a fool)? Is there a particular type of microphone that does this or is this something you add in when you are editing? Thank you in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    That sound is usually a combination of large diaprhagm mic, compression, de-essing, and EQ.

    Specifically with the de-esser and EQ, you use a give and take with these two tools to get that "airy" sound. First, you de-ess to bring down the sibilant "S" and "SH" types of sounds. Then you boost the high frequencies at 10K or so to open up the "air."

    Getting the ideal balance is the trick.

    Now that DAW-style production is almost universally the norm (even if the tracking medium is still 2" tape), you can use the de-esser just a bit less aggressively, and hand-reduce the sibilants that are too much.

    There is some work in it. No magic button, although some singers are very accomplished at getting this sound "off the shelf." Still, you'll find that compression, de-essing, and EQ settings which produce this sound are going to make some aspects of the vocal stick out unpleasantly, and you'll have to go in and adjust those down by hand. Breaths, for instance. They'll get pushed up front, so you'll want to take them down (but not out) to a point where they're musically balanced.

    Fortunately, most songs are 3-5 minutes, so at worst, it's not going to be all that much work.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    Ahhh...could be. Well, he'll have plenty to chew on in either case.

  4. #4

    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    There's a song currently on the charts where the (female) singer is almost whispering the whole song - it's done *very* well - the intent is obviously to create a sexy, seductive voice, and I have to say it works very well on me. ;^)
    I don't know the artist or the song unfortinately.

    Greg.

  5. #5
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    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    Actually, I think he's looking for lots of "breathiness," not actual breaths, meaning that constant sizzle that accompanies some voices. I'm not familiar with the song he specified, but I know that in "the old days," George Michael liked that airy sound so much that he would record using Dolby A noise reduction, then mix with it bypassed. In my personal experience, I've found that some singers just have that wonderful airiness as part of their sound, and other than tracking them with a good mic through a good signal chain, nothing else is really necessary. But similar to what Bruce suggested, goosing the extreme high end EQ can often emulate that sound pretty well.

    Remember Nightpro's "Air-Band" EQ, with a 40k band? A little hard to describe, but it definitely had the effect of opening up the top in spite of our theoretical 20kHz hearing upper limit.

  6. #6

    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    The way you mike the singer will pay a huge part in this.

    Stick a mic in front of your singer.

    - The higher you position it (above their mouth) the more bass and "fullness" (within reason of course)

    - The lower you go, (below the line of their mouth) the more "air" breath and treble.

    Then slowly move the mic from side to side. EVERY singer throws their voice out of one side of their mouth. So one side will have more presence than the other.

    If you cant hear it, ask your singer to stand in front of you and hold a note for a few seconds. You'll either see the side they sing out of or you can move your head from side to side of the singers mouth (embarrassing I know) to find their sweet spot.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cairns
    you can move your head from side to side of the singers mouth to find their sweet spot.
    In fact, I find this one of the very best talents of your basic chick lead singer.

  8. #8

    Smile Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    In fact, I find this one of the very best talents of your basic chick lead singer.
    Ha! We used to have a famous Australian band that said the following; "We've got 4 lovely female backup singers tonight... and they're for after the show..."

    Ok. I better stop there, my wife is a singer!
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  9. #9

    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    I've seen that Nightpro eq interfere with the bias frequency on a 2" tape recorder! We had to run the signal through a Pro Tools rig just to use its brickwall filter as a lowpass.

  10. #10
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    Re: Microphone Question (somewhat off topic)

    Thanks for all the great responses. I think Lee understands what I'm after. A great deal of breathiness to create that intimate night club feel. I'll tell my singer to start smoking again. He'll appreciate the excuse. Do any of you have a recommendation for a mic that would lean toward this effect? Bruce?

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