Some of you may remember about a year ago, I walked you through the way I record vocals, the signal chain, mixing them, and layering. Well, today we’re going to revisit the concept as one very important variable has changed for me: the V12.
In the plainest way I can describe, the V12 has flipped my vocal sessions on their head; I’ve never heard a microphone that works on both my own and my band mate, Luc’s voices so well!
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
The Signal Chain
Now, let me say very quickly - I’ve been testing the V12 extensively. I’ve been experimenting as much as I can, on as many different types of instrument, as well as the signal chain and the way the mic responds to both loud and quiet sources. So far, there’s not a lot to say other than it’s incredible. But the place it’s stood out for me is on vocals more than anything else.
Now, I have a lot of preamps here, but the ones I’ve found to work the best to my ears and in my studio are my transformer based preamps (Neve, Focusrite ISA, Twin Q2 with the iron button in), but I can see this working exceptionally well with op-amp designed preamps such as API, or similar. I’ve never been fond of pushing a tube mic into another tube mic, but one case I found that worked surprisingly well was on bass guitar as you have another way of filling up the sub low harmonic content straight at the source, giving you much less to do when mixing.
Specifically, for my own and Luc’s vocals though, I couldn’t get over the 1073 - backing off the input transformer and relying on the output gave us a smooth, deep, and insatiable character. Spliced in the insert of the preamp is a 1176 Rev D/E style FET compression, interchanging over the course of the tracks between the attack and release settings being either 1 & 7 or 3 & 5 dependant on the vocal speed, drawn out notes, or feel needed in each section. I recommend automating this in the box if you don’t have a hardware version of your favorite compressor; I’ve been doing it more and more and it’s added a new sense of movement in the productions I’m part of.
Mixing the V12
Thanks to the intuitive design, one of the best things about mixing this mic is that it needs very little mixing. I’ve detailed in the video below, my walk-through of how I went about each voice (my own and Luc’s) and the difference in processing, but if you haven’t got time to watch I’ll detail below anyway:
As I mentioned above, we used a Neve style preamp which gave me a lovely thick sound, already married to a good helping of harmonic content from the tube-like-design in the mic’s circuit. So, when reaching for what sort of console, I usually try to think of the next complimentary part to the chain; we have the mic, the preamp, the compression - so what's next?
Well, invariably I’ll reach for a console emulation of which I’m lucky to have a wide variety, but more often than not, now I find myself using the Lindell 50 Series Channel Strip for the API style EQ in particular. There’s just something about the curves in an API 550B EQ that really speak to me when I start to dial in the settings, along with the Op-Amp design circuit that has a gentle warming to the overall signal anyway. As you can see, there’s not a huge amount being done here at all, and the main thing for me was to blend both vocals together and create more space, so rather than simply additive or subtractive EQ, a gentle blend of both helped to bring both vocals into alignment with each other. After that, just a gentle de-essing for those pesky sibilances, and my favorite bus compression in the form of the Korneff Audio Talkback Limiter.
The trick to this limiter is in the back panel, in the distortion and voltage biasing adjustments; if you are looking for a compressor that can do a bunch of different sources and always be versatile then this is for you. It reminds me of the Kramer Pie Compressor from Waves Audio but only for the simplistic design: no variable attack or release control, just one dial for dialing in the threshold, a mix knob and finally the make-up gain adjustment. I like to back off on the overall compression regardless and simply look to squeeze all the layers together, then dial back on the wet/dry mix to between 50-70% usually on vocals specifically, and have found this holds the vocal level and punch without depleting the overall character I’ve designed up until this point. If at any time it feels like too much, I simply back off on the mix knob and dial in a more gentle feel of compression - it really is as easy as that!
If you were lucky enough to grab one of the first V12’s in the Black Friday sale that’s already started here at JZ Microphones, I can't wait to hear what you do with it, and thank you to all those who helped to sell out the first batch.
If you'd like to get one of the V12's soon, now is the only chance as once these are sold, the wait time will most likely be until early February!