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JZ Microphones V67 on Vocals (+ What to Listen for When Choosing a Mic)

Transcript
Hey folks, Matthew Weiss here β€” theproaudiofiles.com.

A couple of months ago, I did a review of the JZ Black Hole microphone using one of Akon’s newest artist. This time around I am going to be doing a review of the JZ V67 microphone using Akon himself.

A couple of cool things that we’re going to get to check out in this, first of all, the record was recorded in the studio. I used the V67 going into a BAE 1073, and then a VAC RAC only for makeup gain, no compression on the back end.

However, we ultimately ended up having to change some of the vocals last minute, and in order to do that, we had to record at Akon’s house using the V67 going straight into an Apollo Twin. So we’re going from very distinctly different setups. The only things remaining constant are the V67 and Akon himself.

The other thing that’s really cool about this is that there’s no EQ or compression on either of these captures of any sort, so we’re really getting a very clear picture of the microphone itself.

Alright, yadda, yadda, yadda, let’s check out some vocals.

[mix]

Cool, so that was done in the studio, let’s check out what we did at home.

[mix, home recording]

Alright, we’re going to dig into all of that, the differences, everything that we’re listening for, pretty in depth. First, let’s talk about how we listen to microphones.

As I mentioned in the last video, I usually have a checklist of three main things, and that’s going to be the frequency response, the transient response, and the component saturation, or the color of the microphone.

So, the Black Hole microphone in the last video demonstrates a very, very flat response, and also a very fast transient response. This is good for vocals that have a very smooth quality, or have a darker quality. So exactly the opposite of Akon.

Basically, his vocal is very bright, it has a lot of nose tone, and it’s pretty snappy. So we’re going to want a microphone that’s going to maybe handle that top end a little bit better, maybe handle that mid-range a little bit better, and maybe isn’t quite as quick and as snappy as this JZ Black Hole.

So okay, let’s give this a listen in solo and start parsing things out.

[vocals]

Alright, so the first thing to point out is that the reason why I have the chain setup the way it is is that I like how the V67 sounds on ‘Kon with no treatment, no additional anything going on. It just naturally sounds very good.

So I’m using the BAE, and I’m using very little gain, because 1073 preamps start to change tone the more you push them. So I have it set very low so it keeps the tone response very neutral, and then I’m using the VAC RAC for a little additional makeup gain on the back end, and it sounds nice. So it is sweetening things ever so slightly.

Not a lot, but just a little.

So what we’re getting is something that sounds really, really good right off the bat. Why does it sound so good on ‘Kon? Well, generally speaking, with brighter vocals, we’re going to want a darker microphone.

This is not a dark microphone by any stretch. Actually in some ranges, it’s a little bit bright, but everything about 10kHz kinda gets rolled off ever so gently. This is true of a lot of those classic vintage style microphones β€” 47, 67, 87.

Then from there, going down the frequency spectrum, from about maybe 2kHz, 3kHz-ish, going all the way up to about maybe 6, 7kHz, in a broadband, we’re getting an ever so slight bit of sweetening, a little bit of boost, and that’s going to give it that pop and polish that we often times associate with Pop vocals.

From there, there’s a bit of a neutral/slight attenuation point that’s going from maybe about 500Hz to about β€” maybe 2kHz. Somewhere in there. That’s where a lot of those nose tones come from, and for a vocalist specifically like ‘Kon, it’s really nice to kind of just ease those off a little bit. Not totally diminish them, because that is part of the signature character of his voice, but just to ease it off so it’s not like a 1kHz ring directly in the ear.

Below that, from about 100 to maybe 250Hz, there’s an ever so slight bit of sweetening again, just a little bit of boost there that’s going to give it a little bit more body in the sound. Which again, very flattering for a lot of vocals, definitely flattering on ‘Kon.

As far as transient response goes, both the Black Hole and the V67 have very, very fast transient responses. The Black Hole is probably one of the fastest condensers, if not the fastest condenser that my ear has ever gotten around. The V67 is a hair slower, but when I say that, it’s with the disclaimer that again, we’re talking about the world of microseconds, where it’s more of a textural perception that we hear as a difference rather than an actual change to the transient response, and to sort of illustrate that, let me play this section real quick.

[vocals]

The t’s and s’s, particularly the t’s would become pretty overwhelming pretty fast on a brighter, super snappy microphone like the JZ Black Hole. I don’t think that the Black Hole would be as good of a pick for ‘Kon for that reason, whereas here, the t’s and s’s are actually handled really, really nicely. Maybe a touch of de-essing might be needed on the back end, but we could probably get away with none, to be honest with you.

[vocals]

And the transient response is still definitely fast enough to pick up a great capture of acoustic guitar, drums, percussion, anything where we need that snap, for sure.

Now, the component saturation is a little bit dirtier, or more colored than the Black Hole, but still overall pretty smooth. There is a little bit of component saturation that is particularly noteworthy in the upper range. It’s somewhere around where that sweetening hump is that centers around 3-4kHz, and we can actually hear it with the music bed in.

You’ll notice that in solo, these two different captures sound pretty remarkably different, but that range stays very present no matter what.

So I’ll play it without the music bed first.

[vocals, no music bed]

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Now, I mean, aside from the fact that ‘Kon is singing with a completely different part of his voice, right? He’s using a much brighter, higher register in the second part, it’s also a much thinner preamp overall, but let’s play it with the music in.

[song]

You’ll notice that that presence range from maybe about β€” maybe as low as 2kHz, going up to about 4-5kHz, still feels very full and very tonally consistent, no matter whether the music is in or not. That’s because there’s a nice little bit of soft saturation that’s like, right there that’s really flattering.

There’s a touch of saturation throughout the mids and low-mids as well, but it’s overall still a very clean microphone.

With ‘Kon’s vocal actually tone wise, the most flattering microphone on his voice is a U47 or something that does something similar, like my M 147. But because there’s a lot more component saturation, particularly in the low-mids, I find that those microphones are not quite as flattering for this style of Urban Pop, R&B, Hip Hop that ‘Kon fits into. You usually want something that’s very crisp, very clean, because that’s aesthetically what we’re usually going for most of the time.

So now let’s parse out some of the differences between the two captures in two different locations. So here, this is the studio one, once again.

[studio vocal]

And here is at his house.

[home recorded vocal]

Right, so we hear a few differences immediately. First of all, there’s clearly a lot more room tone if you listen to the background of what’s going on.

[home recorded vocal]

So this is in ‘Kon’s sort of like, lounge room, which is carpeted completely, but it has big glass window sliding doors, and then the rest of his house, which is pretty large, and generally not carpeted, is creating this reverb in the background. It’s actually pretty nice sounding, I’m not mad at the reverb at all, but it’s definitely there. It’s not like the iso where it’s super tight.

[vocal]

Now, he’s also singing with a different part of his voice, there’s a lot less chest because he’s in a higher register, so that’s where we’re hearing some of this tone curve, but overall, we’re also hearing a thinner capture from the Apollo. There’s a little bit less presence and solidity I guess in the lower range.

[vocal, studio then home recording]

And texturally, the main difference to me is that the Apollo doesn’t handle the top range nearly as well as the BAE. The top range on the BAE is like, pristine.

[vocals, studio then home]

You can hear on the t’s in particular that there’s this slightly hashy quality.

[vocals, home]

Versus say, this line.

[studio vocals]

Right?

So it’s β€” having the higher end capture is definitely a little bit richer and a little bit smoother sounding overall, but I’d like to say that the capture of the BAE β€” or I’m sorry, the Apollo Twin is actually still pretty good, and if we pull it into the music bed here…

[music]

I feel with some EQ tweaks, we can actually get where we need to go.

[vocals, home]

I think that we can kind of ease out some of those brighter tones to kind of fill out the mid-range, and we would get something that’s fairly similar, and definitely workable.

So even if we’re using a lower budget setup, and not using like, the smoothest part of the vocal range, we’re still getting something very, very workable.

[music]

So there you have it. The JZ V67. It’s not the most expensive microphone in the world. I carry it around with me to record Akon because it really works well for his voice, but in general, it really works well for voices. Both microphones in the product line are really great, and I’m happy to have them both.

So I want you guys to check them out, keep an ear peeled, and of course, make sure at the end of the day, whether or not you have something like a C-800G available, just know that a much less expensive microphone still might be the more flattering choice for the vocalist. That’s what makes us engineers, being aware of those kinds of things.

Alright guys, until next time.

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Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com

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