Charlotte Reavey has uploaded a new video of her singing Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You”. She recorded a video recently at the studio. She has been here several times so is no stranger to Threecircles Recording Studio.
Furthermore, she is the daughter of local legend Tom and sings with the Riff Panda Collective. The Collective recently recorded and filmed Jazz sessions at the studio. Check back soon for more of their video features.
A classic vocal mic…
Without a doubt, one of the most-used vocal chains in history is to use an AKG C12 with a Neve 1073 mic preamplifier. Besides this, many people also use a Teletronix LA-2A for compression. Yet to use the originals would cost you well more than £15,000 today. So what can we do to achieve similar results?
With many female singers that come to the studio, I reach straight for my Apex 460 microphone. This mic is a modern take on the classic AKG C12 valve microphone. That mic would cost around £10,000 in today’s market so is out of the reach of many. The Apex is a great alternative and even better once modified.
I modified the microphone with a kit from Microphone Parts. The kit contains a new valve and premium parts. Additionally, I added a better head grille to the mic to improve its performance. It’s a very flattering microphone that suits a variety of voices. You can read more about how I modified the mic here.
A classic mic pre…
So now that we have the microphone sorted, what about the preamp? I usually plug vocal mics into my AML ez1073. This mic preamp is based on the design of the classic Neve 1073, complete with the EQ section. These preamps excel on almost everything. There is an input transformer in a 1073 which you can use to great effect. Overdriving the input introduces mild distortion to the signal. This then increases as you push the gain even harder. The upshot of this is that things start to sound more “forward” and “bigger”.
What’s more, the EQ voicing on a 1073 is great too. Every band seems to have a use. On the whole, you have a preamp that is very versatile.
A classic vocal compressor…
But this type of compression doesn’t suit everybody. Sometimes the additive effect too many valves can be a little too much. A point often overlooked is that too much saturation can reduce transients. Under these circumstances, it can lead to a “spongy” sound that can get lost in the mix. In this case, a great substitute can be the LA-3A.
The LA-3A is a very similar compressor to the LA-2A. They have similar controls and both work via an optical cell. In conclusion, they are very smooth compressors that are well-suited to vocals. Yet whereas the LA-2A contains valves, the LA-3A is solid-state. This allows you to have a similar compressor without adding more saturation. I find that this helps keep a “pop-sheen” on vocals and keeps them present.
I built a stereo “SA-3A” unit from Serpent Audio a few years ago and it gets a lot of use in the studio. For pictures and detail on the build process, you can refer to a previous blog post.
Let me know your thoughts on the vocal sound and also your go-to vocal chain in the comments below.
Meanwhile, you can find out more about Charlotte here. https://www.michelleblairmanagement.co.uk/actresses/charlotte-reavey/