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Proximity effect?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by thesamhill, Apr 10, 2021.

  1. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I understand that proximity effect is a bass boost that comes from a sound source being close to a mic. But "bass boost" covers a lot of territory.

    Say I have an SM58 style dynamic mic with a cardioid pattern, and I have a singer (male voice in the tenor register, if it matters) that's singing an inch away from a mic on a mic stand.

    20210410_160421.jpg
    If I wanted to EQ out the proximity effect from the above singer, what would that look like? Feel free to just tell me, or if it helps, refer to the following options and feel free to suggest how the Hz, dB, and Q settings might be off. Thanks!

    Option 1?

    20210410_160654.jpg

    Option 2?

    20210410_160746.jpg

    Option 3?

    20210410_160811.jpg
     
  2. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    The Proximity effect on an SM58 is mostly below 100Hz. Even though a tenor is not really going to have any fundamental tones down there, it can be quite pronounced in boosting sub harmonics. It depends entirely on the singer, the material, how close, how loud he is performing and how well he works the mic.
    It mostly kicks in when the singer is less than an inch off the mic.. Sometimes it's what you need, sometimes it's not.

    Having said that, all of the waveforms you show have an incredibly steep roll off at ~200 Hz and seemingly little to no information below about 150 Hz.
    That in itself is wierd for a recording.


    As to EQ, I wouldn't do anything without hearing the track within the context of the whole song.

    Trying to EQ a vocal, having never heard the material, based on a snapshot of a waveform seems like an excercise in futility.

    If I want to record without much impact from the mic's proximity effect, I'd go with option 4 and set up the pop filter to keep the singer more than 2 plus inches off the mic, and not worry about trying to fix it later with EQ. Is re-tracking a possibility?

    If you have to work with eq, I'd do what sounds best and serves the song most effectively.

    Edited to add
    Here is the SM58 user guide from Shure that details the Proximity effect
    https://pubs.shure.com/guide/SM58/en-US
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
  3. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

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    Matman is right. If you are able to re-record, do so with more space between singer and capsule. It's not only the proximity effect when the mouth is close to the capsule, but all those other weird mouth noises whose frequencies are all over the place.

    If the recording cannot be re performed and you have to resort to EQ and compression to control the sound, then all the usual laborious engineering techniques apply.

    I can't tell which, but it looks like you're running a DAW so no doubt you have some useful tools at your fingertips?
     
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  4. Chester P Squier

    Chester P Squier Tele-Holic

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    That's what I never liked about "Lady of the Island" from the first Crosby, Stills, and Nash album. Graham Nash's mouth noises--actually tongue, teeth, and lip noises--are rather annoying. He was too close to the mike.
     
  5. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Thanks all!

    Basically, I'm sorting through some old recordings of gigs me and my buddy played to see if I can pull out a song or two to polish up. It will end up pretty rough no matter how much I mess with it, but it would be fun to get it as good as possible.

    The recordings sounded bassier than I expected. I have read about proximity effect but I was having trouble figuring out what the proximity effect actually was.

    @matman14 thanks for the info and the link, that's what I was looking for! I guess RTFM applies here. That's not the actual recording, by the way. I was just using it as the example.

    @Biffasmum I have lots of stuff in the DAW and very little knowledge of what to do with it :) Fortunately this particular project doesn't require much.

    Again thanks for the info!
     
  6. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    You just have to experiment and listen. Maybe a low shelf, or maybe a slow taper high-pass filter. Anything like those notched EQs in the pics might be more useful where you've got a resonance problem, and then I'd be reaching for a dynamic EQ, possibly, but it would depend on the track and the mix.

    If you can't keep the performer from eating the mic, put a pop screen in front of it.
     
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  7. chulaivet1966

    chulaivet1966 Tele-Afflicted

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    Howdy all....

    Decades ago, during my learning curve in mic technique, I also experienced 'proximity effect' in some of my lead vox.
    I would try to fix it with EQ but frequently it didn't work on all verses/choruses....for my ears anyway.

    Proximity effect can sound different from verse to verse depending on one's 'mic technique'.
    For lack of better descriptions, it seems to reflect an element of undesired timbre change in the vox that EQ just didn't fix.
    Hence...I did the vox again, maintaining better focus on mic technique with far more favorable results and it sounded more even throughout.

    That's my experience anyway....hope that helps.
     
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  8. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    You're not mixing in headphones, right?

    They have a proximity effect of their own--even cheap ones. They tend to over-accentuate the low end.
     
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  9. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Thanks all!

    Not mixing at all, really. Just trying to figure out why some vocal recordings from an old gig were bassier than I expected. No chance to redo the gig, unfortunately! So this is more for my own info and clearing up a point of curiosity.

    Cheers!
     
  10. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Roll off those low-lows for sure, they add nothing but rumble and roar and suck up your headroom like nobody's business. There's nothing musical for the vocals below about 120-150 Hz.
     
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  11. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    A lot of the fundamentals of bass, baritone and the lowest quarter of a tenors vocal range go well below 150 Hz. Depending on what key, the piece is in and the arrangement, there could be a lot going on.
    If you are having male singers working in the lower half of their range I wouldn't arbitrarily cut anything, not without listening first.

    For point of reference, 150 Hz is roughly the note of the open D string on a guitar in standard tuning (146.8Hz). Lots of people can sing that note and well below it without a problem.

    For many female vocals you could probably go to 150 Hz without issue, maybe.

    It is entirely dependent on the material to be mixed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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