Mic Tip: Using ribbon microphones for recording female vocals
19th-century microbiologist Louis Pasteur said that “chance favors the prepared mind”, which has later been parsed down to the notion that “luck favors the prepared.” In the world of recorded audio, that magic moment when you know you’ve captured a once-in-a-lifetime take is often contingent on the microphone between the singer and the tape. You have a better chance of catching lightning in a jar if you’re waiting there with the lid off when the storm comes.
Consider the three basic food groups of microphones: Dynamic, Condenser and Ribbon. Dynamic mics are stage-friendly because they’re physically durable and can handle abusively high volume levels like screaming vocalists and dimed amplifiers. Condenser mics, either large diaphragm or small diaphragm, are more fragile and highly sensitive mics that capture detail and clarity in a controlled environment. Ribbon microphones are the most physically fragile and traditionally do not handle loud source volume well because of the risk of breaking the “ribbon” internally. They are known to be “smoky” and “warm” as opposed to a traditional condenser microphone that would be consider “bright” and “articulate.” While you could opt for the more common condenser microphone for studio vocals, a ribbon mic is a creatively strategic way to capture that warmer, darker body from your female vocalist.
Blue’s Woodpecker is an active ribbon microphone that captures all of the body and warmth of the sound source (in this case, a female vocalist) but all while retaining the upper frequency content. Five years in design, Woodpecker was created to bring you all of the benefits of a great ribbon microphone without any of the compromises. Although romanticized because of its tenderness, a recorded female vocal can present challenges for audio engineers, from amateur to professional. We normally think of “warmth” and “body” as characteristics of the male voice (even a high tenor) and the fullness in frequency range of male vocals can create a powerful backbone around which other instruments can be manicured. Additionally, because of the range of human hearing, the lower male voice presents us with a greater range of harmonic overtones– not that we hear the overtones themselves, but instead we recognize the harmonic complexity of the recorded vocal track.
The same way you get to carnagie hall
Practice practice practice.
Vocal coaches are expensive and not always effective.
Try some of the online resources for cultivating a female vocal pattern, and use a computer with a microphone to record what you are saying.
Then listen, repeat until you think you sound good. Then try it in public and see how many people will mam you. Though that will depend on your appearance to start with. But voice is a matter of trial and error and then getting external feedback.
You are going to have to work at it a lot.