Valley Audio model 401

Recently, an engineer friend of mine gave me an older mic processor to try out for him. It is a Valley Audio model 401. I am hoping someone here might have some recommendations for setting this unit up with a Shure SM7B. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Hi there,

The Valley Audio 401 is a classic mic processor, and it’s pretty cool that your engineer friend gave you one to try out! The Shure SM7B, on the other hand, is a well-respected dynamic microphone with a broad range of applications, particularly in broadcast and vocal recording.

Here are some general guidelines to set up the Valley Audio 401 with your Shure SM7B:

  1. Gain Setting: Start with the gain setting on the 401. The SM7B has a low output level, so you might need a good amount of gain. Turn the gain up until you achieve a strong, clear signal without any distortion.
  2. Equalization (EQ): Depending on your voice and the acoustics of your room, you might want to tweak the EQ settings. For vocals:
  • Enhance clarity by slightly boosting the high-mids (around 3kHz-6kHz).
  • For warmth, you might want to boost the lows around 100Hz-200Hz.
  • If there’s muddiness, try cutting a bit in the 250Hz-500Hz range.
  1. Compression: The 401 likely has a compressor. Start with a low ratio (like 2:1 or 3:1) to mildly tame the dynamics. Adjust the threshold so that the compressor engages only during the loudest parts of your speech or singing.
  2. Output Level: After you’ve set your gain, EQ, and compression, set your output level so that it’s appropriate for whatever device you’re sending the signal to.
  3. Mic Technique: Ensure you’re using the SM7B correctly. Speak or sing into the front of the mic, and experiment with distance and angles for best sound quality.
  4. Experiment and Listen: Every voice is unique. While the above are general recommendations, trust your ears. Record a few test tracks, listen back on good headphones or speakers, and adjust as necessary.

Lastly, if possible, get feedback from someone else. Sometimes, an external perspective can help identify things you might have missed.

Hope this helps!