Recording Vocals

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Member Since: Sep 11, 2004

Hello,

I've been working on an album over the last 3 years, and I'm finally recording vocals. However, I'm having an extremely hard time getting them to "fit" properly into the mix.

Are there any tricks to recording vocals? I've tried EQ'ing and playing with reverb and delay, but im still having a bit of a tough time. Any secrets i should be aware of that may help me out?

Much thanks

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JR Productions
Member
Since: Mar 03, 2005


Jun 26, 2005 10:54 am

As far as EQing things to fit in the mix, this article is awesome! www.homerecordingconnecti...tory&id=154

Edit: Reverb and delay will push the vocals back in the mix, giving a sence of distance.

Member
Since: Sep 11, 2004


Jun 26, 2005 11:00 am

Great article!

One question: Which instruments are likely to conflict with vocals? I'm assuming guitar, but i suppose it depends on what frequencies my voice is hitting...

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Jun 26, 2005 11:01 am

yeah, anything in the upper registers can conflict, your best bet is to run a frequency analyzer and then you can see which tracks are overflowing each other.

I am not a crook's head
Member
Since: Mar 14, 2003


Jun 26, 2005 11:25 am

Good idea dB. One of these days I'm going to learn to properly use a frequency analyzer and my mixes will love it. Until then, I just assume that the vocals will be between 1K and 4K, and I lower those frequencies and everything inbetween in the rest of the mix by a few dB to let the vocal presence come thru. Not a very scientific or accurate way of doing it, but I guess it gets the job done.

Member
Since: Apr 27, 2002


Jun 26, 2005 11:40 am

wheres about can i find a decent (READ: free) frequency analyzer?

I am not a crook's head
Member
Since: Mar 14, 2003


Jun 26, 2005 11:48 am

I see that you're using Nuendo, Cubase, and Wavelab. I believe that they all have frequency analyzers built-in. Look for the "Analyze..." menu item.

Member
Since: Sep 11, 2004


Jun 26, 2005 01:23 pm

Another question:

I am using a Digitech Vx400 vocal processor. I have a dynamic microphone that im recording with, and the pedal is capable of emulating many popular microphones, and you can even "switch" a dynamic mic into a condenser. I am still wondering if getting a condenser mic will help recording vox if I have this pedal. Why are condenser mics used in studios so much?

Ultra Magnus
Member
Since: Nov 13, 2004


Jun 26, 2005 06:59 pm

If you compare a cardoid dynamic with a cardoid condenser you can hear the difference in terms of 'space' for want of a better word, condensers also tend to have a higher inherent gain than dynamics.

edit0r
Member
Since: Aug 17, 2004


Jun 26, 2005 07:16 pm

I think vocals go from about 100 Hz. to about 15 Khz. so make sure to roll of those F.

Sibilance lies in the 1-7 k range.

Warmness at about 500?

Member
Since: Sep 11, 2004


Jun 27, 2005 01:56 am

Thanks for all of the input.

I also realized how crucial the mix is when RECORDING the vocals. I had the music cranked up and could hear myself, but not above and beyond. You really need to be able to hear your voice well in order to get a quality take.

So, for mixing vox in general, the idea is to check which frequencies MY voice is hitting, and try to reduce similar frequencies in, let's say, the guitar tracks(and others) to avoid conflicts? Will this "place" the vocals properly?

edit0r
Member
Since: Aug 17, 2004


Jun 27, 2005 03:08 am

Yea, you got it man.

I think that 1-4 KHz. is quite conflicting in guitar tracks, although i have no problem with it.

The ear is trained to resonate at 1-4KHz. because this is where the main Freqeuncies of speech lie.

A good thing to try when tracking, is applying a smidgen of reverb to the H/P mix.

bace135 in the house tonight!
Member
Since: Jan 28, 2003


Jun 27, 2005 01:05 pm

I was told about a month and a half ago that you should cut 8-12 db from 80Hz and below. I gave it a try and it really helped reduce the muddiness of my vocals and give it that crispnes. Additionally, I'm told that many preamps of the stand alone variety have a 80Hz cut button (sometimes labeled as a High Pass Filter or HPF). I tried using the one on my pre and it sounded too stark, kinda robotish to me, so I just made myself a preset in my parametric EQ and apply it to all my vocals now. It really helps. Also when eqing vocals, I generally will make a small cut anywhere in the 700Hz - 1000Hz range and a small boost in the 1000Hz-1400Hz range. I slide the boost and cut around to find the sweetspot, as different people, and even different takes will sound different. Also, when mixing vocals, I usually mute everything aside from the drums and bass, and just get the vocals sounding exactly how I want them, since to me the vocals are the most important part of the song. Then, I'll one by one add in all the other instruments/parts and make sure they fit AROUND the vocal. I think it's important to leave the vocal as the centerpiece (note: this is just my approach, and not any given "right way"). I think you do not want to eq the vocal too drastically because listeners already have an idea of what they think it should sound like. Also, unless you are going for a specific effect, I would go easy on the reverb. You'll almost certainly want some but not too much!

JR Productions
Member
Since: Mar 03, 2005


Jun 27, 2005 04:58 pm

Like coolo said, cutting frequencies where there isn't much power (i.e. bass at 10khz) will help clear up a mix very well...for vocals and every other instroment.

Member
Since: Feb 14, 2005


Jun 27, 2005 08:18 pm

I have found that using a de-esser makes the most significant difference to a vocal. With the "nasty" frequencies removed from a vocal the performance sounds infinitely smoother and more professional... and because the de-esser removes the "irritating" frequencies of the vocals you can have the vocal much louder in a mix without your ears becoming fatigued. This simple trick can make the whole mix sound far more polished. Sometimes I use two de-essers to remove more than one trouble spot!

Also, you've got to record it correctly in the first place. A nice mic, a nice preamp (neither of which have to be particularly expensive - I use an ART tube preamp which only cost a couple hundred bucks on eBay) and a focused performance by the singer. Buy a pop-shield and have the vocalist get in nice and close to the mic. Watch and adjust the pre-amp levels prior to recording so nothing gets distorted on the way in, and leave a little headroom just in case there's a couple of loud phrases or words (or better still, use a hardware compressor to catch unexpected transients). The main objective is to get the vocal as loud as possible without creating any digital overloads which are impossible to remove. Play it cautious at this stage, but get the vocalist to practice a few loud phrases and adjust the input and output of your preamp so nothing clips.

Once recorded use a noise reduction plugin to sample the background noise and then adjust it's threshhold to remove the unwanted hiss. EQ out all unnecessary low frequency content (listening to the vocal with the full mix playing adjust the HPF cutoff until the reduction becomes audible and the vocal starts to sound too thin, and then simply bring it back a bit - that's the sweet spot for low-frequency removal, you have to use your ears and you have to do it with the whole mix playing!). Now use a gain envelope on the vocal track and draw in any reductions on unusually loud parts, this will mean the compressor will not have to work as hard and will ultimately sound more natural. Add the de-esser and adjust to find the worst area of sibilance, then add the compression (watch the gain reduction meter - you want it lit sometimes, but not constantly... adjust the threshold accordingly and then increase the gain until just below output clipping). Cut and delete any background sounds (coughs, chair squeaks etc) being sure to cut on zero-crossings and make sure you retain the full vocal performance (ie. don't cut too close to the actual vocal and don't cut out breathing and inhaling). Add a small amount of a good quality plugin reverb. A nice vocal plate with a relatively low dry/wet mix - dry, intimate vocals are far more popular at the moment but a little reverb will sex it up a bit.

Member
Since: Sep 11, 2004


Jul 07, 2005 01:18 am

Thanks so much for the input everyone. I will see what I can do!

Member
Since: Sep 11, 2004


Jul 08, 2005 05:47 pm

Ok! Things are going great, and the vocals are really starting to sit right.

The problem is, my guitar is really losing itself in the mix, and i've looked at the frequencies conflicting between vocals and guitar. I've adjusted the vocals, which has helped, but I'm thinking i should also adjust the guitar, by cutting the frequencies that conflict with the vocals. However, when i do this, it completely changes the "tone" of my guitar tracks, and I was completely satisfied with what i had before!

What should i do? I don't want to lose my "tone", but I don't want the guitar to be inaudible either.

JR Productions
Member
Since: Mar 03, 2005


Jul 08, 2005 06:12 pm

This is the hard part of mixing! You have to try and find the perfect balance where you can still hear every instroment, but you don't sacrafice too much tone. Try to find a happy medium between the vocals and guitar and stick with it.

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