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A capella group

Discussion in 'Recording' started by wigwammer, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. wigwammer

    wigwammer Active Member

    Hey guys - I'm going to be working on a project here pretty soon, a male a capella group wants to record an album. I've been listening to a couple CDs of similar groups (pop style a capella) and realized that I'm not sure I know how to get that unique (well, maybe not so unique within the genre) sound and character.

    Does anyone have some experience or insight?

    Thanks a bunch!
    wigwammer
     
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Studio or live? Either way, I think you will want a stereo pair in ORTF and each individual will be mic'd if it's like NPulse or similar. If it were like Manhatten transfer you could stick a fig8 ribbon in between the pairs. Specific recommendations would of course be based upon knowing the ensemble, knowing the hall and/or room, and what you have available.
     
  3. moresound

    moresound Active Member

    I've done many a vocal recording and live a Capella groups and with a group of 4 I've used an X Y configuration with SDCs and let the group play/work the mics.
    Seems to always work well especially live.
    If the group is not good at working the mics in that X Y configuration they'll figure it out real quickly during the recording process. At least that has been my experience.
     
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    With a nod to the XY, if the room is good Blumlein is an excellent choice for this for it's imaging qualities.
     
  5. moresound

    moresound Active Member

    I like the Blumlein a lot, if there is to be instruments involved.
     
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    We're just sittin' here spinning our wheels having fun playing charades. Throw us a bone!!! Vocal percussion? Two vocal percussion? Swing?
    Welcome | InPulse
     
  7. moresound

    moresound Active Member

    Yes this is true. We know not what the group consists of and who knows possible individual microphones for each vocalist is the way to go depending on each vocalist strong or weak points would dictate the microphone to use.
     
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have recorded a couple of Acapella things in my career (Mom.."Is that what they're calling it these days?")...Shouldnt this be about their comfort and their ability to hear themselves well enough to do their 'thang' without having the advent of the gear hanging around them? That being said.....LDC's in X/Y above the group and if they have a soloist for spots then a nice handheld condenser on a stand for them to move to for their feature. KMS105 comes to mind. Put it in its null to the group.

    This is a style where you create a vibe with the room and let em go apey all about dat ting....
     
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Quite a few of the acapella groups these days have human drum "machines"/basses. It's actually pretty amazing what some people can do for a whole song and still breathe. My wife is really into that InPulse band I linked (one of the original members was a former student of hers) and while I wouldn't put it on myself for fun, it's pretty decent. What else is out there in this particular niche I don't know. I've done quite a bit of barbershop etc, more traditional versions of acapella and if that were the case I would definitely agree less is more.
     
  10. wigwammer

    wigwammer Active Member

    Hey there - thanks for the input!

    We recording a studio album, and they've got one vocal percussionist, five others. They have a fairly varied repertoire, I could only narrow a style down to fun and generally upbeat. From what you guys have said, it sounds like the usable mics I have are two AKG 214s and two Røde NT55s. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like anything bidirectional is an option.

    In your experience, how difficult has it been for the musicians to blend when they're not singing at the same time?

    Thanks!
     
  11. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I would set up the AKG 214's in XY in front of the group about 6' high. Put the NT55's in ORTF about 8' high pointing down at the group. You need to find a Shure SM58 or SM7b for the vocal percussion. Basically you'll get to use the stereo pair that sounds best and either fill out with the other pair subtly or dump it entirely. Each song might use a different stereo pair as main depending on the song.
     
  12. wigwammer

    wigwammer Active Member

    That's good to hear about the vocal percussion. I do have a SM7B on hand. I appreciate your experience, JackAttack.
     
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member


    Are you saying that they will be tracking separately?
     
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Ooooo, good catch Dave. I missed that. I wouldn't track this type of group separately. You would lose too much of the energy coming from the ensemble unity.
     
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    No no no. A cappella must be recorded together. It's an inherent part of the sound. You can't do this one guy at a time. Sacrilege!

    Screw all of this XY ORTF MS stuff. I mean, yeah! You need one pair of XY or ORTF and should have no problem setting up either of your cardioid pairs one way or the other. Then, you want to get each singer on one of those low-cost Cascades ribbon microphones so you can get each singer to go onto their respective individual tracks. There, that shouldn't be any problem with a 24 track machine. So, XY or ORTF in front of the group. Include an extra spaced pair of cardioids just to cop the room vibe with completely unrelated phase interaction. That is if it's a good space? If you only have 2 pairs? A SDC pair overtop with a little distance and a LDC pair closer up with little distance. There, problem solved.

    I love to record a cappella on ribbons because it's the velocity that counts
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  16. wigwammer

    wigwammer Active Member

    RemyRAD addressed the issue well. I want control over each singer in the mix. The problem, though, is that I don't have the mics to send everyone in on a discrete channel simultaneously. That's why I was asking about tracking separately. I also am not looking to capture the sound of the room. It's small, not ideal for this application.

    Regarding getting the best blend, I'm assuming that I would want each singer singing into the same mic/set of mics (whether tracked together or separately). Is that a correct assumption?
     
  17. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I didn't suggest individual mics at all because you didn't list enough mics to do the job. If you could borrow/rent enough Shure SM58's for everyone and the put up the stereo pairs that is going to be your best bet on limited equipment and budget. I love ribbons. You just don't own any. Individual tracking won't do justice to this ensemble at all. And if you are limited in yrack count you may be back at my original suggestion of a stereo pair plus vocal drum.

    This might have been a case of being too eager to do a recording job you weren't quite ready for.
     
  18. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Jack is on the attack and he is absolutely right. A handful of SM58's would do a great job.

    Now, of course the issue is, not having enough microphones available at all. No problem. This is what you do, you record the group with the XY and/or the ORTF pairs onto 2 or 4 tracks into your multitrack computer software stuff. Just like the way Hollywood movies are made, once you've got some good takes with the whole group, then you can go back and start the overdub process with each singer individually. After as many takes & as many tracks as is necessary to re-complete the good takes, with as much of the vibe you can accomplish 1 track at a time. Then once you're done, you'll mix the whole thing together without the original stereo pairs. Then you feed the signal on playback to a nice pair of speakers and use your stereo pairs to rerecord the mix acoustically in whatever room you're in. Then you put the whole shmeer all together with the individualized tracks (minute timing differentials, optional.). So, that's what you have to do.

    Can you say ADR?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  19. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    wigwammer, your profile doesn't mention any interface at all. Do you have an MBox or an 002/003 or...? This would be helpful to have in your profile or to list in your post so as to shape a better answer.
     
  20. wigwammer

    wigwammer Active Member

    As my profile now reflects :) I have an Mbox Pro 3. Before I record the group (over the summer sometime) I will be getting two Grace m101's. I appreciate your guys' help!
     

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