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Advise on Mastering Vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by proactive, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. proactive

    proactive Active Member

    We are a not for profit spiritual organization and cannot offered to go for professional mastering. We record strictly male vocals in a semi-studio setup (sound proof & acoustic treated). We have only one speaker and we don't even add music. We are able to record fairly well.

    NOW - please advise how to do the mastering, to the release quality. We do not sell the disks/audio material but do play it to groups of audience and want to give them the best experience. So, any detailed explanation as well as relevant links are greatly appreciated.
    BTW - how does normalization improve audio quality; or does it create any problems.

    We need to ensure that the audio does NOT change in anyway from the original recording, even if it sounds better. Thanks.
     
  2. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Do you mean you don't want to degrade the audio in any way? Mastering in it's nature changes the audio.

    Would your audience be willing to make a donation for a CD? You can raise a fair amount of money that way to pay for professional work.
     
  3. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    1) You don't "master vocals."

    2) Forgive us if some of us are skeptical and jaded about "sound proof and acoustically treated" -- Too often, we find out later that there's a bunch of foam up on the walls.

    3) You don't want it to change...? Are you just trying to write files to a compliant disc?
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You want your speaker/announcer to be approximately one fist distance from the microphone capsule. A foam or nylon stocking on a stick is highly recommended.

    Output of the microphone preamp would be nicely enhance with a simple dynamic range compressor. DBX 166 comes to mind as a good sounding inexpensive compressor. Only a few DB are necessary when the speaker's energy begins to build. A low-cut filter may also be a good idea depending on his working distance from the microphone. But you have to listen to it to decide whether to engage it. If he sounds like he is in a mud bucket? Switch it on. Cannot really be judged properly through headphones.

    There is no other mastering necessary. No other equalization will also be necessary. This is a very nice clean straightforward way of recording the human voice. A microphone such as a Shure SM58 to a Neumann U87 are great for this application. These are very smooth sounding for the human voice and are of the most popular vocal microphones ever used. Mastering is typically used to polish up musical productions. You as the engineer or to optimize this for most pleasant sounding and most highly intelligible with low ear fatigue. This means no hyper processing. A slight use of a downward expander sometimes referred to as a noise gate can also be beneficial, as it slightly turns down the microphone between words & at pauses. Overall providing a tighter sound. Something I frequently to come post compression i.e. after the compressor. DON'T GATE, but merely downward expand by 6 to 10 DB so that the microphone is actually always on. Never cut completely off. Threshold is critical for this setting to get it right. As you only wanted turning down when things get quiet. You don't want to turning down on low-level words. Threshold setting is critical for this function. Doesn't work worth a crap in software either. But that's for more advanced students.

    An old Daffy Ducker
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    If the playback to the group is clear and intelligible, and doesn't sound boomy (unless it's the acoustics of the room) then you're done.
     
  6. music_guy

    music_guy Guest

    One speaker? :shock: Bad news. Chances are that what you play (wherever is played) will always seem to you like something has changed. Furthermore, maybe you should plan to make recordings for stereo not mono applications. --- :wink:
     
  7. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    Umm... I think by "one speaker" the OP meant that there is only one person speaking.
    And why would they need to plan to make stereo recordings? The stated application is for playback to a live audience - I would think this would be in mono anyway.

    Personally, I second codemonkey's post. If you're done, you're done. But Remy's advice also sounds very good if you are looking for better quality up-front.
     
  8. music_guy

    music_guy Guest

    Duplicate, please erase

    DUPLICATE
     
  9. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Uhhggg! Ed, if you are going to give advice, please be more informed than you seem to be.
     
  10. music_guy

    music_guy Guest

    Well let's see:

    They (he) said: "We are a not for profit spiritual organization and cannot offered to go for professional mastering.We record strictly male vocals in a semi-studio setup (sound proof & acoustic treated). We have only one speaker and we don't even add music. We are able to record fairly well."

    We this and we that. Doesn't that infer a group of people recording more than one person? Why assume that one "speaker" meant one person? Then, did or did not they/he say "we record strictly male vocals?". Sorry, I had to take it literally. You could be right though, but you then must agree that the whole thing is not well formulated.


    Did or didn't they say "cannot offered to go for professional mastering"? They did ask : "please advise how to do the mastering, to the release quality" Right?

    I think they are trying to make a recording which they plan to handout to someone to hear or maybe even sell to the public. Either way, they will have sound quality problems if indeed they are mixing with just one speaker.

    Codemonkey was referring to recording people in general. Your remark is as good as advise as giving none --- :D
     
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Why would mixing a vocal(s) with one speaker not be recommended?
     
  12. music_guy

    music_guy Guest

    I think at this point we should wait for the OP to clarify as to whether one or several persons are being recorded, don't you think?
    Also, your question is surprising to me Michael. I guess the best way I can answer it is : for the same reason most cars have 4 wheels not 3.
     
  13. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Actually, my memory informs me I was referring to the (quote) playback to the group (/quote).

    Make sure it sounds clear enough in your studio, double check it's still intelligible in the room you play it back in (a hall of some sort?) and if the acoustics in there don't destroy it (boomyness etc.) then you're finished. If it is boomy, (try to) fix it with an in-house EQ.

    However yes, this could apply to recording anything in general, not even just people.
     
  14. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    I dunno, I guess I base my statement on this (emphasis added):
    And codemonkey confirmed what I thought he meant - the point being that if the OP can meet his goal of a quality playback to the audience, then he doesn't need to do any "mastering", in the sense of mastering say a music album (eq, dynamics, magic fairy dust, etc).

    I'm getting a growing feeling that by "mastering" he might just mean burn to CD? This would sort of explain the comment about "not changing the sound" - perhaps they just want to get it off the computer and into the sound system?

    Oh, proactive, where are you? Please come back and clear things up for us.... :)
     
  15. Greener

    Greener Guest

    As Michael Fossenkemper and "music_guy" battle it out...

    A Codemonkey is playing in the bushes, learning valuable skills from his brethren and generally having a good time.

    All the while, the OP has stated;

    "We need to ensure that the audio does NOT change in anyway from the original recording"

    So what the funk is the point of this discussion?


    Just wanted to say hi Mum.
     
  16. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I think you should stick to DJ'ing.

    For the first half of the music industry, everything was mixed with one speaker. If you are mixing a mono source, it won't matter how many speakers you have around the room. They are all going to play the same thing. If you have 90 vocals and pan them up the center, same thing. You don't need 2 speakers. Most mixers I know still mix with 1 speaker for a good percentage of the time. If he is going to use the CD to play in front of an audience, then I would recommend mixing in mono, or very very near mono. You don't want to have half the audience hearing one thing and the other half hearing another.
     
  17. music_guy

    music_guy Guest

    I think your vile comment is unworthy of a "Moderator". The professional attitude is to wait for the OP's clarification on this matter (re: one speaker monitor or recording one person?) which would validate one of these arguments and not to opt to ridicule other members who don't agree with you. I certainly don't deserve to be spoken in this condescending manner, I don't care who you think you are Mr.
     
  18. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry if you don't like my form of moderating you. Maybe instead of jumping into threads with a know it all attitude posting questionable information, you can try a different tact.
     
  19. music_guy

    music_guy Guest

    You are unbelievable, the only one who displays that attitude is you. And unlike you I've never tried to be disrespectful to anybody.
     
  20. Greener

    Greener Guest

    If you came into my house and said things I didn't agree with, I would argue with you politely, and possibly in my tone or infection you may misunderstand something I say as being a direct piece of harassment, like if I said flippantly that "you're an unproven unknown entity and you smell like cheese" which is something I might say... If you got uppity and took the argument to me even further. I'd yell even louder, then if you got close enough and looked like getting violent. I'd boot you outside.
    This isn't my house, or even an actual house, so who cares.
    Just chill out and try and come up with witty comebacks with little nuggets of information. Don't get all pissy.

    Btw, I don't know anyone here from a bar of soap. And if I wanted to check your mastering chops I wouldn't click a myface link. So for now you remain unproven.
     

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