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Experimenting 'with' your vocalist

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Jeemy, May 4, 2005.

  1. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member


    I am a trifle confused, I decided in my quest to read all that is here at RO to start on the Vocal Booth threads - are there really only 2 pages?

    If not, apologies for posting what has no doubt been done before.

    What I am wondering aimlessly is this - given that ideally you want to try out a vocalist with several mics, pres, mild compression settings, perhaps even an enhancer (thinking Joemeek here) - but also given the fact that a vocalist at performance time is sometimes nervous, irritable, and doesn't have infinite performances in them - how does one try out all of this to try & obtain the perfect signal path and settings for them.

    I was specifically wondering whether there are accepted views on getting the vocalist to sing a bit of verse and a bit of chorus, recording it, and then playing with their voice on a loop through the outboard. I'm referring to DAW here as I guess most people are using such. And also wondering whether this is not as effective as they will have already come through the pre and you'll need to bypass, plus the A/D/A will have distorted things. At least it would give you an idea.

    I can't imagine a vocalist having the patience to work on you with something like this, or a client having the money, etc etc. Its only because I have been recording my band's vocalist for 5 years now that we finally managed to get through all the mics I own and discover whats best on him (vintage 421U) - and I still have no idea on compression or EQ going into the DAW for him.

    Obviously the simple answer is to be able to anticipate these things, or spend 4 hours with the vocalist the week before the session....

    I must be missing something - perhaps its time or patience (on both or either mine or the clients' part - I do a lot of 4-5 hour demos start to finish) - but would like to hear some comments......
  2. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Hi jeemy-

    I believe that RO has an automatic prunning function that deletes old topics, thus the vocal booths old pages are gone..
    Its kinda a bummer as we had some valuable stickies on vocal technique, vocal lessons and tips for recording vocals that got 'eaten' by the prunner.

    On the vocal question, the way i like to work is to have the vocalist throughly rehearse and phrase the material. then I'll do 4-5 takes all the way thru and comp the best lines out of the four in a optimum vacal track. of course, we are assuming a good vocalist and a good engineer/producer here.
  3. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Hey Xav,

    I was more meaning to evaluate mic, pre, EQ and compressor combinations on the way in to find out what works with the voice, rather than doing the actual takes....ways of doing it with the vocalist without getting pissed off. Maybe changing pre paths on the fly as you record and evaluating those. A minor question....

  4. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    I usually try different combinations of mics and pres untill i find something suitable that is ok with both of us- The vocalist must be happy in order to give us his best...
  5. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member


    Welcome to RO. Your idea to spend time with the vocalist is a good one, but you don't need 4 hrs at all. There's almost no singer that can handle that amount of singing anyway.

    The concept of sound is huge for all instruments, but a vocalist has the ability to alter tone easier than any other instrument. Every vowel on every note has its own set of overtones (vowel formants)

    I would start with a few tried and true mics. Be ready to move outside of the "vocal booth", be ready to throw that mic into omni in the room, be ready to change pres and compress or not compress. Keep the tape rolling, record for half of your alloted time. Sit back and listen and take notes for the rest.

    There is no simple rule - especially with vocalists. Best plan is to make them feel welcome and relaxed and confident. Do that and if they can sing at all (huge assumption here) your about 90% there.

    Capture the essence and the feel, the sound will come with experience.

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