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headphone mix help!

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by automatic8, May 30, 2008.

  1. automatic8

    automatic8 Guest

    Hello all, this is my first post on here, glad to see there's such a great community to turn to for tricks, tips and help. Anyways, I have a question about headphone mixes for vocals that I'd like some help with. I have been singing for 5 years in a band, I'm very confident in my pitch, tone, and power in my vocals...for some extremely frusterating reason, that all seems to fall apart on me when I put on a pair of cans. Its not terrible, but its not the same delivery I would give singing live. I'm sure with more studio practice I can work this out on my own. The one headphone on and one headphone off idea would be my savior. But for some reason when I monitor myself just through one side no matter hard I try, the phrases come out a bit off time and seem sorta unatural. I know this technique is used with great sucess, or so I hear. Is there any advice for me?? Maybe a better mix I could give myself? I dunno, just seem kinda lost and any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again....
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well, you are learning that listening to yourself through headphones is a completely unnatural & bizarre event.

    You already know about removing one ear. You're still uncomfortable with that. So my recommendation is what I did for all of the jingles I recorded back in the late 1970s. Use an open monitor speaker of whatever other content you need to listen to. What's that? You don't need to listen to anything else but yourself. Well then, you don't need to wear any headphones or listen to any speaker then, provided your software has animated meters and/or even a presentation of the waveform display as you are recording. That's all you need. You don't need to hear your self. What are you deaf and need loud headphones? You can't hear yourself without headphones? So what really is the problem here? Are you attempting overdubs against a previously recorded track? If that's the case? Use an active speaker, without headphones. Now this will cause a certain amount of leakage/bleed from the speaker into the microphone. To eliminate it, do not touch, do not move the microphone nor the speaker. Carefully walk away from it. Now you will record a secondary track of the queue back speaker into your microphone. In software, you will invert the phase of this track and combine it with your track. The speaker feed will magically cancel out/disappear leading only your microphone to be heard. You can then bounced this combo track to a separate track. Voila'! This works are very well when you have six or more orchestral musicians in the studio and they don't like wearing headphones.

    Just remember, if you so much as move the microphone or the speaker the phase cancellation WILL NOT WORK. So all things being equal, all things need to be equal minus yourself on the second pass. Problems with taking it down a second-generation in the analog domain?? Don't you worry your little ear drums over it. This is a technique I have used for over 30 years and it works, well.

    Old jingle producer from the late 70's
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. MarkG

    MarkG Guest

    About a year ago I read an interview from an engineer who had no problem at all using a monitor in the studio instead of headphones.
    I started offering this option to my clients (disclaimer: we are talking about a budget studio here) and the few times I have done it has worked out fine. The improvement in performence more than outweighed the minimal bleed that I had to deal with.
    Now I can't wait to try Remy's trick.
    One more thing to consider might be only using the tracks you really need to hear in the monitor. this will minimize the amount of tracks affected by the bleed. [/i]
  4. automatic8

    automatic8 Guest

    thanks for the quick responses! so pretty much i can just leave my monitors where they are, get a comfortable level to track my vocals, then run another track without me singing with the monitors on and a reverse phase on the track?? sounds way to good to be true! I play in a punk band, so my vocals are deff on the loud side. im pretty sure that id have to crank the monitors to a decent level to be able to track along with it. that would still work?
  5. MarkG

    MarkG Guest

    I noticed you made a reference to monitor's (plural)which makes me think you might be singing from your mix position.
    I would avoid using stereo studio monitors due to the fact you will get more bleed than necessary. I use a single monitor with vocalist facing directly into it.
    In your case, if you are singing from the mix position, I would turn off one speaker and sing into the other one facing right into it.
  6. automatic8

    automatic8 Guest

    just a thought....would going with a pair of open air or semi open headphones be to my advantage?? i understand there would be some spill, but im willing to deal with that if it can stregthen my preformance.
  7. Greener

    Greener Guest

    I was going to write you should try some superaural headphones. I use HD600s when trying to put drum tracks in with a large amount of nuance. I fail at it though.
    They aren't loud enough.
  8. automatic8

    automatic8 Guest

    ok.....i tried recording with out headphones and using my main monitors as my cue. did a separate track with out me singing, inverted the phase on that track and boom! the spill from the speakers was reduced from over bearing to just sounding like minor headphone leakage. i made my mic the third point of the triangle with my 2 speakers. what im still confused about is that i hear some people saying that i should be listening to my cue in mono?? or even just use one speaker? can someone sum up to me in lamens terms of how i can make this method work even better, or if im doing something wrong still. sorry for the newbie in me, but i gotta get this to work! thanks again!! :D :D
  9. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Basically if you only use one speaker you should halve your phase cancellation error. "just sounding like minor headphone leakage." Half this.
    Based on theory I made up.
    /Also don't walk away from the mic and record the phase canceling track. Your face affects things.
  10. MarkG

    MarkG Guest

    The point of using one speaker is that the backside of your mic (where the sound can enter the mic the least) should be pointed directly at the speaker.
    If you are using 2 speakers, which speaker do you point it at?
    The solution is to turn off one speaker, because whichever speaker you are not facing will bleed in to the side of the mic.

    Sorry to confuse, you should feel better when you leave here, not worse :(

    If your speakers are fairly close together and not angled in towards your mix position, this may not be that big of a deal. I was just trying to help get the absolute minimum of leakage into your mic. Please disregard my advice on this if it complicates things too much.

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