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Help Recording Vocal and Stereo Guitar Simultaneously

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by robchittum, Nov 16, 2003.

  1. robchittum

    robchittum Guest

    I've posted this previously, but I have more questions that might be answered fully. The suggestions that were provided included the use of figure 8 pattern, which I don't have with any of my current mics. I need to record a guy playing guitar and singing at the same time. I have a match pair of Oktava MC-012's (have omni, cardiod and hypercard capsules for each mic) and a Studio Projects T3 for vocals (have option of omni, cardiod, or figure 8 on this one). Can I use a stereo set-up for guitar and the vocal mic without phase problems? I have tried to convince the guy to do guitar parts first and then sing, but we're losing some of the natural feel and basically the guy doesn't want to do this. With the mics I have, what would be the best set up as far as mic positions for optimal sound on this. Thanks guys.

  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    If you have to record both at the same time you really only have two options. One is to try to separate the two the best you can with mic choice, mic pattern and mic placement, or to get the best overall sound you can with bleed between one or more microphones. There are always trade-offs to be made in deciding which is best and how to achieve it. The inability and inflexability of the performer to not be able to separate playing and singing limits what you can do.

    Advice on mic placement depends on many things. One of which is what the performer can deal with. If your intent is to separate as much as possible, then in general the null part of the pattern of the mic you choose needs to point at what you least want to be picked up with that mic. Remember that the null of the pattern is not equal at all frequencies and this is even more so on cheaper mics. This will affect the tone that the mic picks up and rejects. Here is a chance to learn and gain some real experience.
  3. julian lamp

    julian lamp Guest

  4. julian lamp

    julian lamp Guest

    inability and inflexibility are not the sole reasons why a guitarist singer might want to record guitar/vox together sometimes they are so intrinsically linked this is the best option .Ive recently done this using a Brauner vm1 on guitar and a u87 on vox both figure of 8 setting each pointing the null at the opposing source .can give you a surprising separation but you need figure of 8 options on both mikes as these give the nulliest null.But this is not helping you much..... with the oktavas forget separation maybe and try getting a good overall sound
  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    I never said anything about those being the sole reasons, but because of those reasons you are far more limited in what you can do and even more so with the mics that were mentioned available to do the job. How you deal with, and how you overcome limitations is what real audio engineering is all about.
  6. ahyatt

    ahyatt Active Member

    Rob..See if you can demo an LSD-2. It is a stereo mic that as long as you are placed correctly does wonders for this application.

    The LSD-2 is a stereo mic and the top capsule rotates 280 Degrees. Each capsule is multi-pattern so you can do all sorts of stereo recording.

    I am not saying this to SPAM. I have used it that way and got wonderful results. It may or may not work for you in your application, but it is an option.
  7. And if the LSD-2 doesn't work, try LSD. :D
    Just kidding. My inclination is to go for getting the best overall sound, with bleed. I personally enjoy blending together 2-4 mics to get a full sound with depth. Try a SD condenser close up where the neck meets the body (guitar of course), an LD and a good dynamic in traditional vox position in front of the singer, and an LD a few feet back as an overall mic. You will want to carefully check to make sure there is no funny stuff with the phase. During mixdown you will need to decide on blending the two vocal mics or picking one.
    Obviously the performance is improtant. Your guy is going to have to nail the vocals and guitar at the same time. If they can't, send them home to practice for a week. The relative volumes of vocals verses guitar will be an important aspect. You will get a lot of bleed into the vox LD, and if the guitar is too loud you will be facing a limited set of poor options. Have fun with it, David
  8. dan myers

    dan myers Guest

    I've been presented with this problem many times and have three possible suggetions for you.
    1. Take two boom mic stands and raise them parallel to the floor and place them about shoulder width apart and neck height in front of the performer. Then lay a piece of acoustical foam across the outstretched arms. Put your stereo mics as you normally would under the foam, and set up your vocal mic above the foam but about 6 -10 inches from the performers mouth. Have him sit pretty tight against the foam barrier. You get pretty good seperation,but this may be uncomfortable for the artist.
    2. Place all the mics the same distance(back a bit) from the performer and work on the blend.
    3. Try raising the vocal mic up a bit higher than you usually would, prompting the performer to sing upwards. In all cases you are going probably still going to get some vocal vibrations through the gtr.
  9. Yanshufim

    Yanshufim Active Member

    I must say that in my opinion bleed is not that much of a problem if the performance is good. I once used two AT-4041 coincident SD condensers for the guitar and an AKG C4000 for vocal. While mixing, I noticed that the reverb I added to the stereo guitar affected the vocal. So what? I backed off the vocal FX send a little bit. Same with boosting the highs on the guitar. As a matter of fact, I felt that the vocal sound picked up by the guitar mics improved what I got from the C4000. As long as you listen to all 3 mics combined and you get a good sound, there's no reason you can't achieve that on mixdown. You do have to experiment, and explain your limitations to the talent. Another thing you havge to do is to remember the leakage while you mix - EQ on the guitar = EQ on the vocals so you have to substract rather than add, or to compensate with the EQ you add to the vocal track.
  10. MGP

    MGP Guest

    I recently did a recording just like this and had an excellent result. I used two small condenser mics(beyer dynamic) for the guitar and a Neumann U87 for voice.The two small condensers were in xy position, in front of the guitar.One pointing to the hole and the other to the 12th fret. The U87 was in cardioid position and a little bit below the face of the singer and tilted up a bit towards the mouth.
    In the mix the two small condensers were panned hard left and hard right,and the U87 in the center. You just need to be carefull, of course, with phase problems.
  11. kc8elv

    kc8elv Guest

    As a suggestion I have not seen yet posted but I done is this. If the artist is using an electric guitar, why not feed the guitar direct to the mixer and control both the vocals and the guitar from the mixer. Note, any effects devices used by the artist for his guitar should also feed to the mixer in doing this. You will stop most the seperation problems and have a cleaner recording. You will also have the ability to record both the guitar and vocals into seperate tracks this way as well and use any amount of blending or no blending between tracks you desire. The only disadvantage to this is it will require the artist to wear headphones during the recording session. Just another suggestion that might help.

  12. Bigjoe31

    Bigjoe31 Active Member

    "Real" audio engineering

    Real audio engineering should be all about getting the sound desired by the *artists*, not the engineers. The engineers are generally speaking, not the artists, though they can help. But, they should not dictate. As both, I can tell you that an artist who is used to singing and playing simultaneously is definitely NOT going to perform and sound as well multi-tracked. 'Nuff said.
  13. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Bigjoe -

    Just noticed this was an old thread you revived, and had already "liked" AudioGaff's comment.
    I still stand by it.
    You're right, if that's the situation you're dealt, you make do. And that was his point.
    I've dealt w/ this same dilemma several times.
    In the end, you have to make it work. This could mean a little coaching to help them track separately, or figuring out a way to make your tools capture the best sound simultaneously.
    If there's one thing I've learned, it's this:
    Engineer = Problem Solver

    I can't count the # of times I've had to use an asinine workaround to get the job done.
    Sometimes it's the performer's fault, a problem w/ gear, or a problem w/ my brain.
    Either way, it's our job to find a solution to get the capture we want, while maintaining optimum comfort for the performer.
    Always a juggling act...
  14. Bigjoe31

    Bigjoe31 Active Member

    "You're right, if that's the situation you're dealt, you make do. And that was his point.
    I've dealt w/ this same dilemma several times.
    In the end, you have to make it work. This could mean a little coaching to help them track separately, or figuring out a way to make your tools capture the best sound simultaneously."

    I don't disagree, but as both artist and engineer I have a different perspective.

    Your perspective hints at the artist being a problem that needs a workaround.
    I would say the artist that wants to record singing and playing simultaneously is the fundamental given that is not to be questioned if that's the best way for them to manifest their art. It's not "making do", its "doing the job at hand".

    Take for instance John Hammond Jr. His guitar, voice & harmonica (and yes, his feet too) are inseparable. That's the art, the whole package. That *is* what's to be captured, not guitar, voice, harp separately. Chesky did a great job on capturing in the album "Rough & Tough" with a (I believe) Soundfield mic in a good sounding room.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'm glad this was resurrected as it provides a platform for several directions of discussion.

    As an artist/engineer/producer/studio owner, my perspective is from many differing angles.

    In your last paragraph you seem compelled to support the theory that its 'all about the artist' yet your last three words indicate that the acoustics had something to do with the results. My thinking is the ENGINEER had something to do with this....hopefully in harmony with the PRODUCER. So now, our Solo Artists Desire has expanded to at LEAST two other sets of ears and opinions. (we'll leave the Mastering Engineer out of it for the time being)........ ( and yeah, John Hammond probably produces his own stuff...just in case you want to argue useless points)

    Capturing the "whole package" is still going to be a collaboration on the part of everyone involved in the capture process. There are solo artists who have the skills towards the engineering aspect to do it themselves, but most that I know dont. They CERTAINLY know when it sounds 'right' but arent interested or wired correctly to know or even care how it gets there. For most, its all about the comfort level at that moment to deliver a performance worthy of their level of achievement.

    If this means suggestions by the recording engineer to get to that place then most (certainly not all!!) will cooperate to a certain point.

    The engineer in me knows this and does all to accommodate the talent. A single artist with accompaniment is a hard situation for any engineer. There are aspects of this type of performance capture that arent important on multi-tracked multi-instrumental sessions. A good room is imperative to this as is knowledge of mics and selection of the recording chain as well as experience in this allowing for correct placement and gain-staging throughout the capture.

    The last thing you want is a Harry Chapin sounding like Kiss.......

    Then there is the studio owner/engineer in a less than perfect room with a client who wants exactly this scenario. At this point the engineer has to make decisions based on what they know their gear and room is capable of and having suggestions and discussions with the talent to ease their(engineers) task and provide a better sounding recording will be paramount to the sessions coming off without a hitch.

    So, sometimes, its not about the engineer thinking they know more than the artist or trying to superimpose their will over the artistic bent of the artist, but simply someone making the best set of decisions they can make given the parameters and doing their best to get the most out what they have to work with.

    Sometimes this is due to the artist being unable to create that magic by simply sitting there and beating on the old box and croaking out their songs. Maybe the songs are good and with a bit of help, this artist will be able to move forward after this recording and solidify their art.

    A recording does a lot towards telling the true story of the level of talent. Mic dont lie.

    So.....Yeah, there are artists who really DO need a workaround. There are those who might need it but dont want it, there are others best left to their vision and others who fill any size room with inexplicable magic.

    The trick for the engineer is know exactly which one the current talent in the room is and act appropriately.
  16. Bigjoe31

    Bigjoe31 Active Member

    What I'm against is the tendency these days to view multitracked recordings as (normal,proper,superior,ideal) versus
    the older techniques as (inferior,problematic,undesirable.)

    This is just a personal preference, but a lot of the multi-tracked recordings one cannot help but hear
    every day (esp. "adult alternative" -- because they are played in every store and public place one enters)
    sound really crappy and artificial to my sensibilities. There are like audio pastiches. And I won't buy the argument that that's because
    the engineers are sloppy or unskilled. They sound that way because that's what the engineers have decided
    is "good". Its like the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" -- the experts decide what you *will* like.

    I like the sound of the old fashioned techniques. For every "artist" who gets talked into multi-tracking
    *only* because the engineers convince them that is (modern, better,proper) I would count as a loss to the
    overall art of recording. If the artist themselves want the sound of multi-tracked, well, that's their business.

    For another industry example -- think of Steely Dan's "Everything Must Go". They went retro in several respects,
    including playing as an ensemble with only limited overdubbing. They achieved, in my opinion, outstanding results.
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I cant agree more about the plastic sounding baloney that permeates the life in general.

    BUT...I dont think you can seriously make a blanket statement that covers the reasoning behind why a project is done one way or the other. I really think some engineers are , in fact, sloppy and unskilled, and some of them are making lots of records.

    Recording techniques are practices handed down for several generations now. The really old, old school, had their ways and they were not apt to change things for any reason what-so-ever. It wasnt until the 60's that things began to change in the studios and mostly because of the talent.

    The bands became their own songwriters not relying on the hit machine workings to supply them with material, and with this began to become more involved with how things sounded. When you are a record company exec and the band that is making you a couple million a quarter says they want to try something new, whaddya gonna do?? So the engineers got fiddle with tried and true techniques, gear got a chance to become important, the artists began to rule the roost so-to-speak and new things became regular.

    But thats been true ever since. All of the technology has changed things and what was once defined is now blurred. Its up to people who love this to stay involved with producing recordings that have the modern elemental tempered with the proven methodology of the past.

    But 'multi-tracking' is NOT the cause of this lack of fidelity. Its the bean counters and the corporate entities that own the business that determine what is good what isnt. We are in an age of instantaneous gratification. The general music buying public listens on 1/4" speakers jammed into their ear sockets through a storage device that holds a lot of songs.....in a squashed frequency format.

    I hear stuff these days that is so wildly out of phase that playing it on a mono device would probably silence much of the program. and this is still being recorded at high quality rooms with scads of the best gear with conversion in the 196 range, the ability to unlimited track numbers and really skilled computer operators to capture the sound.

    Ah, $*^t......I just gave it away.........

    Patience. Its all going back to 1968 thru 1979 when the recording was all important. We're gonna see Bill Putnam-like fidelity again. Sir George M. production values.
  18. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Thanks Dave, for presenting my point better than I did.

    Engineers rarely have ideal situations: great players, great instruments, great room, great mics, etc.
    At which point, it's about getting the best possible sound AND performance - using the tools you've got.

    I'd love to track every band altogether w/ minimal mics. Some of my favorite recordings were done that way.

    I also realize I've often got a different deck of cards than those engineers had (engineer included).

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