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my vocals suck

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by QYD, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. QYD

    QYD Guest

    my vocals stand out too much. when i turn the volume down on them they get lost in the music, mostly the guitar, but when i turn them up just enough that it is decernable what is being said i lose the full effect of the guitar. i'm sure it's probably an eq thing or something else...

    so here's the thing i want to hear the guitar, but i want to hear the vocals...

    oh also, i may have some equipment and i can feel my way through it all but i don't know some of the crazy lingo you guys use on this site...
  2. Clueless

    Clueless Guest

    Without hearing the problem, it's impossible to say what the answer is, but in all probability, your voice and your guitar's voice are probably competing for space in the audio spectrum. Carving EQ is a way to address that problem. This topic is addressed in most books on mixing (including the one I have used, "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook", which you can find on amazon.com). The short version goes like this:

    1. Own two good channels of EQ (plugins, outboard, or from your mixer). If you only have lame EQ (such as you'd find on a budget mixer), you're likely just going to make things sound different, but not better. If you apply this technique properly and it doesn't separate your tracks, blame your EQ.

    2. Listening only to your voice track, try cutting frequencies that are not absolutely necessary for your voice. For starters, try cutting around 600 Hz. You may find that this is totally the wrong place to start, but start there and then search. Alternatively, flatten everything, dial up a heavy boost, then sweep it until the sound of yor voice sucks most. Change the boost to a cut, and you'll find your voice magically transformed by the reduction of suck.

    3. When you've found a good range of freqs you can do without in your voice track, mute your voice track, unmute your guitar track and cut at least one or more frequencies you left prominent for your voice. For example, if you left your voice open at 2.5K (which is likely, because that's where intelligibility comes from), cut the heck out of 2.5K from your guitar. I find I cut a lot of 250-400 from my acoustic guitars. Maybe you can, too.

    Regardless of what actually frequences you cut from which tracks, the less your voice and guitar overlap in the frequency spectrum, the less they will blend into mush. Note: you don't have to have 100% either-or, but if you've got conflicts, this is the best way to solve them.

    Also note that it does not matter how the tracks sound by themselves. What matters is how they sound in the mix.
  3. macmod

    macmod Guest

    when you say 'cut' offending frequency, how much dB's are we talking? Or do you mean cut totally?
    Thanks for your reply,
  4. Clueless

    Clueless Guest

    I think 3dB to 10db should do the trick. It really depends on how peaky the source, how peaky the EQ, and how the two resulting EQ'd signals fit together.

    Another approach (which I haven't tried, but might work) is cut agressively--10dB--and get the sounds separated. Then back off the cut to bring the sounds back to life but not enough to step on each other. It might be easier to hear when sounds begin to interfere (by reducing cut) than to hear when they really separate. Or, depending on how your brain/hearing is wired, just the opposite.
  5. teleharmonic

    teleharmonic Guest

    You might want to consider which is more important to the song before you start altering your vocal... it might make more sense to change the guitar EQ to make space for the vocal rather than the other way around.

    Voice is a very dynamic instrument, you may also want to experiment with compression to reduce the dynamic range a bit. This may help if you find that your voice is ducking in and out of the mix.

  6. Clueless

    Clueless Guest

    Absolutely right. My advice was backwards--I was thinking "voice is the most important" but proceded to think in business terms (treat the most important issue first) instead of musical terms (modify the most important sound the least).
  7. QYD

    QYD Guest

    thanks all for the help... so far it seems to work... i messed with the first verse shortly after reading these and it is sounding better, not great, but that could just be my lack of talent overall...
  8. teleharmonic

    teleharmonic Guest

    don't mistake lack of experience for lack of talent.

  9. Mike Tate

    Mike Tate Guest

    Also make sure you are recording vocals correctly in the first place. Learn to "work the mic" while you sing. Creep forward durring soft parts, back off durring loud parts, etc. It will let you get away with less compression at mix time, and everything will just "sit" better.

    In rare and severe cases, the guy running the board might have to "ride" the gain knob while tracking vocals as well. Experiment and see.

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