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Need help with vocal sound.

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by ouzo77, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member


    It's been a while since my last post. I need some help with EQ on my vocals.

    Here is a part of a song of mine, which I recorded with a Shure SM7B directly into a Focusrite Saffire Pro24.

    I'm not sure about the vocal sound. Is it too bassy, too bright, too harsh, too anything...? After listening to it so many times it's hard for me to tell if it sounds right or if there is a problem frequency-wise.

    So please leave any comment regarding the vocal sound (any comments on the overall sound are welcome too).

  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nice voice. (Catchy song, too).... You're very close here. No problematic sibilance, smooth, has a nice full sound. I didn't find it the least bit harsh, nor too bright. It may be a wee bit too bassy on the choruses to my taste, but I'm really picking at nits here.

    You may want to add a little bit of compression to reign in those parts that jump out a bit, or you could manually draw a volume envelope as well.

    Nice job, and a great example of how well a dynamic mic can work.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    It sounds great! But ya might want to give the vocal a good boost around 15 kHz? Then put a limiter on with a sidechain, so as to create a high-frequency limiter. Listen to it twice. Then call me in the morning. It otherwise sounds supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Great mixing! Great tracking! Ya did good kid.

    Cool song. Don't make them like this anymore.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Thank you for the nice comments!

    After listening to it a few times with fresh ears I too think there's a bit too much bass, but also too many mids. I think I will cut some bass and some 1-3 kHz.

    Donny, what parts do you feel jump out? Is it single words or complete song parts? I didn't do much automation on the vocals yet. They're also not edited and the backings are not properly balanced. I wanted to get the sound right first.

    Remy, I don't understand exactly how you would set up the limiter. Can you be a bit more specific?
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    hey man i couldnt get to the link from this page. your other stuff sounds really good! sounds like you know what your doing.
  6. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    I've adjusted the EQ and a few other things.

    It's a new upload. The previous version is still online.

    kmetal, maybe this time the link works.
  7. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Here's another song.
    Although it's a completely different style, I used basically the same settings, which I think works quite well. What do you say?

    The vocals aren't edited yet.

    I just got the SM7B and I really like it. Before that I used an Audio Technica AT3035 and I had found the settings I liked for it, but somehow I wasn't really satisfied with the sound. That's why I got the SM7B. But now I have to find the right settings for that, too, which takes me a lot of time. I'm not a professional engineer after all. Everything takes a bit longer...
    The difference between these two mics is really huge. The Shure sounds so much fuller and smoother.
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Michael... I was referring to vocals jumping out a bit during the choruses, ( "every time I TRY to..") and thought that maybe a skoodge of gain reduction on those parts would be beneficial... but you could also draw a volume envelope, too.

    But ... it's not a deal-breaker. At least not to me. It sounds great. And - GASP! :eek: You've maintained DYNAMICS in the tracks! What the hell is wrong with you Michael?? Don't you know that you need to limit everything at 200:1??? ;)

    Seriously though...It's also a cool song... it starts out with a kind of 80's "Euro" vibe, and melds very nicely into the kicking choruses.

    Again, a perfect example of just how well a nice dynamic mic like the SM7 can work.... Ya don't always need an LD. You also have a great voice, and that goes a long way, too. ;)

    If it were up to me, I'd post this as a sticky - to help demonstrate what is possible with a good dynamic mic - especially to those who are new to the craft and who think that they absolutely must have a condenser to achieve professional results.

    I'd reach for the SM7 (or an SM58, 57, RE-20...) any day of the week over a cheap LD.
  9. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    I see. I didn't do any editing and only a basic automation. But I will keep your suggestions in mind when I do.

    And thank you again for your kind words.

    I've read a lot about the SM7 and always wanted to get one. Then I saw the Chili Peppers performing live in a studio in London on TV and he was singing into it and it sounded great. So I immediately ordered one. ;-)
  10. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Btw, I really was tempted to push it harder into the limiter and I had it louder to begin with. But it sounds so much better when you back it off a bit. I've tried to find the sweet spot, because too little compression isn't good either for this genre.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I wasn't referring as much to a two bus limiter, but more about track level compression. And nothing heavy, either. Just enough to rein in those transients that occasionally jump out. But as I stated previously, it's not a deal breaker - at least not to me.
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Well I guess that's why my girl friend likes that I'm not a professional :LOL:
  13. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    I guess pro's just don't take the time. It's always so hushed. "One hour's over – give me my 50 bucks!" ;-)
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Loved the top track, can't hear this latest (won't load) but you have a great sound. I do know what you need though! me... :whistle: :ROFLMAO:

    Seriously though, forget this compression BS all the time. I'm with Donny. If I had your vocals on the top track ( again, haven't heard the other versions) I would push a little in the upper mids for presence. Thats all you need. Just to give things that snap. This could be on the Vox or in the master. Hard to say

    Love your sound. Keep it up.
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Regarding the limiter trick up: many limiters feature a side chain patch. When that's available to you? It certainly makes your job easier. This is where you can use even a crappy equalizer. Why crappy? Because you don't hear it. It's not in the audio path. It's only there to influence the detector of the limiter/compressor.

    Putting in, say, a 12 DB boost at 10 kHz, on the equalizer, will make the detector in the limiter/compressor more sensitive to those frequencies, 10 kHz & beyond. Which will create more gain reduction on rich high-frequency content. So if you want to EQ a vocal and give it some air? You might take your vocal track and give it a 12 DB boost at 15 kHz? Without the limiters high frequency sidechain, it would get screechy and uncomfortable to listen to. The high-frequency limiter takes the edge off while at the same time allowing for more edge. But the right edge. A controlled edge.

    Conversely, if you were to take the equalizer on the sidechain and instead give it a boost at 5 kHz, you would create a DE-ESSER, for controlling sibilance. As that is the frequency where most of the sibilance is raucous. And the DE-ESSER tames that sibilance.

    You can actually make it a combo device by how you tweak the EQ, on the side chain. It's frequently been popular to high pass filter the limiters detector. This allows your low-frequency content, to pass through, without much gain reduction, preserving those important low-frequency dynamics. So you would just take your equalizer and roll off 60-100 Hz. And then that bass guitar and bass drum will come punching through. A great way to cut the mustard.

    When attempting this in software? Each companies software are slightly different from each other. Not all offer frequency dependent gain reduction. Most of course are broadband. Others are familiar with multi-band compression. And that's basically what we're doing. But it's only a single band, that we select, via the equalizer. So a multi-band compressor is simply numerous compressors used at numerous different frequencies that overlap each other. This is the type of signal processing most broadcast stations use. And some of that has become popular to do in the studio situations, as well. Though one can really go overboard, very easily. A little goes a long way.

    My 1176's, never had provisions for a sidechain input. Since these are peak detecting limiters, there are appropriate to put in the signal path, just prior to the transmitter. And because FM, when it's broadcast, it's broadcast with a huge high-frequency preemphasis boost. On the receiving end, a reciprocal roll off is in the receiver. Making for a flat response. But because of that high-frequency boost a.k.a. preemphasis, it becomes terribly easy to over modulate, causing out of band splatter and other non-appetizing artifacts and distortion. So to prevent that from happening, a 75 µs preemphasis boost is added to the detector. Making the 1176, appropriate as an FM transmitter limiter. Or for cutting records, cutting cassettes, which also use huge high-frequency boost with reciprocal high-frequency rolloff, to control noise.

    High-frequency limiters were also used, when cutting lacquer masters for record pressings. Because there too, records are recorded with a huge high-frequency preemphasis. With a reciprocal roll off, in the preamp. And because of that high-frequency boost, high-frequency limiters need to be used.

    So you can apply the same concepts and procedures, with voices or other instruments, to shape and craft a particular sound you're trying to attain. In a sense, it's kind of a bastard " audio enhancer ". Many manufacturers have made enhancers. Generally a combination of frequency boosting, cutting, phase manipulation, added back to the source you're trying to enhance. And very little is used because it goes a long way.

    So this is fun, making dynamic range controlling devices to control certain frequencies that you select more so than others. It's just another sound tool.

    Hope that answered some of your questions?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  16. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Remy, thank you for explaining this technique. I will try that.

    I did some more tweaking though. Here are both songs again. I'm quite satisfied with the vocal sound. I would like to hear your opinions:

    I hope the links work now.
  17. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Both of these latest Soundcloud links worked for me.

    Nice job!! Musically, vocally very impressive.

    Although the first version really was very good, I definitely prefer the latest revision. The vocal seems to have a bit more definition. Did you do something to punch up the drums and bass guitar too? To me it sounded like something very subtle changed in the bottom that made the kick, snare, and bass punch better, and it gave it a better pocket for the vocal to sit in too. I'm not listening under ideal conditions, so it's hard to pinpoint.

    In any case, nicely done!
  18. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I liked the sound too - my only comment is that it got a bit lost in the battle with the guitar in the quiet bits - I found I suddenly listened to the guitar not the voice. I didn't like version 2 eq so much - a bit harsh for me. The version 3 I'm not certain of - I 'think' the voice held up in the first section, but somehow I liked the first better sound wise - and I can't work out why. That doesn't help much does it?
  19. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    I've changed the Master-EQ a bit. A little bit less mids and a slight boost in the lows and highs. I think it opened up the sound.

    Paul, I know what you mean. I guess it could be due to the lower volume of the vocals. Maybe I'll bring them up a bit.
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm with Paul as well. I'm speaking only about the top (OP) mix. I love it.

    I think you are at the cross roads where we start dissecting it too much. Its almost time for the ME. Maybe it is?

    I think my idea was spot on really. :) I would use my tube Pultec MEQ-5 for this. Maybe you have the plug-in version. They have the ability to push the mid freq in your face without honk and harsh. And its the mid information in that mix that will put the vox right where you want it.

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