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Quartets

Discussion in 'Recording' started by larrye, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. larrye

    larrye Active Member

    I teach school, sing bass in a small time southern gospel quartet. ANY free time I spend in my basement studio. I can do a decent job with instruments, solo vocals and even backup vocals. BUT, four part harmony like our quartet sings, I can't start to get a handle on. I can get the four vocal parts to sound ok by themselves but when I put them together they sound BAD. Not much seperation between the parts, and they seem to blur together. No space for each part?
    Anyone got an idea or two or three or ....
    Thanks
    Larrye
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Hi larrye,
    I remember your posts about a year ago, welcome back to RO! What mic did you end up with?

    The first thing I would do if I were recording a quartet would be to try an "air mix" where all four singers stand around one large diaphragm, omni mic and sing, adjusting their position to achive the correct balance. (Very old school)

    I especially like to do this for background vocals on pop music because you can double or even triple the tracks to create what is known as "vocal stacks". Lou Adler did this with "The Mamas and the Papas" ... that's the sound..

    If an air mix doesn't work for you, try recording on seperate tracks, working with narrow eq on each, cutting different areas on different channels, like 200 Hz on one and 300 Hz on another, adding a little 4 or 5K to the high vocal etc.. a little slight panning, 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock at the most, can also bring out seperation and definition.
     
  3. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    larrye, a quartet man!! Let me tell you its nice to see you arround. I too am a southern gospel quartet man (however our quartet is now a trio, but that's ok). I just finished our latest project myself. About your problem, I totaly agree w/ Kurt on using seperate trax for your stacks (but not the bass singer). I've never tried the "air" method but am curious as to how it would sound. This will really thicken your sound. Good Luck.
     
  4. larrye

    larrye Active Member

    Thanks for the help guys!
    Kurt, I think you are talking about the live mic I was looking for. I ran into a REAL bass singer on another forum. He sings bass for a group that performs daily at Dollywood. He recommended aan AKG535-EB. I bought it and I REALLY like it. It has a bass rolloff to Offset the proximity effect, that I use most of the time. In the small churches we sing in the sound is not set well. This mic lets me kind of control it myself.
    Larrye
     
  5. larrye

    larrye Active Member

    jhagertybhs,
    It just hit me! Why do you say not to stack the bass singer?
    Thanks,
    larrye
     
  6. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    larrye, I have always been told this. The purpose of stacking is to gain an effect, almost like a chorusing. This is due the fact that even thought the same singer sings the same line, it will always be a bit "different". Even if the notes are all the same, tonality will be slightly different. This effect gives a quartet a fat sound in the middle & upper end. By stacking the bass, these tone differences cause MUD!! Instead of a clean bass line, you end up with a rolling muddy bass. I've talked with many bass singers and SGM singers & they have all told me the same thing, Tim Riley, Eric Bennet, (in fact Arthur Rice - Kingdom Heirs mixed our last project).

    larrye, there are a couple of other things I've learned the big boys do:
    1. Sing each stack twice - mix down to left and right, then pan each track far left and far right w/ the main vocal down the middle.
    2. Don't over do the stack. Watch the level of the stack, too much starts to sound fake.
    3. Use very little if any reverb on the stacks, depends on the speed of the song.
     
  7. larrye

    larrye Active Member

    jhagertybhs,
    Thanks a bunch! I figured the mud was the reason. Mud is a problem for me(bass) and my brother(baritone). Lead singer has lots of edge on his voice and my nephew(tenor) there is not a problem. When I mix I have to cut the heck out of the baritone at about 200 Hz. I end up cutting to much most of the time. 200 hz is a critical area for me, never can get it just right.
    I noticed on a song by the Homeland Quartet, that they seem to use a lot of delay on the vocals, but I did notice there was not very much on the bass. I just can't get the big bass sound that the pro recordings have. Maybe one of those guys could loan me their vocal chords for a project or two!
    What do you do to the piano part as far as effects go?
    Thanks,
    Larrye
     
  8. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    larrye,
    on one of our earler projects, we really did nothing to the piano. The musician played a Roland and we used a keyboard simulator program to get the sound we wanted. After that, we left it up to the mastering house to get the overall sound.
     
  9. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    larrye there may have been a bit of eq on the piano to fatten slightly but that's about it.
     
  10. larrye

    larrye Active Member

    Thanks again
    larrye
     

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