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Tame the bleating sheep?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Jim Kuczkowski, Mar 7, 2001.

  1. Hey,
    I've come across this problem before, and still don't know what to do about it. I recorded a punk band w/female singer. The "singer" has limited abilities and a fairl monotone style. Know matter what mic/pre/position/etc. I tried during tracking, she came out sounding like a bleating sheep! --Thin, peaky, annoying.

    After changing mics for the 12th time during tracking, the drummer(in the control room) said, "Ya know, that's just how she sounds. I see people cover their ears sometimes when she starts singing live."

    So, I'm not expected to perform miracles here--just make her not so peaky and annoying. Playing around with eq has done little good so far--I suck out a peaky region and it leaves others poking out of a hollow mess. Compression doesn't seem to help either.

    To make things more complicated, the girl is self-conscious enough that she has called to say she can come back in and recut if necessary. That would mean her flying here--she lives about 1200 miles away! I don't want her to come here if we're gonna get the same results.

    Anyone have experience with sort of problem female vocal? Any mix-tricks I should investigate? Any mic-ing tricks I could try if we recut?

    --Kooch :confused:
  2. Kosmolith

    Kosmolith Guest

    Just a suggestion, blow it off if you want to, no skin off my nose.

    Sounds like she's singing "at" the mic, and too "horizontally"- she needs some vertical imagery.

    Have some muscley guy stand behind her with his hands on her hips, holding her firmly down but not pushing too hard.

    Tell her to sing out of her pussy.

    If she goes flat, in pitch or tone, tell her to sing straight up out of the top of her head at the same time.

    An erotic telegraph system- she's a post, not the wire.

    Even if this doesn't work, if she's up for it she will find some kind of imagery that works for her, even if it's out of a feeling of battling the images you suggest.

    Some people need a battle, and since she's willing to fly back and redo, she's not in denial about the present state of affairs and is willing to find a way, with you or against you.

    Before she flies back, suggest putting away all her punk records for a while and listening to Aretha Franklin for a while.

  3. Solar

    Solar Guest

    Hi Kooch person,

    Did you try a Coles? I mean the sound of the voice is what it is... so it's gonna be what it's gonna be. But a 4038 might be able to ease the pain. I mean, if that doesn't do it nothing will.

    Either that or run with it instead of trying to avoid it. Make her the most annoying punk chick ever!!! Use a 414buls into a mackie pre and hit it with a distressor!!! Haha yeee haaa! Just make the listener deal with it!
  4. Dan Popp

    Dan Popp Active Member

    Feb 21, 2001
    Hi, Kooch.
    I would try getting her to sing a LOT softer. If she can do it in a semi-whisper, she can't be peaky at the same time.

    Obviously, what she needs is some vocal training. She's got to learn that "louder" doesn't mean "through the nose." She's got to open her mouth and sing out of her throat.

    "Sing from her diaphragm??? It would take years to learn that!" (Steve Martin)

    Dan Popp
    Colors Audio
  5. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    What mics have you already tried on her?
  6. What mics?
    sm57, ksm32, atm25, pro25, fet47, 414, EV367, 421(old), Oktava012-card/hyper/lomo-head, some RatShack thing and some other off-brand bs we have lying around. I tried on/off axis, above/below her mouth, small-dead/big-live room, loud/quiet feed to phones....every trick I could think of. I'm limited on pres (Mackie, presonusmp20, Sytek solid state), but geez! :roll:

    I think Dan's on the right track. I should have been trying to work with her on technique instead of working all my techniques. It's just not usually my way with punk bands. I usually let them do their thing, get out of the way, and just bust my butt to capture their sound as best as I can.

    I like the ribbon-mic idea. Too bad I don't have one. --Maybe I'll rent one if she comes back.

    Any other ideas, Harv?

  7. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    I'd go back and try the Lomo again, but with these changes in mind:

    Set it even with her forehead, about 6" out, aimed at her mouth. Put an SM57 up and have her sing into that - right on top of it.

    The 57 will keep her in place, while the angle of the Lomo should get rid of a lot of the peaks and give her voice some proximity boost. If there's still too much treble, move the Lomo to the side of her forehead, or angle the Lomo toward her ear, or both.

    Try to avoid using any eq (at least at first), and just experiment with the mic positioning.
  8. Dan Popp

    Dan Popp Active Member

    Feb 21, 2001
    Me again. I recorded one background vocalist who was all over the map dynamically. I finally brought him into the control room and showed him which meter on the multitrack was his voice. Then I made him sing his part again, trying to keep the meter in the "yellow."

    It helped! Not as much as I would have liked, but it helped.

  9. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    Feb 13, 2001
    have her sing into some headphones into a guitar amp [preferably tube], adjust as necessary.
  10. This is a problem I've been to over and over and over...

    What she really needs is vocal training. Without that (and do most of those singers ever actually *take* that advice?)ask her to to sing softer. See if you can get her to sing fatter, whatever that means to her. As a vocalist with some years of vocal training, I have a raft of tricks, but most of them I'd have to be there to know what to suggest.

    On the technical end-- I've had good luck with figure 8 pattern. It has the most proximity effect. Get her in close. Then get her to sing it soft, if you can.

    By the way: even with the above suggestions, I must admit that my success rate with improving this particular brand of squealer is not good, so you actually MIGHT try the Reamp-thru-the-overdriven-fender idea before asking her to fly back out. LET her be the squealy SG that she, in her punky heart, truly is!

  11. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Give her a 58, let her hold it in her hand, and blast it in her cans. Put a tv in front of her playing "Faces of Death ii" or whatever is appropriate for the song (porn, football?).
  12. John Sayers

    John Sayers Active Member

    Feb 18, 2001
    Either that or run with it instead of trying to avoid it. Make her the most annoying punk chick ever!!!

    I'd go with that suggestion, forget about trying to make her sound like Aretha and go for unique expression etc - $*^t it is punk!
  13. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    Feb 13, 2001
    thats what ive been wondering about with this whole thread. aretha? PUNK MUSIC, it aint no soulsucka blend.

    grind it up, get it dirty, stick needles in it. make it as harsh as you can. listen to iggy pop, chrome or flipper, then listen to daisy chainsaw. are you trying to make it like no doubt or something?

    PUNK is not beautiful, it is ugly like yo momma.

    get a little pissed. push things into the red and then raise it some more.

    smash it with a 2x4, you dont tame a bleating sheep, you kill it or ^#$% it.
  14. Kosmolith

    Kosmolith Guest

    Who ever said anything about trying to sound like Aretha, or anybody else?

    You don't listen to singers to COPY them.

    The posts above talking about technique indicated nothing about changing the singer in question into somebody else.

    They only address getting MORE of the singer in question. Open throat, diaphragm support, pussy, whatever, it's all about getting more of the body, more of the character of the singer into the voice.

    Iggy Pop is a great suggestion- he is in fantastic shape and you can hear it when he sings.

    Get the body working.

    Maybe the results will be horrific- so what. At least it will be SHE who is singing, not some little society-induced shadow of herself, all tied up in her mouth. And THAT is punk.
  15. MMazurek

    MMazurek Guest

    I think making her sound WORSE would be more appropriate the better.

    Try the guitar amp thing, you'd be surprised.

    (she'll sound like a SHE-Trent Reznor or somethin)
  16. Godzilla

    Godzilla Guest

    Have you listened to any beastie boys albums. They cant sing so they use radio shack(or even worse mics) that distort easily sometimes.
    I swear, run a cheap ass $20 mic through a guitar amp with a spring reverb.

    Or, dont do that. I s'pose it depends on the over all aesthetic youd want to. suggest. Listen to like check ya head or a ministry album like psalm 69. Those guys cant sing at all really.

    I have to admit, a whole album of radio shack through twin reverb vocals could easily wear thin. If you change up eq's where its thick or thin sounding with really dry and spring reverby parts to contrast in parts. Maybe add a modulation effect. Have her outright scream then whisper; to auto tune or not to. Whateva. Different types of distortion..contrast.......funk.....lo fi.....soft then loud...
  17. mhg

    mhg Guest

    since you've tried everything, you're probably screwed...but instead of trying to reinvent her technique, oe some other real uphill battle, start small.
    is there anything she does well?
    find it and work on that. put her in a position where she at least has a chance to succeed.
    i'd suggest some serious time reevaluating her phrasing. this is something most anyone can accomplish to a reasonable degree.
    a long run-on diatribe type of lyric is a lot harder to keep even than shorter, more managable phrases. take it one sentence at a time if you have to. this could also mean a change in the song structure as well, but from what you told us, the songs aren't going anywhere the way they are now.
    the question now is do you want to become their producer? ask for more money if you do. you'll no doubt have to earn it. ;) ;)
  18. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Try splitting the vocal onto 2 tracks. get a good EQ for when she's not belting. Then take the insert return and patch it into line in of a couple of more modules.

    This way the other modules are getting the same compression as the original module. Now add some low end to the other modules to compensate for the bleating. Many times the singer is 2 high for the low end to make it muddy, but it solves the peak problems.

    You can also combine the peaky one with the really warm vocal for those times that neither works alone.

    I do it all the time. That's got allot to do with mic technique too.

    E-mail me if you like. I can help you with this, no problem.

  19. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    A more "automated" version of Mixerman's solution is the Urei LA 22. These babies are kind of hard to find, but well worth it. It is a compressor that also has a bandspliting function. Basicaly, you can tune in the offending frequency with a cool built in parametric eq, and the compressor will only notch out those freqencies. This is not the typical side chain type thang, but actually compresses ONLY the band that you tune in. Works wonders with peaky singers, uneven basses and accoustic guitars, saxes, ect.
  20. Actually, I've already tried split-band compression with the Waves C1/CG. The problem is the peaky stuff is all over the midrange--not in one spot.

    I think what MM is suggesting is more along the lines of *adding* to the sound than taking away. He's saying to compress before the eq basically. That way the compressor doesn't ride and bounce off the added low end. This is a bit different than split-band. I think I'll be trying it soon. Just the thought of adding low-end to a belting punk vocalist had really never ocurred to me. So far I've concentrated on fighting what I don't like instead of accenting the good.

    That's what's cool about these forums--getting someone else's angle on problems.

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