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The difference between singing live and recording?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by stevieboysmithjunior, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. stevieboysmithjunior

    stevieboysmithjunior Active Member

    Hope someone can help me as Im about to go off my head. Im in a band just now and have been touring the country for a few months now and we decided to record an l.p woo hoo i thought but when it came to getting my vocals all was not well. I didnt sound half as good as when i sing/play live. What changes do I have to make to my voice so that i sound as good in the studio as i do on the stage??
  2. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    Well, I've never heard of this problem but I think I have an answer... Normally its the other way around you sound great in a studio because its overly produced, but consequently you don't perform half as good live. Basically your body has two different ways of hearing one of those being internally (How you think you sound) the other Externally (How you actually sound.) My best guess is you're hearing how you actually sound for the first time..
  3. stevieboysmithjunior

    stevieboysmithjunior Active Member

    I would tend to agree here but ive had live performances recorded before and i sound not bad (being modest, i actually sounded pretty excellent) this is why I'm extremely confused. I'm maybe starting to think that i sing differently as Im putting myself into an unfamiliar situation that im not used to. or i projected my voice differently as i didnt have a full backline to contest against?
  4. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    If you think you sound good live and people say the same then this would be my second guess... It's basically all a mind set, when I first started recording I would have a hard time with this also. You have to get in the "mood" to put passion in you're voice (not be flat etc.) My guess is you sound good live because your already in the mood you have people yelling, cheering, and bouncing around it gets you "pumped" (ready to perform) So, if you go into the studio with the same mind set as you do live then you should sound good. (I normally will listen to my favorite music and really get into and I've noticed a huge difference..
  5. stevieboysmithjunior

    stevieboysmithjunior Active Member

    Cool thanks man, i think this may be it, because when im on stage I psyche myself up before i sing n im very physical when im on stage and going from jumping about on stage to standing in one spot in a studio and singing, i think im just not used to it. I will try to be more focused, n pumped up for my retakes. cheers for the help dude
  6. Mike Miller

    Mike Miller Active Member

    Sure, no problem take care and good luck in the studio!
  7. landstander

    landstander Member

    Stevieboy, I can totally empathise with your situation, and it's a big step in the difference imo,
    especially when there is a full backline behind you and your vocal coming back in a wedge, compared to isolated sound with headphones/some reverb.

    I personally like to make the excuse that it's the feeling/vibe now, but I've gotten some really good results from playing back (at a good volume) the track through speakers in front of the vocalist with a dynamic (sm7b facing away from the speakers)

    The performance was miles better, but I had to be VERY careful with spill (phase cancelling the track that's picked up etc)
    Anybody else have experiences with tracking vocals this?

    ANYWAY, not always ideal, but I suppose like it's been said above; it's mind set, and getting used to the different situations! Hope it went well man
  8. silencomortis

    silencomortis Active Member

    Vocals sound different in studio

    Here is my input guys! Ok, so I've worked in multiple studios as a wannabe engineer and I've also recorded many times. As a performer, people say I sing really well at open mics and performances, and the live recordings sound good! But my studio recordings sound flat. Here's my problem: HEADPHONES. Once I used speakers or simply held the headphones out in front, I was pitch perfect. Maybe it's cause I have bad hearing in my left ear (from my drummer always being on that side.) The downside to this "solution" is: audio engineers HATE having speakers in there. They like the isolated vocals, so they can have ultimate control over the mix. Most vocalists I know, have no problem with headphones, and actually sing BETTER in the studio. I've had good results with those little earbuds too. Try using just one earbud in one ear and see if that helps. If not, try mounting a speaker in front of you (with no metronome or click track). Lets be honest, very rarely do you need the vocals isolated 100%. A good mix-man will understand and won't struggle with a little spill.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one with this problem tho. Its really discouraging to play back that studio recording and hear myself 1/2 step flat for the entire song, when I know the live recording was pretty accurate!
  9. silencomortis

    silencomortis Active Member

    here's an excellent article on how to use "phase cancellation" to reduce the bleed thru, when recording without headphones. I've done this pretty effectively before but I usually forge ;)
    How to Record Vocals Without Headphones: 10 steps - wikiHow
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I bet some work on your headphone mix would get things sounding better. If you are used to loud stage volume you may find it more familiar with the instrument mix loud and on the verge of burying your vocal. Using wedges there is a bit of delay (around 5-10ms) before the sound gets to you and then it reflects off the nearby surfaces. Studio headphone mixes have no acoustic delay or natural reverberation because they are right on your ears. Adding a bit of artificial space to your voice via a slapback echo and/or some moderate reverb can give you that live feel.
  11. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    Wow, I have exactly the same problem!! When I put on my headphones, my voice becomes constricted, dead and lazy. When I take them off, I'm Freddie Mercury! (Okay, not really :) It's like the headphones dampen my spirit. I just monitor with the speakers on low volumes, my PG58 doesn't pick up much bleed.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    We perceive pitch differently at different loudness levels. That's one of the first problems. That's one of the reasons why we tell people in the studio to remove one ear of their headphones. This way they hear themselves, with bone conduction & the amplified signal in the other ear. And people just like to turn up their headphones way too loud which makes them all sing flat.

    Tracking vocals utilizing speaker fold back is also quite doable. But when you have the speaker up to a comfortable level, of course it leaks/bleeds into the solo vocal microphone. This is certainly problematic. The way you correct this is to cut another vocal track the same way, without the vocalist. You must not move the microphone. You must not touch the microphone. It must remain precisely in the same position it was for the vocal track along with the fold back speaker also not being changed at all. You then take both of those tracks and combine them together while taking the second vocal track (without the vocal) and phase inverting that track. When you balance the two tracks carefully together in Mono, the speaker fold back & the acoustics will electrically cancel out. This leaves only the difference between the two intact, which is the vocalist. I've utilize the same technique while cutting brass, strings & woodwinds in this studio. This way, they never have to be over encumbered with headphone nonsense. And they all seem to play much better that way when listening to the blaring rhythm tracks through this studio fold back speakers. So, for instance, if I have 6 string players, we'll make a first pass. For the second pass, I have the string players play musical chairs i.e., I've set up six additional chairs behind the first six chairs. Those two tracks then get combined with one being phase inverted. And voilĂ ! The speakers and the room acoustics actually disappear. It's like magic. It is magic. Audio Magic. Then we'll do another pair just like that and what do you get? A section of 24 string musicians that sound like a real orchestral section, in stereo no less. Repeat the same for the brass. Repeat the same for the woodwinds. Repeat the same for the backup vocalists. And then don't have the solo vocalist repeat anything. I've been utilizing this technique since 1979 quite successfully. I snicker through a lot of this since I'm one of the few people who has done this for so many years. It's actually also a great way with digital recording today (no extra analog tape noise) to deal with crappy small room acoustics. If you don't bump or touch any of the microphones the crappy acoustics will also have a tendency to cancel. But you have to have those fold back speakers on for both passes for this to work. Any initial movement of any microphone will completely zap the timing differential between any microphones that should be canceling.

    You can call me Capt. Can Do
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I should have also indicated that even in the studio, it may be very advantageous to record your vocals with that venerable SHURE SM58 as is commonly used in stage productions. That's why a lot of rock and rollers like Bono, Steve Tyler & even the late, great, Michael Jackson utilized in the studio SM58/SM 7 dynamic microphones for solo vocals for what we'd known to be platinum selling albums. No stupid condenser thingy required. Not everybody sounds good on condenser microphones and you might be one of them. But I think performance value over headphone mixes goes much further than everybody thinking they should be utilizing headphones. And that's why I do it that way. Sometimes, smaller speakers utilized for fold back, positioned correctly and not too loud cat also be effectively utilized without having to do the cancellation double pass technique. I've done that too. And sometimes that can even enhance both the sound and the performance.

    Kooky cutter production
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Much of what I would advise has already been covered. But, something that hasn't been mentioned that I have found helpful also has to do with phrasing. Adding physical motion to a phrase (arm movement - ending a phrase with specific physical point in mind kind of thing) can really give life to a vocal performance.

    Good Luck


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