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Tracking Vocal

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Mario-C., Dec 11, 2002.

  1. Mario-C.

    Mario-C. Active Member

    Hi guys, this is my first post here...
    I'm recording a male singer with an incredible voice, his dynamic range is really wide and sometimes his voice gets really (and I mean really) loud, so I'm forced to compress the vocal more than I would like to and I'm ending up with a kind of dull sound, I'm using an AKG 414 and a Drawmer 1960 mic pre- compressor, so I was thinking I could insert a low pass filter in the compressor's sidechain to avoid losing all the high end, er...am I making sense ? what do you guys think ?
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    IMO, the problem is the Drawmer 1960 compressor. I had one of these. The compressor is of the vca type, which is very heavy handed...sort of like using a sledge hammer to kill a fly. They have their uses like on guitars and things you want to sound compressed. I use electro- optical type comps, like the LA2a, LA3 or a Manley EL OP. These are more transparent in their sound. Another choice would be a UREI 1176 which is an FET type. 1176 and 1178's (FET's) are a little more aggressive sounding than the EL OP types. These are the big gun makes of these type of compressors but you can find versions of these in the budget range if you want that. Seeing as how you could afford the 1960, ($2000) you should be able to swing a LA2a or the like. Once you try one of these I doubt you'll ever want to go back to the Drawmer. I love the Drawmer line of noise gates like the DS202 and 404's but I just never have warmed up to the Drawmer compressors. Like I said, I had a 1960 for several months and I ended up returning it to the store where I purchased it and trading it for a Manley EL OP. One of the best deals I ever made (except for the time I scored an LA2a from MC Hammers studio for $50!) .... Fats

    It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!
  3. antonio

    antonio Guest

    Take a look at the Avalon 737. You could compress real hard on the way in and it sounds very transparent. Good pre with good EQ and Compression built in.

  4. Mario-C.

    Mario-C. Active Member

    thanks for the replies guys, I'm planning to buy a new pre next year but for now it's way over my budget, so I guess I'm stuck with the drawmer for a few more months ....
    I've used some of the compressors you mentioned in larger studios and I do happen to like them a lot but unfortunately they are incredibly hard to get in Mexico City and if you find one the prices are just ridiculous, for some strange reason Drawmer is a lot cheaper here ( I got my 1960 for $1200 and a 1961 tube eq for about $1100) so that's why i got the drawmer....
    now that you guys know that I'm a poor man with a drawmer ;) what do you think I should do, record the dull vocal and eq it later, try the weird side chain idea, or patch the eq to the compressor and record with eq ? the last aproach sounds a little kamikaze to me but I don't have any real pressure to finish or get it right inmediatly so i can try different things....
    thanks again
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    When you get ready to buy gear just go to http://www.proaudiomarketplace.com and subscribe to it. It's $25 per year and there are tons of ads for new and used high end pro gear! Also check with Audio Images in SF for new gear. http://www.audioimages.com That's where I got my Drawmer and Manley gear. Ron Timmons is the owner there and he's a hell of a nice guy. He will do you right! In the meantime just try not to hit that 1960 too hard. Keep the ratio down to 2 to 1 or 4 to 1 and the gain reduction at 6dB at the most...that will keep some dynamics in the signal and retain sparkel. The idea of using an eq in the side chain is good too! Boost the lows and low mids so the comp works in those regions and leaves the mids and highs alone.
  6. Mario-C.

    Mario-C. Active Member

    thanks a lot for the links and the tips Fats, I owe you some tequila shots ! :c:
  7. droog

    droog Active Member

    another trick is two compressors in series: "high into low", ie high ratio and threshold into low ratio and threshold (or i've seen people do it the other way around)

    not as much obvious compression, but great dynamic control
  8. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Mario, I get this vibe..

    Meatloaf is extreamly powerful is he not??

    You have two choices IMHO

    Both are contradictary to the above opinions. I say this for capturing purposes (performace)..not mixing.

    Either get a set (2) of microphones (I do not listen with one ear always in stereo if possible) like the B&K 4004/4006 or even 4002 that can handle 140+dB at less than 1%THD (total harmonic distortion)

    ....Or use a Handheld 58 (non beta//SM58SHURE) and self compress it with proximity, meaning pull it away when you nail it or pull it close for sensual, more bass etc.

    Some of the greatest singers I have worked with (James Ingram, Carl Anderson, Raymond Myles (deceased), Brenda Russell, I have had issues with the one mic condenser..and we did it with a 58 because I could eq and compress the back end and get anything I wanted, condusive to the vox desired.

    Even Billy Joel uses this method to get the real results of his live sound, without diaphram breakup distortion.

    Hope this gives some insight.

    (Dead Link Removed)
  9. coldsnow

    coldsnow Active Member

    If you have the money the FMR RNC is a really nice transparent compressor for vocals for around $180. For clean compression you won't be able to touch it in clarity for under or at $1000. It can also be used as a stereo compressor so it is quite versital as well. http://www.fmraudio.com
  10. Mario-C.

    Mario-C. Active Member

    Meatloaf ? LOL, when you walk into the room you have to cover your ears when the guy is singing and he gets headaches after each session, go figure....
    I tried a couple of dynamic mics, the good'ol 58 and the sm7 but it sounded a little dark for this guy and I got these looks from the client, ( you know the why are you using that cheap mic kind of looks ) but I will definitely try the dynamic with this whiny singer I'm recording , anyways, cheers for the help :tu:
    about the pre amp I saw this new API channel strip type pre, an was inmediately interested any of you guys ever used one of those ?
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Try an EV RE or PL 20 .. These are a bit brighter than the SM7a ...... Fats
  12. sapplegate

    sapplegate Active Member

    Are you using the Drawmer's mic pre? Because in my experience it's the mic pre, not the compressor, that's particularly dark sounding. If you have access to another mic pre, even the pre's in your console, I would try that first and just use the Drawmer for compression. You're right though, Fats, that VCA can be rather aggressive!
  13. sign

    sign Guest

    Mario, I suppose you track to a DAW?
    I would never track with compression, only compress when mixing and even than mult to two channels, one with and one without compression.

    Track to two tracks, one with a lower level, for in case you have an overload on one track, you will have a track with a lower level. I even do this when I track to tape with a high dynamics vocalist.

    As for the microphone: when using a dynamic, I prefer the Beyer M88 over the SM58, but still go for a Neumann M149 anytime! :)

    Welcome to the forums!

    Peace, Han
  14. Mario-C.

    Mario-C. Active Member

    Yes i'm using the drawmer's pre and you are right it is dark sounding, but I think it sounds better than the ones in my mackie 8 bus, ( I use the 8 bus for monitoring) i don't know, those mackie pres sound thin and "distant" so I'd better start saving some money for a nice pre (and another desk, right now I'm thinking of buying a "soundcrap" ghost)....
    Yes I'm recording to a "DAW", from the drawmer to a digidesign 882/20 interface and into digital performer, I do record with compression to avoid overloading the A/D converter but i try not to overdo it....
    the second track idea is great man, i think I'm finally asking questions in the right place...
  15. kellyd

    kellyd Guest

    There are so many ways to deal with this in no particular order.
    1 manual gain riding. If you know the part well enough you can pull the gain down on the hot spots. Easier w/a fader than a knob.
    2 split the difference in level. Find a gain that works for the enitire part. Gain up the low sections in a DAW.
    3 Depending on the singer, you could track the quite and loud sections one at a time. Adjust your gain for optimum levels per section. Some singers don't like the lack of contunuity. I'll do this if it's what it takes. Not prefered if you're having vocalist vibe issues.
    4 The double compressor method works but you have to have great gear or it will trash the quality of your signal. Distressor fast and hi thresh into a Tube Tech CL1B works very well.
    5 Have the singer back off the mic on the loud sections. Problem, reduced proximity effect. Might change the tone too much. Start the voc at least 12" from mic. Closer to the mic the stronger the proximity.
    Probaly a thousand more methods that work. K.D.
  16. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Work with the singer a little bit on their technique. It wouldn't hurt for the singer to learn to pull back a bit from the mic when they "push" their vocal. Take a half hour and teach 'em something they can use for the rest of their singing career. I'm always amazed that singers don't necessarily "listen" to what's in their headphones, namely their relationship to the mic, the sweet spot and working proximity during a performance. Trust me, they'll appreciate having their eyes opened. Oh, and if they don't "get it" just grab a 58 and be done with it... ;)

    "Hand Limiting" (riding the fader) can help too but is harder with a nice pre if the gain pot is stepped. Also, FMR/RNC in "really nice" mode is sweet.
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Work with the singer? snarf, chortle, ah ha ha ha...rotflmao!
    A singer you can work with?
    How many singers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    One, they just hold it while the word revolves around them!
    ah ha hah ha, work with them..... :D Fats

    It's my opinion, I'll play with it if I want to!
  18. nyaben

    nyaben Guest

    I second coldsnow's comments re the RNC. There is a setting called "Supernice" which can control the input very nicely without introducing obvious compression artifacts.
  19. I think Bill has an interesting point.. the two mic setup. I do this almost as a rule of thumb with a particular tenor sax player who comes in. I hit him with two Sen. 441's and the results are astounding .. of course I think the 441 makes a hero out of an engineer on horns anyway, but I tried this once as an experiment with this guy and it's really quite something.
    Thanks Bill for making me remember to connect some dots once in a while .. I'll try it on vocals.

    As a side note, does this vocalist sound good in the room without a mic, and have you tried some other ideas like sending the track to two tracks and playing with it that way?
  20. GravityJim

    GravityJim Active Member

    I like the two-mic idea, too. Another mic suggestion... a good sounding dynamic for really loud male singers is a Shure SM-7.

    Of course, my first suggestion would have been to teach him to use a microphone a little bit better, but i can see that idea has already been deservedly discounted. :D

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