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Very hard time with screaming vocals...

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by hxckid88, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. hxckid88

    hxckid88 Active Member

    May 9, 2005
    I'm trying to record my band and vocals is of course, the hardest part.

    Our vocalist does screaming, and it has become difficult for a number of reasons. First of all, he screams loud, hes a big guy so I dont have to worry about him being too quiet. I am using a Presonus Firebox, and no other mic pre or anything. The mic I am using is a SM58 (sounded the best out of like 5 mics I tried). The vocals still come out very quiet on one track, I doubled it and still...

    I used two tracks in the center, and one panned left and right a little bit. There are few bands who pan it, but it still doesnt sound right.

    I added distortion (cubase LE overdrive plugin) and there we go, it sounded rougher, but still not better. I EQed his voice so that I could get it to stand out and sit on top, but still blend in with the music. I thought it was really good at first, but then I kept listening to it and I just think, blah, it sounds like crap (not to mention the take was ok, we were just experimenting to see how we liked it).

    So I added reverb, but I can't tell what kind of reverb I need, I wasn't sure if it was sounding better or worse because of the reverb.

    Another thing is compression. I always read, why do people use compression? Honestly I dont know what Im doing as far as compression, all I know is that it seems to need some sort of balance.

    I know it takes experimenting and just tweaking with things, but ugh I dont know where to start =/ Help me!:)
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Moderator

    Feb 23, 2005
    Compression will help the vocals "sit in the mix" better by keeping the volume fluctuations (this is referred to as "dynamics") within a certain"window". You probably should have tracked this dude with a BIT of compression to begin with. Too much is no good, but, maybe a little bit of "3:1" would have helped later on down the line. When you try to do what you want with EQ and reverb, you make things worse.
    Basically, compression keeps the loud parts from being so loud and the softer parts from being so soft. To "visualize" this, compression will keep your meter from going "into the red" while also keeping the sound from dropping down into the "noise floor".
    There are debates as to whether analog or digital "plug-in" compressors sound better. I tend to like the analog ones. A decent analog, like a FMR RNC, or any dbx, will help you achieve the results you are looking for. Be careful not to compress too hard; watch the GR ("gain reduction") meter, and keep it at no more than 6db GR or so. Compressing the initial tracking will also make the double-tracking much more effective. BTW, try to stay away from the Behringer and Alesis models, they tend to "dullen" the signal too much, and just don't sound good, IMHO. Also, remember that while compression CAN be used as an effect, you basically DON'T want to "hear" it that way, but hear what it lets you do with the mix. Can you grasp that concept?
  3. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    One thing I see you are doing wrong is panning 2 mono signals. If you put a spectrum analyzer on their sum it will equal a mono signal again. Which is rather pointless. eh?

    There is a recent thread where I am sking the denizens of R.O. about panning and stereo-ism. Look it up, its got some good info there. You dont "have" to have a stereo image for vocals, but if you want one, perhaps an MS recording setup would work better for you? Something to consider anyway.

    One thing you may want to try off the get go is parallel compression to make his voice tracks "bigger" Parallel compression is taking an unaltered track and summing it with a compressed track. Just route your mic inout unto 2 tracks, you should be able to route it to as many tracks as you like in your DAW.

    Not necessarily for vocals but sometimes I like to get away from the serial processing of effects that a standard bus offers and route an external device/signal to 4 or 5 mixer tracks. One dry and the others fully wet with the effect of my choosing. This makes your singal louder than hell pretty fast, but make sure your noise floor is low or you may end up hearing it. I usually use this technique with my analog monosynth with no problems, so your vocal tacks should be just fine.

    What distortion are you using for your vocals?
  4. hxckid88

    hxckid88 Active Member

    May 9, 2005
    Well, I know what you mean about panning a mono signal, what I did was offset one by like .01 seconds, so little that it simply sounds like light reverb, but its noticably panned. That is the only thing I did.

    Im not sure if Im understanding your second part. What I wanted to try was use two mics, one on top of the other. But I'd have to borrow another SM58 from someone or something, because it wouldn't sound right with two different mics unless they were both centered and I was able to tweak both of them however I wanted to.

    Eh, Im using the overdrive plug-in that came with Cubase LE

    and in reply to moonbaby, I understand that much. And theres nothing I can do at the moment as far as buying other hardware, I'm simply just putting together my band's first CD, trying to get some experience and understand the basics of recording on my own. Whats hard for me is how to go about it, and usually, I can hardly hear a difference in what Im doing, and I can't tell if it is being used correctly. I mean, if I double the track, should I compress one? Should do both? Should I put reverb on one, and distortion on the other? And for a lack of correct terminology, should I "enable" the compression as he records or compress it after? Should I EQ it now, or later? Those are my questions, because usually it sounds like crap and I'm worried, is it me, is it him? There are so many variables I'm not sure how to make it sound good.
  5. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    MS recording doesnt require 2 similar mics at all because the resultant singal is the sum and difference of the 2 sources. You need one that has a figure 8 pattern, and the other as a (hyper)cardioid.

    setup like this


    I suppose you dont necessarily have to use Mid side to get a stereo spread, if you just positioned each mic off axis, which would reduce sibilance and plosives as well.
  6. hxckid88

    hxckid88 Active Member

    May 9, 2005
    Very interesting, I'll definately try something out and work with it...

    What else could I do if I only had two cardioids? Could I acheive the same stereo effect, just to get the vocals to sound "wider"
  7. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    Keep it simple. Stereo micing vocals is very unusual, cool, but very unusual and probably unnesscary. Just...

    Stick up the sm58,
    Record a nice level eg peak level -3db

    Compress at 4:1 ratio, (try) 5ms attack, 100ms release, and bring the thresh down until you get about 6bd gain reduction on loud passages.

    Eq it by comparing to vocal recording you like, perhaps a live recording as they my well have used the sm58 too. Use three eqs. Bass: use a low shelf. Trebble: use a high shelf. Mid: a parametirc one. No more than +/-3dB.

    Try a stereo delay (L and R different delays- sometimes better than verb)
    Try a slapback delay (one echo- think John Lennnon)
    Try a long plate reverb try a small plate reverb, choose one.
    Mix to taste

    Boring, but if you can do this well you are a pro! It'll sound good too.

    ps- for me wider means small wide verb (or short delays either side)
  8. hxckid88

    hxckid88 Active Member

    May 9, 2005
    thanks alot that really helps. I'll definately try out some stuff. I think I get discouraged sometimes when it is not working out. I just need to experiment.

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