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Vocal presence

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by MarkST, Aug 26, 2001.

  1. MarkST

    MarkST Guest

    Hi all,

    I have been doing home recording for some years now. I started with 2 reel to reels, moved to 4 track and now use a PC. I have accumulated a fair amount of "OK" software and equipment - good enough for my less than perfect ears.

    When listening to vocal oriented music (the first example that comes to mind is Joan Armatrading on songs from The Shouting Stage), I notice that when it is just her voice there is what I can only describe as "presence" to the voice. I have tried to replicate it using various kinds of reverb, but it always sounds echoey and further away instead of very close and intimate.

    So after all that, my queston is, is that achieved by a particular technique that I can learn, or is it dependent on very high quality specialised equipment?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    It's the use of good mic's & pre's, effective use of compression, and eq (as needed).
  3. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    I find that presence is accomplished by less reverb, not more (as you discovered). You use words like intimate, and present. To me that represents dry or almost dry. I find that reverbs kill presence, so I typically use delays when I want a vocal to appear in a bigger space, but not lose its presence.

    Also EQ can make a vocal less or more present. For example, an overabundance of low end in a vocal can make it more mushy and less present.

    It's very difficult to give you advice based on words like present. Hopefully I've touched upon something that can help.

  4. I like to use a couple of tricks to get presence on a vocal. The first is to do a high frequency bump around 16k for some air. Make sure you use a de-esser. Then route the vocal to the mix bus and to a subgroup. Compress the life out of the vocal on the sub and mix it back in with the regular vocal. You may need to cut some low-mids around 200-300hz on the squashed vocal. Depending on how agressive you like the vocal, you can use the sub-group vocal to add a little clarity or to push the it way out front.

    If you want some 'verb, make sure you roll off the top end and set a long pre-delay so that it sits far away from the vocal.
  5. MarkST

    MarkST Guest

    Hi again, and thanks for the feedback. I knew I would have trouble explaining what I mean, I don't have the professional vocabulary to describe what I mean in the terms you guys would immediately relate to.

    Mixerman, you are right - dryer is closer to it, but the effect I am looking for comes just at the end of a phrase, when the backing is almost silent, as the word ends there is a "tail" of sound - no discrete echos but an "ambience" of the vocal that lingers.

    God, I hope someone understands this BS.

  6. MarkST

    MarkST Guest

    Hi Lord Alvin,

    Sounds like you could be on the money, I shall try it out tonight!



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