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vocals not sitting

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by rudedogg, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    Hey everybody, I just wanted to try to dig up some info. I am having a really hard time getting vocals to sit in the mix with this band i'm recording. I've pulled out all the stops with the tricks I usually use, and nothing seems right. perhaps I recorded them with the wrong mics or I'm not eq'ing correctly, but i think they just seem to dry compared to the type of music.

    the music is rock in the flavor of a mellow pink floyd, but not quite so psychedelic. maybe just 70's rock style in general, but very pop oriented.

    when i recorded the vocals, i used either a rode k2 and a 57 next to it or a studio projects c3 with a sm57. i used a tiny bit of compression on the vocals coming in, with the k2 going thru a distressor and the c3 going thru a RNC.

    for mixing in protools, i've been using vocals bused to 3 channels,
    1. main vocal bus: bf1176 -> sony oxford eq -> waves audiotrack (to add some grit),
    2. verb send: using waves RVerb -> oxford eq
    3. delay send: waves ultrapitch ->either 1/8th or dotted 1/8th delay

    I'll upload an mp3 of the mix soon so you can listen, but I was wondering what some other people are doing when they have a vocal track that won't sit correctly in the mix.

    thanks,

    steve
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Perhaps you are actually adding too much processing to the vocals? You've already indicated you have used some light compression with some light equalization while tracking. That's what I normally do and I find generally, that I will use far less of anything upon mix down of that track. You may also need to " ride the level manually" while mixing. Something sound guys should be good with?

    You may also be hearing the difference between your compressor/limiter being of the RMS sensing type or the Peak sensing type? They both create a completely different sound especially on vocals.

    Maybe you're just being too critical of your mixing?

    Critical blather
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  3. JWL

    JWL Active Member

    Try using a low pass filter to roll off some of the high end, this usually makes things blend into a track more. Conversely, adding treble usually makes things stick out....
     
  4. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    i am getting some of the high's out with the audiotrack plugin. it add's some distortion as an effect to try to get a little more "grit".

    also remy: the delay and the verb are generally under the main vocal. the vocal sounds disconnected like it is too upfront. not vice versa.

    i've recorded a lot of bands, but i've never had vocals that sounded so disconnected from the music. it's almost like the vocals are too clean and i can't get them to sit like they are part of the song.

    i listened to it again, and i think i might have had some ear fatigue when i was listening to it before. i guess it is ok, i think that the vocalist is kind of mediocre and that is causing my mind to think it is a recording / mixing problem.

    i was still wondering what other people use as vocal chains. i guess i do mine different every time, but i usually use multiple vocals like doubles and harmonys instead of too much effects.

    thanks,

    steve
     
  5. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    I'm with Remy, you may be adding too much processing. The RNC tracks are probably the most suitable and will do well all on their own. The RNC just offers that Pink Floyd flavor IMHO and when coupled with a C3 I don't see where there should be any other processing necessary. Less is more.

    Sometimes when you process too much you lose a lot of mids and the mids are the best part of your track. Reverb can detract from presence of course and a little hard L/C/R panning can help your definition as well.
     
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Perhaps you are actually adding too much processing to the vocals? You've already indicated you have used some light compression with some light equalization while tracking. That's what I normally do and I find generally, that I will use far less of anything upon mix down of that track. You may also need to " ride the level manually" while mixing. Something sound guys should be good with?

    You may also be hearing the difference between your compressor/limiter being of the RMS sensing type or the Peak sensing type? They both create a completely different sound especially on vocals.

    Maybe you're just being too critical of your mixing?

    Critical blather
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  7. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    you guys really think that is too much processing??

    i use compression as an effect most of the time. i like the sound of stuff pumping, and i think it makes mixes sound good. there is definitely a fine line, and it is one that varies from mix to mix. but i hardly think a little reverb and a little delay in a send + light compression and eq is "too much processing".

    i wish you could see some of the sessions i've worked on. i've had at least 10-15 vocal tracks for one song with compression/eq + outboard eq compression and effects on 4 buses.

    i usually use only verb or delay for effects send, but my engineer friend in NYC who used to work at right track studios was telling me that delay+verb is standard on a lot of stuff he works on. so i thought it might work for me. i still owe everyone a mix so you can hear it, but i won't have that til later tonight.

    i guess if it sounds right it is right (or not?)

    steve
     
  8. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    ok, here is the link to 2 of the songs in mp3 format.

    please let me know what you think. i am curious if i am just trippin over nothing and the vocals sound amazing ;)

    also, the pink floyd reference is kind of retarded. these guys sound nothing like pink floyd. i guess i was just trying to say they sound kinda 70's ish rock to me.

    http://www.slantview.com/ro/spain.mp3
    http://www.slantview.com/ro/peel.mp3

    thanks,

    steve
     
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well Steve, I almost shed a "tear for fears" that you had a much too "simple mind" over your vocal sound! LOL No, I don't think these guys sound like Pink Floyd either?

    I think both tracks sounded dynamite with the minimal exception of, I believe, a little more overall high end may well be in order? At least it was not overbright as so many recordings are these days. I thought it was nice and solid sounding.

    I'm still not sure why so many people mix drums as if they were the drummer? It looks totally stupid if you try to take it to video unless the drummer is lefthanded of course?

    I'd be really interested as to what kind of console you used for this recording as it doesn't sound like your mothers Mackie Board? It sounds to me like it may have been a better pro console?

    Faking me out
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  10. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Nice Steve; really nice. You captured what sounds to me like an excellent "freshman" effort album. I mean that as a compliment because IMHO it's usually the first album for a band that really rocks.

    I think you did an excellent job with the vocals considering how busy the electric guitars are. Electric guitars eat up most of the space you want vocals to occupy on the sound canvass and that's usually where you have to rely on arrangement to make room. You kept the driving force of the electric riffs and still managed to maintain vocal presence. I imagine the depth of seperation is even more apparent on the 24bit file.

    These guys have a compositional feel that reminds me of Uriah Heep and those guys had to really put the vocals way up front to get away with not sacrificing driving rythm guitars and riffs. You could bring the vocals more up front by dropping the reverb and keeping more of the mids from the original tracks (or maybe even using a mic pre that provides a more focused signal) but what you've done already sounds well-balanced. I'd say it's a matter of style in production. A decision you've made in what kind of 'sound' you're going for.

    Question: how does the band feel about it?
     
  11. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    wow, what an ear you have. it was tracked on a PT HD3 rig with a yamaha 02r96 console doing the A/D conversion. some outboard pres (api 3124, 7th circle api/neve clones)

    the mics were minimalist, at4050s on OH, rode nt5s as rooms, 421s on toms, atm25 on kick inside, studio projects c3 on kick outside, snare was 57 top, audix d2 bottom.

    the guitar amps were nice. he had a vintage 70s fender champ and an old marshall jcm800. i doubled all the parts with both and mixed them together.

    everything has been mixed on a PT LE system 002rack with minimal amount of plugins.

    one thing i don't understand. my mics are panned audience perspective. maybe the image is a little smeared from the room mics? maybe my L to R volumes are a bit off?

    the engineer that i learned the most from and interned for a bit taught me to track with drums panned drummer perspective cause some drummers are too slow to flip the headphones around! i always pan audience perspective cause *it feels right dammit*

    so the vocals sound ok? i still don't think they sit all that great, but i guess i've been hittin' the recording crack pipe a little too hard.

    i'll work on getting the mix a bit brighter. my monitoring situation is not the greatest, so getting the balance is a trick. i tend to mix a little darker cause the highs are a bit hyped here at my house.

    steve
     
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I don't think you're image is smeared, I think you have your left and right channels backwards if you are mixing for audience perspective? In television they have a 50% chance of getting it wrong which they normally do.

    Otherwise a really fine recording!

    When I grow up I want to be like me
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  13. JWL

    JWL Active Member

    Hey Rudedogg,

    Sounds pretty close. Frankly, I think the biggest problem is in the vocal performances. I don't quite "believe" the singer, you know? But then I'm notoriously picky when it comes to singers....

    One thing, you may want to make the singer sound a bit more authoritative... find a good midbass frequency that gives the singer more "chest" and boost that by a few dB, 3, maybe 6 at the absolute most, wherever it sounds good, then reduce the guitar submix by the same amount at the same frequency. Juggle those a bit until it sounds right. You may need to bring the bass up a hair too after you're done.

    That should help the vocals sit a bit better.

    The drums sound good, the guitars sound fantastic, the bass is a bit buried on my laptop headphones.

    You're wicked close, though.... and there's only so much you can do without a killer vocalist. The band is really tight, it sounds good!
     
  14. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    thanks for the positive input guys. i've been doing this for like 4 years as a hobby, just started getting paid to do it in the last two years, but i record like 1 band every 3 months cause i have a dreaded day job and i'm usually really picky about who i record. (this project was a friend of a friend of a friend who heard other stuff i had worked on and came to me and asked me to record their band)

    remy: when you say audience perspective, you mean that the rack tom is panned right and floor tom is panned left? (and obviously room and overheads matching that layout)

    that is how it sounds here. hmm, need to check if i have cables swapped on my monitors, cause that is how everything sounds here. i hear high hat in the right, floor tom on the left. hrmm. i'll check into it.

    thanks for the suggestions JWL. eq'ing vocals is one of the hardest things for me. drums/bass/guitar i find quite easy to get sounds i like but i'm rarely excited about the vocal sounds.

    ok guys thanks again.

    steve
     
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I know I have my channels correct. I do believe you little PolitePuppy that somewhere in your signal chain you have swapped cables? I think you're doing a wonderful job, even with your dreaded day job. I do live talking heads sound for television news, which is my dreaded Freelance day job when I can get the work. I think doing that kind of sound definitely dulls one's senses which is why I try to keep by hand in most any kind of music recording when the opportunity arises?

    Moving up on a downward scale
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  16. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    some how i missed this post. well, that's a good question. one that should be answered in the next day or two.

    they are a brand new band and don't have a "sound" per se, although they are quite experienced musicians, all of them except the drummer are "older" (>35) so they know what they like and what they don't like.

    i'll report back about what their feelings were about the mixes.

    i still need to finish mixing 3 more songs and then i'll be (close to) done. assuming they like it.

    this is the first time i've had anyone critique my work that i don't know personally, and i have to say, it was a very positive response. that's really nice that everyone is so supportive around here.

    steve
     
  17. restashured

    restashured Guest

    A little chorus

    The mixes are sounding really good! I might suggest though, that you add a little bit of a chorus effect on the vocal. Since he makes a few pitch errors, chorusing should mask this and provide some more presence in the mix.

    Another interesting thing to try might be to run the vocal through a guitar distortion pedal or amp and mix that in with the original vocal. Just suggestions.

    Sounding really good though.
     

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