Voice recording/mastering

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Kyof, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. Kyof

    Kyof Active Member

    Hello people, I'm new here and dutch (so not so good in english). I've a question about recording vocals. When I record the vocals, it sound very dull. I want to hear the vocals clear and bright, so that it's the top layer of the song, and not that I can barely hear it.
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Welcome to the forum! Your english is fine.

    Are you referring to the vocal track on its own being dull or when it is mixed in with the rest of the song? By "dull" do you mean, for example, that it is missing the high frequencies or just that it is quiet relative to the other tracks?

    Tell us what type of microphone, pre-amp (or audio interface) you are using and the type of room you record in.
     
  3. Kyof

    Kyof Active Member

    Hello, thanks for your quick reply. I'm an amateur on the audio recording area so I've not great skills or hardware. I've a stagg MD-1500 mic (very cheap) and an old viscount MM8ER mixer. I use audacity and a €5 sound card. The problem is that the tracks are too quiet for the musictracks. And by quiet I don't mean the volume, but it's not bright. I want it to be the top layer and that I can hear it very clearly, like any officialy recorded song. I guess it´s my hardware configuration that is simply too cheap and it really sucks but do you have any tips for improving the sound?
    (Sorry for the bad sentences and english and stuff, I hope you'll understand)
     
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you want the vocals to sit within the high frequencies of your mix, you have to eq both the voice and eq the rest of the instruments into their own area. That doesn't mean eliminate frequency bands. It just means you cut 2-3 dB out of whatever instrument is stomping on your vocals.
     
  5. Kyof

    Kyof Active Member

    Thanks for the answer, but I still don't get it. What you're saying is that I just need to put the music softer and the vocals louder? That doesn't solve exactly the problem. I need the vocals and the music to be one totel piece. When I just put the vocals louder it won't be one piece, then I'll still here a "soft" vocal track and a music track that is put a bit softer.
     
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    No, that isn't what I said although a novice very often makes the mistake of making everything equally loud. You need to make sure the drums dominate slightly their own EQ space; the guitar dominate slightly it's EQ space; the vocals get their EQ space. EQ=equalizer.
     
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Your vocal isn't sounding right or sitting right in your mix because of a lack of dynamic range compression and/or limiting on the vocal track, individually applied. We all do this in pop music, otherwise the vocals rarely fit properly with the rest of the music. This is where you don't want dynamic range. This is where you want limited dynamic range especially for the vocal. This can be accomplished with a hardware device (which you probably don't have). Or, it can be accomplished through many different softwares. Some are better than others. Most of us here have favorite pieces of hardware or favorite pieces of software for just this purpose.

    Plus there is a secondary issue here and that is, any microphone that has any kind of directional characteristics i.e. cardioid, figure of 8, super cardioid, hyper cardioid, all exhibit what is known as " Proximity Effect". Now we use proximity effect to a great extent on numerous instruments and vocals. Unfortunately with vocals, one can get a bit too close which will over exaggerate the Proximity Effect. Let me tell you, it sounds great on headphones and you'll fall in love with your voice. Unfortunately, when it's time for it to come out of the speakers it generally sounds like mud. Now John is indicating that you should utilize a bell shaped or notching equalizer to remove conflicting instruments spectral content to make room or space for your vocal. Conversely, one can go ahead and roll off a little bass, maybe add a little extra couple of DB of presence boost between the 3 & 5 kHz region. In addition to that, you might want to try to add some high-frequency " air", by providing a little boost around 10 to 12 kHz with a shelf or peeking high-frequency equalizer setting.

    Generally, I'll use boost, with any frequency, that I feel is lacking in the tonal characteristics of a particular instrument in the recording. Sometimes I'll cut certain frequencies that I feel are too overly dominant in their perspective character. However I know plenty of engineers that refuse to boost anything and generally will cut other tracks to "make room`. My mixes, quite frequently, only allow for "standing room only". If something sounds like it's playing out of a cardboard box or a metal trash can, that's when I cut. Otherwise I'll try to enhance anything I feel that isn't up to par or my standards. It's all in how you & your technique dictates to you to achieve a listenable, enjoyable mix and not trying to emulate the super high, over maxed out high frequency energy you hear in many "hit records".

    Your desire to make your vocals sound more natural dictates the need for the use of the microphone's own " bass cut" filter. This filter may also appear in your software equalizer and be referred to as a " high pass" filter. High pass simply means bass cut. Low pass is the inverse and simply means high-frequency cut. The one thing you don't want to pass is gas. This can have a detrimental effect on your clients & their mix. Of course if enough gas is passed, you might get an explosion of sound, with the ignition of excitement. This can be hazardous to your health & mixing skills. So the only kind of gas you want passed is the one when everybody goes " WOW", which creates a high volume of air moving.

    You've got to find that wow factor through creative uses equalization & compression. Or perhaps the creative use of compression along with equalization. Both ways are similar but different and you need to try both in my above recommended order. You might want to equalize, compress & then equalize again? You might want to compress then equalize, then compress or limit again? So many choices. So much time to make choices. We don't just record vocals. We record & process vocals to make them sit properly in the mix. We don't generally compress and/or limit operatic singers however. Although extremely gentle compression may be required just to produce the right feel on the vocalist.

    All of these techniques are particularly important since there is no electronic equipment made whatsoever that can accurately translate to our perceptions of natural hearing. An electronic reproduction will have to be manipulated to be enjoyed. Otherwise, just because you are recording " naturally" doesn't mean it will sound natural. In fact it's quite the opposite generally. Things generally sound much more natural when you make them sound artificially unnatural utilizing our years of learning & technique, equalization, compression/limiting, time displacements manipulation, various microphone technologies, various preamps and the hits just keep on coming. This is not to say you can't make a fully complete & professional recording utilizing a couple of Shure SM58's & a cheap Barringer mixer along with some free software. Because it ain't what you got but what you do with it that counts. That makes all the difference not the gear. Profession dictates that we make a professional sounding product. It doesn't mean that we have to utilize professional equipment to do so. Of course when one has the luxury & option of utilizing professional gear, you can generally expect an easier time obtaining what you want. People just don't understand how I can make a quality recording on a broken 30-year-old Peavy PA board? What's there not to understand? I have enough knowledge to know what they board can or cannot do. Understanding this allows one to work around its inherent limitations.

    Experience gives you the knowledge to know what to avoid.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     

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