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Tips and Tricks For Recording Vocals

Member for

17 years 9 months
Please add to this thread at will. It would be nice to have as many as possible so that it can become a resource for our members. Also please lets number them so it becomes an easy reference for everyone- thanks- :D

1- Make your singer comfortable and get extra people out of the control room. Extra people in the way will interfere with a good vocal performance 9 out of 10 times.

2- Have plent of liquids (read water here) for your singer.

3- Try different mics and pres with your singer, if you have the time.
If you find the right combination it will make all the difference in the world

4- Make sure the singer has his lyrics available in case he/she needs them. Try to post them nearby, like on the mic stand as the russle of lyrics in the hand often finds its way into the take.

5- try to get at least three to four takes out of a vocal so you can do comps later-

Comments

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 05/13/2008 - 07:23
webtroy wrote: I am not a profesional, but i've heard.

16- I've heard that mic should always be placed higher than the mouth of the vocalist, reason being... That it makes it so that singers head is facing on an upward slant, opening the vocal cords, resulting in a clearer and more efficient vocal clearity..

this is probably a "we all know this already..." .. but i thought for the noob that walks in here.. might find it useful.

This noob finds it helpful

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 01/10/2006 - 17:33
This applies particularly to hardcore where the singer's vocal cords get shredded pretty fast.

27) Space out the vocals so the singer doesn't have to do them all at once. If the session is typical overdub do one or two scratch guitar tracks with the drums so you've got the basics of the song. Then have the singer (I use the term loosely) do a vocal take every hour or two as you're laying down tracks.

Member for

15 years 10 months

hueseph Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:10
TrevorL wrote: [quote=webtroy]I am not a profesional, but i've heard.

16- I've heard that mic should always be placed higher than the mouth of the vocalist, reason being... That it makes it so that singers head is facing on an upward slant, opening the vocal cords, resulting in a clearer and more efficient vocal clearity..

this is probably a "we all know this already..." .. but i thought for the noob that walks in here.. might find it useful.

This noob finds it helpful
TrevorL if you read the responses to this suggestion, you will see that this is actually a misconception.

Member for

9 years 11 months

Mojito0481 Sun, 10/16/2011 - 11:10
61 - Avoid presets... each voice is different and requires personalized adjustments.

62 - Record in an area with low lighting. I find that most people I record perform better this way. More mental energy is focused on performance rather than sensory input.

63 - K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) Avoid using EQ's or FX's on the vocals during recording. These can always be added later, but can't be removed.

64 - Vocalist who record themselves at home are often more comfortable (and grateful) to record in the studio. For this I recommend using a very simple DAW like the one included in the [[url=http://[/URL]="http://vocalixir.com"]VocaLIXIR kit[/]="http://vocalixir.com"]VocaLIXIR kit[/].

Member for

17 years 9 months

maintiger Tue, 08/02/2005 - 13:29
thanks pokie- I've been a little lax about people not numbering their suggestions so I went back and did'em. here is an apropos one:

20- be ready and organized when your talent is recording. Have a plan of action, don't waste the talent's time neddlessly as this will probably result in a sub-par performance. The voice is an instrument that is built in the mind, body and soul., Any stress can result in a inferior take. Pamper your singers, your tracks will definitely thank you!

Please members, keep numbering the suggestions so we can refer to them by numbers as needed! :D

Member for

8 years 6 months

pcrecord Tue, 01/13/2015 - 05:45
NovaRed, post: 423622, member: 48767 wrote: What are the ESSENTIAL plugins for great vocal mixing?

The essential plugins are NO plugin! If you have the right mic and preamp and use a good technic, you may not need any plugin if the tracking is done right. I say that because, a good performance and capture can't be replaced by any plugins or tricks.
If the track has problems, you use the tools to fix them.
The common tools are Deesser, Gate, EQ, Comp, limiter and tuning software :rolleyes:.
Common effects that rather go on a AUX bus are: delay, reverb, chorus etc...

Member for

17 years 9 months

maintiger Tue, 08/02/2005 - 13:39
Here is a couple more:

21 Experiment, experiment, experiment with mic placement- Sometimes a couple of inches one way or the other will make a world of difference in your vocal tracks

22- If you have a multi pattern mic try the singer in omni and figure eigth as well as the usual cardioid. i have a couple k2's I use a lot and the optimal sttings are usually somewhere in between.

23- get out of the vocal booth into the control room or tracking room. Sometimes the vocal booth will 'suffocate' your vocals. If you have a home studio try putting the singer in the biggest room in the house (as long as there are no external noises, of course.

24- Have fun If you are in a bad mood your talent will pick up on it and it will affect their performance. Believe me, it will!

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 01/13/2015 - 08:04
It's fairly subjective - assuming that you already have a nice, high quality pre that delivers a great dry vocal signal to begin with (and to work from) - it also depends greatly on the performer, and the song.

I suppose a "general" consensus from most engineers on their preference for vocal tools, would most certainly include a really good EQ and compressor.

I know many engineers whom I respect that also use de-essers; although I've gotten away from using them in the last 6 months or so, since switching to Samplitude; the Object Editing in Samp allows me to get into just the sibilance wave form and, either reduce the volume of the sibilance, and/or possibly using some reductive EQ as well; I find this to be a smoother and better sounding method, because - unlike using a de-essing plug, where you can risk losing some of the nice frequencies that are being attenuated along with the sibilance - I can keep those nice frequencies that reside just above and below the freq's of the sibilance, so, I'm not "throwing the baby out with bathwater", so to speak.

I've also heard about a plug from Waves called the Vocal Rider, which, from what I understand, is kind of like having your hands on a fader, and controlling rapid, fast-happening amplitude changes; similar to what a compressor does, but it differs in that it's not raising the softer parts at the same time while it is keeping the transients in check like a compressor does. I haven't used it, but I have colleagues who have, and they've mentioned that they like it...

The nuances, the esoteric things would be, as Marco suggested, a nice reverb or delay processor. I'm personally a fan of [[url=http://[/URL]="http://en.wikipedia.org/w…"]convolution reverb[/]="http://en.wikipedia.org/w…"]convolution reverb[/], which uses various environment-measured impulses. I pick a space that I feel is appropriate, select stereo, mono, or MS processing, and then tweak them very slightly to make it sit nicely - and by "shaping", this usually involves some pre-delay adjustment, maybe a decrease or increase in the tail, and an overall balance between wet and dry. I don't do a whole lot of other reverb-parameter tweaking when I use impulses, because doing so kinda defeats the purpose of using a particular space.

Often, I will use delay instead of reverb on a vocal. Using the right kind, and with the the right settings, a delay can sound awesome on vocals, and provide a really nice sense of space.

As far as processing - which includes EQ and Gain Reduction - I will either insert these intothe track, or into the bus of the track. I don't insert effects. I use auggie returns for these, and then control the amount of the effect in the mix by adjusting the level of the aux return. Samplitude creates aux "channels" that mimic a "regular" track/channel, so I can also EQ and Pan the effect, along with controlling the level of the effect using the fader.

Other than that, you're just gonna kind of have to see what works best for you. Starting with the right vocalist, the right mic, and the right pre is paramount though. It sets up the foundation, and more often than not, you end up using a lot less filtering than you would if you were using a cheap mic and/or pre. If you don't have a nice sounding vocal track to begin with, both in performance and in fidelity, you can add all the processing and effects in the world, but it won't help much, if at all.

Final Note: If you find yourself spending more time "repairing" vocal tracks than you are simply making small changes and getting them to sit nicely in with the rest of the tracks on the song, then you probably need to try and narrow down the reason(s) why you are spending so much more time fixing - than you are mixing. ;)

FWIW

d.

Member for

8 years 6 months

pcrecord Tue, 01/13/2015 - 08:35
DonnyThompson, post: 423625, member: 46114 wrote: I suppose a "general" consensus from most engineers on their preference for vocal tools, would most certainly include a really good EQ and compressor.

The key word here is GOOD.. Because no EQ are equal and neither are Compressors or any plugin for that mather.
Even if we put a side the emulations of classics on which we can debate for years.
Supposivly transparent plugin utility, EQ, Comp and others, are in fact not always transparent.
They may insert phase issues and undermine the quality of the mix. it all depends how they have been coded ;)

Member for

15 years 10 months

mark_van_j Tue, 01/10/2006 - 21:24
I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet....

28. Create an ambience in the studio or vocal booth that will make the singer comfortable.

This includes, dimming lights, candles, insense, flowers, posters, pictures. See if working out the ambience according to the song mood affects the singer. If it's a darker, mellower song, try to create a dark and mellow mood. If the song is upbeat and happy, try to reflect it in the ambience.

Member for

8 years 10 months

e-mixmaster Mon, 11/05/2012 - 14:33
omni is all good, believe me !

moonbaby, post: 395724 wrote: e-mixmaster:" ...and surely it is a bit frightening to have all the reflections coming at the mic, be it a vocal booth, or a big live room."

You got that right!


But I asure you the results are amazing ! may be I can send you some audios so you can check it out. I like to experiment a lot with mics and all, even recorded some drums with just one mic in omni, and the result was a clear image of the drums with zero phase problems, which in multiple mics you always have to struggle during mix down, no matter how good phase coherence is there. You always get some cancellation.

But we are talking about vocals... I don`t want to deviate the thread's original subject.



Best Regards.

[[url=http://[/URL]="http://e-mixmaster.com"]Home - e-mixmaster.com[/]="http://e-mixmaster.com"]Home - e-mixmaster.com[/]

Member for

16 years 6 months

moonbaby Mon, 11/05/2012 - 14:43
I agree with you...to a point.
An omni will tend to have a flatter response than a cardioid (or other directional pattern), all thing being equal. But they aren't; rooms these days are often a makeshift bedroom, the garage, or a basement with a low ceiling. And as many VO's as I have done, I have never heard a vocal booth sound decent with a wide-pattern mic, in fact a shotgun was hardly bearable. In a perfect world, there would be no reason to teach a performer mic technique, how to move the pop filter in and out during phrase changes, and the like.

Member for

21 years

Member Mon, 06/05/2006 - 14:42
webtroy wrote: I am not a profesional, but i've heard.

16- I've heard that mic should always be placed higher than the mouth of the vocalist, reason being... That it makes it so that singers head is facing on an upward slant, opening the vocal cords, resulting in a clearer and more efficient vocal clearity..

this is probably a "we all know this already..." .. but i thought for the noob that walks in here.. might find it useful.
This is actually a MAJOR fallacy. NEVER have a singer lift their chin. It actually does the opposite, by closing off the throat, and makes it harder for them to reach the pitch on higher notes. It is actually better for them to slightly drop their head, which will open the throat and actually make it easier for the singer to reach the pitch. I've had to work with many a singer to get them to stop singing "up" to the mic. They are always amazed at how much better it sounds and how much less effort it is to sing when their head is dropped. This is from years of experience as a singer, a vocal coach, and an engineer.

Member for

13 years 6 months

Discrete Sat, 03/15/2008 - 20:31
CrackerBrand wrote: [quote=webtroy]I am not a profesional, but i've heard.

16- I've heard that mic should always be placed higher than the mouth of the vocalist, reason being... That it makes it so that singers head is facing on an upward slant, opening the vocal cords, resulting in a clearer and more efficient vocal clearity..

this is probably a "we all know this already..." .. but i thought for the noob that walks in here.. might find it useful.

Found useful by Noob.. thank you!

Just wanted to point out that this technique was lobbied against just a few posts later. Someone else said that lowering the head for singing was actually better for reasons described in the post.

Member for

10 years 6 months

L7Records Mon, 03/07/2011 - 23:12
56. One "unorthodox" technique i will sometimes use for shy singers or singers who just can't get used to headphones is to position a quality large diaphragm condenser about 5 feet away from the monitors with its back pointed directly at the left (or right) monitor. Turn off the other monitor (the one that is not facing the mic) and record your vocal take. Than without moving the singer at all, mute the vocal track and record a "bleed through" track. When you are finished, phase the bleed through track and raise the fader until it matches the bleed through on the original vocal take, this will greatly diminish the bleed through on the original vocal take, as the phased bleed through track will cancel out most of the original bleed through. A word of caution though, make sure you are laying vocals to the FINAL TAKE haha as some bleed through is inevitable. Hope this helps.
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