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I`m workin on ways to get a smooth and full falsetto sound. Bee Gees, Delphonics and Earth, Wind and Fire are some acts who I think have great sounding falsettos.
Does anyone know anything about how these vocals were recorded? Mics, Preamps, Compressors, Mic Techiques, etc..


mixfactory Tue, 03/12/2002 - 06:59

The Bee Gees were what I called that famous 70's"Miami U87 sound"? A U87 with all of them facing the mic. Which Earth,Wind and Fire? The Massenburg engineered one? The Delphonics were probably U47(I can actually find out later on today, a good friend of mine sang and played with them and I will pick his brain if he remembers anything). Which Prince? Again there are different recordings, something more specific would help.

anonymous Tue, 03/12/2002 - 16:51

Yes if you can be more specific as to which Bee Gees album, or song, you are referring I can either tell you from my own involvement of Bee Gees sessions, or I can phone Karl Richardson (Bee Gee engineer/producer) and ask him (a great guy BTW) and he would probably remember... big brained sweetheart that he is.

anonymous Tue, 03/12/2002 - 17:01

Wow! I am totally impressed. The Bee Gees!
I'm looking at the back page of a local trade mag here called Mix Down. There's a full page ad for Rode Microphones with this quote:

"Instead of our pristine U47, we put up the Rode NTK. We went flat, no EQ, no compression, direct to the Sony 3348HR. The U47 didn't come out again!"
The quote is attributed to John Merchant, Producer/Engineer of the Bee Gees during the recording of their latest album, "The Record".

Of course it could be a case of "How Deep is Your Hype"- but you've worked with the Bee Gees? Please
although truly "I am not worthy" it would be interesting to see if this was/is true (the Rode mics not you!)
Kind regards

anonymous Tue, 03/12/2002 - 17:15

From uncredited assistant on Main Course, to credited assistant on young Andys (love out to ya kid) first album, to welcomed guest hanging (except when "pinkie" was in town) out on their subsequent album - singles - sessions (by this time I was a first engineer on other sessions and Karl was more that capable of filling that requirement). Come to think of it, the thought of me engineering the Bee Gees at that time would have been a bit like the tail wagging the dog, as Karl was an unselfish mentor.

This was the 70's man.. the only thing that sounded like 'rodes' in the studio was made by fender and that had an 'h' in the spelling.

BTW that groove on the Delphonics "What you See, is What You Get" is WICKED!!

anonymous Wed, 03/13/2002 - 16:56

Wow...ya peeps for real?

"¿HuH?"... if there is one event in recording history I wish I was present to witness`s when the Bee Gees "Fever-Sound" came to life. That must have been surreal.

"THETHRILLFACTOR" I would love to know how they recorded some of the Delfonics material. Delfonics..... man they legends!

I`m workin on a project now where contemporary R&B meets "Classic Philly Soul". It`s happening. This man`s got the coolest falsetto voice! It reminds me of Barry Gibb`s in the way it`s sharp and really agressive. (As opposed to the softer, airy soul falsettos of Earth, Wind And Fire, Delfonics, Isley Brothers, Stylistics, The Floaters and a lot of the other classic soul acts.

Still I`m having some problems getting the right vocal sound. So far I`ve been using an Avalon 737 and a Neumann TLM 103 aswell as Rode NT2. The result is o.k, but lacks the presence, punch and thickness I`m looking for. Why did you go for The U87 and U67 when recording Bee Gees? I`m considering getting a tube mic. Will that help? If so which mic will work well with the Avalon for capturing great falsettos?

Another problem occures when mixing. It seems a lot of mixing engineers have a problem dealing with the falsetto. Some even look shocked when they push the fader and realize they are dealin with vocals from outer space. They never get the EQ down right, and if they do they`ll be sure to blow it with super-heavy compression. Either way the final result is always too "boxy" and too thin.

So.....if you guys have any information that`ll help me improve the falsetto sound, I will be immensely greatful. Vocal chain, mic techniques/placement, EQ, compression...anything.


Tracks I consider to have fantastic falsetto sound....

Bee Gees:

Anything from "Main Course", "Saturday Night Fever", "Spirits Have Flown"

"Stayin' Alive", "How Deep Is Your Love", "Too Much Heaven" and "Nights On Broadway" are some of my favourite tracks from this era, but anything goes.


"La La-Means I Love You", "Sound Of Sexy Soul" and "Delfonics" are all great albums.

Favourite tracks are "La La-Means I Love You", "Ready Or Not Here I Come", "Let It Be Me" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)"

Earth, Wind and Fire:

Actually I`ve always wondered how the vocals on "After The Love Is Gone" from "I Am" was recorded. What a sweet sound. "September" is another great track.


"The Most Beautiful Girl In the World" Falsetto sound here is pure magic.


anonymous Wed, 03/13/2002 - 18:16

Hey Dex,

From my recollection...

Vocal Chain:

Barry Gibb >
U87 standard (battery pack) not Ai. (cardioid)>
Custom MCI mic pre (Jeep Harned design Solid State) and 3 band EQ (these were built especially for Criteria Studios).>
UREI 1176 compressor (black face).

I called Karl and left a message with his wife...
I should hear back from him tomorrow (hopefully).

Now for your project.. I suggest putting 5 different mics up and have your singer sing a line into each one no fancy preamps, no eq no compression. Pick the best one quickly without overthinking. The trick is to go from the gut and choose quickly. Now put up 5 more mics ... even ones you don't think will work... dynamics, ribbons, ect... and do it again, and again... then shootout the semi finalists to the one that has the qualities you are looking for. The winning mic may surprise you.
Now play with different pre amps... compression, you should be very close to the vocal sound you are looking for with that particular singer.

Hope this is helpful.

To tell the truth... we were haveing fun and enjoying the process, Barry was 'discovering' his falsetto... so they were excited, but no one had any idea what impact it was to have. It just felt nice.

Curious to hear what the outcome will be... :)

mixfactory Wed, 03/13/2002 - 19:43

Hi Dex,

Who is doing the mixes for you? The only way I would ever lay heavy compression on a vocal, is to give it a certain color(usually the sound of the compressor), but I would EQ some life back in it. This is usually if the vocal was not recorded well. But this doesn't sound like the case, so why is he doing it? What is the instrumentation like? I would seriously talk to this guy or find someone else. On the Delphonics I haven't had a chance to meet my friend yet because I've been a little ill. But as soon as i do, I will let you know.

anonymous Thu, 03/14/2002 - 07:31

Hey Dex,

I just spoke to Karl and he comfirmed the above mentioned vocal chain.

I agree with TTF on the compression issue too.
Try adjusting the attack and release to 'sculpt' the sound rather than adding more and more compression. Just an opinion.

Whats your budget?
Want to come to Miami and record and mix with Karl?
He is still active in the Biz.



anonymous Thu, 03/14/2002 - 11:30

Yo! Thanx for helping me with this. I`m truly greatful.

Maybe having Karl mix this thing, isn`t such a bad idea. You know anything he`s done lately. Instrumentation on this thing is strictly R&B. It`s Alicia Keys meets The Bee Gees/Philly Soul. Think he`s into it? How much does he charge?

"THETHRILLFACTOR" I can`t wait to hear what you find out bout The Delfonics.

anonymous Thu, 03/14/2002 - 12:26

I will ask him...
We were talking today about how much the L1 Maximizer and the Finalizer are over used to extreme.
He has been doing some Pop guitar bands
and some R&B stuff (old school) Betty Wright, I understand he's done some (new school) work with P-Diddy recently.
Why don't you email me the particulars of the project, format, number of tunes, and I will pass them on to him. Don't forget your contact info too.