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Can this vocal sound better?

Hello all. First post and I'm already asking for help!

I recorded an original today and am pretty happy with the result. However, I think the vocal could sound better (yes, I know a better vocalist would help greatly there ).

The song is called "Heart Shaped Tattoo" and it should be on my MySpace page at

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Pro Audio Guest Sun, 11/05/2006 - 12:18

It finally worked for me for whatever reason - so I got a chance to listen to it. I did like the words and message of the song. Nice writing.

OK, I put it up on the monitors here in my project studio to give it a good listen. Here's my thoughts on it, and I'm going to be brutally honest, since I am assuming that's what you're looking for.

(I know you wanted to know about vocals, but in order to really let the vocals shine through, I am going to touch on other elements that can help make that happen:)

1) First of all, the acoustic is taking up too much room in the mix, and doesn't let the vocals really be the center of attention. Maybe pull out around 300-400Hz a few dB to eliminate the boominess I hear on the low G note in the chord. I'd even compress it some more so it doesn't "jump" out so much. Pan it every so slightly to L or R to give the center true space.

2) Normally I wouldn't apply reverb to acoustic guitars in this context, but I'm hearing a lot of the "room" you recorded in, which is a bit small sounding. I'd try to mask that slightly by adding a very very tiny touch of reverb. Just enough to hide the room-effect I'm hearing. You may even try EQ'ing the room out too. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.


All great vocals start with a great performance. I would perhaps concentrate on a couple of things to help with this track:

One, really concentrate on very clear articulation of words. Really try to form your mouth around the pronunciation to get those words really clear and resonant. It might even feel like you are over-pronouncing at first, but the difference can be night and day.

Two, pitch. There are a several spots where the pitch was off pretty bad. I think during the bridge where you sang "I've got a hunger" was particularly bending my ears. Your voice also sounded a bit too "tight" there, probably stemming from lack of breath support - which also can lead to pitch issues, due to tightening. I think you CAN do the pitch, so I wouldn't advocate using any "tools", but just work on breath support, and hearing it in your head to nail it.

It doesn't sound like you have any compression on the voice either (maybe it was all recorded with a couple of mics at the same time?) - but I would put some mild compression on to tame it and give it a smoother feel.
You certainly don't want to kill the dynamic nature of a live-feel tune like this, but just a little something to make it easier to listen to.

EQ wise on the voice, I wouldn't change much. If it were on my mixing desk, I'd probably add a couple dB bump up at around 80-100Hz just to give it some warmth.

I'm also hearing the room on your vocals, which makes it a bit boxy for me. In this case I would add a TOUCH of verb (very very light), and some pre-delay just to provide a thickening effect. This gives it a natural sound, without it SOUNDING like it's affected.

Sorry it's long, but I wanted to give as much feedback as I could.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, and may differ from others.

Hope that helps.

Croakus Sun, 11/05/2006 - 18:17
Thank you so much for taking that time, and also for being honest with me. I’m really looking forward to trying out your suggestions.

Regarding the room. It’s a 12 by 17 foot basement studio with sheetrock walls and wood floor. I’ve installed 703 based treatments to most of the walls, but the floor and ceiling are still reflecting a lot. I’m thinking of an area rug and some 2x2 panels of 703 on the ceiling just to break up the reflection. I never would have thought about using reverb like that, but I’m willing to bet it will make a huge difference in the feel.

I’m also still very much in the learning stages with regard to EQ. I know it’s the most powerful tool in the box, and I know just enough to be dangerous with it. As a result I tend to go on the light side. When mixing this one I knew the guitar was overwhelming but was afraid to cut the EQ for fear that I’d ruin it. I’m looking forward to trying your suggestion.

Once again, thanks for taking so much time to really listen to my recording (and my music).