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Nice Vocals

Member for

21 years 2 months
Hey all, I'm kinda a newby to the pc recording world so I have a few questions. First a little background. I'm recording only vocals on a RØDE nt1000 and using an old Yamaha Dsp Factory. My vocals are going down well, but after processing w/ reverb, eq, etc, I'm losing that clean sound, on CD it sounds over processed. Any tips on keeping a clean, up front vocal with a good sounding reverb (outboard or plugs?).


Member for

18 years 7 months

golli Thu, 08/07/2003 - 17:45
What mic pre are you using?
That is a quality mic, you're using, so (just a thought) maybe you should process a little less.
I mean if you're happyer with it before processing, and you're after that "clean" sound.
Are you routing the reverb on insert or aux bus?

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 08/07/2003 - 20:21
this is a suggestion based more on logic than on any personal expertise, but if you say your vocals are recorded well but then lose something after being processed and effected, maybe you should either:

a)do less processing or effecting
b)use better quality proccesors and effects
c) make sure you are not using faulty technique when processing and effecting

Sorry if this sounds like a smart-ass answer, as it wasn't intended that way!(Golli probably said it better anyway.)

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 08/12/2003 - 14:53
I'll take the risk of offering a suggestion, even though I'm a relative newbie with no credits to my name.

Good vocals have been a goal for me and my folk acoustic material, so I have ammassed some limited knowledge.

The key thing for me are your terms "clean and crisp". Let me break those two down as I'd interpret them.

Clean: even freq response, no distortion, no fuzziness, no edgyness (hard with the NT1000, I have it and it imparts some edge)... smooth highs and mids. Conversely, for me this means a fairly heavy cut in the lows, a dip in the mids anywhere from 150 to 800 hz and a presense boost (although the NT1000 usually doens't need this around 12K, since it's got it already) above 6K. This can also mean light compression with a fairly transparent compressor. know your compressors: some software and hardware compressors take some top off, and when misused the dynamics get wierd and it feels less "clean".

Crisp: no reverb, or hardly any at all. The minute you use reverb or delay, you are getting away from crisp, but it can be done.

Crisp Reverb Recipe: use pre-delay, so the first few ms's of the sound are percieved as dry. this usually means pre-delays around or above 30 ms.
Short reverb tails: no long drawn out tails to muddy the sound. keep it under 1.6 ms at most. Low cut: cut out the lows on the reverb and keep the highs. The idea is to add a touch of ambience, and not reverb.... ambience which will contribute but not muddy. high and dry is how I call it. high freqs in the reverb, and short reverb times with some pre-delay. If your reverb allows you to bring up the early reflections over the general reverb tail, mess with that too.

My habitual process is to cut some low-mid eq out of the vocal, then set up my reverb and blend it in till it's way overboard,and then back it off until it's just barely there. I tend to use EQ to cut the lows and clear out the mud of the vocal, and then very light delay or reverb to accent the high end reflections.

If that doesn't work, then I resort to EQ to pump up the clarity (ie high end).

Lastly, 2 things will make vocals more crisp and clear: a good clean preamp, and good converters. I know you probably hate to hear this, but even if you do all of the above, chances are you're starting with the sock in the speaker sound, and you won't escape it completely until you can start with clean and clear. Sytek with the Trannies is a good start, and so is the RNP.

I had been recording with the NT1000 for a couple of years, through a Mackie 1202 into an audiophile from Midiman.

Then I got a Korg tabletop recorder, and did an A/B test between the converters on the audiophile and the Korg. Night and Day. Like someone pulled a sock out of the speaker. The signature Rode high end was less grainy, more smoooth with the converters on the Korg. I couldn't believe it, and the Korg's converters aren't even that good! It was a jaw dropper... it was like hey... there's that sound!

so, crisp and clear you can get, but you're going to be limited by your pre's mostly. For now, try keeping the verb high and dry and see if that gets you closer to what you're wanting to hear.

good luck

Member for

18 years 6 months

vinniesrs Wed, 08/13/2003 - 22:50
Good suggestions from Ted! I would like to comment on this thread though. I too have my own explainations for clean=crisp and...shiny? Yeah that's it! Shiny. I like a clear polished sound. My usual vocal sound has a couple steps. First I find the most natural sound possible when tracking. If needs be I eq. This way I have a rich, clear full bodied vocal to play with. I have said it before: Fx on anything is like makeup on a pretty girl. You're not supposed to know it's there unless you look for it! I use reverbs with decay times that match the flow of the music, blending words together with each other, and with the instruments. I use eq's on the verb to add body or clear up mud. I often use an enhancer on the vocals like the bbe unit. Finally, a little compression, if needed. The reverb always comes back on a rail, so I can control the wetdry easily.

As with anything the music really decides what should be done for you, but I like the sound I get with this technique on rock, pop, and jazz(female).

Let us know how you make out.