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I've been getting into composing my own songs and although I'm not a practised or very good vocalist, I get by. I have been recording a mate doing vocals and apart from the fact he's a far better singer than I could ever hope to be, I find his recorded vocals sound far better than mine. It's as though I make a better job recording him than I make recording myself.

Is this just symptomatic of it never being nice to hear yourself or is it just easier to record other people than yourself. I tend to add a bit of reverb and a touch of delay to disguise my bad vocals wheras my mate can get by without too much knob twiddling.

Any comments welcome



Mirrormix Sat, 09/10/2011 - 07:44

Well the inconvenient truth about tracking vocals is something we all know and many of us simply refuse to accept: It takes a skilled vocalist first.

As to whether it's easier to record someone other than oneself and get a good sound is concerned, I think it depends.

If you really sing well and you know how to record then the process of tracking yourself is little more than buying yourself enough time to press record, then get into position and finally making sure you can mentally focus when it's time to perform. I think that a skilled and experienced vocalist can do that with little problem unless they have some sort of mental issue with accommodating two roles simultaneously. In my experience it's not really a problem. But everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses and of course it's always ideal to not need to press record when you're the performer. Performers are always at their best when they can focus exclusively on performing. But again skill and experience allows the greatest flexibility when you have to settle for less than the ideal.

Vocals in general are just like anything else. Either the performer can pull it off well or they can't. When they can't they can look to find reasons outside of their skill and experience to explain why. But it always comes back around to the raw truth. One must be good at singing on cue if one is to be recorded and expect things to come out sounding good in general. If you're not that good then even a relatively small challenge (like having to record yourself) can trip you up badly.

...Is this just symptomatic of it never being nice to hear yourself...

With this specifically I'd say again it depends. You could actually be a skilled vocalist and not be experienced in recording or listening to raw playback, which can cause a mental lapse in focus while you're performing, which can result in an inferior recorded sound (compared to your potential). But still we're left with the bottom line which is even if under those circumstances you did end up producing an inferior performance that particular performance would in all probability be superior to the performance of a less skilled vocalist under similar circumstances. So while there is probably some truth to that possibility it's still the same problem of skill being the ultimate decider.

BobRogers Sat, 10/15/2011 - 19:15

Two basic recommendations: take vocal lessons and get Melodyne. Most people can sing reasonable well if they practice and gain some confidence. Singing is a physical activity and unless you are unusually handicapped you can learn to do it well - if not at a world class level. With just a bit of training you can learn a range of notes where you are comfortable and can always do well. You can learn a range of notes that are a stretch. And you can learn which note to avoid altogether. Once you know these things you will have confidence and a level of comfort. You will also learn to practice and develop strength. Vocals probably doesn't show as quick improvement as something like weight lifting, but you will be amazed what a little practice can do.

And yes, the dirty little secret - Melodyne. Hitting accurate pitch takes longer than singing nice clear notes. Melodyne can tweak your pitch (and control your vibrato and extend cut off notes) pretty transparently. Well worth the money. (And when you want to tighten up a horn part or cure a guitar that drifted out of tune in the second half of a song you will thank me.)

Mojito0481 Sun, 10/16/2011 - 10:52

I have always recorded others better than my own vocals. But still some people sound better than others. I think it is all due to (a) better vocalists and (b) my tendencies to apply the same adjustments to everything (not the best approach). Each voice is different and while it is nice to have presets, don't rely on them.

We are always more critical of our own performance as well.

Since you are just starting out I would recommend looking into [[url=http://[/URL]=""]VocaLIXIR[/]=""]VocaLIXIR[/]. It is like $20 and has some great tools. It has free recording software, tips on how to write and record your songs, and includes original instrumental music (so you don't have to use karaoke music). Good for just starting out.