Clean Vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by jhagertybhs, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    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 rode 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?).
  2. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    Oh yeh, I'm tracking with Minnetonka's MxTrax for Dsp Factory. Thanks.
  3. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    The tip to clean vocals is knowing first whether or not the recorded sound is an acurate representation of the actual person.

    If so then don't EQ any at all! It's highly recommended to always track the vocals to the way that the person actually sounds like in real life!

    Really listen to the vocal as it's being recorded and when you mix concentrate on trying to see if you hear the same thing or not!

    If you do, dn't EQ! Only add compression to help bring it out of the mix...then add some reverb for effect only..sometimes dry vocals stand out more so than anything! Look at G Love...he's a reverb nazi..won't have any of it on his vocals in any way!

    Sometimes a hint of chorus is all you need as well!

    There's no magic setting for's a matter of knowing how to enhance the real voice!

    Opus :D
  4. Hey j, Welcome to RO.
    It appears you may be doing too much processing, which seems like an obvious answer. That answer begs another question, how to do less processing and keep it sounding pro. Here are some recs:

    1. Keep processing to a minimum- try to get as close to the end result as possible when you are actually recording the vocals. I don't know what gear you have, so use what you can of the following:
    A. Mic choice affects tonal response. If you have two different mics in your arsenal, try changing to the other one to get closer to your desired sound. There are thousands of threads recommending good mics- here are my recs: Shure sm 57 $79 (dynamic), Studio Projects B1 $79 (condenser).
    B. Mic placment affects tonal response. Move the mic around to get the tone you are looking for from you vocalist. Use a pop filter.
    C. Mic preamps affect the sound. I am not suggesting you run out and buy a $2000 preamp, but if you have more than one kind, try changing preamps to see what unique characteristics each has (good low cost pres include the Studio Projects VTB-1 at $129 and the Really Nice Preamp at $475).
    D. Using a hardware compressor will give you a different sound from software comps, and will save you a stage of processing. Downsides- more money to spend if you don't have one, and you can't undo. I highly rec the RNC (Really Nice Compressor) from FMR at $175.
    E. If you can eq while tracking, that will save you a processing step later. This is one of the most tricky and controversial steps- many people don't eq to tape. This is hopefully unnecessary, but could prove useful. BTW, "cut" where possible to avoid "boosting" (if the high end needs to be sharpened, try cutting the low end instead of boosting the high end).
    F. Use reverb as a send, not processed thru. An aux send/bus function in your computer program will allow you to "send" some signal to a separate track where you can set up your reverb, allowing you to have the original signal untouched.
    So there you go. Don't spend any money unless you are sure you trully are going to use the gear, try the free tricks first. Also check out Kurt and the gang at "Small Steps" forum. David
  5. Hypothesis

    Hypothesis Guest

    As David_Doc stated above, THE 3 most important rings in the audio chain are:
    and those are the things you must pay a decent sum of money for if you want to get those crispy clean in-your-face vocals you hear on your favourite records. The next thing, which is as important is the recording room acoustics... If you think you can get a good vocal (or any other) recording in an acousticaly non-treated bedroom or a small vocal booth, you are very wrong... The frequency (and impulse) response of the room significantly affects the colour and general quality of the sound (see the Studio and Control Room Acoustics forum moderated by Ethan Winer for further info on acoustics)... I'm telling you all this, because sometimes the vocal "seems" to be recorded well, but when you add EQ, Compression & FX to it, it makes a lot of "MUD" in the mix, and starts dissolving... Few of the main causes for this are :

    - The recording chain (MIC/PREAMP/CONVERTER) just isn't good enough...
    - The room acoustics is bad
    - Theplug-insare crappy :)
    - You should definitely use LESS FX, because when FX are concearned less IS more

    The subject is really HUGE, but I think you will start seeing (hearing) some really big improvments if you invest a bit time (& unfortunately money) on the things I advised... Also, if your vocals are not present enough, you could try fixing them with a bit of an Aural Exciter... Hope it helps... CHEERS !
  6. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002

    a) about your control room... Is it too dead? I mean, do you have sonex or similar clones everywhere?

    b) Which monitors are you using?
    c) How did you set-up your listening environment? Are the monitors too close to boundaries, walls?
    d) When you listen to your favorite CD references do they sound too dry also?
    e) sorry if this might sound dumb, but are you using your reverbs with aux sends or inserting them directly on the channel?
    Evaluate every info presented on here, they are all precious and keep us informed sow e can help you more.
    Nice thursday
  7. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    Hey all thanks for the replies. Alecio, here are some specs:

    I am using Behringer Truth Monitors which are sitting directly on a corner desk about 3 feet away from ears, next to walls. Concerning the fx, I have done both. I have tried using an aux send using Mx Trax and inserting directly on the track using AnwidaSoft Reverb in Wavelab. No other CD's don't sound muddy, only my tracks after finalizing.

    If ya'll dont mind, tell me more about
    "MIC / PREAMP / CONVERTERS", especially about the converters.
  8. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    At this point this is getting beyond the plug ins forums domain and this thread should be moved to the mixing forum!

    Oh moderator...would you kindly move it to that domain....please!


    Opus :D
  9. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Hi Opus! I think david agrees it can stay for a while!lol
    Nice thursday folks
  10. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Okay Alecio! No problem!

    jhagertybhs --Mind if I make it shorter and just call you Mr J?!!

    Anyways, as the others have mentioned there are some very crucial stages to recording and the cleanest most purest path is the utmost goal.

    Some pre amps, converters, microphones can induce more noise or change the property of the signal being recorded very easily.

    You want to choose the gear that maintains the same sound that comes in and sends it out that way without coloring it too much!

    Converters for your A/D is the most important step when going into digital. There's a great saying for this..ok, two...
    Garbage in..Garbage out OR Some converters will happily degrade your audio!

    Obviously Pre Amps need to be as clean as possible..Take a look at the Manley and Sebatron forums for some ideas on types of pre's.

    Microphones need to be able to capture the element as purely as possible..certain mics should be used on certain applications..but then again having a wide selection allows you to pick and choose or combine them to get a cool sound. Certain mic techniques are good to learn as well!

    This is just the beginning but at least my quick and dirty version!


    Opus :w:
  11. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Hi jhager!

    without being rude, I don´t think that the Behringer monitors will help you very much doing a top job. I am not sure they will translate fine. Your room is very important at this point. Wes, Ethan and Rod are the right guys to help you in this subject.

    I myself prefer the Monitor Ones and they are similar on prices.

    I agree with Opus that now this post should be moved to Uncle Kurt´s/Davedog or Steve´s/20db room.

    Avoid applying reverbs directly to an insert, ecept you want to create a unique effect on one or few songs. It will end up too washed. Paralell processing is the way to go.

    If I remember fine, the Yamaha DSP factory is an 02 rip off. So I can tell ya for sure that the bundled reverbs are reasonable, like the rev room and rev hall algorithms.
    If ya wish I can send / write ya some vocal comp/eq presets. They are not suitable for everything, but shall help ya with staring sketches.

    About microphones... there are lots of nice cardioid condensers out there with decent prices. I would choose an At4033, which is a nice mic. Even better, look at places like ebay and pick an used at 4050.
    I agree with our friends here. The RNC and the VTB-1 are nice mic pres/compressors as budget front ends. :p:

    Nice thursday
  12. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    Thanks for the reply Alecio. Yeh, if you would jot down some that would be great! Thanks all.
  13. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    you´re wellcome. Just drop me a PM.
  14. I would like to keep this here because it has been discussed ad nauseum in the other forums, but might help somebody who just comes straight in here. Obviouslyplug-insare just a small part of the overall signal chain, and the best rule-of-thumb is "less is more". However, that is not to say thatplug-insare not useful- they have their uses. David
  15. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    I was relly surprised that Steve Devino sold all his outboard compressors and now uses everything from his TDM/RTAS DAE folder.
    Compressor banks are very niceplug-ins In fact one of the few I really get comfortable with.
    David, sometimes a combi between Vintage Warmer and CB1/CB2 can provide very nice results. You guys do need to check it.
  16. nuclearmoon

    nuclearmoon Guest

    Hey J--
    You'll have to let me know where in MO you are :w:

    My stupid simple suggestion is to export your track WITHOUT any plugs on it. Does it still sound over processed? That may quickly give you an answer as to what is causing this problem. Maybe it is something in your DAW or in the file format you are printing to. Maybe it is over use of FX. That's my troubleshooting tip! Good luck!!!

  17. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest


    I'm in Southest MO. Around Farmington. You??
  18. nuclearmoon

    nuclearmoon Guest

    Springfield, now, but went to high school in Dexter!!! Small world, huh?--Daniel
  19. jhagertybhs

    jhagertybhs Guest

    Yeh small world. I went to college at Bolivar! My wive - SMS.
  20. TACurtis

    TACurtis Guest

    It would be nice if he could put an mp3 up for us to listen to.

    I want to hear what he's got, then read what he thinks is "wrong" with the sound. There are some pretty educated ears here and it would be interesting to get their commentary. You never know; he could be on the right track but about the wrong thing. Having the tune to listen to (and not as a critique!) would be most helpful.

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