Recording Vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Suriah, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. Suriah

    Suriah Guest

    Hello guys,

    There's a problem with the recorded material, it sounds like a hiss, a noise, or something like that, without producing any clues of what's originally recorded, I guess there's something with the settings.. I use a condenser mic and a mic preamp (Behringer Ultragain Mic100), the preamp is connected to a PC. Could you tell me please, how to fix it?
    Thanks :wink:
  2. GregP

    GregP Guest

    It's very common for this to happen, particularly with condenser microphones.

    First, the preventative side of things:

    * your mic and pre-amp aren't 'pristine' quality, but you know what? Neither are mine! In fact, mine are pretty danged cheap. But you can maximize their efficiency by making sure your mic technique and levels are in order. That way when you have to turn the vox up, you will be adding the minimum amount of gain to the hiss!

    * make sure you're going into the "line-in" on the soundcard... the "mic in" has a pre-amp and will make things unusable

    * what kind of soundcard IS it, actually? That might end up being your weak link.

    * eliminate environmental noise as much as possible. Condenser mics are sensitive... you might be picking up the sound of a fan that's running in the other room! ;)

    Now, the 'fix it after it's recorded' side of things:

    One option is to use an audio editor like Audition, Acoustica (the one I use 'cause it's inexpensive), or even the free Audacity (among others).

    The way they work is:

    - Find a spot in your recording that is ONLY hiss
    - The editor will let you capture this as a 'noise profile'
    - Highlight the whole track and 'reduce noise' based on this profile

    You will be able to set the amount of reduction used. Now, since it's essentially selective frequency cancellation, going 100% will usually produce artifacts in your recording. However, using the default setting or experimenting around will usually do a good job of it!

    Another option is to find yourself a nice low-pass filter and start rolling off highs until the hiss is gone but the vocals are still intact. If the vocals start to get too murky, better to keep some of the hiss, IMO. A smidgen isn't a complete deal-breaker.

    While you're at it, you can always get rid of the bass rumble your mic may have picked up, in which case you'll want to use a "band-pass" filter instead, which basically lets you pass through a defineable band of frequencies. Or, in other words, you are cutting out low frequencies and high frequencies at the same time.

    As a member of the team, I'm a little biased, but I really DO love using BugPass from BetabugsAudio for band-pass or notch duties. Can't remember what the rules for linking are here, but you should be able to find it with Google.


    A third thing to consider-- does the hiss bother you even when there's singing, or is it just during the quiet parts? A Gate OR selective editing (just cut out the offending 'silent/hissy' parts) will take care of THAT side of things.

  3. Suriah

    Suriah Guest

    Thanks and could you tell me please how can I distinguish the line-in input from the mic one. I have 3 identical (by the sight) audio inputs, one is for the speakers, one's for the mic, and another one is line-in, isn't it?
    And also I point out that there is not just too much noise, but there is something like 'buzz' instead of the sound recorded.
  4. GregP

    GregP Guest

    Hrm... hard to say which input it is without looking at the card. Usually it's stamped right onto the metal bit beside the jack-- the microphone one will have a picture of a microphone next to it, headphones next to the headphone jack, and the last might be a symbol that looks sort of like circles with a line sticking into them. That's the line in.

    It sounds like you're using the wrong kind of soundcard for the job. If you already have a condenser mic and a preamp, you owe it to yourself to get even something "entry level" like the Audiophile 24/96 as soon as you can afford it.

  5. Suriah

    Suriah Guest

    Ok, I think I've found where to put the outline of the preamp, but there is still a 'buzz', although there is another thing: instead of waves that are produced by the vocals, the recording software (WaveLab) is showing a thick line showing that there's something like a signal. That line is only on the right side.
    Any ideas?
  6. GregP

    GregP Guest

    Yoiks... definitely smells of some sort of bad connection or faulty component.

    My guess would be that it's a ground loop of some sort....

    I'm only guessing because it's only on the right side-- but if you have taken a mono out from your pre-amp, and put it through a cable that splits them to a stereo plug, you might have brought some problems upon yourself. ;)

  7. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    Greg's giving you all the right answers. Aside from the other issues he's already addressed, I just wanted to 2nd the recommendation Not to split your mic signal coming out of the preamp. You'll generate a lot of noise and cause phase issues.

    Adapters can cause a lot of noise too, if the adapter is bad and more than likely you've got an adapter on there somewhere stepping a 1/4 inch connector down to 1/8 inch stereo mini-plug. If that's the case, invest in a molded cable that is already balanced 1/4 inch (or XLR) to 1/8 inch mini plug.
  8. Suriah

    Suriah Guest

    Thanx guys for your comments, and I am interested in the right settings for the mic preamp coz maybe GAIN and OUTPUT signals aren't correct so that, in fact, it seems that nothing was recorded.
    What do you think?
  9. mrufino1

    mrufino1 Active Member

    Apr 16, 2005
    Assuming all of your equipment is functioning properly, there likely are two issues going on, maybe 3. You didn't mention what kind of mic you have, but my cell headset and a c12 are both condensers, one is $10 and one is $10,000, but assuming it's a $100 chinese condenser, that's probably not the hiss. Behringer pres hiss a lot. I have a small board of theirs that I use for giving the drummer a click and the track if we play to tracks live, and that's about all it's useable for, because the preamps hiss a lot. SO that may be the issue right there. Next, the soundcard built into your PC is not really meant for recording, so that may be giving you hiss. Audiophile card mentioned before is supposed to be very nice for the money. Also, check your gain staging so that you are getting the best signal level possible. As for the audio on only one side, you are recording a mono source to a stereo in using a mono cable (or a stereo cable but your pre is mono), so you are only getting one side. For any real recording, you need a better souundcard for sure. Hope that helped.
  10. dwoz

    dwoz Guest

    I think you guys are all missing the point that he's recording NOTHING... there's no signal hitting his soundcard input, and his editor/recorder (wavelab) is recording pure hum, left side only.

    Here's my guess:

    a) he's got a mono 1/8" plug, going into a stereo 1/8" hole. Get the right kind of cable (stereo jack)

    b) he's got a nasty ground loop between the behringer and the computer. Needs to plug the behringer into the same electrical outlet as the computer.

    c) he's probably not turned on the phantom power to the mic.

  11. GregP

    GregP Guest

    cheers for seeing the forest for the trees, dwoz.

    I DID miss that point, and thought that there was a stereo recording being made, with the left being a horrible but recognizable signal (full of hiss/hum) and the right being just the nasty hum.

  12. Suriah

    Suriah Guest

    Well, there're still waves showing that there's a signal (left and right are presented now), but playback shows as if nothing was recored :!: Guys do you have any idea what can it be? I use CAD GXL2200 and the phantom power on the preamp is on.
  13. GregP

    GregP Guest

    Just to clarify:

    In your sequencer, you can "see" a stereo waveform more or less like this:


    But you can't hear it playing back?

  14. Suriah

    Suriah Guest

    Yes, exactly. But now I have figured out what was it, it was that I use 2 cables to connect the mic to the preamp. Now that the necessary cable is presented, everything works! Guys thanks for your comments :wink:
  15. GregP

    GregP Guest

    Glad to hear it's sorted out. :D
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