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Lead vocal "presence" question.
Old 3rd February 2009
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Lead vocal "presence" question.

Hello all.

Equipment: Shure KSM32 Condenser, into a Great River ME-1NV preamp, into a Mackie Onyx FireWire interface.

Problem: I've tried absolutely everything (vocal doubles, Waves plugins, some hardware compressors), read countless posts... I cannot get vocals to sound in-your-face like what you hear on modern recordings. They constantly sound thin and overly-defined...trying to adjust low-to-mid frequencies results in muddiness, and reducing 8k buries them further into the mix. They always sound like they are far away!

I notice that 'professional' recordings have some kind of sheen that I cannot put into words. As if they are of larger mass than my recordings, and always sound 'closer' to the listener.


Does this description sound like something specific that I am lacking (in either mixing ability, or equipment)? Any suggestions how to bring the vocal forward in both sonic density and 'closeness'?


Thank you SO much. I've learnt so much from this forum already.
=Ferro=
Old 3rd February 2009
  #2
Gear Head
 
A.V.T's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Try put a "antipop" and make the takes very near of mic for more low frecuencies and record the voice without EQ. Waves have a good comp for punch voices , is the RVOX, dont reduces more than -6 db(+ or -) . Put a bit of reverb (only a bit). This should normally have a good voice. If you need make a special vocals Try make 3 good takes and put one in the center and the other two one in the stereo left and other in the stereo right but few DB less than the center, if you down or up the stereo vocals (L,R) you can hear the eff.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Maybe you need to treat your room. A condensor mic tends to pick up a lot of room sound, and you probably want to make your room extremely dry. Lots of foam all around, minimising reflective surfaces, works for me. It has to be thick foam, and you need some form of bass trapping, otherwise you get a muddy boomy room.

Most finished vocals in commercial mixes use a bunch of pscoacoustic processing. Maybe pitching shift chorus, or multiple layers.

You need several stages of dynamic compression and/or limiting too. That brings things up front and squashes them right into your face.

SUBTLE use of distortion can add the harmonics that give you a more-brilliant tone. A lot of the very desirable mic preamps exhibit this behavior. Maybe you need to spank your Great River a bit harder ...
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
dannycurtean@yah's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yeah, try pushing the GR harder on the input and back off the output. The KSM 32 isn't a stellar mic but I have used a 44 and I got great results even through a Presonus Tube pre. I did use a 2254 compressor and an API 550B EQ. If you want a bit more tone, after pushing your input on the GR and still not quite where you want it, I suggest you buy the Waves Classics bundle and insert in a API 550B and boost 400 Hz by about 4 DB....you will have a smile on your face. Also, if that doesn't work before the 550 insert the Waves C4 multi band. Solo the low mid band, and zero in to the offending ugliness and lower the threshold on that band. Then boost the 400 on the 550 and that should work quite nicely.

Again, just a suggestion.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Addict
 
nikodemos's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
room acoustics is a crucial factor as is your vocal technique....then you go to proximity-distance effects, mic selection, preamp......drastic equalization can't fix a weak take....it'll probably make things even worst due to phasing problems.....I think the best you could do is to focus on the acoustics of your room and your techniques (including mic placement and spacing)....another thing you can try is to experiment with compression during tracking to get a more punchier signal with "controlled" dynamics......compressing can have excellent results in low midrange boost of vocals (instead of an eq)....however the most important thing to remember is that a "bad" or even "not so good" take can NOT be fixed in the mix....you got to love what you hear in the first place.

good luck
Old 3rd February 2009
  #6
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bokip ➑️
Hello all.

Equipment: Shure KSM32 Condenser, into a Great River ME-1NV preamp, into a Mackie Onyx FireWire interface.

Problem: I've tried absolutely everything (vocal doubles, Waves plugins, some hardware compressors), read countless posts... I cannot get vocals to sound in-your-face like what you hear on modern recordings. They constantly sound thin and overly-defined...trying to adjust low-to-mid frequencies results in muddiness, and reducing 8k buries them further into the mix. They always sound like they are far away!

I notice that 'professional' recordings have some kind of sheen that I cannot put into words. As if they are of larger mass than my recordings, and always sound 'closer' to the listener.


Does this description sound like something specific that I am lacking (in either mixing ability, or equipment)? Any suggestions how to bring the vocal forward in both sonic density and 'closeness'?


Thank you SO much. I've learnt so much from this forum already.
=Ferro=
Proximity affect is your friend...if you are talking about vocals that are on top 40 radio, most every thing I hear these days has the vocals smashed with VERY aggressive compression....not my cup of tea...but to each his own....

David B
Old 3rd February 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 
asagaai's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bokip ➑️
Hello all.

I cannot get vocals to sound in-your-face like what you hear on modern recordings. They constantly sound thin and overly-defined...trying to adjust low-to-mid frequencies results in muddiness, and reducing 8k buries them further into the mix. They always sound like they are far away!

Any suggestions how to bring the vocal forward in both sonic density and 'closeness'?


Thank you SO much. I've learnt so much from this forum already.
[h1]Ferro[/h1]
Hey Ferro

Try a good tube LDC with an edge/thickness. Track via 2 nice compressors in series (first a quicker one-like a fet at ratio 5.1-more quick attack-shaving off 3/4 db on peaks) then into a nice opto at ratio 2 to 1 doing a warm compression of say 5db.

Then in mix if required use a UAD LA3A etc.

If your AD is good- your vocals will be present. To get a further sheen- have a look at a tube pre that has a sheen- ie I found an ADL600 has a sheen in upper frequencies.

Good luck

GJ
Newcastle/OZ
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
When mixing , try smashing the vocal with a limiter first to take out all dynamics . Then use a compressor to add some attitude and "shape" back in.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Many useful things have already been said.

Room acoustics are a decisive factor for a good sounding take, and the singer's attitude is worth more than the choice of microphone or preamp. You can't compress, distort or EQ attitude, it must be on the original audio.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Joram's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I don't think this question is easy to answer. There are many details that play a role. First-of-all: the quality of the voice and how you deal with the singer in the studio. If a singer (and you) really knows and understands the words you are half-way (or even further). Secondly there is acoustics of the recording room and the choice of your mike. You're now at 80% of the work to be done.
The rest is a good pre-amp, corrective eq-ing, compression, shaping, fx, editing, automation (or how to fit it in the mix).
Don't expect immediate results and work on your vocal coaching skills.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Turn the other stuff down.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
KevWind's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
One more variable and question how are you getting ( what connection method and I/O) from your Great River into your Mackie ?...... For instance if your using the Mackie (mic XLR's) in , as opposed to a Line in.. then the actual flow of your chain has two mic pres, the GR pre then the Mackie pre, which in essence means the Mackie pre is the one that is hitting your recording unit... So you may be defeating the clarity of the Great River pre. plus all the other comments .. Room acoustics, proximity, etc.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
swafford's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger ➑️
Maybe you need to treat your room.
+1. You'd be amazed at how a great chain in a crappy room reveals how crappy the room sounds. Small, distant, thin, everything the OP described has been my experience using a great vocal chain in a small boxy room.
Old 3rd February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Thank you for all the responses! I'm recording in my bedroom, with absolutely no room treatment. I never realized that the room had so much bearing on the quality of vocals... although I guess I should have

Thanks for the plethora of responses.. this is what makes the forum great.

=Ferro=
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
insomnio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Then, get a SM7 or/and one of those SE filters. Then you cannot record anything without taking a time to experiment distances, mic placing and mic pre/compressor settings. That's always.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
saw recently the demo video on the Real Traps website for the portable vocal booth product. seemed to work great
Old 4th February 2009
  #17
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
compressor after eq when mixing works pretty good for that "in your face" sound. and everything everyone else said too.heh
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Heartfelt's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
If you need quick help getting room out of your mic, try something like this. In fact, even after you treat your room, still try this.

Simple Soundbooth

Do treat your room.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
BOWIE's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Hi Ferro, I think the two most important and most often overlooked factors are:
1: Making space in the mix. The vocal needs to have room so that it can "pop" in the mix.
2: Some voices just aren't present and forward sounding.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
vocal sound

there's been some things said here that i simply cannot agree with: put your eq AFter the compressor not before, and i suggest that eq'ing at all is questionable, unless you have EXCELLENT monitors..if you dont, get a pair of sennheiser hd650 headphones and use those to make your decisions....second: dont worry So much about the room, as long as you are close up on the mic, and whatever you do, dont just put up a ton of hi frequency absorbing foam, a little goes a long way, if you put it in the right spot ...a larger room is better than a small one, but stay as close to the mic as comfortable, and use a pop filter/windscreen...if theres no reason to go into the mackie, avoid it...and if you want the vocal in your face close, use very very little reverb, keep the decay time short (like under 2 seconds) and use a predelay, like 40 - 55ms or so, to seperate the reverb from the actual vocal....
I think the biggest issue is the microphone..... professional hi end engineers are using very expensive mics for vocals almost all the time , the most popular ones are at LEAST $2000., and often much more...and if you want a great vocal sound, you need a tube mic, and not some cheesoid piece of crap that costs 400. or less...far and away, my favs for a bargain mic are the telefunken m16mk2 or ak47... 1500 and 1600 respectively...and dont use huge amounts of compression or limiting, unless you have a very very special analog limiter. if you're limiting in the box, i like the neve imitations by urs....more than 3 or 4 db of compression or limiting can cause issues, and I suggest a mild ratio, like 4 to one or so...
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Jake 2.0's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Great Pre, Great Mic, Great Singer (hopefully) , Great Engineer/Mixer, Nice room. editing each word and closing in on each syllable with eq and shaping it to taste.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bokip ➑️
Thank you for all the responses! I'm recording in my bedroom, with absolutely no room treatment. I never realized that the room had so much bearing on the quality of vocals... although I guess I should have

Thanks for the plethora of responses.. this is what makes the forum great.

[h1]Ferro[/h1]
If you get super close to the mic, the room doesn't matter at all. Just roll off as much mud as possible, preferably at the mic. And get one of these:
SE Electronics The Reflexion Filter | Dolphin Music
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by author ➑️
If you get super close to the mic, the room doesn't matter at all.
This is just plain wrong. The room is ALWAYS a factor , maybe even the biggest factor. All the mic does is capture what the sound IS. The room is part of creating the sound , along with the source.



Thomas
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasWho ➑️
This is just plain wrong. The room is ALWAYS a factor , maybe even the biggest factor. All the mic does is capture what the sound IS. The room is part of creating the sound , along with the source.



Thomas
obviously , everything is a factor, but this would seem to say that the mic doesnt matter, in which case, all lead vocals ought to be fine done with an ev666....it would seem to go without saying that the response of mics is so dramatically varied, and the question isnt "why dont I sing better?" ..the question is, how do I record and mix an upfront vocal track... anyone who compares a u47 or a c12 to any number of other mics knows why they are so popular as vocal mics... and your typical bedroom should be a fairly acceptable environment for recording a vocal as long as you are in cardiod and close up...
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I would treat 2 walls in a corner of the room and sing right into the corner, a reflective surface behind the mic is a BAD thing, several feet away is better...
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
What plugins do you have to work with inside the box?

As far as the room, just make sure you're close to the mic, that KSM can candle pretty high spl's so as long as you use a pop filter about an inch or two from the mic and make sure their nose is touching the pop filter all the time, you should be good. While I don't think you should use this as a rule, in your case, just hang up some comforters(not just blankets, they must be a bit thicker) on two perpendicular walls, preferably just behind the mic and then to either left or right of the performer. Don't ever cover up all 4 walls, you're just getting ride of reflections and the annoying boxy room sound with these quilts/comforters. If you can manage it, use a tube mic with a solid state pre or solid state mic with a tube pre. In your case, the Great River is amazing, so I'd go with a Studio Projects T3 and get a good Telefunken 12ax7 to swap into it or get yourself a Rode K2. These are both pretty decent once you swap the tube.

If you can get a hold of any of the UAD plugins, see if you can use either the La2a or the Fairchild and then throw the Pulteq on after. If you're using the La2a, you're good getting a constant 3-4 db of gain reduction and as much as 10db on louder passages. To get the vocals as up front the way it sounds like you're describing, it sounds like you might need to get a little aggressive with gain reduction. With these two compressors, you can do that, unless you've got a distressor lying around. Personally, I prefer the Fairchild, getting about the same amount of gain reduction and with the time constant at either 1 or 2. With the pulteq afterwards, boost 5k for males and 8k for females and then boost 100hz for both. You should have a lo-cut filter on the Great River preamp so you shouldn't have to do that in the box. As for reverb, someone already mentioned about pre-delay, which I completely agree with, if you follow his instructions, you should be fine.

For the most part, most of what everyone is chiming in with is right, but you have to make adjustments for your own workflow and what sounds good to you. I've only offered inexpensive advice, which will work, but won't be completely ideal. If I were offering high end advice, we'd be talking a CL1b after the Great River, a Manley CardRef for a mic going into some Lavry converters although apogee, mytek or Lynx would do fine and would be much better than the FW thingy you've got. I'd also tell you to get the London kit by Primacoustic for the room and it looks great. This'll keep you from having to hang unsightly quilts up - lol

You should be good buddy, just keep practicing and have fun!!! and make sure the source is always good, you can't do much with poor talent!!
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Beastie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by author ➑️
If you get super close to the mic, the room doesn't matter at all. Just roll off as much mud as possible, preferably at the mic. And get one of these:
SE Electronics The Reflexion Filter | Dolphin Music
we have one for these and i get better recordings without it!
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
dangoudie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I can vouch for the Reflexion filter if your room is untreated.

Fixing after tracking - adding a few dbs shelf above 12k can help to bring the vox 'into' your ear - you only hear that breathy stuff when someone is literally next to your ear.

Also I'm not sure why you were reducing 8k. Please fill me in if I've missed a trick. You may have mixed up the spectrum - go lower than the muddy bit, say around 180 for weight on a male voice.
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Head
 
adkelly's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I remember an album I did many moons ago with a Mackie 328, an AKG 414, and some Adats. Suffice it to say when I compared my vocals to various albums I was extremely frustrated citing the exact same problems you shared. First chance I had I bought a great mic pre (you seem in good shape there), better converters, and finally a better mic. I recorded some vocals last week with a BAE 1073, Soundelux 251 then to a Digi 192 and now have to do almost nothing while mixing these tracks to get them sounding amazing. I say all this to agree with Mr Alexander that each component plays a critical part and matters. There is no magic box to make your recordings stunning but each piece does move you closer or further away from what you want. Good luck.

dk

PS. I'd get that Onyx out of the signal path asap.
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Beyersound's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasWho ➑️
This is just plain wrong. The room is ALWAYS a factor , maybe even the biggest factor. All the mic does is capture what the sound IS. The room is part of creating the sound , along with the source.



Thomas
+1000000000!!! In a basically untreated room(with carpet on the floor) I made a temporary booth out of blankets and mic stands, used a great vocal chain, and got exactly what I wanted, the same thing you are looking for. When you take at least most of a bad room out of the equation, things start to really get "up front".
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