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How to make vocals sound like on the "pro" mixes.
Old 20th December 2002
  #1
Lives for gear
 
jeronimo's Avatar
How to make vocals sound like on the "pro" mixes.

Hey guys,
I don't usualy ask this kind of questions... but, right now, I'm "satisfied" with the results I'm getting with drums, bass and guitars (electric distorted) but, I'm very dissapointed with my vocal tracks (I'm not the singer, I'm just the engineer).
I've done around 10 projects in my studio and I don't like how any of the vocals sit on my mixes...
What I have now:
JM VC6
MXL V67
AT 3525
PT LE w/ almost all the plugs...
I record mostly heavy screaming vocals, but I've done a few pop singing and pop/rock (incubus type) singing... and I don't like any of them...
When I track, I put the pop screen around 2" from the mic and I tell the singer to go as close as he/she can to the pop screen.
What do you guys "suggest"? Just comment on how do you get sounds on vocals that make you satisfied with...
Thanks for any help...
P.S.: Does a real mastering would help? Since any of the projects done in my studio got any real work on mastering... I don't know...
Old 20th December 2002
  #2
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Re: How to make vocals sound like on the "pro" mixes.

Quote:
Originally posted by jeronimo
Hey guys,
I don't usualy ask this kind of questions... but, right now, I'm "satisfied" with the results I'm getting with drums, bass and guitars (electric distorted) but, I'm very dissapointed with my vocal tracks (I'm not the singer, I'm just the engineer).
I've done around 10 projects in my studio and I don't like how any of the vocals sit on my mixes...
What I have now:
JM VC6
MXL V67
AT 3525
PT LE w/ almost all the plugs...
I record mostly heavy screaming vocals, but I've done a few pop singing and pop/rock (incubus type) singing... and I don't like any of them...
When I track, I put the pop screen around 2" from the mic and I tell the singer to go as close as he/she can to the pop screen.
What do you guys "suggest"? Just comment on how do you get sounds on vocals that make you satisfied with...
Thanks for any help...
P.S.: Does a real mastering would help? Since any of the projects done in my studio got any real work on mastering... I don't know...
Hi Geronimo,

All I can tell you, if there is one place you don't want to cheat is your vocals. Great vocals performances are hard to come by and you don't want to compromise them by the "chain". I saw your choices for your tracking chain and I can only suggest maybe a rental for a mic/pre/compressor and converter maybe? Its hard to comment since I've never used what you have(hey for all i know the takes are fine). If this is the case, than you need to improve the mixing chain.

When I am mixing I spend the bulk of the mix getting the vocals to sound right. This usually employs a whole bunch of tools. What I would say are the key tools are an excellent outboard EQ and compressor(sometimes you need more than one). I normally approach males differently than females(different EQ characteristics). Also keep in mind that a male voice has low mid characteristics that can be overshadowed by either guitars or the upper range of the bass(a common problem when trying to mix a "fat"bass).

There are other tricks to share like multing the vocal tracks for strengthing different words or frequencies in the vocal. EQing/compressing different parts differently(Verse,chorus) for an added change in the song, etc.

By the way I didn't even mention anything about effects.

Lastly mastering can always add polish to your song, but it can only do so much. You have to give your mastering engineer an excellent place to start with.

Good Luck in your search.
Old 20th December 2002
  #3
Lives for gear
 
bassmac's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I recently looked at a Nirvana track with a freq analyzer, and before the vox came in, the entire track was scooped a little in the low mid's. When Kurt's vox came in, it filled out the spectrum.

It looks like they are simply making room in the track where the vox energy is, and then laying it on top of everything.

Is this a way to help all the low mid's all get along? Or am I way off base?

Interesting idea tho...

Thoughts?
Old 20th December 2002
  #4
Lives for gear
 
toledo3's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Try backing off of the mic. Do your vocals sound to "close up" and "clean?" If you have the guy back off a foot or so, at first you might think that it sounds thinner, but you'll find it will probably mix bettter for what you're doing.

If you still want the guy in close to the mic for whatever reasons, I would seriously consider rolling off some bass/ using a 90hz cut- that extra low bass just make the vocal pop out/sound like a movie trailer voiceover.

For the kind of thing your describing I would also compress some during the tracking, but that's up to personal taste.

Is that your entire setup? I do notice that you don't have any kind of good vocal pre/ compresser going on. I think that right now, a 4 channel Sytek pre with jfet on channels 3&4, and a rnc compresser, is the most cost effective/high quality setup you can get for the money- hell it's as good as stuff 4x the price.
Old 20th December 2002
  #5
Lives for gear
 
jeronimo's Avatar
Thanks for the input guys! The best pre I have is the Joe Meek VC 6. I have also my Tascam 2524 board and the pre's on the 001 (huh!)...
I just got a Senn 441 and a DBX 166. The next step in the studio is to get a few patchbays than start saving some serious money to get converters, pres and compressors... that would be a lot of money!!
I thinking about a rosetta or a AD9624 Lucid, a RNP or the Sytek and a RNC.
What do you guys think?
Old 20th December 2002
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Mike Jasper's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
bassmac writes:
Quote:
I recently looked at a Nirvana track with a freq analyzer, and before the vox came in, the entire track was scooped a little in the low mid's. When Kurt's vox came in, it filled out the spectrum.
I think that's ingenious. I've looked at tracks with analyzers before, but not so closely. Good idea.

Jasper
Old 20th December 2002
  #7
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You were having them sing too close to a condenser microphone.
Generally around 6-9" inches away works better if you have a decent sounding room. At home, using bass roll-off, I've been getting good results 4-6" inches away on different condensers
and dynamic microphones.
A foot away is too far if you don't have a really good sounding room to use.

Usually the issue is at the source. Is there any way the various
singers can thoroughly rehearse the material BEFORE they enter
the studio? I've recorded an acapella quartet of national competitive level through my Behringer mixer (gasp!), and had them come out better than "lesser" groups that spent much $$
on a "pro" studio demo. (I've upgraded since!) The microphones you already have are"hot" enough to be recorded well with the VC6.(former VC6Q owner here)

An excellent microphone for "screamers" is the Beyer Soundstar MKII, and on a crooner like myself it works well on ballads.

Chris
Old 21st December 2002
  #8
Gear Nut
 
plexi's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
To make the vocals I`m recording to sound "pro", I compress them rather heavily, 6-8 dB when tracking(RNC supernice mode), and a lot when mixing...
Singers these days hasn`t much control over their dynamic range, so a LOT of compresssion is usually the way to go,.....

On certain tracks I have used a 1176(not the plug-in) slightly when tracking, and the "all in" when mixing, sounds rather "pro" to me....

But the performance still is everything, if the "talent" you are recording don`t have a clue, forget all I said.....


Amund
Old 22nd December 2002
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Compression is your friend. I often use Fletcher's trick of two comps in series while tracking. It sounds dynamic because of the timbre differences, but just sits at a pretty even level. I still compress in the mix when needed.
Old 22nd December 2002
  #10
Lives for gear
 
bassmac's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
My only outboard comps are an 1176, and the ones in the FATSO. Any suggestions on settings and chaining methods with these?
Old 22nd December 2002
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Neve Sucks!'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
How about less compression.......(better microphone)(ride the fader)
Old 22nd December 2002
  #12
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by bassmac
My only outboard comps are an 1176, and the ones in the FATSO. Any suggestions on settings and chaining methods with these?
An 1176 works on certain vocals but not all.

What kind of EQ's are using?
Old 23rd December 2002
  #13
Lives for gear
 
bassmac's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have no front end EQ - but use Waves, Filterbank, & Focusrite plugs for mixing.

What would you consider to be a (male) vocal type which best benefits from an 1176... or one that wouldn't ?

I manily record alt rock.
Old 23rd December 2002
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Mike Jasper's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
What would you consider to be a (male) vocal type which best benefits from an 1176... or one that wouldn't?
I'd like to hear an answer to this question myself. I kind of thought it sounded good on all vocals.

Jasper
Old 23rd December 2002
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
Jim Roberts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The LA2A (hardware of course) seems to add the magic I have always looked for on vocals. I've been primarily using a U-87 into a Focusrite 110 into the LA2A then into the converter. This has yielded great results most every time. Obviously, sometimes a different mic is necessary as are different comp/limiter/eq settings. With the leveling amp in the chain,the track on tape (or disk as it were) tends to fit right into the mix at unity.

There are thousands of variables here including the song, the melody/arrangement, the performance, the vocalist's mic technique - then the gear. Just my 2 cents.

Jim
Old 23rd December 2002
  #16
Lives for gear
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
QUOTE
I recently looked at a Nirvana track with a freq analyzer,


a cheap way, I sometimes use an older realistic eq that has a visual readout of frequencies. I of course put this after the signal chain so it doesn't effect the sound. I then will sometimes watch how a particular recording that I like is visually and try to reproduce the frequencies accordingly.
Old 24th December 2002
  #17
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by bassmac
I have no front end EQ - but use Waves, Filterbank, & Focusrite plugs for mixing.

What would you consider to be a (male) vocal type which best benefits from an 1176... or one that wouldn't ?

I manily record alt rock.

Hey Bassmac,

I should have been more specific. For tracking vocals, the EQs most common;y employed are: GML8200,Pultec,Massive. I also like the EQ in the Amek CIB(I've gotten great results).

For mixing it depends on the quality of the vocal. When I made the comment about the 1176, I meant that there are so many variations and they all give the vocal a different quality. I personally feel the 1176 vocal sound is a little played out.

When mixing I have different "chains or setups" that I patch vocals through. I go through each one until I find something i like.

Nowadays I can tell right away which one will work.
Old 24th December 2002
  #18
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You can't cheat on them. Start with a good mic and mic pre. If the singer sounds bad to start with all you can do is make it sound interesting or hang yourself. With that said, part of getting good vocals is making sure the singer is comfertable. If that means they want to sing without headphones and with an SM58 in their hand you need to let them do it.
Old 24th December 2002
  #19
Lives for gear
 
jeronimo's Avatar
I already had to do this once... take my V67 out and give a 58 to the singer...

Today I started tracking vocals for another band and I asked the singer to stay a little more away from the mic... I sould say around 10"... and I quite happy with the result... sounds more natural but yet in the face... let's see on the mixing sessions...
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