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recording vocals without headphones?
Old 6th June 2006
  #1
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🎧 15 years
recording vocals without headphones?

I remember reading an article about recording vocals without headphones and instead using a speaker behind the singer. When mixing, a phase reversed copy of the cuemix was blended until there was nothing but the vocal left.

I can imagine that the signal wont completely null, but maybe it wont be worse than normal headphone bleed.

Has anynone tried this method, or heard of someone using it?
Old 6th June 2006
  #2
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andychamp's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
AFAIK Queen's Freddie Mercury would record his vocals with an NS10 placed in the vocal mic's "blind" (or is that "deaf"?) spot, instead of headphones.

So that would place the speaker facing the singer, behind the mic. And save you the hassle of "nulling" the bleed in the way you described.
Old 6th June 2006
  #3
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PapillonIrl's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredrik
I remember reading an article about recording vocals without headphones and instead using a speaker behind the singer. When mixing, a phase reversed copy of the cuemix was blended until there was nothing but the vocal left.

I can imagine that the signal wont completely null, but maybe it wont be worse than normal headphone bleed.

Has anynone tried this method, or heard of someone using it?
Interesting.

Might work if area behind singer was very dead.

You would have to record a pass with just the cue mix (no singing) but with the singer standing there

You would have to track vocals without compression, with the same micpre gain as the off-axis cue mix recording.

Might try this.

Nathan
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #4
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
There are some rocket science approaches to this or you could just give the singer a cardiod mic, turn up the control room monitors and let them start singing. I do this with lots of artists, and many huge hit records were recorded this way. As long as you are not autotuning its no problem.
Old 6th June 2006
  #5
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredrik
I remember reading an article about recording vocals without headphones and instead using a speaker behind the singer. When mixing, a phase reversed copy of the cuemix was blended until there was nothing but the vocal left.

I can imagine that the signal wont completely null, but maybe it wont be worse than normal headphone bleed.

Has anynone tried this method, or heard of someone using it?
The idea is to record the singer tracking at the mic with speakers, then track the same setup, with the singer in the same place, but not singing, so as to only record the bleed. Then knock that track out of phase and use it to null the bleed from the original track

As for placing a speaker in the "dead spot", directly behind a cardioid mic isn't exactly dead. You need to cock it to one side a bit.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #6
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sizzleboy
The idea is to record the singer tracking at the mic with speakers, then track the same setup, with the singer in the same place, but not singing, so as to only record the bleed. Then knock that track out of phase and use it to null the bleed from the original track

As for placing a speaker in the "dead spot", directly behind a cardioid mic isn't exactly dead. You need to cock it to one side a bit.
This varies quite a bit from mic to mic, but none are completely dead, and the off axis response is usually very colored. you also have to account for sound relecting off the wall behind the singer and back inte the front of the mic, and off the singer him (or her) self for that matter.
I like the "record the same setup again & flip the polarity (not the same as phase BTW) idea, if done carefully I think it could work pretty well. As Papillon said though you couldn't use compression on the way in.
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #7
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cfjis's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
AFAIK, Bono does this a lot... and I know James Hetfield does, too..... but, they haven't had much success... so it must not work.......
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #8
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tunasafedolphin's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
How about a stereo pair of monitors facing the singer with one of the speakers phase flipped? That way, if you put the vocal mic in the sweet spot where sound from both of the speakers meet, it might cancel a bit.

Never tried it, but it seems like it might work. Has anyone done this?

-Christian
Old 6th June 2006 | Show parent
  #9
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max cooper's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I do this a lot. I usually add a little of the vocal to the mix, too. I've flipped the polarity of both monitors to keep the feedback down.
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #10
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kudzu's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I did it with D&B Max floor monitors (to mimic live set up)

http://www.dbaudio.com/en/systems/monitors/max_/

And used a sennheiser MD441 mic ... hyper cardioid ... worked great ...
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #11
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tun****edolphin
How about a stereo pair of monitors facing the singer with one of the speakers phase flipped? That way, if you put the vocal mic in the sweet spot where sound from both of the speakers meet, it might cancel a bit.

Never tried it, but it seems like it might work. Has anyone done this?

-Christian
I have, and yes you get some cancellation but not a lot- again reflections come into play and skew things. I'd think using a single speaker & re-recording the cue mix, & mixing that in inverted, would work better.
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #12
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm
There are some rocket science approaches to this or you could just give the singer a cardiod mic, turn up the control room monitors and let them start singing. I do this with lots of artists, and many huge hit records were recorded this way. As long as you are not autotuning its no problem.
That's what I do.... Sm7 or RE20 (or even SM57)....
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #13
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kudzu's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont
That's what I do.... Sm7 or RE20 (or even SM57)....
Ah .. Bono has a lot 2 answer 4 ... he says itsa 58, but I've heard itsa SM7 ... WHATEVER ...
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #14
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
AFAIK Queen's Freddie Mercury would record his vocals with an NS10 placed in the vocal mic's "blind" (or is that "deaf"?) spot, instead of headphones.
Where'd that info come from?
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #15
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nightchef's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sizzleboy
As for placing a speaker in the "dead spot", directly behind a cardioid mic isn't exactly dead. You need to cock it to one side a bit.
I think you're thinking of a hypercardioid mic, which has a small "lobe" at 180 degrees and the null around 110. A true cardioid mic should have its null right at 180. At least that's what they taught me.
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 15 years
I just use an RE-20 and leave the speakers alone.

RCN, what problems have you had with autotune?
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #17
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey
I just use an RE-20 and leave the speakers alone.

RCM, what problems have you had with autotune?
If you have a fair amount of bleed of the instruments in the vocal mic and you autotune the vocal, the bleed will be pulled sharp or flat as well, causing the instruments to basically chorus. Also autotune is much happier with a clean isolated signal to work with.
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #18
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Benmrx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I just did this the other day for a tamborine track. There were 3 of us in the room, each of us playing a different tamborine (made for a nice blend btw), and I just pumped the cue mix through some monitors in the tracking room.....than recorded a pass without us playing and just picking up the bleed.....phase flipped it....and....well..maybe I did something wrong, but it didn't totally cancel (maybe it's not suppose to?). It did drop the bleed by a considerable amount, but not as much as I'd hoped. BTW, I did track with zero compression.
Old 7th June 2006 | Show parent
  #19
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andychamp's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier
Where'd that info come from?
Sorry, I don't remember.
Maybe I saw some studio footage or read some interview in a mag a couple of years back. Read it more out of interrest for the band than out of audio curiosity in those days.
But the NS10 thing stuck with me as it did make some sense.
And, in case you wonder (or know for a fact that I'm wrong): I didn't make this up.
Old 8th June 2006 | Show parent
  #20
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm
If you have a fair amount of bleed of the instruments in the vocal mic and you autotune the vocal, the bleed will be pulled sharp or flat as well, causing the instruments to basically chorus. Also autotune is much happier with a clean isolated signal to work with.
That makes sense. Maybe I've been lucky or the bleed was light, but I havent had that problem.

Do you usually got through and clean out the bleed between vocal lines?
Old 8th June 2006 | Show parent
  #21
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picksail's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've done it a number of times with the mains blaring inside the control room.

I think the mic most often used was an SM7.

The only time that I recall having encountered problems is when the arrangement or instrumentation has changed. You now have bleed which does not correspond with the final result. I believe Ronan has already stated the potential tuning issues inherent in this method.

It's also, common for me to cut incidental or ancillary tracks in the CR. Usually the talkback mic works fine. "Hey we need a shaker in that second verse".
Old 8th June 2006 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 15 years
Thanks for the input guys, some interesting thoughts here.

It defenetely seems more risky to use this method since theres always a risk that you end up with a recording with the cuemix stuck to it for different reasons.
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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ARUNOVICE143's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This is quite an interesting topic. I hardly have problems with headphone bleed so I have always used headphones to record vocals. But what you guys are saying makes sense too and in theory could work. When you guys talk about phase please remember that the phase has to be completely opposite. it's called phase superposition and is mainly used for acoustilsing a room but the theory can branch into other areas I guess. Be careful though. Because the waveforms of the two signals need to be exactly the same it is best to do it in an anechoic chamber. That way you reduce the possibility of early reflections and reverberant sounds not being completely opposite. I can't see how this process will be 100% successful to be honest seen as the waveform is dependent on air temperature and pressure which will never be exactly the same. Have you tried using close back headphones like beyerdynamic DT100's or similar. Or perhaps turn down the gain slightly on the vocals. In my experience it has been easier to post mix vocals if headphones are used. You can be alot more accurate.

Hope I helped
Jack
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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doncaparker's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I can't vouch for the phase flipping stuff, because I have not tried it, but I recently tried just recording a vocal with the monitors facing the back of the mic (sm7b) and the front of the singer. It worked really well.

Jack, if the goal were to have no bleed, then closed back headphones would be the solution. However, this technique is used when the singer gives a better performance without headphones on. I can vouch for this, because I think it is true for me. Even monitoring with zero latency is a little weird for me if I am using closed back headphones. I just sing better when I can hear myself naturally.

In addition to this method, I might try some open back headphones or ear buds and see what happens.
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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ARUNOVICE143's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by doncaparker ➑️
I can't vouch for the phase flipping stuff, because I have not tried it, but I recently tried just recording a vocal with the monitors facing the back of the mic (sm7b) and the front of the singer. It worked really well.

Jack, if the goal were to have no bleed, then closed back headphones would be the solution. However, this technique is used when the singer gives a better performance without headphones on. I can vouch for this, because I think it is true for me. Even monitoring with zero latency is a little weird for me if I am using closed back headphones. I just sing better when I can hear myself naturally.

In addition to this method, I might try some open back headphones or ear buds and see what happens.
Ah ok I follow you now. Yeah sorry have no experience with that.
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 15 years
I've been doing variations of this for years. I'm sure you have all figured out that some singers suck with headphones on Of course....some suck either way, but sometimes the headphones just screw them up.

There have been some great articles on the subject over the years. Most recently I saw one by Dylans engineeer. Dylan has never been much of a headphone guy, and recently he never uses them. His engineer talked about positioning a second mic of the same type near enough to Dylan to catch very similar bleed, but no vocal.

If they have to punch in a line they mix that mics track with the new vocal. Its fast, easy, and takes the worry out of it. Sorry I don't have the URL...but I think it was in Mix.

My favorite article on this was with Terry Date...talking about Rob Zombie I think. He talks about cranking it and handing him a 59 to sing.

The interviewer presses him about all the bleed. Date replies...."Yeah...thats the good part..."

Look....its freaking rock music. Often barely more sophisticated than noise. A little bleed usually won't kill you, and if it is a problem, there are ways around it.

Whats better....a great vocal with bleed.....or a suck ass sterile performance.....but with no bleed?

No contest.
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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Sigma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sizzleboy ➑️
The idea is to record the singer tracking at the mic with speakers, then track the same setup, with the singer in the same place, but not singing, so as to only record the bleed. Then knock that track out of phase and use it to null the bleed from the original track

As for placing a speaker in the "dead spot", directly behind a cardioid mic isn't exactly dead. You need to cock it to one side a bit.
exactly what i do with singers who like to be in the room..that started when i did strings with boxes instead of cans and phase inverted the boxes on the double
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by picksail ➑️
I've done it a number of times with the mains blaring inside the control room.

I think the mic most often used was an SM7.

The only time that I recall having encountered problems is when the arrangement or instrumentation has changed. You now have bleed which does not correspond with the final result. I believe Ronan has already stated the potential tuning issues inherent in this method.

It's also, common for me to cut incidental or ancillary tracks in the CR. Usually the talkback mic works fine. "Hey we need a shaker in that second verse".
I do this all a lot. for decades now. I've done all the phase flip tricks... still sometimes do the "have singer stand in from of mic in same position..... making no sound (so phase relationship ship is the closest) and print a pass I then flip against the comp)... but what I think works the most is making sure the track your using is mostly rythm based.... more bass than usual (great for singers to get pitch off of) and no solo or lead instruments.... then you don't have problems with the background later... I also gain ride the monitors sometimes... turning them up for loud sections so the singer vibes amd down in delicate quite parts... that can help with the bleed... also..;. i make the monitor balance cymbal light.. mostly kick and snare, bass and rythm guitars, etc
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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sleeper1400's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
this is a common thing.
if your using a cardioid and the monitors aren't blaring, the vocals will usually drown out any music from the speakers.

if there still is bleed, and there will be, the original music after the vocal is recorded will drown out the rest.
Old 18th April 2009 | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 15 years
In that particular Dylan article his guy said that the bleed is at least 30 percent of the mix, sometimes more. The do Bob right in the room like a gig.

Seems to be working fine. I'm pretty sure no artist has had landmark albums as early, and as late in his career as Bob.
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