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How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

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How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby Darren Lynch » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:00 am

I recall reading in SOS (Mike Senior, IIRC) observing that a good vocal take may not involve the singer delivering at a high volume.

I haven't work with too many singers, so I'm interested to hear people's experiences.

Obviously one answer is to say "as loud as required", but I'm intrigued by the idea that a singer can summon intensity and presence without yelling in tune.
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:20 am

Not sure what Mike was referring on, but using the diaphragm and keeping the mouth well open (beyond opera singers, look at Mick Jagger :D) can allow you to sing pretty loud.

No idea in dB but I guess it's just a google away..
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby blinddrew » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:23 am

A lot of it's down to training and practice. When I used to busk a lot I could comfortably get a lot more power into my voice than I can now. But a properly trained voice can deliver stunning volume levels, which then means they can deliver a very intense performance at lower levels.
So you've got a lot of variables at the performance end, and then you've got a similarly large range of options when it comes to capture.
In short, your piece of string is somewhere between this long and that long. ;)
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:39 am

It's really to do with style rather than volume. For sure an opera singer singing with a full orchestra has to be able to deliver at volume (to be heard), but that's part of the training, which obviously involves developing a large dynamic range.

Singers who are amplified don't have to develop a louder voice - but they may choose to!

I've always thought a good singer is someone who has control and flexibility within their chosen genre, able to deliver whatever that requires.

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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby Watchmaker » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:50 pm

I find there's no real answer to that. I know some voices that are stunning at normal speaking volumes. I think most of the volume needs of vocalists is dependent on the setting. I'd hate to hear Caruso sing at a pub and doubt the Makem Brothers would do well with an orchestra, although pros are pros due to mastery so they'd likely do well either way.
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:18 pm

Early in my career I had to record an opera singer. I picked a nice vintage mic, asked her to step back as her final note was her highest and off we went.
It took the engineer and I a bit of time to figure out that the distortion we heard was the mic overloading even though she was well back from it. What the voice can produce still blows my mind. On the job training at its best.
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby hobbyist » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:23 pm

Darren Lynch wrote:I recall reading in SOS (Mike Senior, IIRC) observing that a good vocal take may not involve the singer delivering at a high volume.

I haven't work with too many singers, so I'm interested to hear people's experiences.

Obviously one answer is to say "as loud as required", but I'm intrigued by the idea that a singer can summon intensity and presence without yelling in tune.

Depends on the singer and the material and the actual context of the performance.

You can get quite good, maybe better sound, without being loud.
Louder is not always better.
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:31 pm

PLEASE STEP AWAY ROM THE HOBBY-HORSE!

Every post is more troll-like than the previous..... :protest: :headbang:
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby Ariosto » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:50 pm

In fact I may also be recording a singer soon. His agent wants a day in a studio to record one song?!! It's a sort of popular type of song, and he has a very powerful tenor voice, classically trained. We've just received the music - only two pages.

We want to do some test recordings here at home, and I will mic the piano in my usual way. I'm wondering what mic to use on him though? AKG C414 XLS? Or ribbon mics? (Royer R101 or Sontronics Sigma?).

Well he can really belt it out, so the mic gain will be way down ...
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby hobbyist » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:37 pm

Ariosto wrote:In fact I may also be recording a singer soon. His agent wants a day in a studio to record one song?!! It's a sort of popular type of song, and he has a very powerful tenor voice, classically trained. We've just received the music - only two pages.

We want to do some test recordings here at home, and I will mic the piano in my usual way. I'm wondering what mic to use on him though? AKG C414 XLS? Or ribbon mics? (Royer R101 or Sontronics Sigma?).

Well he can really belt it out, so the mic gain will be way down ...


Depending on the agent that, could be a very very long day or even two or more.

Who is playing the associated music? How good are they?
How picky is the agent??

How many songs have the singer and agent produced in the past?
Will they keep making changes in real time or do they know what they want?

Who is going to edit, mix, and premaster the result?
Who is providing the studio? You, agent, some third party??

Could you use more than one mike and pick the track that is best when you are done?
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby blinddrew » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:36 pm

If he can belt it out, and you're thinking of a ribbon mic, make sure you're giving it plenty of space to avoid any plosive blasts.
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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:25 pm

Ariosto wrote:In fact I may also be recording a singer soon. His agent wants a day in a studio to record one song?!! It's a sort of popular type of song, and he has a very powerful tenor voice, classically trained. We've just received the music - only two pages.

We want to do some test recordings here at home, and I will mic the piano in my usual way. I'm wondering what mic to use on him though? AKG C414 XLS? Or ribbon mics? (Royer R101 or Sontronics Sigma?).

Well he can really belt it out, so the mic gain will be way down ...

It's good the agent has allowed a day, that means you have time to experiment with microphone choice and placement and have time to talk through production values. The C414 would be my first choice but (as mentioned) you'll need good plosive protection (Rycote have some great solutions).

Your ability to read a score will help as it sounds like they're not planning on a one-take-wonder scenario - keep very good notes!

I guess one consideration will be, if it's a modern (popular) song, whether they want a more intimate production as opposed to ensemble production, if you know what I mean. That could mean miking the piano and vocalist more closely than you would generally do for classical.

Of course - the room is always a big factor too!

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Re: How loud does a good singer actually get? (recording vocals)

Postby Ariosto » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:32 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:It's really to do with style rather than volume. For sure an opera singer singing with a full orchestra has to be able to deliver at volume (to be heard), but that's part of the training, which obviously involves developing a large dynamic range.

Singers who are amplified don't have to develop a louder voice - but they may choose to!

I've always thought a good singer is someone who has control and flexibility within their chosen genre, able to deliver whatever that requires.

Bob

Thanks Bob for great advice. I was thinking myself that the C414 would be best when doing some tests at home. I will use the DPA omni's on the piano close miked.

I the studio if it happens I don't know who will be in charge - most probably not me but the agent and whatever engineer/producer they come up with. Sounds like it may cost a lot of money for one song, but as someone else is paying it won't worry me.

Actually the two pages of piano and vocal apart from intro bar and outro bar are all chord symbols so the pianist will be making it up on the hoof as it were. She's good at that so hopefully no problem.
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