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Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

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Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Adylei » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:11 am

Dear all,

I wanted to ask you if anyone of you knows a solution for mixing a vocal clip which has so much background noise on it that you can't even call it background anymore. Its louder than the actual vocals.

This also makes the use of a noise gate completely redundant i.m.o. as it would cut out the vocals and leave the noise instead.

Any suggestions? :)

Thank you very much in advance! :bouncy:
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Zukan » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:50 am

Is the background noise a specific frequency? Ie, does it 'mix' in with the vocals or is a separate frequency?
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Wonks » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:11 am

Start again!
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:18 am

Adylei wrote:Any suggestions? :)

Go back and record it again properly? :lol:

In all seriousness, that's the only way to get high-quality results.

But, if this 'submerged' vocal track is the only option then I would suggest a combination of aggressive EQ-ing and the careful use of de-noising processing using something like iZotope's RX. Exactly what and how will depend on the type of noise.

But it will probably take many, many hours (if not days) of careful, meticulous work to make any useful improvements, and that's assuming you have the tools and skills in place.... which is unlikely given your question.

In which case, re-recording properly would undoubtedly be cheaper, quicker and so much better...

H
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Tim Gillett » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:24 pm

It really depends on the nature of the noise. Any chance of an audio sample? Even just a section of the noise without the vocal.
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:29 pm

What they said — re-record it with a mic closer to the source or in a better environment, and if that's genuinely not possible, then you might be able to process with a combination of EQ and noise-reduction processing but (1) given your description I doubt that will do enough; and (2) we'd really need to hear an example to suggest a workable approach.
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:46 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:Even just a section of the noise without the vocal.

Really? How will that tell us how much or what types of processing might be required? Surely it is the relationship between wanted vocal and unwanted noise which is the issue here.

So while I agree an audio sample would be very helpful in allowing more targeted advice, to be of any constructive use it has to include both the wanted vocal and unwanted noise to give adequate context.

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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:44 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Even just a section of the noise without the vocal.

Really? How will that tell us how much or what types of processing might be required? Surely it is the relationship between wanted vocal and unwanted noise which is the issue here.

So while I agree an audio sample would be very helpful in allowing more targeted advice, to be of any constructive use it has to include both the wanted vocal and unwanted noise to give adequate context.

H

+1. I missed that bit in Tim's post! We really need an audio clip that shows the whole problem — ie the vocal alongside the noise, and ideally the noise on its own as well (which would tell us if a 'fingerprint' denoiser could do the job.)
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:27 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Even just a section of the noise without the vocal.

Really? How will that tell us how much or what types of processing might be required? Surely it is the relationship between wanted vocal and unwanted noise which is the issue here.

So while I agree an audio sample would be very helpful in allowing more targeted advice, to be of any constructive use it has to include both the wanted vocal and unwanted noise to give adequate context.

H

The OP may not have permission to upload the vocal. I was encouraging the OP to at least upload the noise as a starting point for informed comments from members.

Of course having the whole thing would be better but even a section of just the noise would be better than what we currently know. Except that it is louder than the vocal we know nothing about the noise.

As the old saying goes, something is better than nothing.

T.
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Adylei » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:23 pm

Zukan wrote:Is the background noise a specific frequency? Ie, does it 'mix' in with the vocals or is a separate frequency?

It mixes with the frequency.

However, as others have suggested in the forum here, since I have a part in the vocal track where nobody sings, meaning the background noise itself, I might simply try to copy that specific signal, put it on another track and invert its phase.

I heard of a "fingerprint"-like tool from Fabfilter as well which is able to remove that noise :)

Cheers :D
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Adylei » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:24 pm

Wonks wrote:Start again!

Due to restrictions set by university, you are not allowed to re-record. We just f***ed up.
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Adylei » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:26 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Adylei wrote:Any suggestions? :)

Go back and record it again properly? :lol:

In all seriousness, that's the only way to get high-quality results.

But, if this 'submerged' vocal track is the only option then I would suggest a combination of aggressive EQ-ing and the careful use of de-noising processing using something like iZotope's RX. Exactly what and how will depend on the type of noise.

But it will probably take many, many hours (if not days) of careful, meticulous work to make any useful improvements, and that's assuming you have the tools and skills in place.... which is unlikely given your question.

In which case, re-recording properly would undoubtedly be cheaper, quicker and so much better...

H

Due to restrictions from our university (this is something we have to hand in as is), we are not able to re-record. Trust me, I wish I could :D

However, as others have suggested in the forum here in addition to you, since I have a part in the vocal track where nobody sings, meaning the background noise itself, I might simply try to copy that specific signal, put it on another track and invert its phase.

I heard of a "fingerprint"-like tool from Fabfilter as well which is able to remove that noise :)

Cheers :D
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Adylei » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:28 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:It really depends on the nature of the noise. Any chance of an audio sample? Even just a section of the noise without the vocal.

I do in fact have a part in the vocal track where nobody sings :D

I might simply try to copy that specific signal, put it on another track and invert its phase. :D

Combine it with some EQ-ing and maybe the world looks at least a little better :-)

Thank you very much! :wave:
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:05 pm

Adylei wrote:However, as others have suggested in the forum here, since I have a part in the vocal track where nobody sings, meaning the background noise itself, I might simply try to copy that specific signal, put it on another track and invert its phase.

This is very unlikely to be successful. Noise is a random signal. If you invert and add it to other random noise it won't cancel out, it will add -- and your unwanted noise will actually get worse by about 3dB!

A fingerprint noise reduction algorithm is likely to do a much better job, but without hearing the problem for myself I'm only guessing at this point...

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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:11 pm

Adylei wrote:Due to restrictions from our university (this is something we have to hand in as is), we are not able to re-record.

Ah well... then you have learned one of the most important things about professional audio -- the number one priority of making absolutely sure that you get the recording right in the first place, and that it's safely recorded -- and backed up -- before ending the session and walking out of the door!

In all seriousness, a few extra minutes spent checking the recording during the session to make absolutely sure it is as it should be can save hours trying to salvage it afterwards, and it could even make the difference between keeping or losing your future jobs!

H
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby The Elf » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:15 pm

Adylei wrote:I might simply try to copy that specific signal, put it on another track and invert its phase
Invert its polarity. If this a university project then the correct terminology needs to be supported!

I doubt that simple polarity inversion will do much of any worth. You may be better looking at one of the noise suppression processors that lets you record a noise print.
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Wonks » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:15 pm

If the noise is from a band playing in the same recording area, or headphone leakage through using open backed instead of closed back headphones, then there may be some mileage in trying to produce a similar mix track from the other tracks you have (excluding any that weren't present when the vocal was recorded), try and match and phase-align that mix to the section of 'noise' without the vocals, then invert the polarity of that track, which may be partially successful in reducing the 'noise' level.
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Wonks » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:22 pm

Or simply re-record the vocals, even if it's not in the Uni studio, and put forward two mixed tracks. One as-is and one with a corrected vocal track, which is what would happen in a real-world scenario. So you've both met the original brief, plus shown some initiative.
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:38 pm

Adylei wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:It really depends on the nature of the noise. Any chance of an audio sample? Even just a section of the noise without the vocal.

I do in fact have a part in the vocal track where nobody sings :D


Great. Can you just give us some idea, just in words, what the noise is apart from being noise? That affects what is possible.

For example is it steady tone such as a hum, a whistle or a buzz?
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Re: Vocal mixing technique: Background noise louder than singer

Postby Watchmaker » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:42 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:... then you have learned one of the most important things about professional audio -- the number one priority of making absolutely sure that you get the recording right in the first place

yup
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