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Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:13 pm

Ive been trying to record a lot of vocals lately and ill spend an hour trying to mix it with EQ's, COmpressors, Reverb, etc. and for the life of me i cant get it to sound right, my vocals always come out sounding like complete shit. I have a very bassy voice and the vocals always come out super spacey and low, I try fixing it in the EQ but i dont really know what im doing and dont really have an ear for it yet. any tips and help would be awesome. I record on Studio one 3 artist and use a RODE nt1 mic and run everything through the focusrite 2i4.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby manhattan » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:35 pm

Aplam wrote:Ive been trying to record a lot of vocals lately and ill spend an hour trying to mix it with EQ's, COmpressors, Reverb, etc. and for the life of me i cant get it to sound right, my vocals always come out sounding like complete shit. I have a very bassy voice and the vocals always come out super spacey and low, I try fixing it in the EQ but i dont really know what im doing and dont really have an ear for it yet. any tips and help would be awesome. I record on Studio one 3 artist and use a RODE nt1 mic and run everything through the focusrite 2i4.

You are going to have a tough time getting super quality with that gear. While its okay and can work on reasonably high-end productions, you likely need at least 1 more piece of gear to get the results you are seeking, otherwise you'll make it way harder than it needs to be.

The mic is okay however I remember RODE being a bit dark to begin with, although I cant recall if I have used that specific mic. Since you have a low bassy voice, perhaps a bit brighter of a mic will help lead to better results.

While the audio interface is okay as well, to put a mic directly into the scarlett and expect great results is a near pipedream! You will have a tough time going direct into a low-mid level audio interface and achieving great results, even good can be hard.

If you got yourself a good preamp/compressor, $1000/channel, to put the mic into and then put that into the Scarlett you will find youll have much better success, once you dial it in a bit. Id think about swapping that mic for something else, a Neuman or you could try an Aston.

Otherwise drop the lows out hard below 100-150kh, perhaps cut a bit higher but not as hard, and maybe add some highs with a broad shelf and even a bit of mid. When using effects try using them as a send instead of on the vocal track. If you have multple vocal tracks, group them and compress them together as well. Otherwise its hard to know what compressor settings will work for you due to not seeing the waveform or hearing it.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:39 pm

Hi Aplam, welcome to the forum.
It sounds to me like you're overdoing things on the processing side, possible to correct for some errors in the recording capture. An NT1 into a 2i4 should be able to give perfectly good results.
If you post some links to raw and processed tracks on here (soundcloud is popular as you can use private links) then some of the better minds on here can probably offer you some good advice.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Wonks » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:01 pm

It may well be a psychological thing and that you just don't like the sound of your own voice, whilst it may sound fine to everyone else.

But it may well be the way you record. If you don't want to sound so deep, then back away from the mic a bit to reduce the proximity effect that will boost bass frequencies. You can also try a gentle high pass filter on the vocals, somewhere in the 100-200Hz area just to remove some low end boominess (a good thing to do anyway to stop unwanted bass noise affecting compressors when they shouldn't). The actual frequency setting will depend on your voice. You may find that shaving just a bit off the bottom allows your vocals to cut through a bit better. It may not sound quite like you when soloed, but in a mix, you are less likely to notice.

But as has been said, a few examples will help us.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Wonks » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:02 pm

And super bassy vocals didn't stop Barry White from having hits .
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby James Perrett » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:04 pm

One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is room treatment. Treating your room - even if it just hanging a couple of duvets around you when you record, will make a big difference to the sound. Other than that, concentrate on giving a good performance. Find a way to feel relaxed and confident. Warm up before singing and give yourself a good headphone mix. Maybe try recording with one ear of the headphones slightly off so that you can hear your natural voice in the room a bit.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Wonks » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:17 pm

You may also need to carve some space for your voice in the mix, rather than try and push your voice over the top. It may be worth feeding the rest of the music to a bus with a dynamic EQ on it, one where if you can sidechain your voice to trigger the compressor, so that the main frequency areas your voice occupies are pushed down a bit when you sing, but spring back up when you don't. A suitably arranged multiband compressor with a side-chain input could do a similar job.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:31 pm

Some clarity on which NT1 you're using please...

Is this the original NT1 which came onto the market sometime in the '90s? Or is it the black NT1 that's been around for about 4 years I think? Or is it even the NT1A?

I'll work on the assumption that is the current, black, NT1. It's a cracking mic, but has a tendency to be slightly dark - especially if worked close. If your voice is quite bassy anyway it could be that the mic and voice combi is not ideal and the mic is adding to your bass voice when ideally you'd want something a bit brighter.

Just a thought...

... and if you haven't already done so, get some proper acoustic treatment in your recording space. Money spent on that will register a far greater improvement than super-wizzy shiny kit upgrades.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:46 pm

manhattan wrote:You are going to have a tough time getting super quality with that gear. While its okay and can work on reasonably high-end productions, you likely need at least 1 more piece of gear to get the results you are seeking, otherwise you'll make it way harder than it needs to be.

Whilst I don't claim to be an expert WRT recording (I'm a retired live sound guy) but I strongly disagree with this statement. The gear you have is perfectly capable of producing release quality recordings. Sure they may not quite have that last 'fairy dust' that exotic kit can produce but I'll bet a top engineer could produce stunning results on it.

Yes, the mic may not suit your voice but, the room acoustic in your recording/mixing space will have a far greater impact on your final mixes.

This article and it's follow up will help debunk the myth that cheap mic preamps can't produce good recordings https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/pick-preamp and there are countless threads in these forums to advise on room treatment and other priorities when recording different instruments/voices.

It could well be that you are not achieving your potential recording your voice (and you admit you don't really know what you are doing) but it's highly unlikely that your gear is the problem.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby MOF » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:55 am

What does your vocal sound like without any effects? If it’s sounding OK then maybe you’ve overdone the effects. Some moderate compression/eq and less of the effects plus maybe some drawn in automation should do the trick.
You can typically put in more effects on the chorus to make it sound fuller.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Watchmaker » Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:52 am

James Perrett wrote: Other than that, concentrate on giving a good performance. Find a way to feel relaxed and confident. Warm up before singing and give yourself a good headphone mix. Maybe try recording with one ear of the headphones slightly off so that you can hear your natural voice in the room a bit.

^This ^

I'm of the rather uninformed opinion that processing is best only when needed. Less is also better and I try to remember that the moment I can hear the tweak I just made, I need to back it down.

Also, hearing yourself without bias is an act of will. I learned a lot about myself in the process of accepting my voice in playback. I've been told its because people are freaked out when they experience the emotional content that our own voices reveal. Silly humans, we like to think we're in control of how we sound and when we hear ourselves, all our tender gooey emotions are on display and I, for one, found it humiliating at first. Believe in your self because you exist. :-)
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby James Perrett » Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:25 am

Watchmaker wrote:I'm of the rather uninformed opinion that processing is best only when needed. Less is also better and I try to remember that the moment I can hear the tweak I just made, I need to back it down.

I had this highlighted to me last week when I recorded a voiceover session. I just put up a mic, hit record and the sound I heard was instantly 'That' sound. A nicely controlled sound that I could swear had some compression on it but it was really all in the performance. I could probably have put up an SM58 and been just as successful.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:15 am

Also, a bass voice just sounds like... a bass voice. It may not need any special EQ treatment.

But as Wonks touched on, with that sort of mic, unless you're well away from the mic, just about any voice will become artificially bassy. Close up to the mic, a bass voice will sound extremely bassy. To be safe, sing maybe 18" or more away.

If you have to come close to the mic to get over noisy traffic or neighbours or a bad sounding room, that extra bass usually has to be corrected with EQ. You may have to learn how to do this in your programme.

But at best we're only guessing here. Can you link to an audio file sample, both with and without the processing?
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby manhattan » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:42 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:
manhattan wrote:You are going to have a tough time getting super quality with that gear. While its okay and can work on reasonably high-end productions, you likely need at least 1 more piece of gear to get the results you are seeking, otherwise you'll make it way harder than it needs to be.

Whilst I don't claim to be an expert WRT recording (I'm a retired live sound guy) but I strongly disagree with this statement. The gear you have is perfectly capable of producing release quality recordings. Sure they may not quite have that last 'fairy dust' that exotic kit can produce but I'll bet a top engineer could produce stunning results on it.

Yes, the mic may not suit your voice but, the room acoustic in your recording/mixing space will have a far greater impact on your final mixes.

This article and it's follow up will help debunk the myth that cheap mic preamps can't produce good recordings https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/pick-preamp and there are countless threads in these forums to advise on room treatment and other priorities when recording different instruments/voices.

It could well be that you are not achieving your potential recording your voice (and you admit you don't really know what you are doing) but it's highly unlikely that your gear is the problem.

Fair enough.

The room acoustics are definitely important, often more important than the Mic yes. That being said If its close mic music or if you get close to the mic then, of course, the room can be minimized or nearly eliminated, especially with the loudness of most Masters these days.

Also, what is release quality though? This term could vary greatly in each person's definition of it.

Funny thing, I used to be adamant it wasn't gear dependent, but have since changed my opinion a bit.

Personally to do Vocals without a good preamp compressor is pointless, or rather its just rough copy stuff or demo quality stuff, but then again that is just me. There's no need to try and squeeze lemon from a rock when you can even rent one for a cheap rate. I'm not even sure I look at it like fairy juice, in the digital age its ever more important it seems to add some noise back in, some warmth. Straight into an interface with no preamp/compressor and then applying only digital in the box solutions, is fighting it or rather making you work far too hard to really get a nice sound, regardless the vocal quality.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:02 pm

manhattan wrote:...Personally to do Vocals without a good preamp compressor is pointless...

Of course a preamp is absolutely essential but no need for comp/limiting on the way in as there might have been 60 years ago. Digital recording's dynamic range capability is well up to the task.

"Get it right at source" is a good rule of thumb but can be taken to extremes. These days we have the luxury of not having to do all the processing "on the way in". I'm grateful for that advance and for the freedom it offers.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:52 am

manhattan wrote:Funny thing, I used to be adamant it wasn't gear dependent, but have since changed my opinion a bit.

Personally to do Vocals without a good preamp compressor is pointless, or rather its just rough copy stuff or demo quality stuff, but then again that is just me. There's no need to try and squeeze lemon from a rock when you can even rent one for a cheap rate. I'm not even sure I look at it like fairy juice, in the digital age its ever more important it seems to add some noise back in, some warmth. Straight into an interface with no preamp/compressor and then applying only digital in the box solutions, is fighting it or rather making you work far too hard to really get a nice sound, regardless the vocal quality.

Whatever works for you :thumbup: , my point was that the OP is unlikely to improve his recordings simply by buying more gear. And that there are plenty of people producing first class recordings using nothing more than he has at present.
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:15 pm

Meanwhile, we've heard nothing more from the OP since the first post...
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Wonks » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:17 pm

It was only 2 days ago!
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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:24 pm

Perhaps he/she hasn't yet finished posting the same query to every tech forum around the world (or am I getting a bit cynical in my old page ;) )


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Re: Need tips on mixing and recording vocals

Postby Wonks » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:29 pm

You are not, though it looks like a spammer rather than a multiple question asker. Asked 10 months ago on another forum. Copied verbatim.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WeAreTheMusicM ... ng_vocals/

Delete spammer, lock thread?
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