You are here

Metallic sound in vocal recording

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Lever » Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:59 pm

Hi all.

I am in the process of recording some vocals for a project of mine and I am using an SM58. As soon as I push a little bit with the voice, I hear a strange metallic sound in my voice. I can remove some of it but not all if I cut around 9500Hz, but I think I really need to remove it at the source rather than afterwards.

The microphone is obviously dynamic and I sang about 20 cm (8 In) from it to ensure that I was not putting the capsule under stress. The gain on the soundcard (a Focusrite Scarlett 8i6) is pretty low and I'm miles away from clipping.

There was some reverberation in the room, so I sung facing a blanket in a closet also covering my head and shoulders with the same blanket. The noise is still there.

Does anybody have any idea what could be causing it? I am starting to think it may actually be my voice itself producing it somehow. Perhaps, I should ask if you hear it in the first place? I recorded 4 seconds where I think I can hear it pretty well. Here's a link to the file:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/f9uv00rt0ued4 ... d.wav?dl=0

Thanks!
Lever
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:53 pm

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby MOF » Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:03 am

I couldn’t hear anything metallic, you don’t need to be far away from the SM58, some singers almost swallow them, they are designed to be used close up and you’ll benefit from the proximity effect, which boosts the bass end.
What you’re probably hearing is a thin sound i.e. no bass and the upper mids sound nasally as a result.
MOF
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1253
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 1:00 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:29 am

Not my area of expertise but for what it's worth I don't hear anything I would describe as 'metallic' either. I'm wondering if it's your familiarity with your own voice conflicting with the sound of it as picked up by a microphone.

Few, if any, people sound the same when recorded as they do to themselves when performing.

I've used SM58s on various occasions in the past in a live setting and to me the recording you linked sounds fairly typical of one, albeit possibly with the effects MOF mentions above.
User avatar
Eddy Deegan
Moderator
Posts: 4907
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am
Location: Brighton & Hove, UK
Some of my works
The 2nd SOS Forum Album project
 

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:05 am

Lever wrote:...Does anybody have any idea what could be causing it? I am starting to think it may actually be my voice itself producing it somehow. Perhaps, I should ask if you hear it in the first place? ...

The sample is short, over only a limited range (A to D) so hard to tell if the mic is contributing. But from the limited notes sung and watching the spectral analyzer, the resonance around 8-9 kHz seems to change in pitch with your voice, so my guess is it's your voice. A recording of you singing a wider scale of open mouthed vowel notes, say at least an octave, would probably help make it clearer.

Your voice reminded me somewhat of Andrea Bocelli who has a similar quality quite high up, but it hasnt seemed to have affected his success!
Tim Gillett
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2230
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:32 am

Lever wrote:As soon as I push a little bit with the voice, I hear a strange metallic sound in my voice. I can remove some of it but not all if I cut around 9500Hz, but I think I really need to remove it at the source rather than afterwards.

I can hear what you are talking about, but I'm pretty sure it's a natural element of your own voice.

Here's a spectogram of your recording courtesy of iZotope RX6, zoomed in to show the octave from 6-12kHz.

strange noises.jpg


As you can see, there is a lot of audio signal extending up to almost 10kHz, but it all exhibits the same vibrato rate and depth, as well as the same amplitude envelope. This suggests it's all from the same source, rather than a sympathetic resonance from something else in the room or microphone, or a distortion product.

If this high frequency content is not to your liking, then I'd suggest trying some alternative microphone positions with a view to minimising the capture of such strong HF elements. I'd start by raising the mic to forehead level and point it down towards the mouth. That will help to reduce the sound element emitted through the nose which tends to have more HF elements. You could also try moving the microphone sideways -- basically try anywhere that's not directly in front of your mouth!

You could also try a different kind of mic if you have one available -- I'd recommend not using a capacitor mic. A ribbon might help, or a moving-coil mic with a smoother frequency response.

And using EQ to remove the offending elements is also an option, of course -- but do so before applying any compression or other processing!
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28709
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Lever » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:40 am

I would like to thank you all for looking into this.

MOF, the reason why I moved away from the mic a bit was that I heard this "noise" when I was closer and I tried to see if moving away would change things. I will indeed redo this thing closer and see if at least the general eq gets closer to what I want. If I hear something even more evident, I'll share it.

Eddy, I know my voice sounds different when it's recorded (or simply heard by others), which is a shame, because inside my head my voice is really great :lol:
The reason why I got puzzled is that when I'm singing softly everything is normal and as soon as I start to push I believe I hear something that sounds like metal vibrating, which made me doubt the microphone, which is 25 years old and I also had to re-solder on one occasion. However, I don't have any experience in analysing the quality of sound and I trust the ears of you all way more than mine.

Tim, I confess I intentionally avoided to include hints and guesswork as much as possible in the post so that people focused on what they heard and not on what I suggested. As I mentioned, I did not write that the microphone has been DIY'ed at some point. Equally, I didn't mention that I have an 8 year old recording of me singing into a Neumann in some studio. Unfortunately, all I have is equalised and compressed voice, with reverb and a soundtrack (the finished product). Listening to it yesterday, I thought I could hear some of this resonance and wondered if my voice could be the problem.

Hugh, I will follow your advice and see what happens. I would never have hoped for such a detailed quantitative analysis and I'm really impressed. It also helps me grow my general knowledge.

And while I was already writing down all this, I tried an experiment that I considered to be pointless and perhaps it wasn't. I recorded the same 4 seconds on my phone and ignoring the hisses and noises it picked up, I do hear the same resonance, so yes, it is probably my voice, as you guys suggested. I guess I'll have to work on my technique and on my very limited equalising skills.
Lever
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:53 pm

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:59 am

Ciao! See u sing in Italian, good to have a compatriot here.

I concur that it's likely simply your voice. I have a similar situation, in the sense that my voice may acquire a certain timbre if I push. I found two things to fix that at the source (that is me)- one is your singing technique and muscle control. If you started singing not long ago, your muscles may not yet be ready to express your full range without straining.

The other is that I noticed it particularly with specific microphones (which is why my lovely Telefunken CU-29 is used for nylon strings and female vocalists but I never pick it up for myself, while the U87 or the Peluso VTB work wonders), so a different mic can do the trick.

A ribbon mic may also do the trick - I have still to try my N22 with my own vocals but from what I've used it on, I think it would work well.

It's still worth to play with the mic position with what you have however, it may help.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6268
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 11:23 am

Lever wrote:my voice sounds different when it's recorded (or simply heard by others), which is a shame, because inside my head my voice is really great :lol:

Nothing to worry - it's the same with everybody. The reason is that when you hear yourself your voice is bassier, due to bone vibrations. The mic (more or less) picks it up as it's heard by everybody else :D
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6268
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Lever » Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:45 pm

Grazie, CS70.

No, I haven't started singing recently, but like many amateurs who started singing as babies, I never really invested in learning how to use my voice better. I just improved and worsened over time kind of naturally without paying too much attention. I guess now I'll have to start thinking about what I do :-)
Lever
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:53 pm

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:31 pm

Most of it is really just practice. A lot of, and consistent.

It took about a year for me, signing at rehearsals for 3-4 hours once a week plus the occasional studio session in between, to get from "can sing some" to use my full range without effort and doing damage to my vocal chords. Just the practicing strengthens muscles and control.

Now of course I don't have exactly Axl's range... :)
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6268
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Jul 04, 2020 1:31 am

CS70 wrote:
Lever wrote:my voice sounds different when it's recorded (or simply heard by others), which is a shame, because inside my head my voice is really great :lol:

Nothing to worry - it's the same with everybody. The reason is that when you hear yourself your voice is bassier, due to bone vibrations. The mic (more or less) picks it up as it's heard by everybody else :D
Yes there is some bone conduction. Temporarily block both ears with fingers and we get pretty much only that, but it's not much. The main reason we sound so different is because our ears are (obviously) not in front of our own mouth! Bone conduction can be used for people who have lost normal hearing from damage to the eardrum, hammer, anvil, stirrup area. It can also be set up binaurally or "stereo"!
But yes it should really help singers to know that how they hear their own voice is not how others in front of them hear it. We hear our own voice quite muffled and indistinctly. If we heard others like that we would probably struggle to understand their speech. When I'm singing onstage I want to hear through monitors how the audience hears my voice. Same with recording. Some performers don't like to hear their own voice as others hear them but for better or worse that's how it sounds.
Tim Gillett
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2230
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Humble Bee » Sat Jul 04, 2020 6:27 pm

All Italians I know (legio) sing. It’s in their blood. So don’t worry there will be a solution! :)
User avatar
Humble Bee
Regular
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:00 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby CS70 » Sat Jul 04, 2020 6:57 pm

Humble Bee wrote:All Italians I know (legio) sing. It’s in their blood. So don’t worry there will be a solution! :)

On a good day, I can do a passable rendition of "La Donna e' mobile" :D
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6268
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Metallic sound in vocal recording

Postby Humble Bee » Sat Jul 04, 2020 7:12 pm

CS70 wrote:
Humble Bee wrote:All Italians I know (legio) sing. It’s in their blood. So don’t worry there will be a solution! :)

On a good day, I can do a passable rendition of "La Donna e' mobile" :D

Is that a Vasco Rossi song? :thumbup:
User avatar
Humble Bee
Regular
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:00 am
Location: Sweden