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Session Notes: Making Custom Baffles | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself
By Mike Senior

A little DIY and some creative thinking pay real sonic dividends when recording four vocalists.

Featured This Month

This month's Session Notes column features the band Spektakulatius, comprising Thomas Göhringer (drums, percussion, vocals), Markus Braun (upright bass, bass guitar), Christian Bolz (guitar, sax, flute), Florian Blau (keyboards, accordion, mandolin), Martina Fritz (vocals), Aysun Idrizi (vocals), Ralf Meiser (vocals), and Christian Steiner (vocals, guitar). Their latest album, About Christmas, is available from their website.

www.spektakulatius.de

Audio Examples

These audio files accompany the Session Notes article in SOS August 2019 about recording the band Spektakulatius (www.spektakulatius.de). The file names for these audio examples should be fairly self-explanatory, but here are some additional notes to describe exactly what you're hearing in each case.

First we'll have a listen to vocal recordings from each of the four singers from the former session I did with the band, and then I'll play the recordings I did of those same four singers this time round.

OldSession01_SoloBaritone

Here's the raw signal from the baritone singer's mic on the former session I did with the band. You can hear how the spill from the other singers is very coloured in timbre, and there's also some spill from the band's bass clarinetist. Compare this with the NewSession01_SoloBaritone audio file.

OldSession02_SoloTenor

Here's the raw signal from the tenor singer's mic on the former session I did with the band. There's less spill from the other singers and the band on this mic, simply because he's singing loudly! Compare this with the NewSession02_SoloTenor audio file.

OldSession03_SoloAlto

Here's the raw signal from the alto singer's mic on the former session I did with the band. Not only is there plenty of woolly-sounding spill from the other singers, but the direct vocal tone itself is also rather congested on account of the booth's mid–range resonances. Compare this with the NewSession03_SoloAlto audio file.

OldSession04_SoloSoprano

Here's the raw signal from the soprano singer's mic on the former session I did with the band. She was the quietest of the singers, and the spill on this mic was therefore pretty overwhelming — so much so that I had to replace some of it with spill-less edits from other sections of the song. Compare this with the NewSession04_SoloSoprano audio file.

NewSession01_SoloBaritone

Here's the raw signal from the baritone singer's mic on the most recent session I did with the band. Putting the singers in a separate room avoided any spill from the band, and the DIY baffle also reduced the spill levels from the other singers. In addition, the design of the DIY baffle coloured the tone of the spill less, so it sounds more neutral, albeit intentionally dulled. Compare this with the OldSession01_SoloBaritone audio file.

NewSession02_SoloTenor

Here's the raw signal from the tenor singer's mic on the most recent session I did with the band. Although he's singing a lot less loudly than in the OldSession02_SoloTenor audio file, the spill levels from the other singers are still very manageable, and the basic vocal tone is clear too.

NewSession03_SoloAlto

Here's the raw signal from the alto singer's mic on the most recent session I did with the band. The spill levels from the other singers are lower than in the OldSession03_SoloAlto audio file, on account of the DIY baffle, but most noticeably the timbre is also less congested and more natural-sounding without the former environment's iso-booth resonances.

NewSession04_SoloSoprano

Here's the raw signal from the soprano singer's mic on the most recent session I did with the band. Again, she's singing more quietly than the others, but although there's still significant spill, this time it's at a much more manageable level and it reasonably neutral tonally. Compare this with the OldSession04_SoloSoprano audio file.

NewSession05_Balance

The next three examples demonstrate how much editing flexibility the DIY baffle afforded me in post–production. First of all, here's a basic panned and compressed balance of all four of the vocal mics.

NewSession06_BalanceTuned

For this audio example, I've used Celemony Melodyne to tighten the tuning of all four vocal recordings. If you compare this to the NewSession05_Balance audio file, you'll hear that I've been able to do the pitch-correction without incurring appreciable chorusing or pitch-mistracking side-effects, because of the DIY baffle's improved spill reduction.

NewSession07_BalanceTunedTimed

Here I've also tightened up the performance timing of all four vocal parts. Again, if you compare this to the NewSession05_Balance and NewSession06_BalanceTuned audio files, you'll hear that there are no appreciable phasing or 'ghost note' problems from spill, because of the action of the DIY baffle.

Published August 2019