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Vocal recordings way to low?
Old 28th November 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Vocal recordings way to low?

Hello everyone. I want to start by saying I’m not an Ableton expert, however I have dabbled enough to somewhat know my way around it. For starters the equipment I am using is.

...2018 hp omen with windows 10
... MXL 3000 microphone
...Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Interface
...Ableton Live 9 Intro

My vocal recorded tracks are so low. You can see the wavelengths but nothing like any imported sounds or track that are dragged and dropped in. I usually end up duplicating the track in order to hear it(basically same recording stacked on top of each other). If I turn up the volume in Ableton it sounds distorted and like it has too much gain. However I can solo my recorded audio and it sounds fine. It’s like the instrumental is way to loud. I can also turn the gain up on my NI Komplete Audio 6 interface, but there comes a point on the knob, I can’t turn it any higher because it picks up every background sound possible and is clipping and sounds like I’m
Screaming into the microphone when I’m simply not. I’ve heard of phantom power and I’m assuming since I have a condenser microphone you need that. I have to turn on the (48V) button in order to get my microphone to work. I’m not sure if the Komplete Audio 6 has a preamp built into it(if anyone knows if that may be the problem.) Even when I have monitoring on so I can hear what the microphone is picking
Up(my live voice). I’ll turn the volume all the way up on the monitoring and I can barley hear myself. I usually have to turn the gain up to hear myself. I have also heard of another theory where you lower your instrumental or whatever instruments or sounds are too loud, so that the mix sounds good. Basically don’t worry about the mastering process until your done with your mixing process. So bacially lower or raise sounds for all tracks so the mix alone sounds good. Then once the mic is complete and sounding good. You export it and then pull it back into your DAW and then raise levels appropriately and then re export it again with proper mastering. But I don’t know if exporting and rendering a wave file over and over hurts sounds quality or not. Someone please help. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could give me some tips on this
Old 29th November 2018
  #2
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Your problem is very common, especially if you are using imported beats or tracks. Those tracks are usually very loud. VERY LOUD!!! To be sold, prerecorded tracks are essentially mastered and made as loud as possible so they sound as good or better than competitive tracks.
It isn’t unusual to reduce the level on those tracks to -15 or -20 to record a vocal over them that you can hear. And yes, it is not unusual (for me, at least) to have to turn the headphone feed up so much while doing vocals that I can hear noise on the headphones. You CAN precondition your vocal with compression, limiting and EQ while recording to raise the level, but I would not do much of that. Recording with a lot of processing may be convenient during recording, but it locks you into that processing for later mixes where it may not be exactly what you want.
If you included a clip of your vocal and a picture of a typical vocal track, people here could give you some feedback about whether your vocal is ridiculously low in level or sounds muted in some other way.
Old 2nd December 2018
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
It isn’t unusual to reduce the level on those tracks to -15 or -20 to record a vocal over them that you can hear. And yes, it is not unusual (for me, at least) to have to turn the headphone feed up so much while doing vocals that I can hear noise on the headphones. You CAN precondition your vocal with compression, limiting and EQ while recording to raise the level, but I would not do much of that.
Where are you turning the track down? Is it in the yellow square at the right of the track? Where you can also simply click the yellow button listing your track # as well and mute the track? Or is it with the automation?

Also how do you precondition your vocals before you mix?
Is there any tutorials or forum posts here you would recommend I check out? I have searched the posts and got really nothing.
Old 2nd December 2018
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caspuuur View Post
Where are you turning the track down? Is it in the yellow square at the right of the track? Where you can also simply click the yellow button listing your track # as well and mute the track? Or is it with the automation?

Also how do you precondition your vocals before you mix?
Is there any tutorials or forum posts here you would recommend I check out? I have searched the posts and got really nothing.
I work in Cubase. The yellow square doesn’t exist in Cubase. While recording, I turn things down on the channel faders. If I have a good mix going and need to add a vocal, I will assign all the instrumental channels to a group and turn the group down until I can clearly hear the track I’m recording.
I’m not sure what you mean about preconditioning vocals before I mix. I usually do some editing to eliminate noises before I mix. Most (or all) of the processing I do is done during the mix. I know some very good mixers who always start with the vocal chain and reverbs/delays they like. That’s a matter of taste, process, and who is in the room. Some clients have the attention span of an ant and the ego of a Diva. If I try several things or make too many A/B comparisons, they get antsy, or they think I am dealing with some problem, which to them seems to suggest there is something wrong. That sometimes starts a paranoid crisis.
You can guess from this that I like to do initial mixing without the client.

There are a ton of tutorials about mixing. I’m not a good source of where to look or what is best for that.
Old 2nd December 2018
  #5
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I am using Ableton. You mentioned in your first reply, “You CAN precondition your vocal with compression, limiting and EQ while recording to raise the level, but I would not do much of that.” but since you are using Ableton we can’t compare much.

But I’ve got the right track. Thank you
-Research preconditioning vocals

-Research how to record between -15 to -20(what? Db?)

-check my cable to see if that could be bad.

-get used to turning down instrumentals. Creating mix to be even with vocals and all instruments/samples I add. And then export in 32bit and then re import and turn the track up to proper volume and export again(mastering)
Old 2nd December 2018
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caspuuur View Post
- And then export in 32bit and then re import and turn the track up to proper volume and export again(mastering)
I don’t know what you think you are doing with these steps. You seem to have read or seen something that is giving you an odd view of the mixing and mastering process.

Also, “preconditioning” is an odd term. If you mean, “Do a lot of processing to the vocal as you record it”, you should be aware that many successful engineers don’t work that way. I know people who sometimes engage a high pass on the mic or preamp, and sometimes touch the vocal a little with a really good outboard compressor. They don’t string a lot of processing together, and they don’t have needles slamming and red lights flashing on the gear they use. Usually.
Two of the problems with doing a lot of processing as you record a vocal are: 1. You waste the vocalist’s time and voice if you are screwing around with dialing things in for part of his/her microphone time. 2. You are locking yourself in to serious processing you don’t carefully dial in.
A really experienced engineer can probably set up a chain that is mildly helpful, non-destructive, and won’t waste anyone’s time. Really experienced engineers seldom (never) ask for basic vocal recording advice, so I don’t think you are one.
I think you are trying to do way too much, too soon. Keep it simple.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #7
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I understand.

How do you determine if you are recording between -15 -20?

And how do you set that range? With the gain knob?
Old 4th December 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caspuuur View Post
I understand.

How do you determine if you are recording between -15 -20?

And how do you set that range? With the gain knob?
You look at the input level on your DAW. You set the gain with the input knob on your interface. There should be a channel meter on your DAW that can be set to show maximum level while you sing or play. I don’t know your DAW, but I’ve never seen a DAW that doesn’t have that feature.
Old 5th December 2018
  #9
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Hey man, I had similar challenges when I first got into recording in Ableton so I hope this helps. There are a few things to unpack here:

- First, you need to set appropriate input levels for your microphone. The MXL 3000 is indeed a condenser so you'll need to have phantom power to use it, which it sounds like you do if you can hear yourself at all. Condenser mics require very little input gain to work, so you're not going to need to turn up the gain much at all to hear yourself, and you can easily add far too much and hear halfway down the street, as it sounds like you found out.

- The Native Komplete 6 is acting as both a preamp for your microphone and analog to digital (A/D) converter, so yes it has a preamp built in - that's what the gain you're using for the mic is. There's some debate on exact levels, but you'll want to set your gain so that your voice is averaging around -18 to -10 db into the channel in Ableton. I'm attaching a screenshot of where you can look at that in Ableton below. An input level of -10 should be plenty loud in your headphones.

- I'm not sure if the case, but just to be sure: make sure your headphones are plugged into the headphones input on your Komplete and your speakers are plugged into the monitor outputs. These take very different levels.

- in terms of managing loudness, any finished song or beat you import will almost certainly be louder than your recorded audio. You can adjust the loudness of whatever you're importing by either turning the channel volume down, or reducing the clip gain via slider (attaching another pic to show where clip gain is - if you double click on any clip in Ableton you'll see the options for adjust clip gain as well as a bunch of other stuff). You can also take a recording of your vocal part and turn up the clip gain to match the beat - this will also increase the size of the waveform on screen, which seems to be something you flagged. You can adjust the clip gain or volume at any time and bring it back to even without affecting the audio itself.

- you don't need to crank your headphone volume to hear yourself. I record almost every day and my headphone levels rarely exceed a third of the way up, and I'm not cranking the gain on my preamp for my mics, either. you shouldn't be worried about input levels at all when recording as long as you're not clipping or recording ridiculously low (below -25 to -35 db), you should be adjusting your tracks to have a balanced mix and something you can easily hear.

- if you want to add compression or processing to make yourself sound louder / different / whatever, you certainly can and it won't lock you into anything. The biggest advantage of a DAW like ableton over traditional recording is that you can add whatever FX you want and you're not locked in - you can just remove the plugins later if you so choose. Just go into your audio effects window and experiment. Ableton's "glue compressor" is an amazing tool for making vocals and instruments really shine (it's an amazing SSL console emulation if you're interested) and a bit of saturation, reverb, or delay can get you feeling very creative and always be removed later. If you're still dealing with not being able to hear yourself, you can even add a utility (it's in audio effects at the bottom) and increase the input gain within Ableton. This will add volume without distortion, since you're not directly increasing the preamp gain.

Here's where input gain is: Artboard-Copy — imgbb.com

Here's your channel volume - the slider is how to adjust volume: Artboard — imgbb.com
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