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Pro Vocal sound
Old 7th May 2006
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Pro Vocal sound

I am about to start working with some vocalists and need to achieve a pro sound.
Need to buy mic and pre.
Kind of pop/rocky/dancey stuff.

Want to achieve a really good vocal sound and am inexperienced on this side of things.

The kind of sound I need to achieve is along the lines of kelly clarkson/avril lavegne.

Just looking for some help and some light shed on achieving a high end vocal sound.

Thanks
Old 7th May 2006
  #2
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

What ya really need...

Well if you want that Kelly Clarkson/Avril Lavine sound, the first thing you'll need is Autotune.

And now to try and actually be helpful:

The secret to their sound is tons of compression. Compress, then compress again. And yes, I hate to say it, but Autotune IS a part of that sound.

As for which gear, please tell me your budget and then I can give you my thoughts on the closest to what you may need, because if I just go off, you, may have a heart attack.

-a

DIRTY HALO www.dirtyhalo.com
Old 7th May 2006
  #3
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

honestly,


to get a pro vocal sound, you'll need a pro vocalist.

If he or she sounds like a million dollars right from the start, a shure SM57 should be enough to blow your socks off. really... so think first about it what it is you're tracking.


But then, if you're past that step... you can use high end gear to bring out those elements a little better than a cheap dynamic mic. (not saying that ithe sm57 won't do the trick)

The key to recording is to record a great source. The rest is a matter of choice of what you want to bring out of that performance and how you want to place it. Some mics have a range that brings out air and presence while other capture bass and punch or midrange.


So.... choices, choices, choices....

You'll have to start with one mic, and one preamp (unless you can afford more than 1) and try it out... if possible, order a couple and test em all out to see which one is good for you.



If I tracked someone through the same chain as Kelly and Avril, most likely it's not going to work unless I got really lucky... it's all about combinations for that particular voice.


I've been using the U99 lately with either the Avalon 737 or the GR MP2-NV... and my compressors vary... same as EQ's..


My advice is to try stuff out and see what works for you.



Good luck


Jason
Old 7th May 2006
  #4
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stevetgn's Avatar
Any large diaphragm Cap mic from £600 up should do the trick. Try any Focusrite ISA pre into a tfpro P38 compressor set to the LA2A mode, and like the previous guy said compress the living day lights out of it! Thats why its important to get a nice sounding comp.

If the performer is poor though, it will always be difficult. With my gear, my voice always sounds ****e, 'cause I'm a crap singer (lol) I can make anyone else's voice sound excellent!

PS If you can afford it get a real LA2A!
Old 7th May 2006
  #5
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Poulin
honestly,


to get a pro vocal sound, you'll need a pro vocalist.
Not true at all. If a client comes in, you can't say your vocalist sucks.... You MUST work with what you have. Just turn on the radio-You DEFINITELY can get a pro vocal sound with sub par talent-It just takes MUCH MUCH more work.

That said, Talent is the engineers best friend. Talent and skill are the difference between 2 hours and 2 weeks..... But I MUST give credit to those who can make crap sound like music, and its done EVERYDAY.
Old 7th May 2006
  #6
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

Yes but at least they have pleasing elements to their voice.


I bet you a 100$ you can't get a pro vocal sound out of my voice. And I have a very good sense of pitch (I'm a guitarist).

I'm talking more about the actual tone of the voice... the elements of what it produces. The way the words are pronouced, the character... there's more to it than actual talent. Because I can be a talented singer (singer and I in the same sentenced?) but with a very nasal tone. lol but it's true... know what I mean?

I'll sing through my chain and you mix it.

Jason
Old 7th May 2006
  #7
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whitepapagold
Not true at all.

come on now...

I do understand what you are saying but at least you're working with some of the elements that I mentioned above.


Jason (remember, we're talking about PRO vocal sound... not something that will just get you by without making a weird face.)
Old 7th May 2006
  #8
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s.d.finley's Avatar
Ok guys,

the deal with having a "pro" vocalist, is that the vocals already kick buttocks...but with a lame vocalist, us engineer types have todo more "work", or "trickery", depending on how one looks at it, to get that lame-o vocalist to sound "pro".

Give me a PRO!!

sdf
Old 7th May 2006
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for the replies and info guys.

I do realise that the singer has to posess some talent.

I am interested in the process thats involved in getting a good sound even if the vocal performance is not the best.

I will be demoing a phoenix audio drs1 and gonna try a few mics when I do this.

Any suggestions?

j
Old 8th May 2006
  #10
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zemlin's Avatar
 

Something else that needs to be mentioned is the space you're recording in. The room will contribute a lot to the sound - what sort of space are you working in? What kind of acoustic treatments do you have in place?
Old 8th May 2006
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Something I read about the Avril recordings:The Voc-Combo on her first Hit was U87/1073/Distressor. Anybody surprised? And of course: TLA mixing it.
Old 8th May 2006
  #12
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Poulin
I bet you a 100$ you can't get a pro vocal sound out of my voice. And I have a very good sense of pitch (I'm a guitarist). ..I'll sing through my chain and you mix it.

Jason
Apparently your confusing a "pro vocal sound" with taste(do I like it or not). Yes I can make you sound pro. NO, I cannot use your chain-Id prefer mine(if you are as bad as you say the LA 2A and 1176 will come in handy).

BUT AGAIN- a pro vocal sound has NOTHING TO DO WITH PITCH, CHOICE OF TONE, OR PERSONAL TASTE AT ALL. Its about getting the best out of what you have and making it work in context. If I tracked you and you are as bad as you say, I could get a great pro vocal sound of a guy who sucks!heh Worked with PUNK!

You are confusing talent and your personal taste with a quality vocal recording.tutt Keep the recording and the talent separate-they aren't the same thing though they do interact.
Old 8th May 2006
  #13
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Kestral's Avatar
 

Avril-style "pro vocal sound" is easy to get:

U47 -> Neve 1073 -> Urei 1176 -> LA2A -> Apogee converter -> Pro Tools

By "Avril-style", I mean that up front punchy pushed sound with the pronouced midrange and sizzly almost distorted tone that gives the voice body.

Doing it "on a budget"? Then rent the gear, cause budget gear is not going to get that sound.
Old 8th May 2006
  #14
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

Well, if you can make me sound like the next American Idol than so be it. I hope you know what level of PRO I'm talking about.

I don't think an 1176 or LA2A can make magic in way you say it does but that's you and I don't know how you work. But on the real talen it can really shine.


Anyways, it's just a difference in opinions and I know in my best attempts, I would just be honest and tell the un-talented non-pro signer with a raspy-nasal voice that I'll do my best but your not going to sound like Avril or Kelly or... I would send them to a studio like yours and maybe you can untangle it.




I haven't found the magic buttons yet to fix a bad performance. Auto Tune is fake, comps and Eq's can help but for me they can't do enough. And my signal chains are as good as yours.

And I see what you're saying about getting a PRO sounding track (75% Agreed)... But I was talking more about the sound and the performance. Some vocalist make your gear work. The Big picture I was thinking about. I appreciate your opinion though

Goes for any other instruments. (But then again, that's in my experience only and you might have a different way of working)


sorry for the ramble, I hope this is not ruining the thread.



Jason
Old 8th May 2006
  #15
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Poulin
I hope you know what level of PRO I'm talking about.
Again, Pro in your terms is relative to your tastes...... Say what you will, but "level" of pro again means you mis-understand. So all Pros have in tune, cool sounding(to you) voices? Ever heard of Tom Waits.... Emotion. His voice makes some people cringe.... is he not of YOUR LEVEL of pro?

The recording and the performance are not the same.... Taste is relative. The question is about recording, not talent. Getting the most out of your source-REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU LIKE IT. Its the producers job to decide whether its good....
Old 8th May 2006
  #16
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

I re-read it just to be sure and the question was about the sound of the RECORDING not performance....

We are on Gearslutz not "I love to sing Slutz"....
Old 8th May 2006
  #17
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5down1up's Avatar
 

just believe what jason poulin said.
Old 8th May 2006
  #18
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whitepapagold
I re-read it just to be sure and the question was about the sound of the RECORDING not performance....

We are on Gearslutz not "I love to sing Slutz"....

Yes, I got that part and agree to a certain extent... I am looking at the two together which is always how I worked and it's been doing very well.

sorry if anything I said is misleading.

Good luck with your vocalist... I hope she is good.

Good day








Jason
Old 8th May 2006
  #19
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 5down1up
just believe what jason poulin said.
OK. Ive changed my mind!
Old 8th May 2006
  #20
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Poulin
Yes, I got that part and agree to a certain extent... I am looking at the two together which is always how I worked and it's been doing very well.

sorry if anything I said is misleading.

Good luck with your vocalist... I hope she is good.

Good day








Jason
No worries, Im not trying to be an *&^%$! But I DONT get to choose who I record and I admit I get touchy because of all the times they just sucked.... not my fault. The mic works, the pre sounds great, the room is wonderful but man....the performer just SUCKS. And they still have to finish the project. And NO ONE wants to admit the truth. And nothing is making them happy.....UGH. And the singer is the drunk producers girlfriend.... I cherish the good performers.
So I definitely like to keep the two SEPARATE! Obviously you have the luxury of better options! Someday I hope I do! Though I still wonder about your level of pro comment- If it was a pot shot, you dont know who I am either....
Old 8th May 2006
  #21
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I hear what you are saing but I really think that a "pro" vocal sound comes from a great vocalist. I dont care what equiptment you have, you cant make someone ****ty sound good!

Ever notice that when you have a great vocalist, mixing is way easier? Everything falls in place. They know their way around singing in a studio and it makes everything better. I know you guys want to hate on pop singers and say they are not talented... but come on, even Avril is talented and I am sure she is a good vocalist.... its why they get signed and sell records. I know about the marketing and all that but there are thousands of girls to choose from. She got picked for some reason and yes, some decisions are based on talent!
Old 8th May 2006
  #22
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5down1up's Avatar
 

can i hear a lil irony ?

i totally understand what you are trying to say.
but a performer that does not sound good will not sound good.
of course every nice piece of gear will make it a lil bit better.
but there wont be a dramatic change imho.

when you mention tom waits ... i mean ? hes a classic ! nice sound, attitude, everything ( doesnt get much more pro than he is ).

and he will sound like himself with a 5$ mic or with a 5000$ mic. ( i guess thats all paul was trying to say )

if it ends up in mixing with 20 different outboard processors on 10 different channels to make it sound the way it sounds doesnt change the fact that the result they captured during recording is not just up to a micpre and some other wild stuff.


p.s " i might be wrong ... lets discuss what pro really means "
Old 8th May 2006
  #23
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DirkB's Avatar
A lot is in the mixing.

If the performance is somewhere decent and the backing track is happening, making it sound "pro" (whatever that means) has a lot to do with the amount of compression/eq/fx being applied.

Now, if it has to sound like Kelly Clarkson, hmmm... Although I agree about the autotune, that girl can definitely sing. You need some real talent performing on the mic to get near to that kind of result.

Good luck,
Dirk
Old 8th May 2006
  #24
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whitepapagold
Though I still wonder about your level of pro comment- If it was a pot shot, you dont know who I am either....

no no... not a pot shot! please don't take it the wrong way (I am not one of those ego dudes on here that take cheap shots at everyone - I know the type and absolutely dislike it)

I just meant, were you thinking of the same level of pro as I was (world class vocalists--- hot session singers) you know the type and not some bar band with a guy that can cover the top 40 pretty well...


I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. I don't know who you are but I do know that I respect you as a fellow AE and GS member.

But YES we all know the horrors of the bad musician tales... It makes you appreciate the talent out there so much more. It's so much more fun recording/mixing the good stuff.

buddies?

Jason
Old 8th May 2006
  #25
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

As for vocal mics on a budget .... try to get your hands on a Audix SCX25 and test it.

I used a pair of them as LS/RS room mics for recording drums last week and I tried it briefly on some lead (guide) vocals. I was pretty impressed by what I heard. I know the singer and usually I use a U47 or a M149 for her. But I think I will need to find one of those Audix's to try it by the time we start tracking lead vocals.
Old 8th May 2006
  #26
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proxy's Avatar
 

A buddy of mine did a bunch of the Clarkson stuff, and I know he used his Soundelux 251 into what I can only guess is something like a Summit TLA or CL1B/La2a as I know he prefers those types of comps for tracking that type of singer (as opposed to 1176, etc.).

He's an amazing engineer and could probably make a frog burping into an NT1 sound like a million bucks. That said, I can vouch for the beauty of that microphone, and the luscious sound it can capture.

- proxy
Old 8th May 2006
  #27
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The point is.... he cant make that frog sound like Kelly at all! But I am sure the frog would sound great, but not pro!
Old 8th May 2006
  #28
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proxy's Avatar
 

Just wanted to follow up and clarify... I wasn't comparing Kelly to a Frog, in fact, all he's ever said about her was that she has a great voice.

I'm not weighing in on the singer-talent debate as my example involved a talented singer, high-end gear, a great engineer, and a great mixer.

But since the poster referenced Kelly, I figured I'd chime in with some specifics.

- proxy
Old 8th May 2006
  #29
Registered User
 

I think a point missed here is the difference between a stunning "acoustic" recording of the human voice and a "tone" that fits into the style of the song.

For Punk, Heavy Rock, Pure pop and sim. often a perfect "acoustic" recording is the last thing you want. Here you are searching for "stylized tone" often double/triple tracked and compressed heavily EQ'ed and it sounds fun and exciting - great.

Then you have a situation that you have a wonderful singer with a wonderful tone and a more traditional song setting here you want that feeling of the singer "stood there right between the speakers" this requires gear that can perfectly reproduce every transient in perfect detail to create total realism.

It is my experience that the former does not require an expensive mic/pre amp but the latter never has the impact without an expensive "pro" mic/pre amp

Trebor
Old 8th May 2006
  #30
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C Heat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trebor Flow
I think a point missed here is the difference between a stunning "acoustic" recording of the human voice and a "tone" that fits into the style of the song.

For Punk, Heavy Rock, Pure pop and sim. often a perfect "acoustic" recording is the last thing you want. Here you are searching for "stylized tone" often double/triple tracked and compressed heavily EQ'ed and it sounds fun and exciting - great.

Then you have a situation that you have a wonderful singer with a wonderful tone and a more traditional song setting here you want that feeling of the singer "stood there right between the speakers" this requires gear that can perfectly reproduce every transient in perfect detail to create total realism.

It is my experience that the former does not require an expensive mic/pre amp but the latter never has the impact without an expensive "pro" mic/pre amp

Trebor
This sounds like an interesting point.

I was only thinking about something similar earlier.

You get a lot of 'What Vocal Chain Was Used/Best For...' type questions (me included). Then I thought, even if I could afford this 'pro chain', there would still be a pretty good chance MY vocal recording wouldn't sound anywhere near as good as what I was referencing BECAUSE I would probably make compression / EQ / FX blunders because I'm not a pro (AE) in that discipline.
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