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Recording vocals, monitor too low driving me CRAZY Dynamic Microphones
Old 28th December 2016
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Recording vocals, monitor too low driving me CRAZY

Hi guys I have a universal audio apollo 8 quad. I am running via thunderbolt into my mbook pro. My problem is when I track all the guitars, drums and bass then it is time to do vocals, The monitor ouput of the vocals into the headphones is FAR to quiet and cannot be heard by the recording vocalist. I have to blast the headphone volume knob on the apollo to hear it. I also have to bus everything else thru an aux to turn it all down ( so vocals can be heard during recording thru headphones ). On top of this the console doesnt have lag but pro tools does (when I mute console) Any tip would be appreciated as Im sure you can imagine this major obstacle in my way
Old 29th December 2016
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Must be complicated ? Someone has to have an apollo interface !
Old 29th December 2016
  #3
Gear Head
 

Maybe the impendance is not good? You can use a preamp maybe? Output to headphone preamp or use a line output to feed the preamp?
Old 29th December 2016
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frederickalonso View Post
Maybe the impendance is not good? You can use a preamp maybe? Output to headphone preamp or use a line output to feed the preamp?
Thanks for the reply, one of the very reasons I got this interface was because of the built in dual headphone outs on the front. For some reason they are really quiet for the recording vocalist and they cant hear themselves unless the headphone knob is turned up all the way. On top of this the mix needs to get turned down also. Something might be up with my routing
Old 29th December 2016
  #5
Lower the instruments in the mix for the artist
Old 29th December 2016
  #6
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lobsterinn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Lower the instruments in the mix for the artist
It's probably that simple. I can't imagine the headphone amps aren't powerful enough for vocal tracking. Be aware that singing with loud headphones leads to pitch problems.

Another thought it that your arrangement might not be leaving enough room for the vocals - like if you've got a bunch of distorted, midrange-heavy instruments competing for space. If so, do some pre-mixing before tracking the vocals to make some room. Tracking with some compression/eq can help too.
Old 29th December 2016
  #7
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hasbeen's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Lower the instruments in the mix for the artist
Yup, or just lower the master fader on DAW until the vocals are present.

Old 29th December 2016
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Are you creating a separate mix for the talent? You should probably do that.
Old 29th December 2016
  #9
Gear Addict
 
tedcrop's Avatar
 

I simply can't handle monitoring through the computer. Very hard to get consistent. Even the cheapest analog board with the stereos coming into two channels and the channel being tracked coming into another channel is miles beyond what can done in the computer....for me anyway.

If you have 8 outputs wire them into a cheap Mackie for monitoring and you will be much happier.
Old 31st December 2016
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Hey everyone thanks for the replies. The problem is even if I dont have pro tools open and thru the software console, I have just a mic hooked up with gain, the vocal is still too low. Even without a mix, just a vocal with average signal around -20dB the vocal is still to low in headphones. Does anyone here use console/ apollo interfaces? I can add in a uad plugin compressor in console and boost the signal of the vocalist so they can hear themselves. But would this be ideal? Does the console print the compressor?
Old 31st December 2016
  #11
Here for the gear
 
Loul3a's Avatar
You can switch the Console behavior regarding inserts either on a per track basis (UAD MON and UAD REC buttons under each vhannel inserts), or on a global way, by switching between UAD MON or UAD REC (blue and red buttons under the master level on the far right) ; this way you can choose if inserts will be printed or not.

You can add a comp or EQ on the vocal channel, which might help if used gently, but if you go beyond a certain conservative level, keep in mind that a squashed monitored voice is less than ideal for vocal performances in general... And if you push volumes too hard, the monitored channel will distort.

Maybe you're just tracking with too low a level ? What mic and pre are you using, and for what kind of vocals ? What is your usual peak level when tracking vocals ?
Old 31st December 2016
  #12
What type of Mic (dynamic/condenser) ?
What Model ?

Last edited by drethe5th; 1st January 2017 at 03:35 AM..
Old 31st December 2016
  #13
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GeneHall's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaystandin View Post
Hi guys I have a universal audio apollo 8 quad. I am running via thunderbolt into my mbook pro. My problem is when I track all the guitars, drums and bass then it is time to do vocals, The monitor ouput of the vocals into the headphones is FAR to quiet and cannot be heard by the recording vocalist. I have to blast the headphone volume knob on the apollo to hear it. I also have to bus everything else thru an aux to turn it all down ( so vocals can be heard during recording thru headphones ). On top of this the console doesnt have lag but pro tools does (when I mute console) Any tip would be appreciated as Im sure you can imagine this major obstacle in my way
If I'm understanding your predicament, it sounds like your routing might be holding you up.
Send your reference mix created for the vocal session direct to the hardware headphone output [with all fx bypassed], not through the master channel inside the DAW and then to the hardware output, to get around any latency.
Turn that down to -18 and you should be right to go. If the vocalist is monitoring through high impedance headphones, maybe consider swapping those for something that doesn't have to be driven so hard.
Alos, make sure the vocalist is getting a direct signal from their hardware input and not having to monitor themself from a DAW send
The Apollo headphone output should work just fine with low to moderately low impedance headphones.
It should be that straight forward. If you get the routing sorted, you should also be able to drop the buffers [during recording] right down to further enable enhancing the singers experience during tracking
Old 2nd January 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
I've had the same "problem" on various interfaces. If you want to hear a vocal clearly and you are recording it at -20, your whole mix needs to sum at around -20 also. That means you do, as others have suggested, have to turn your instrumental mix or tracks WAY down while tracking vocals. That means you have to turn your headphone amp WAY up. There is nothing wrong with your equipment. Worry about overall level when you mix.
Old 2nd January 2017
  #15
Lives for gear
for overdubbing vocals the monitor mix should be ultra quiet. you should be able to hear your own voice singing on top of the mix . you need to have this so u don't strai. your voice and also so you can sing on pitch
Old 2nd January 2017
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I've had the same "problem" on various interfaces. If you want to hear a vocal clearly and you are recording it at -20, your whole mix needs to sum at around -20 also. That means you do, as others have suggested, have to turn your instrumental mix or tracks WAY down while tracking vocals. That means you have to turn your headphone amp WAY up. There is nothing wrong with your equipment. Worry about overall level when you mix.
And/or during initial stages most/all the tracks and mix are still in their 'average -10 or more of headroom state, temporarily jack your master bus up (trim or fader) as needed.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #17
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loul3a View Post
You can switch the Console behavior regarding inserts either on a per track basis (UAD MON and UAD REC buttons under each vhannel inserts), or on a global way, by switching between UAD MON or UAD REC (blue and red buttons under the master level on the far right) ; this way you can choose if inserts will be printed or not.

You can add a comp or EQ on the vocal channel, which might help if used gently, but if you go beyond a certain conservative level, keep in mind that a squashed monitored voice is less than ideal for vocal performances in general... And if you push volumes too hard, the monitored channel will distort.

Maybe you're just tracking with too low a level ? What mic and pre are you using, and for what kind of vocals ? What is your usual peak level when tracking vocals ?


I appreciate everyones replies sorry i relied late the new year got me busy.. i use a sm57 infront of a mesa 4x12 for guitars avwrage levels around -20dB. For vocals I use a sm7b and give it about 30dB gain through the quad for cleans. In pro tools this sets my peaks to top out at -18dB which is reccomended for the quad. If I plug a mic in to the quad and open up console and give it gain so that it will be around -18dB max, the vocalist still cant hear themselves unless I blast their headphone out (even if nothing is playing for them to sing to)
Old 3rd January 2017
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Everyone thanks for the reply, I do believe genehall is correct about my routing. I really should sit down and read the manual for this thing (do you believe one didnt come in the box?) I use a sm57 for guitars and a sm7b for vox.. lets just say i hook up the sm7b and adjust gain for vocals until it is around -20dB ( average) and nothing is tracks playing in the backeound, I still have to crank headphone volume ( with no daw opened) so they can hear themselves. I use a sen hd380pro for talents to monitor themselves. Happy new year btw !!
Old 3rd January 2017
  #19
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneHall View Post
Alos, make sure the vocalist is getting a direct signal from their hardware input and not having to monitor themself from a DAW send
If it isnt to hard to explian, can you tell me how to get them a direct signal from a hardware input bypassing the daw.
Old 3rd January 2017
  #20
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GeneHall's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaystandin View Post
If it isnt to hard to explian, can you tell me how to get them a direct signal from a hardware input bypassing the daw.
I'll try..but do have a flip through the owners manual and confirm anything you might have doubts or questions regarding. This is also assuming you have a decent signal coming in from the microphone>preamp recording chain

The channel in your UA console that the vocal input is assigned to can be routed directly to the hardware output/headphone channel.
The reference track coming out of the DAW goes to the first stereo hardware output and that also gets sent to the head phone output , you can adjust the reference track levels either at the DAW' master output or at this hardware output on the UA Console.
Just look for the channel where the playback is outputting and adjust it there.

(My preference is to leave the DAW master alone and adjust at it's hardware output, but whatever works for you, it doesn't really matter which method you use)

Every singer is going to want a different playback level but safe to assume that anywhere between -20 and -12 is going to work out [with varying results]. Sometimes you'll get a better capture or more intense performance from the singer if they have to sing through the mix a bit, mess around with it a bit and see how you go. Tracking vox for a ballad is much different to say, an intense uptempo hip hop track and require different reference technique from you.

Assuming the vocalist can sing.., you may encounter 1 of 2 scenarios while trying to set your levels to track;
1.If your captures are running flat, the vocalist might not be able to hear themself so well.
2.if they are consistently sounding sharp, they are most probably not listeningthemself or have not developed a listening technique suited to recording.

The output level of the reference track is really important to the vocal performance and it's equally important to try not to discuss certain things with the vocal artist while your'e getting levels set, just make whatever adjustments you need to to get the result you yourself are after, so I have learned ( sometimes the hard way). If at all possible, try and get all your tracking levels set up before the singer comes in, then you can refine those levels to enhance their experience with you.
Every situation is unique and the most flexible guy in the room must always be you. Hope this helps you find your own path

Last edited by GeneHall; 3rd January 2017 at 02:15 AM.. Reason: edit
Old 3rd January 2017
  #21
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GeneHall's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaystandin View Post
I use a sen hd380pro for talents to monitor themselves. Happy new year btw !!
I don't have any experience with those headphones. If they are high impendance you might consider changing them to a pair more easily driven.
I have a few pair that singers seem to like a lot, Beyer Dynamic 770 , ATH-50's and a nuffy pair of Sony that most seem to like. If I have to use a click, I offer up the 770's first and go from there
Old 3rd January 2017
  #22
Here for the gear
 

The SM7B is a low-gain microphone. Are you using a CL-1 lifter? It adds up to +25dB of gain to your signal...
Old 3rd January 2017
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaystandin View Post
I appreciate everyones replies sorry i relied late the new year got me busy.. i use a sm57 infront of a mesa 4x12 for guitars avwrage levels around -20dB. For vocals I use a sm7b and give it about 30dB gain through the quad for cleans. In pro tools this sets my peaks to top out at -18dB which is reccomended for the quad. If I plug a mic in to the quad and open up console and give it gain so that it will be around -18dB max, the vocalist still cant hear themselves unless I blast their headphone out (even if nothing is playing for them to sing to)
Peak?
Old 17th May 2017
  #24
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneHall View Post
I'll try..but do have a flip through the owners manual and confirm anything you might have doubts or questions regarding. This is also assuming you have a decent signal coming in from the microphone>preamp recording chain

The channel in your UA console that the vocal input is assigned to can be routed directly to the hardware output/headphone channel.
The reference track coming out of the DAW goes to the first stereo hardware output and that also gets sent to the head phone output , you can adjust the reference track levels either at the DAW' master output or at this hardware output on the UA Console.
Just look for the channel where the playback is outputting and adjust it there.

(My preference is to leave the DAW master alone and adjust at it's hardware output, but whatever works for you, it doesn't really matter which method you use)

Every singer is going to want a different playback level but safe to assume that anywhere between -20 and -12 is going to work out [with varying results]. Sometimes you'll get a better capture or more intense performance from the singer if they have to sing through the mix a bit, mess around with it a bit and see how you go. Tracking vox for a ballad is much different to say, an intense uptempo hip hop track and require different reference technique from you.

Assuming the vocalist can sing.., you may encounter 1 of 2 scenarios while trying to set your levels to track;
1.If your captures are running flat, the vocalist might not be able to hear themself so well.
2.if they are consistently sounding sharp, they are most probably not listeningthemself or have not developed a listening technique suited to recording.

The output level of the reference track is really important to the vocal performance and it's equally important to try not to discuss certain things with the vocal artist while your'e getting levels set, just make whatever adjustments you need to to get the result you yourself are after, so I have learned ( sometimes the hard way). If at all possible, try and get all your tracking levels set up before the singer comes in, then you can refine those levels to enhance their experience with you.
Every situation is unique and the most flexible guy in the room must always be you. Hope this helps you find your own path
This was everything I needed, I just got back and tried it (i know its been half a year) just wanted to thank you for the replies as it really means alot.
Old 8th February 2018
  #25
Here for the gear
 

This is driving me crazy too. So the only solution I know is to HIGHLIGHT every single track that I've already recorded. And then lower all of those tracks until I can hear the vocal.
So, it's not the headphones. It's not the microphone. If I hit the solo button, then I only hear that channel which is selected.
I am hoping there is a way to magically click a button and it allows the selected channel to be "turned up to eleven."
Now, I see someone had a response about a DAW volume that somehow side chains everything, and so you have like 2 floating programs and I am in the wrong one. But I have no clue what that means. I need pictures.
The problem is, I have no idea how to word this issue for the search engines or to look up on Universal Audios website.
Is there another solution besides temporarily lowering everything else?
Old 8th February 2018
  #26
I have not found any quick and dirty shortcuts to mixing a cue. Its just mixing. Mix it.
Old 8th February 2018
  #27
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Are you saying that after creating a master fader in Pro Tools and using it to turn down all previously recorded tracks, you’re still not getting enough vocal level in the headphones, even when the headphone output is at max?
Old 8th February 2018
  #28
Quote:
This is driving me crazy too. So the only solution I know is to HIGHLIGHT every single track that I've already recorded. And then lower all of those tracks until I can hear the vocal.
This is normal operation.
You shouldn't have every track you recorded very loud. the more tracks you have the lower each track needs to be, because the sum of 15 tracks at the same volume is greater than the sum of 5 tracks at equal volume..

Also, some DAW's have a monitoring button for live monitoring. If it doesnt have one, then you need an audio interface with direct monitoring .Most have this option.
Old 8th February 2018
  #29
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Although this can all be done with the interface etc. You will probably save yourself alot of time and effort if you just got a small cheap mixer (built in FX a plus for the vocalist if you can't do FX within the unit itself) send it the main mix on Ch 1 & 2 and vocals on 3. Then the vocalist can have control over music vs voice and you can control individual elements if necessary.

As others have said, at the very least you want hardware monitoring, not coming back through the DAW.
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