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How do the pros get that sweet sparkle? Equalisers (HW)
Old 10th April 2018
  #31
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsMisterVee View Post
All of my vocals sound dull in comparison to chart mixes. So i end up adding even heavier processing which ends up sounding harsh!
Perhaps your processing is too broad, or too much. You may be on the right track. but 'overshooting' your goal. For example EQ. Maybe you can narrow down the frequencies that when boosted, stop dullness, and separate them from those that, when boosted only add harshness. They may not be exactly overlapped.

Sometimes the impression of 'not dull' is derived not from boosting the highs but by rolling off more lows. I recently heard some stems of some current pop hits and while I was expecting the vocals to be steeply high-passed, I was still surprised at by how much they were high-passed. That will make it "brighter" without boosting anything - because it's a matter of contrast.

Finally, don't discount the 'contrast' within the mix. Maybe the sounds you want to hear are simply being masked by competition from other instruments in the song. Instead of always turning up those sounds on the voice, take some away from the other instruments.

Quote:
That expensive sound!
when I think of 'sparkle' I often think of saturation. I love using tube preamps like the DW Fearn for vocals. That's expensive!
Old 10th April 2018
  #32
Lives for gear
Small, covered “dead spaces” are undeniably better than flat out awful rooms. BUT... both DYI isolation and “professional” isolation devices tend to have their own reflective/resonant peculiarities and sonic signatures that become part of the capture of the typically wide cardioid LDC. Depending on the singer, the distance from the mic, and the material, the results can be acceptable, or not.
Old 10th April 2018
  #33
Lives for gear
The manufacturer of hard- and software will help you and tell you how its done: buy new gear. You did? OK. Didnt work out? OK. then buy new gear. Didnt work out? Hm. OK. Maybe you should buy new gear? Even that doesnt work out? Lets try another thing: buy new gear... Oh, I see. So you have all the gear imaginable.

Maybe you do something wrong? You dont use any gear you have at hand not in the right way? Maybe the manufacturers and all the believers from the Holy Church Of The Real Gear are screwing you over because they want your money and not you having good results?

Take a good vocal tracking - yes, you have to have that - or a tracking that you simply like, take Reaper and Reacomp and Reaeq and Reaverb and Reaverberate and some IRs and go for it... if you cant get that into a good recording - one that satisfies you - forget it or try harder. No other gear will save you... there is no trick, no secret. Its you!
Old 10th April 2018
  #34
Lives for gear
 

A vocal track is only going to sound as good as the rest of the mix its fitted into.

You can look at it as being limited to the least common denominator. You typically have to "embellish" the tracks that sound poor and "dumb down" the tracks that have too much fidelity to get them all to match. If you own decent gear and cant get something like vocals to sound good then its either the voice itself that hasn't got what it takes or the mix hasn't got the quality to back the vocals.

It can also be the music too. Some people try and record music beyond their abilities and fall short instead of taking something simple and working your way up to more complex tunes. An excellent challenge is to take some song you know, the simpler the better, a popular song you view as being kindergarten beginners stuff maybe consisting of 3 or 4 chords and ultra simple leads and lyrics. Record it and try and see if you can actually match it in sound quality and musical performance. If you can't create a clone so close that it fools everyone then you might want to question whether its the gear or your musical skills holding you back from getting good results.
Old 10th April 2018
  #35
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
A vocal track is only going to sound as good as the rest of the mix its fitted into.
That’s not my experience. A vocal can sound WAY better than the track or song it’s in, or it can be way below the quality a track and song deserve. The magical thing about a distinctive human voice singing an emotionally powerful lyric in a language I speak is beyond any connection I have ever made with a guitar solo or a drum sound. Maybe that’s just me, but I seriously doubt I’m going to be lonely in hearing things that way.
Old 10th April 2018
  #36
Gear Nut
 
Oni.'s Avatar
Clarity, in any frequency range you wanna pick, is 90% of the times a combination of a:
- good arrangement
- not overcongested frequency range
- subtle, multi-staged saturation
The concept applies everywhere, from the infamous 60hz all the way up to the crispy highs you're seeking.
Old 10th April 2018
  #37
Quote:
The magical thing about a distinctive human voice singing an emotionally powerful lyric in a language I speak is beyond any connection I have ever made with a guitar solo or a drum sound.
There is some sort of essence that connects with me when hearing the human voice sound in a way that brings emotion to me. I would love to say that the guitar or bass guitar does the same to me, as im a bassist and guitarist, but it doesn't.

There is only one other instrument that comes in 2nd to the human voice to me and that is the Violin. but the human voice is by far more connective to me..
Old 10th April 2018
  #38
Lives for gear
 
dights's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
There is some sort of essence that connects with me when hearing the human voice sound in a way that brings emotion to me. I would love to say that the guitar or bass guitar does the same to me, as im a bassist and guitarist, but it doesn't.

There is only one other instrument that comes in 2nd to the human voice to me and that is the Violin. but the human voice is by far more connective to me..
Come on man, what about Kenny G?
Old 10th April 2018
  #39
Quote:
Come on man, what about Kenny G?
Shhhhh.. Your blowing my cover!! I don't want anyone to know that I'm the president of the Kenny G fan Club
Old 10th April 2018
  #40
Gear Guru
This may sound stupid but with my LDC I find singing off axis (from the top more) helps. If I sing straight at the capsule it is way too dark. Try hand holding the mic like a dynamic and move it around to see if there's a sweet spot for your voice. Made all the difference to me since I have a very nasal dull sounding voice. Clari is also a great tool, and Electra is an amazing eq........
Old 11th April 2018
  #41
Lives for gear
 
BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
the room only comes into play in a big way if you are recording way off microphone,, and the room is realy bad.
in a normal room assuming you are close mic ( a hand span is the distance for me ) you should be ok.

i have an old U87. i run it into an Amek-9098 EQ, i love the Amek for top end and clean. Ruepert Neve Modern.

for vocals through the Amek i usually hi pass filter at 45hz, then add about 3db in the high end, around 12 to 15k to tape.

this zings it up a bit, but doesnt add too much sibalance. and gets rid of the rumble down low.

post EQ i compress at 4/1 into an 1176 with around 4 to 6 db gain reduction, for most singers, but strong singers often hit it harder.

off tape it gets whatever it needs to front the track in the mix.

also bear in mind that if you are comparing home mixes non mastered, to pro mixes mastered, then there will be an expected difference in sonic quality.

hi end mastering often involves Hi Frequency EQ boost at frequencies above 12 and up to 18khz.

mastering can often add that top end sheene, to the whole mix of course, but the vocals are part of the mix, so benifit from the ME treatment

hope this helps Buddha
Old 11th April 2018
  #42
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
A lot of great vocals in songs were recorded in a bedroom or a control room.
Take for instance Alanis Morissette. She recorded her vocals for some of her biggest hits in her bedroom. Bono used an SM57 and sang sitting on a couch in a control room on some of his big hits.

Its Talent, performance and knowledge that get great vocals. You can achieve great vocals with a $99 mic and a $100 audio interface and any DAW

CJ

Well said

Last edited by TRSC; 11th April 2018 at 01:20 PM.. Reason: Typed 'Wee' instead of 'Well' lol
Old 11th April 2018
  #43
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsMisterVee View Post
All of my vocals sound dull in comparison to chart mixes. So i end up adding even heavier processing which ends up sounding harsh!
LOL. That's a common problem. Here's what I do:

(1) Start with a great voice. If the voice you are using is muddy in real life, it will still sound muddy when recorded. So swap out the singer if possible.

(2) Record the vocals in a good sounding room. Use a baffle to deaden the room reflections if you have a bad sounding or small room.

(3) Use a professional quality LDC mic that accentuates the highs such as a 251 clone.

(4) Use a professional quality compressor that flatters and color the vocals well. I've yet to find a better compressor than a CL1B for doing this.

(5) Use a professional converter that doesn't muddy up the sound. The Burl B2 would be my choice. Many cheap interfaces sound muddy.

(6) If all of the above fails, then add the missing high end using an aural exciter or distortion plugin. Caution, use sparingly, a little goes a long way. My favorite is the Aphex Model 250 Type III, and it is the only Aphex exciter that I ever had good luck with.
Old 11th April 2018
  #44
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post

(1) Start with a great voice. If the voice you are using is muddy in real life, it will still sound muddy when recorded. So swap out the singer if possible..
Three problem situations for that solution:
1. If You are the singer. (OK, you can fire yourself as the singer).
2. If the singer you’d like to swap out is paying for the session.
3. If the singer’s dangerous boyfriend is paying for the session.
Sometimes you just have to do your best and cash the check.
Old 12th April 2018
  #45
Lives for gear
 
foamboy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
(1) Start with a great voice. If the voice you are using is muddy in real life, it will still sound muddy when recorded. So swap out the singer if possible.
Actually, as mentioned once or twice before, THAT'S when you start looking for the most appropriate mic for that vocalist. I have known many "muddy" sounding singers both in live and studio situations and at the end of the day after much trial and error with microphones...VOILA....there was usually a solution and improvement. It's much easier to find a mic than it is to find a singer that delivers the emotional performance you desire.

The right mic for the voice......that's what I think and from personal experience. THAT is what I know.

fb
Old 17th April 2018
  #46
Gear Head
 

Hey guys, want to say a massive thanks for all of your answers! Been really useful stuff. I’ve seen a drastic improvement in my vocal takes implementing some of these techniques and plugins you guys are legends!
Old 17th April 2018
  #47
Lives for gear
 
andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsMisterVee View Post
Could recording in omni mode on a microphone help with this? Perhaps by getting rid of some of the proximity mud it may make the highs pop out more? Anyone done this?
I‘ve recorded voices in omni up close. That did avoid the boominess problem, but resulted in certain formants gaining a piercing quality.
I‘ve found in the meantime that I‘d rather use an airy/bright mic (like a Brauner)and put some distance between it and the singer for the same effect, with the added benefit of a more balanced voice tone and less need for compression. This also lets me skip any blast filters.
That scenario requires a very controlled recording environment, however.
Old 30th April 2018
  #48
Here for the gear
Just some ideas -

10khz ssl bell curve
1176 blue stripe
cla3a plug
comp layering?
parallel/direct saturation (high passed?)
u87/sm57 combination?
Pultec on vocal bus?

I'm out of ideas.
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