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Noise Gating Low End Frequencies When Recording Vocals Equalisers (HW)
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Noise Gating Low End Frequencies When Recording Vocals

I use a walk-in closet as an isolation booth when I record vocals. I have pro sound blankets hung on the walls plus the closet is filled with clothes. There are no reflective surfaces except ceiling. It's a mobile home, so it's tough to keep vibrations from large trucks out.

There's a warehouse right next door with lots of 18 wheelers moving slowly through all the time, morning and night, loading and unloading with forklift noise. Turn on that condenser mic, put the headphones on and it's a constant stream of forklift and low end engine rumble noise. You can see it on the DB meters as a constant signal. [Between -10 and -5 db].

A condenser mic like my Nuemann TLM 107 set to omni pickup pattern is really the only setting I really like for vocals without sacrificing the nuances that get lost using other pickup patterns or God forbid, using a dynamic microphone.

[I use a mic-pre and compressor when recording. I've tried recording without both and the results are not optimal.]

I've experimented with a wide range of microphones, including both condensers and dynamics. The Nuemann mic set to Omni delivers the best sound.

That engine noise is present while I sing. I am unable to gate it out. I tried two gates, one is the DBX-286, the other is an Aphex Channel Strip. I could not find a gate setting that didn't clip the start of each vocal line off. [And of course, once the gate is open the rumble is there behind the vocal. The frequency range of my voice is too close to the truck noise to gate out.]

I've pretty much resigned myself to just sing and leave the noise in as I don't think most people notice it while I'm singing and I just punch in and out between phrases. Using other pickup patterns or dynamic mics just don't have the same presence or sound as the omni setting. I've tried Omnidirectional, wide angle cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, figure-8 patterns. But that rumble is there and it bugs the hell out of me because I know its there. It's like knowing you have cockroaches behind your walls.

Does anyone know of any noise gates or solutions that might mitigate the problem?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Quote:
That engine noise is present while I sing. I am unable to gate it out. I tried two gates, one is the DBX-286, the other is an Aphex Channel Strip.
noise Gate swill not take out 18 wheeler noise form your vocal track. Gates take out the noise on the bottom of the noise floor.

Solution is to track your vocals somewhere else, like in a studio.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Try an high pass filter, I assume your voice isn't rumbleling.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by BT64 View Post
Try an high pass filter, I assume your voice isn't rumbleling.
Forklift noise and track changing gears and reving the engine will never be taken out with a high pass filter while keeping the vocal intact
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcurran View Post
Does anyone know of any noise gates or solutions that might mitigate the problem?
Cardioid should help you get rid of more non-voice audio when recording if you set up properly, but it'll be frequency dependent. If you prefer the sound of your voice using omni then you have a choice to make between that and noise.

Noise gates won't work.

Also you should probably not compress your signal before you deal with the noise. Your compression will bring up the noise (or bring down your vocal rather) and you don't want the range between your desired signal (voice) and noise to be smaller.

iZotope RX can work miracles on audio, but if you want the easy settings it can be hit-or-miss. I would basically record without compression and with a cardioid pattern set up to minimize noise, and then take the noise out as much as possible in RX. Then I would proceed with further processing like dynamics.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Cardioid should help you get rid of more non-voice audio when recording if you set up properly, but it'll be frequency dependent. If you prefer the sound of your voice using omni then you have a choice to make between that and noise.

Noise gates won't work.

Also you should probably not compress your signal before you deal with the noise. Your compression will bring up the noise (or bring down your vocal rather) and you don't want the range between your desired signal (voice) and noise to be smaller.

iZotope RX can work miracles on audio, but if you want the easy settings it can be hit-or-miss. I would basically record without compression and with a cardioid pattern set up to minimize noise, and then take the noise out as much as possible in RX. Then I would proceed with further processing like dynamics.
Good suggestion here. The only problem I see with this other than having to settle for cardioid is that if I am not using compression while recording the vocal the transients are going to kill. Can that be corrected properly using compression to the uncompressed vocal in post? My understanding is that the reason compression is used during recording is to even out the transients in the human voice while limiting peaks, and that it's best used when capturing the live vocal going in, not after?

Last edited by mcurran; 1 week ago at 04:02 PM.. Reason: add
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Murky Waters's Avatar
 

High-pass filter to eliminate some of the low frequency rumble, etc. Cardioid pattern to focus the mic more where it is intended.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murky Waters View Post
High-pass filter to eliminate some of the low frequency rumble, etc. Cardioid pattern to focus the mic more where it is intended.
Yes, plus singing louder, to increase the ratio between the vocals and the unwanted background noise/rumble, as much as possible.

Success.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prodba View Post
Yes, plus singing louder, to increase the ratio between the vocals and the unwanted background noise/rumble, as much as possible)
Yes. Full on, 100% .
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcurran View Post
Good suggestion here. The only problem I see with this other than having to settle for cardioid
Sometimes we have to pick our battles, and pick the lesser evil :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcurran View Post
is that if I am not using compression while recording the vocal the transients are going to kill. Can that be corrected properly using compression to the uncompressed vocal in post? My understanding is that the reason compression is used during recording is to even out the transients in the human voice while limiting peaks, and that it's best used when capturing the live vocal going in, not after?
People compress for different reasons. In the past I think there was definitely a good case made for trying to control dynamic range when recording, because otherwise you'd clip your converters. However, if you record to 24-bits today you actually have a pretty wide range to work with and should be able to turn down so you don't clip. If you end up with sections that are really soft then I would (unfortunately) advise to simply sing louder (as Prodba hinted at) during the soft parts.

Two more reasons to compress are a) to control dynamics for aesthetic reasons, and b) to get the color of a specific hardware compressor. "a" can be done retroactively using a plugin, and "b" is something you probably shouldn't worry much about in your environment (in my opinion) since it's noisy and you have bigger fish to fry.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Sometimes we have to pick our battles, and pick the lesser evil :-(



People compress for different reasons. In the past I think there was definitely a good case made for trying to control dynamic range when recording, because otherwise you'd clip your converters. However, if you record to 24-bits today you actually have a pretty wide range to work with and should be able to turn down so you don't clip. If you end up with sections that are really soft then I would (unfortunately) advise to simply sing louder (as Prodba hinted at) during the soft parts.

Two more reasons to compress are a) to control dynamics for aesthetic reasons, and b) to get the color of a specific hardware compressor. "a" can be done retroactively using a plugin, and "b" is something you probably shouldn't worry much about in your environment (in my opinion) since it's noisy and you have bigger fish to fry.
I would imagine the same case could be made for not using a mic pre? I've gone direct without any compression or mic pre and it's tough to listen to raw on the playback check but later when f/x are added it's pretty clean. I've been using a mic pre and compression because I'm from the old school where an engineer would never even consider recording a vocal without these things.

How 'bout others on this board, care to weigh on on using no compression or mic pre? [using a high end condenser mic.]
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcurran View Post
I would imagine the same case could be made for not using a mic pre? I've gone direct without any compression or mic pre and it's tough to listen to raw on the playback check but later when f/x are added it's pretty clean. I've been using a mic pre and compression because I'm from the old school where an engineer would never even consider recording a vocal without these things.
Well, I don't think it's entirely the same case, because you don't use a pre for the sake of reducing dynamics, right? I mean, you could say you use one for the sake of the sound it has (or doesn't have), but when I mentioned not using a compressor despite it having a sound I actually meant pushing the compressor to color the sound. Of course if the compressor does nothing to dynamics and just colors the sound due to the rest of the circuitry then sure, you could maybe use it if the added self-noise isn't a problem. But that wasn't really the point I was making.

So I'd say there's still a case for using an external dedicated preamp as opposed to using the ones in your interface assuming the external one is a better sounding one.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcurran View Post
I would imagine the same case could be made for not using a mic pre? I've gone direct without any compression or mic pre and it's tough to listen to raw on the playback check but later when f/x are added it's pretty clean. I've been using a mic pre and compression because I'm from the old school where an engineer would never even consider recording a vocal without these things.

How 'bout others on this board, care to weigh on on using no compression or mic pre? [using a high end condenser mic.]
You are already using a microphone pre-amplifier in whatever device you are plugging the mic into. It would not work otherwise. With your microphone, using one comparable in quality would be a good thing.

If you are dealing with background noise, a compressor may exacerbate your problems.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcurran View Post
if I am not using compression while recording the vocal the transients are going to kill.
transients are transients
with 24 bits you can record transients much louder than your voice is capable of, and also quieter than an earthworm fart. The limitation in modern recording is the self-noise of your mics and preamps.

Quote:
Can that be corrected properly using compression to the uncompressed vocal in post?
Of course. People do it all the time. I do it all the time. For example, whenever my hardware compressors are too "dirty" for the musical style. I have some ITB stuff that is more transparent.

Quote:
My understanding is that the reason compression is used during recording is to even out the transients in the human voice while limiting peaks,
back when people were recording to tape, which has a relatively limited dynamic range, limiting peaks was a big deal. Digital recording gives you more than enough headroom to record at a lower level and turn it up later. No hiss. You may track with compression, because you like the "sound", for the musician's "comfort" in the headphones, for "convenience", but "limiting peaks" is no longer a reason why you have to. You have 24 bits to work with. That is a huge dynamic range. You will not sing your way past that range on either the loud or soft direction.

Quote:
and that it's best used when capturing the live vocal going in,
IMO, it's "best" going in mainly because I like my hardware compressors for many things, and committing to them is easier while tracking than reamping through them later.

Quote:
That engine noise is present while I sing. I am unable to gate it out.
I am surprised that you are not able to high-pass most of this noise out. It seems to me that the truck noise would be mostly low-frequency rumble. Most of it well below the range of the human voice. You could have some wicked HPF and still not appreciably change the sound of your voice.

A gate is volume dependent. It will close down when you are not singing, but when the gate opens, all the sound that was below threshold will start coming through. The truck noise along with your vocal. A gate is "dumb" - it does not understand what you want or don't want. It only understands loud and soft. And it is only reacts with open or closed. As soon as your singing begins, the gate opens and as soon as the gate opens, the noise comes through as well as the singing. If your voice fails to drown out the noise, you will hear it.

I agree with the suggestion above of Izotope RX. Specifically the "De-Noiser" module. It is a "smart" noise remover. You teach it what you define as noise and it learns the profile. The steadier the noise, the easier a time RX will have in defining it, profiling it, and removing it. The constant rumble of many trucks may start to approach the ideal of "steady state noise".

You can download the demo and give it a try. I believe saving or printing is disabled in the demo mode, but you can at least see if it will work before you spend the money. You can use it in post, you just need a clean sample of "just the noise". Which from your description, should be very easy to obtain.

Quote:
I use a walk-in closet as an isolation booth
a real isolation booth would not be a room that is 'part' of your house, sharing walls and floor and ceiling, with everything else. A real booth would be a room-within-a-room. Possibly touching the floor, but otherwise completely uncoupled from your structure. Not touching any walls or ceiliing. You could buy or build a real booth, I bet it would go a long way.

blankets and clothes will help somewhat for absorbing the sounds you make inside the space, but they are pretty much useless as barriers to sound penetrating from the outside. There is a difference between sound treatments and sound proofing.
Quote:
It's a mobile home,
I hate to say it, but "mobility" is probably your only serious long term solution. Having your studio somewhere other than right next to a warehouse is your best bet.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcurran View Post
I use a walk-in closet as an isolation booth when I record vocals. I have pro sound blankets hung on the walls plus the closet is filled with clothes. There are no reflective surfaces except ceiling. It's a mobile home, so it's tough to keep vibrations from large trucks out.

There's a warehouse right next door with lots of 18 wheelers moving slowly through all the time, morning and night, loading and unloading with forklift noise. Turn on that condenser mic, put the headphones on and it's a constant stream of forklift and low end engine rumble noise. You can see it on the DB meters as a constant signal. [Between -10 and -5 db].

A condenser mic like my Nuemann TLM 107 set to omni pickup pattern is really the only setting I really like for vocals without sacrificing the nuances that get lost using other pickup patterns or God forbid, using a dynamic microphone.

[I use a mic-pre and compressor when recording. I've tried recording without both and the results are not optimal.]

I've experimented with a wide range of microphones, including both condensers and dynamics. The Nuemann mic set to Omni delivers the best sound.

That engine noise is present while I sing. I am unable to gate it out. I tried two gates, one is the DBX-286, the other is an Aphex Channel Strip. I could not find a gate setting that didn't clip the start of each vocal line off. [And of course, once the gate is open the rumble is there behind the vocal. The frequency range of my voice is too close to the truck noise to gate out.]

I've pretty much resigned myself to just sing and leave the noise in as I don't think most people notice it while I'm singing and I just punch in and out between phrases. Using other pickup patterns or dynamic mics just don't have the same presence or sound as the omni setting. I've tried Omnidirectional, wide angle cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, figure-8 patterns. But that rumble is there and it bugs the hell out of me because I know its there. It's like knowing you have cockroaches behind your walls.

Does anyone know of any noise gates or solutions that might mitigate the problem?
imo a gate is simply the wrong tool: use a low cut (with adjustable slope and frequency) and an expander before your compressor! maybe use the expander's sidechain for some more sophisticated tweaking...
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I am surprised that you are not able to high-pass most of this noise out.
I'd be seeing where I could get with an automated HPF......that would give you some artistic control over the process.
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