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how to record vocals louder? (already maxing interface gain)
Old 5 days ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

how to record vocals louder? (already maxing interface gain)

hi guys im nub i got a quick question,

i have a condenser mic (c214) going into a audient id14 usb interface to record vocals, but in order to get decent vocal volume i find myself always having to nearly max out the preamp gain on the usb interface (i dont like pushing it past 80% because it sorta colors the sound in a way i dont like , and it also makes background noise too loud

what hardware can i add to my vocal recording chain setup to give me more headroom for louder vocals without having to crank up my interface gain all the way up? while maintaining clarity ie clean gain

current setup is just ... mic - interface - pro tools

i bought a cloudlifter but then realised it needs phantom power both ways to work with condenser mics so... basicly wasted my money

(btw if we can stay away from answers like stand closer to the mic or sing louder because ive tried those)

any help appreciated!!! thx
Old 5 days ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

1.Don't buy anything.
2. Set your interface input nominal..not cranked.
3. Record the vocal. It'll sit on the track at -12 , -20 or whatever etc.
4. After capture, normalize the track to get to your pref fader lvl. You won't introduce noise cuz hey, your interface captured at it's nice, clean sweet spot levelwise.

If you say, "yeah well I can't hear the vocal while I'm overdubbing" ...........you know what to do. Which....by the way for some who were reading the other thread discussion about the wonderful uses of using a pre-stereo group before master bus.....here is one of many occasions where that instantly comes in handy.
Old 5 days ago
  #3
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nsta555 View Post
hi guys im nub i got a quick question,

i have a condenser mic (c214) going into a audient id14 usb interface to record vocals, but in order to get decent vocal volume i find myself always having to nearly max out the preamp gain on the usb interface (i dont like pushing it past 80% because it sorta colors the sound in a way i dont like , and it also makes background noise too loud
There is no need to record your vocals "loud". Pushing your analog front end to its limits will make the harshness worse. This is true of preamps and most converters. The way you make the "vocals louder" is to make everything else softer. It all has to fit underneath that digital "0" anyway - so the absolute loudness of a track means nothing. The relative loudness means everything.

Hell, you could turn the other instruments all the way off! Now how "loud" are your vocals? You can do all this without changing a thing about how hot you "record" your vocals. I bet anything that your vocals are recorded plenty loud enough. That if you sent me your tracks, I could mix them into a good sounding balance with no problem.


Quote:
what hardware can i add to my vocal recording chain setup to give me more headroom for louder vocals without having to crank up my interface gain all the way up? while maintaining clarity ie clean gain
you turn the instrumental tracks down. It's really as simple as that. If you are recording at 24 bits, you have tons of headroom. It will not harm your recording to stay in the "yellows".
Quote:
current setup is just ... mic - interface - pro tools
there was someone recently talking like this and it turned out what he was really saying was that he wanted to monitor everything louder. That when he turned the instruments down in the cue mix, yes, he could hear the vocals nice and clear, but now it wasn't "rockin" enough for him during the tracking. He wanted the vocals loud and the instrumental loud. To "feel" it. Nothing wrong with that, but this is not about 'recording levels', it is about monitoring levels.

The solution in that case is to get a more powerful headphone amp. With a more powerful headphone system, you can turn the instruments down, turn the vocal up, get a balance and then set the master volume to be anything you want. It is the same thing in your DAW when you mix.

I suspect that the only thing really wrong with your system is that the headphone amp in the interface is underpowered for the volumes you want to be working at.

Last edited by joeq; 5 days ago at 11:43 PM..
Old 5 days ago
  #4
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Drumsound's Avatar
Are you compressing the vocal as you record? Getting a louder average level by compressing the vocal might actually be what you're asking for.
Old 5 days ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
There is no need to record your vocals "loud". Pushing your analog front end to its limits will make the harshness worse. This is true of preamps and most converters. The way you make the "vocals louder" is to make everything else softer. It all has to fit underneath that digital "0" anyway - so the absolute loudness of a track means nothing. The relative loudness means everything.

Hell, you could turn the other instruments all the way off! Now how "loud" are your vocals? You can do all this without changing a thing about how hot you "record" your vocals. I bet anything that your vocals are recorded plenty loud enough. That if you sent me your tracks, I could mix them into a good sounding balance with no problem.




you turn the instrumental tracks down. It's really as simple as that. If you are recording at 24 bits, you have tons of headroom. It will not harm your recording to stay in the "yellows".


there was someone recently talking like this and it turned out what he was really saying was that he wanted to monitor everything louder. That when he turned the instruments down in the cue mix, yes, he could hear the vocals nice and clear, but now it wasn't "rockin" enough for him during the tracking. He wanted the vocals loud and the instrumental loud. To "feel" it. Nothing wrong with that, but this is not about 'recording levels', it is about monitoring levels.

The solution in that case is to get a more powerful headphone amp. With a more powerful headphone system, you can turn the instruments down, turn the vocal up, get a balance and then set the master volume to be anything you want. It is the same thing in your DAW when you mix.

I suspect that the only thing really wrong with your system is that the headphone amp in the interface is underpowered for the volumes you want to be working at.
Yep. I agree with all of this. Turn down the other tracks (you can set up a tracking monitoring levels bus in your DAW if you want and output your usual mix bus to it, or just plain turn down the mix bus) and turn the monitoring up.
Old 4 days ago
  #6
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thanks for the replies guys appreciate it but allow me to elaborate further, by having the interface gain knob at 80% (which is as high as i wanna go) ill only get around -20dbfs average volume of a vocal recorded take going into pro tools, as i do vocals last , the other instruments on a mix are basically done and peak at around -6/-8dbfs, SO... what im saying is my mix is around -8dbfs loud and i got a vocal track maxed out on gain and only coming in at -20dbfs i CANT EVEN HEAR THE VOCALS within the mix!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
1.Don't buy anything.
2. Set your interface input nominal..not cranked.
3. Record the vocal. It'll sit on the track at -12 , -20 or whatever etc.
4. After capture, normalize the track to get to your pref fader lvl. You won't introduce noise cuz hey, your interface captured at it's nice, clean sweet spot levelwise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoepedals View Post
Yep. I agree with all of this. Turn down the other tracks (you can set up a tracking monitoring levels bus in your DAW if you want and output your usual mix bus to it, or just plain turn down the mix bus) and turn the monitoring up.

if i record at nominal input it will seriously come in at like -25 dbfs average , which is pretty damn soft. are you saying just crank up the fader volume in pro tools to compensate? i find if i just crank up the fader knob it doesnt sound really good as it brings out all the bad stuff like making a boxy recording super boxy etc, all i want is for the vocals to be able to come into pro tools loud enough without having to max out the interface gain knob or having to use plugins to boost the volume heaps (im a very quiet singer and i dont stand real close to the mic as my voice is boxy thats sorta why my vocals sound so damn soft when it hits the mix)


Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
There is no need to record your vocals "loud". Pushing your analog front end to its limits will make the harshness worse. This is true of preamps and most converters. The way you make the "vocals louder" is to make everything else softer.
i sorta dont want to turn everything down as the mix is peaking at around -6dbfs which is where i want it to be pre master, surely there is a way to record vocals louder? i read online about mic preamps , if i were to buy a preamp, say a ISA ONE for example would the gain on that be more powerful than the gain on the usb interface?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Are you compressing the vocal as you record? Getting a louder average level by compressing the vocal might actually be what you're asking for.
nope, no compression going in, but yes i do compress after recorded with plugins to bring up the volume
Old 4 days ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nsta555 View Post
i sorta dont want to turn everything down as the mix is peaking at around -6dbfs
you mean before you add the vocal?

Quote:
the other instruments on a mix are basically done and peak at around -6/-8dbfs, SO... what im saying is my mix is around -8dbfs loud and i got a vocal track maxed out on gain and only coming in at -20dbfs i CANT EVEN HEAR THE VOCALS within the mix!!!!
IMO, you are laboring under a very harmful misconception of how a mix works.

1- why is your mix "basically done" before you try to mix in the vocals? Aren't the vocals the most important part of the song? Shouldn't the mix be designed "around" those vocals?

2- what is so special about "-6"?

Did you read somewhere that your mix is "supposed" to be peaking at -6? You can do a great sounding mix that is peaking at -18 if you want and then put a maximizer on the master fader and get it to whatever level you like.

Try this: take all your faders and pull them down to -∞. Delete any automation you have. Now do a new mix from the ground up. If the vocals are "too low", turn the vocal fader into the + zone, add a gain plug, use the make-up gain of your compressor to give you some more level if you need it. Raise and lower each track until the mix is balanced. Keep your mix from hitting red on the master fader, but otherwise pay no attention to what the "number" is that you are hitting.

Your vocal channel has a fader, you could turn that fader up. You could put a gain plug on the vocal track. You could put a compressor on the vocal track and turn up the make-up gain. You could normalize the track. There are dozens of things you can do instead of recording the vocal louder. You only have to play it louder I bet you will find that your vocals were recorded just fine as far as being usable in a mix. Even if they are low-ish, you have dozens of options for adding gain to that track after it has been recorded.

Your mix is about balancing the instruments with relative volumes. It doesn't matter if you "turn the vocals up" or if you "turn everything else down" ... it is exactly the same thing, because you can never exceed that digital "0". Everybody here is trying to give you this same piece of information in a slightly different way.

If you have a band on stage and a guest guitarist shows up, puts his amp on the stage and plugs in, your show just got louder by the amount of power of that amp. But in a mix, there is a cap on how loud the total volume is. The digital "0" is like a grumpy club owner. If you add another instrument and your mix is already at the level it is going to be at, something else will have to come down.

Quote:
which is where i want it to be pre master, surely there is a way to record vocals louder? i read online about mic preamps , if i were to buy a preamp, say a ISA ONE for example would the gain on that be more powerful than the gain on the usb interface?
You mean can a more powerful preamp drive your vocal into clipping at "5" instead of at "7"? Sure. People usually buy outboard preamps for a more exquisite sound, not for more volume. It's your money, but you are going to quickly find that if you record your vocals a lot louder and add them to a mix that is already tickling the red, your mix will clip. IOW, you will still be looking at the same problem. Everything has to fit under that "0".

There are some aspects of 'louder' that are mix decisions and there are other aspects of 'louder' that only have to do with you speaker/headphone level. Do not confuse the two. Another reason to not finish your final mix before you record the vocals: leaving some flexibility in your cue mixes.
Old 4 days ago
  #8
Lives for gear
The AKG 214 is just an ok mic, not great.
The Audient is just an ok preamp, not great
The Audient is just an ok set of converters, not great

Both are on the bright side. My guess is that you are looking for some darkness in the capture. Use a different mic.

Your not going to complete with a treated room, singer w/ 20 years experience, and the sound of a well mixed and mastered record with ok equipment and no mixing experience.

Can you capture a great song....sure!
Old 4 days ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsta555 View Post
if i record at nominal input it will seriously come in at like -25 dbfs average , which is pretty damn soft. are you saying just crank up the fader volume in pro tools to compensate? i find if i just crank up the fader knob it doesnt sound really good as it brings out all the bad stuff like making a boxy recording super boxy etc, all i want is for the vocals to be able to come into pro tools loud enough without having to max out the interface gain knob or having to use plugins to boost the volume heaps (im a very quiet singer and i dont stand real close to the mic as my voice is boxy thats sorta why my vocals sound so damn soft when it hits the mix)




i sorta dont want to turn everything down as the mix is peaking at around -6dbfs which is where i want it to be pre master, surely there is a way to record vocals louder? i read online about mic preamps , if i were to buy a preamp, say a ISA ONE for example would the gain on that be more powerful than the gain on the usb interface?
Ok, so let's clear up a few things, here. If your recorded vocal sounds boxy when it is brought up in level digitally, then that's the way it was captured and that is not because you brpught up the level in your DAW. It's because when it's low in the mix you aren't really hearing it as it is because of the other stuff going on. Capturing it louder wouldn't fix that. You'd probably need to EQ the vocal if it doesn't sound like you want it to.

As far as adding an external preamp, that might be a good idea. Personally, I use all outboard analog preamps and then go into a Dangerous AD converter or the line ins of an Apollo. It's possible you would get more actual gain that way (by using an outboard preamp), but more importantly it will probably just sound better.
Old 4 days ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsta555 View Post

coming in at -20dbfs


i CANT EVEN HEAR THE VOCALS within the mix!!!!


Vocal captured at -20dbfs. Then, normalize the captured track. Perhaps you didn't see that point #4 on my post.
Old 2 days ago
  #11
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Murky Waters's Avatar
 

Compressor(s) (and proper gain staging and mic technique).
Old 1 day ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
The AKG 214 is just an ok mic, not great.
The Audient is just an ok preamp, not great
The Audient is just an ok set of converters, not great

Both are on the bright side. My guess is that you are looking for some darkness in the capture. Use a different mic.

Your not going to complete with a treated room, singer w/ 20 years experience, and the sound of a well mixed and mastered record with ok equipment and no mixing experience.

Can you capture a great song....sure!
if we assume that the room/ singer/ mix engineer were all utmost professionally done/treated, would my gear be good enough to record a good enough raw vocal good enough for radio? or would i still need to be looking at better gear? such as a better interface or adding a preamp ?


#appreciate all your replies guys
Old 1 day ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
you mean before you add the vocal?

Did you read somewhere that your mix is "supposed" to be peaking at -6? You can do a great sounding mix that is peaking at -18 if you want and then put a maximizer on the master fader and get it to whatever level you like.

Your mix is about balancing the instruments with relative volumes. It doesn't matter if you "turn the vocals up" or if you "turn everything else down" ... it is exactly the same thing, because you can never exceed that digital "0". Everybody here is trying to give you this same piece of information in a slightly different way.
quick question so for example if lets say i balance my mix with the vocal and the mix is peaking at say -15 , but i want to get the overall volume to -10 if i were to put a maximizer on or otherwise increase the volume so it reaches -10 for mastering would this negatively affect the quality/clarity of the vocal?

im quite new so forgive me if this is a newb question
Old 1 day ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nsta555 View Post
quick question so for example if lets say i balance my mix with the vocal and the mix is peaking at say -15 , but i want to get the overall volume to -10 if i were to put a maximizer on or otherwise increase the volume so it reaches -10 for mastering would this negatively affect the quality/clarity of the vocal?
Going from -15 to -10, I doubt you would have any negative effect at all from that. In fact, you may not even need a limiter to just go from -15 to -10. If your peaks are not hitting the red, you can just add some gain. Raise the master, raise all the subs by the same amount, use a gain plug, etc. Until you clip (or hit the threshold of a compressor) the addition of gain does not alter the shape of the waveform, except to make it louder.

Adding clean digital gain will not alter your sound. When you start to actually pull down peaks, etc. there will be a change and it will probably be proportional to how extreme your limiting is. There are also analog style compressors that will distort in ways that many people find pleasing as you push them. .

Some maximizers are cleaner than others and can push harder before altering the sound. I really like the Massey limiter for a clean sound. IMO, the Pro Tools Maxim can get nasty if you drive it too hard.

I would suggest driving it way up until it does start to break up so that you can "learn" what that sound is like, and then just keep an "ear" out for making sure that specific nastiness does not start to creep in. IMO you should do this at moderate volume levels so that you are not fooled by your speakers/room/ears being pushed to their limits.


One More Thing: you could also just give your Mastering engineer the -15 mix and let him do it. Assuming your mix is at 24 bits, I don't know any Mastering Engineers that would complain if you gave them a little extra headroom. They are able to Master your mix just as loud as if you gave them the -10 mix. Or even handle a bunch of mixes all at different levels. That's their job. These kinds of numbers are "guidelines" more than they are "rules".
Old 8 hours ago
  #15
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Mr_Root's Avatar
The trick is very simple. First of all compress your vocals that they will have the constant volume level throughout the whole song. Then lower the volume of everything else. As simple as that. Mix is an art of compromises. You have to give away something to gain something. Vocals are usually in the 700Hz-5kHz range. The main range is around 1kHz. This is how our brain perceive the voice in general. You might lower the volume of some instruments that are using the same frequency range.
Old 5 hours ago
  #16
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FreshProduce's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Root View Post
Vocals are usually in the 700Hz-5kHz range.
Vocals predominantly begin at/around 100hz, varying from person to person. Consonants are found in the frequency range above 500 Hz. More specifically, in the 2 kHz-4 kHz frequency range.
Old 4 hours ago
  #17
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12ax7's Avatar
 

A quick look at "iD14 Specifications" on their website makes me wonder if maybe your problem isn't related to this line:
"iD14 requires a lot of power for class leading converters and class-A microphone preamplfiers. We could not beat the laws of physics so an external supply is required for 48V phantom power. Your microphones will thank you when they get enough voltage!"
.
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