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Mike, your Air and Breath in Lead Vocals
Old 3rd June 2004
  #1
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Mike, your Air and Breath in Lead Vocals

Mike (and others who would like to contribute with your methods and ideas on this subject),

One thing that I have tried to achieve is your lead vocal sound in 'You've Got A Way' on Shanias' 'Come On Over' album. There is so much air and breath on the Lead Vox it almost sounds like someone is whispering along with the Lead vocal. I also noticed this in Faith Hills 'Breathe'.(No pun intended) I have tried a few methods with no luck.

How did you do it on that track?

What was your comp, EQ, verb chain etc that you used for mixing?

What mics, pres and comps where used for the tracking on the lead and backing vox on that track?

I just cant seem to get a similar result.

Shane
Old 3rd June 2004
  #2
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Mike Shipley's Avatar
 

Well Shania's vocal sound takes a lot of bouncing and re-bouncing really. In a song like "you've got a way'' she obviously sang it kinda breathy but in order to get that sound in the whole song took a lot of work.
Again with Mutt it is just gonna take as long as it takes to get the sound so for all the vocals on that record (and others with him) I would automate the eq on every consonant/syllable and I did it on that record using the SSL automated eq that they built fot the G console. We had a J so we bought a G+ computer to slave off the smpte of the J so we could run the G+eq!!!. there are 2 eq's in one package so I could go out of one and into the other so that I could safely seek out some horrid frequency one one consonant and leave the other eq for the following sylable!!!!!! It was mindnumbingly laborious but was the only way to get rid of masking frequencies in the upper mids and find the area to boost etc.
This would take a day or so per song and as silly as it sounds , really helps. Mutts opinion is that it's the only way to make the vocal be extra loud and not have offensive frequencies and on that record , it's just sold over the 40 million sales mark internationally and for really believes that songs and sound are important , so it's whatever it takes on both acounts.
There wasnt a lot of compression..an LA2 that works for her and riding the vocal into the track would take about a day...we would ride every nuance to give more charachter.
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Old 3rd June 2004
  #3
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jpaudio's Avatar
 

Wow... and I thought i'd seen attention to detail before... Mike and Mutt have taken it to a whole new level! It seems almost hard to believe upon first read, but I wouldn't doubt it one bit after thinking it over. Now, does that mean i'll try the technique? Maybe with a long weekend and loaded pistol on the meter bridge

Mike, is this technique commonplace for you when budget allows for the time? or specific to Shania?
Old 3rd June 2004
  #4
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Mike Shipley's Avatar
 

It's specific to work with Mutt to that degree, even in the days before DAW's on a Mutt mix I would have a 32 band graphic in my lap frantically doing major vocal eq moves while banging on delays,panning stuff and doing other stuff as the mix went down !!
I still pay a lot of attention to the vocal and do whatever I need to get it to work properly in the track and that can still mean a lot of work because of how a lot of digitally recorded vocal's sound in general to me and having gone thru the vocal thing with Mutt and with the help of Protools we've got it down to a fine art so what ever surgury is needed is easily done with the Plugs I use.
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Old 3rd June 2004
  #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by shipshape
with the help of Protools we've got it down to a fine art so what ever surgury is needed is easily done with the Plugs I use.
Which plug ins do you use?
Old 3rd June 2004
  #6
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by shipshape
Well Shania's vocal sound takes a lot of bouncing and re-bouncing really. Again with Mutt it is just gonna take as long as it takes to get the sound It was mindnumbingly laborious but was the only way to get rid of masking frequencies in the upper mids and find the area to boost etc.
This would take a day or so per song and as silly as it sounds , really helps.
This is amazing to me. I can't imagine anyone doing this on, say, a Dusty Springfield recording from the 60's or any of the fantastic vocal performances recorded during the "golden era", yet the vocals sound fantastic on all these records!! Every word, every syllable; distinct, clear and clearly audible.

I've never heard the track which is the subject of this thread, so I'll reserve comment, but what's the deal these days with such colossal patchwork. It's either lack of talent on the singer's part (likely) or it's a "because it's there and we CAN do it" syndrome.

Either way, yuck.

Ed
Old 3rd June 2004
  #7
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Mike, have you ever seen this custom SSL fader that would spit out midi data, so you could automate the pitch of an H3000. Some guy I assisted for had one in the 80's.

Are you still using the BSS DPR 901II, or have you found a plugin that works as well?

I'm finding that being able to automate ANY parameter in ProTools (like EQ's) has reduced the number of mults I need on the console.
Old 3rd June 2004
  #8
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Mike Shipley's Avatar
 

Sharp.....".either way yuk "is fine but if I'm working for a producer that wants something a certain way , then it's my job to help him do it. I don't think that Dusty Springfied is a ver good example......she always sounds like she has more reverb return than vocals , and inher era, the modern up front drumsounds etc were not around.....it was distant and washy. I'm not (well I am really) trying to defend Mutt , but if that's what he need's to do in order to get satisfied , tha't ok by me. There is room for every way of recording and mixing and that's half the fun of it. But you gotta find a better example than Dusty Springfield!!! It's also not "we do it cos we can" with Mutt. With other 's maybe....his record sales as a producer are in the 180,000,000 area and if he thinks that fussing with the vocal will help the commercial-ness of the song.....fine with me.
Comparing the 60's to today is apples and oranges.
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Old 3rd June 2004
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stealthbalance's Avatar
 

[QUOTE]Originally posted by juniorhifikit
[B]Mike, have you ever seen this custom SSL fader that would spit out midi data, so you could automate the pitch of an H3000.
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im not mike , but i just wanted to chime in and say that i was the one who created that midi interface for the ssl. i brought in michael parisi and carlton from
ssl to help with the technical design of it. basically , it was a voltage control to midi converter , where basically you would pick a bank of 8 faders on the ssl , and plug this box in via the ribbon connection underneath the ssl patch bay . it would allow you to turn on any of the faders or all of them for midi control. id usually use 2 faders to run an h3000 , one to control pitch , and the other to control pocket ( id come off the sync head). it had full control to pick which midi parameter to tweak , like pitchwheel, mod wheel , etc. also the last 4 faders could also just run voltage control out , as id also tap it to the back of those little mxr instant flangers and phasors and automate the sweep of the flange with that fader. it also had automatable inserts on and off. a fun and effective box for its time.

s
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Old 3rd June 2004
  #10
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

I mentioned Dusty because she was such a fine vocalist. Her version of "Look Of Love" from the "casino royale" soundtrack album stands the test of time.

You would have to agree DS was in a different league than a ST, no?

All one has to do is go through Burt Bacharach's catalogue and listen to all the amazing vocalists singing amazing (and difficult) songs with busy and thick arrangements without the aid of auto tune and the edited-from-dozens-of-takes vocal patchwork.

All intended to be played in deliciously lo-fi mono and mostly ion the AM car radio.

I listened at dinner one night to the folks who comped together Jenny Lopez's first record. The stories they told were of a woman who flat couldn't sing. I frankly don't know if ST is as lame a musician as J-Lo, but J-Lo sells a lot of records, too.

In the 70's, jingle singers had to come into a studio, actually READ down a part, deliver a performance in a certain style and be clear and articulate over a three inch tv speaker or AM car radio without the aid of any of today's "crummy musician fix it" tools.

Or, just look at how the Mills Brothers made records, or the Andrew's Sisters; amazing harmonies sung perfectly!!

They sold a lot of records, too.

I know I'm beating a dead horse. We have "stars" today who could never have attained success back in the day. And I quite agree with you re: your role as producer. You've got to do what's asked of you, no doubt and I take it through the admiration you get from others around here, you do it well.

It's an interesting discussion and I'd like to keep it going.

Ed
Old 3rd June 2004
  #11
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Thanks for all the details Mike

Shane
Old 4th June 2004
  #12
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Sharp , point taken in terms of the Burt Bacharach stuff etc the arrangements and the vocals from his guest singers are still amazing as you point out.
In all honesty with Shania , she is an equal partner with Mutt in terms of songwriting etc. There are a lot of girls who are not that talented and have to be spoon fed etc. but Shania is definately NOT one of those. Mutt is known for his control etc but there's is an equal partnership. She is also his wife so she doesnt put up with any crap anyway!!!
Your point is spot on about the Andrew's sisters etc , but one difference is that productions are a lot denser these days and Burt Bacharach just doesnt cut it these days other than as easy listening music in the supermarket . Sad but true , and there is a level of energy that can be played around with that involve more modern techniques.
I like that Burt Bacharach/Elvis Costello record as well but it's just not for todays audience unfortunately but those arrangements are beautiful and so open , so much room for the vocals to breathe.
Shania is just one out of so many thousands of artists and there is room for her as well as the real purist singers and performers. I know some of this stuff must sound crazy but working this way is just one end of the spectrum.
Old 4th June 2004
  #13
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I'll take your word for it re ST.

That Burt/Elvis record, I bet, will sound great 20 years and more from now, but I bet we won't feel the same about many of today's "modern" records.

I work in tv/film (three emmys) and write and produce everything from the most dense orchestral, current loopy techno (and all the sub categories that entails these days) and simple underscore for dramatic shows. So, yeah, I'm fully aware of all the modern techniques. For me, it's more about keeping my piano in tune and my guitars maintained.

Full disclosure: I use everything available to me on my PT HD accel rig However, I don't have the time to give in to massive tweaking. Even if I did, my musical training would stop me short along the way and say "let's get a better player or write a better (perhaps simpler) part".

However, I love cutting sections, moving them around, turning sounds from my acoustic piano into gothic horror drones ( Bruno Reso's pretty neat) building my own drum/perc loops ,etc. in short, anything I can think of.

I'll also spend many off hours programming the best synth engine ever made, the Kurzweil K series.

I've got a tough one this weekend, though, I've got to write a "modern" piece in the style of a mid 50's romantic comedy for broadcast immediately. Arghhhhh....

Ed
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