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Vocal questions - take II
Old 1st March 2009
  #1
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gainreduction's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Vocal questions - take II

One quality that time and again strikes me with your mixes is how well the vocals sit in the track.

Do you have any typical processes or combinations of gear you default to when it comes to processing vocals ? Any cool tips you might be willing to share on how to get the most out of a vocal track ?

I know this is a very broad question that doesn´t have a simple answer.

Thanks,

Marcus
Old 1st March 2009
  #2
Gear addict
 

Lead Vocals / Mixing Decisions

First, let me thank you for taking the time to answer questions on Gearslutz. It's fantastic to have you here as I really follow up your works.

I got to questions:

1. Can you describe your personal way of mixing pop lead vocals?
What are you're absolutely favourite tools, how do you set the vocals up,...
I know you like using the LA3A but...

2. Can you describe the process how you decide what an element needs?
How do you decide what to do, where to pan, what effects to add.
Which guide lines do you follow? Of course, every mix is different but I
try to catch some Tony Maserati thoughts while he's mixing heh. It's
clear, that you would add punch and roundness to a bassdrum and
snap to a snare but I would like to know more about your way of
proceeding an element.

Keep mixing, I admire you're works and feel free to stay a little bit longer on Gearslutz. heh

Thank you very much!
Old 9th March 2009
  #3
Gear Nut
 
TBarrnes's Avatar
 

Rather than talk gear can you delve a little bit into different sounds and how to achieve them.

1. For instance when you get a dry unprocessed vocal sent to you what's the first thing you do.
Obviously you use compression as an effect to give perceived closeness, but I hear of some people running a vocal through two different compressors with two different release settings. How does that effect the vocal?
2. I have also read about people spending multiple hours processing a vocal track and my mind gets a little boggled.....since I have always just put on a compressor, done a little EQ, and added a touch of reverb. IF the vocal performance is good should you have to do a bunch of processing?
3. Do you do anything special for nasaly singers besides remove 1-2Khz?
4. Have you ever successfully repaired a vocal track that had noticeable early room reflections or is it hopeless?

Feel free to respond to any or all of the above. Thanks! TJ
Old 10th March 2009
  #4
Gear Nut
 
HeatMan's Avatar
Justin timberlake ft william - damn girl vocal chain?

first of, sorry 'bout the broken english.. I'm from Serbia..

Can you tell me anything about this song?

I'm trully amazed by some mixes.. espetialy with the mix on "another song".. just love it.. blend between old and new..

but, the vocals on "damn girl" are sooo sweeeeetly saturated..

bonus q:

as you've seen, Im from serbia, and I'ld like to know how to get to some record companyes.. I mean, even if they're interested (wich means that they have read my mail and answered, and that happens almost never) they stop mailing me when I drop the "S" word.. the ****ing name of my country..

Im really modest, and I dont expect to change the world with my music, nor do I want a huge record deal that will make millions for me.. yeah, that would be sweet.. but, goddamn, Im doing music that no one with brains does (instrumental electro/bigbeat/breakbeat/film music..) and its good to listen to.. ppl like it..

so, what am I doing wrong? tell me.. what to do?

maby, you're not the right person for this question, but I really don't have nobody to talk to about this (there's only a few people here that have a "huge" record deal overseas)..

thanks...

peace and love from Serbia
Old 10th March 2009
  #5
Lives for gear
 
ChaosCreation's Avatar
 

Recording Rap Vocals

What are some of your tips to get those in your face rap vocals that you have used on your artists? (for the non pro home recordist )?

Do you Stack Vocal takes? and pan them?

Do you Record with compression on the way in?

Do you put most of your fx on aux channels?

* I really have enjoyed your Maserati Waves

thnx.

much respect!
Old 10th March 2009
  #6
Gear addict
 

Lead Vocals

Hi Tony

Talking lead vocals and effects.
What are your favorite effects (exciters, flangers, choruses, reverbs, doubler) used on a daily basis on R&B/Pop lead vocals?

Of course every song is different but how is your R&B/Pop lead vocal track typically set up (mono, stereo, doubles)? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Thank you so much Tony!
It's very cool to have you here!

Cheers,
Amir
Old 11th March 2009
  #7
Gear nut
 

Typical panning setup for multi-tracked vocals

Hi there,
How do you typically pan your vocals for rock records? how many main vocal tracks do you usually have and how do you usually find yourself panning the harmonies and BGV? I'm doing a typical metal band right now and they have sweet choruses with a vocal line and at least one harmony behind it, but im not sure how many to track of each, and where they should all be panned.

Thanks,
Kevin
Old 11th March 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 
The MPCist's Avatar
 

music vs. vocals: what's your sculpting methods?

Hi Tony,

Another question that I think would be cool is:

What methods to you use to sculpt room for vocals within the music stereo image?

Your vocal treatments come out very nice and am interested in picking your brains in regards to how you make room for lead vox....
Old 12th March 2009
  #9
MonsterIsland.com
 

Do you find in general that singers have better pitch when they don't have to track with headphones?
Old 12th March 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
 
dangoudie's Avatar
 

Have you ever tried the trick of recording the backing track into the mic in the control room, then recording the vocalist singing over the backing track in the control room and then flipping the phase on one and summing to cancel out the leakage? I'm yet to try it but if it work that would be amazing. In fact I'm going to try it now...
Old 12th March 2009
  #11
Well that's a lot of questions!

Old 12th March 2009
  #12
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Well that's a lot of questions!

Hell ya, I'm at NYU today.. be back tomorrow,
t
Old 13th March 2009
  #13
thumbsup
Old 14th March 2009
  #14
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssl_ambition View Post
First, let me thank you for taking the time to answer questions on Gearslutz. It's fantastic to have you here as I really follow up your works.

I got to questions:

1. Can you describe your personal way of mixing pop lead vocals?
What are you're absolutely favourite tools, how do you set the vocals up,...
I know you like using the LA3A but...

2. Can you describe the process how you decide what an element needs?
How do you decide what to do, where to pan, what effects to add.
Which guide lines do you follow? Of course, every mix is different but I
try to catch some Tony Maserati thoughts while he's mixing heh. It's
clear, that you would add punch and roundness to a bassdrum and
snap to a snare but I would like to know more about your way of
proceeding an element.

Keep mixing, I admire you're works and feel free to stay a little bit longer on Gearslutz. heh

Thank you very much!
Okay, Ambition,
I hope I can help with this... The thing is, vocals can be the hardest thing to fit into the mix (depending on the song, production and arrangement and the style of track)...

Remember, the earlier posts I've made and the BlahBlah on my Waves video; keep it compelling! The vocal is the main element that makes the song compelling. All the other stuff is meant to support it. So, when the guitar player or drummer is complaining about the level of 'his' instrument, look at him quietly and say "I'll get to it after the vocal feels right".

I use several different techniques to make the vocal 'work' in a song. On the Liz Wright "Orchard" record, produced by Craig Street, I did very little; UAD 1176 (hardware), compressing at no more than -5db of gain reduction with a Vintage Neve EQ in front of it. Great sounding vocalist and perfectly captured performance by Hector Castillo. The Jason Mraz record was pretty much the same.

When it comes to pop music the game changes, dramaticaly!! Anything goes! I usually start out the same; I do subtractive eq on the tones I don't like or make it harder to fit in the mix. Usually, anywhere from 180hz-600hz. Now, remember, that doesn't mean, all of those freqs, that's the area that can make a singer full sounding too, so it depends greatly on the gender and tempo and tone of the singer... Notch out the things that bothter you and work from there.

Then I send it through an outboard sweetening box... hehehe, like an LA3a or Chandler TG1. All the while, I'm playing the song and mixing other elements in. At that point I may add a Neve eq or a GML8200 to 'fine tune' my placement 'tonaly' of the vocal. All this before I've done any significant rides on the vocal. ...but I've been leveling the track around her/him.

If the vocal performance is 'separated' into different energies i.e. soft verse, hard shrill chorus; I'll split the track into pieces so I can eq and compress them differently (as I've mentioned here and on the video).

On a pop song, the perceved level of the vocals must be a constant 'in yer face' thing. Lately, I've been messing with Waves L3 MultiMax on the end of my chain for a lead vocal. Sometimes jus on the verse, but really it depends on the song and audience I'm after.

hum.. I use the distressors quite a lot as well. Hell, like I said, anything goes! Make it compelling and you've won!

t
Old 14th March 2009
  #15
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosCreation View Post
What are some of your tips to get those in your face rap vocals that you have used on your artists? (for the non pro home recordist )?

Do you Stack Vocal takes? and pan them?

Do you Record with compression on the way in?

Do you put most of your fx on aux channels?

* I really have enjoyed your Maserati Waves

thnx.

much respect!
Dear Chaos,
If the song requires it yes, I stack vocals tracks and yes, I pan them but not all the way left right. I mix and match. Sometimes I mess about with panning all one person on the left and another person on the right. I'll often place four vocalist on either side of a figure eight pattern vocal mix.

I sometimes record with a touch of compression which allows me to run my mic pre a bit hotter without worrying I'll overload the channel. I really like to get the best signal to noise ratio, and many times I'll put the mic pre in the room with the vocalist; which means I can't be tweaking it if she hit's a hot passage. So the compressor takes care of that for me. But again very subtle, very little.

I usually put all my fx on aux channels. I didn't even know anyone did it another way until a mix I was just doing. The client kept saying my delay's didn't sound the same as his; finally, I asked him to send me the path and actual delay settings. Turns out he placed them on an insert of the vocal track. I almost couldn't get myself to do that; because it's considered a huge no no for a 'propper' engineer... but in the end, his desire to hear the delays outweighed my desire to fight with him... Plus it was a dance song and those vocals weren't the most important part of the song.

I'm very glad you like the Waves Maserati plugs. Please tell your friends and keep me posted on how you use them.

thanks,
tonyM
Old 14th March 2009
  #16
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dangoudie View Post
Have you ever tried the trick of recording the backing track into the mic in the control room, then recording the vocalist singing over the backing track in the control room and then flipping the phase on one and summing to cancel out the leakage? I'm yet to try it but if it work that would be amazing. In fact I'm going to try it now...

Dear Dangoudie,
I've heard about people doin with (Bono), but have never had the need to do it. Please let us all know how it worked!

thanks,
tonyM
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Old 14th March 2009
  #17
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
Do you find in general that singers have better pitch when they don't have to track with headphones?

Dear Mike,
I've never felt that way, but I have had lots of arguments with singers who listen to themselves bathed in reverb while tracking. They always sound sharp when they insist on doing that. For the most part, I try to get them to remove one ear and listen to their voices in the room.

thanks,
t
Old 14th March 2009
  #18
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by knifetheglitter View Post
Hi there,
How do you typically pan your vocals for rock records? how many main vocal tracks do you usually have and how do you usually find yourself panning the harmonies and BGV? I'm doing a typical metal band right now and they have sweet choruses with a vocal line and at least one harmony behind it, but im not sure how many to track of each, and where they should all be panned.

Thanks,
Kevin

Dear Kevin,
humm, the idea of a 'Metal' band with sweet sounding vocals is kind of an oxymoron; but let's see... Again, it really depends on the kind of track your working on. You must be familiar with Mutt Lang. Listen to his vocals on Def Lepard and AC/DC if you're looking for huge production kinda sound. Obviously, for that you're gonna do lots and lots of tracks of only three notes, panning them in various ways with very stereo reverbs and pitch/chorus' all mushed together to create a giant wall of vocals.

If you're looking for something more realistic, then jus listen to Led Zep baby! Have them sound less sweet and more manley!

You should also, play with mic'ing them in different places in the room with different mics. If you've got the time. Don't jus use one mic in one place. The phasing you'll get will add issues to the whole proceess.

Good luck,
t
Old 14th March 2009
  #19
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssl_ambition View Post
Hi Tony

Talking lead vocals and effects.
What are your favorite effects (exciters, flangers, choruses, reverbs, doubler) used on a daily basis on R&B/Pop lead vocals?

Of course every song is different but how is your R&B/Pop lead vocal track typically set up (mono, stereo, doubles)? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Thank you so much Tony!
It's very cool to have you here!

Cheers,
Amir

Hey Amir,
With regards to a 'R&B/Pop lead vocal track':
Well, if it's someone like Mary J Blige, I'm not gonna wanna mess with it too much. I'll usually do as I've mentioned several times in this section; Neve or GML eq, to Chandler TG1 or 1176 compressor. Internally, I'll do some subtractive eq in the area's I'm not happy with the mic. With someone like Mary, I'd split hear vocal prob three times; because she'll have a 'normal range' verse section, a heavy/hard hook section, and a extra heavy outro chorus section; each requiring it's own eq and compression because she's placing the tone on different area's of the throat and nasal cavity.

Yes, this is how deep it gets if you really do this on a daily basis. When I meet someone, I immediately listen to their voice and notice whether it's 'throaty', 'nasally', 'resonant', 'sibalant' etc.. I can determine from listening to them talk what microphone would best suit their voice.... Okay enough about my level of geekness...

So after I'd found the two or three correct chains and I'd done my subtractive eq in all of them. I'd add my effects, usually some quarter note delay that then is sent to a small room. I'd add a bit of small room direct from the lead as well as possibly some nonLin verb... really depends on the song. On the louder parts I'd prob 'ride' in some plate reverb and more delay depending if we wanted it to sound 'fancy' or intimate.

Does that help???
t
Old 14th March 2009
  #20
Gear Head
 
Tony Maserati's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBarrnes View Post
Rather than talk gear can you delve a little bit into different sounds and how to achieve them.

1. For instance when you get a dry unprocessed vocal sent to you what's the first thing you do.
Obviously you use compression as an effect to give perceived closeness, but I hear of some people running a vocal through two different compressors with two different release settings. How does that effect the vocal?
2. I have also read about people spending multiple hours processing a vocal track and my mind gets a little boggled.....since I have always just put on a compressor, done a little EQ, and added a touch of reverb. IF the vocal performance is good should you have to do a bunch of processing?
3. Do you do anything special for nasaly singers besides remove 1-2Khz?
4. Have you ever successfully repaired a vocal track that had noticeable early room reflections or is it hopeless?

Feel free to respond to any or all of the above. Thanks! TJ

Dear TBarrnes,
Okay, as far as what I do, when I get a dry uncompressed vocal, I've listed that in several places here already, please refer to that.

Different compression with different attack and release setting will 'bring out' different elements of the vocal such as 'mouth noises', breathing and breaths etc... Fast attack on a crushing compressor with high output and quick release will give the vocal some extra energy.

If you're a song writer and don't want to spend too much time getting a 'mixed' vocal sound, thats exactly what I created the Maserati plug-ins for. So the answer is no, do what you think the song/performance requires of you to do.

For nasally singers, I usually split the vocal into different freq ranges and compression packages... this allows me to push and pull that squeekiness out when and where I need to.

You CANNOT remove room noise from a vocal track...

hope that helps,
t
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