The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Vocal Help Needed
Old 17th July 2015
  #1
Gear Addict
 
Melodic Wave's Avatar
Vocal Help Needed

I have no shame in asking because this is frustrating me to no end......

I'm recording a female vocalist who has a fantastic mid range voice. Some of the tunes are rockish and others somewhat softer melodic.

The issue I'm having is this:

On the heavier tunes with distorted guitars I have no issues that really bother me too much regardless how loud she sings, the issues must blend with the guitar distortion, but when she is singing to softer music is when the frustration begins.....

With soft music and when she is singing at low to moderate volumes all seems controllable with a few thin rips here and there for any hyped frequencies, fairly normal, but when she really starts blasting out a chorus or something then I'm getting hyped frequencies that are down right harsh and spread out over the mids and upper mids, sometimes even into the highs. And even more frustrating is that these frequencies move around, only a few are not moving, or maybe better wording would be that different harsh frequencies surface on different words that she sings loudly....

At first I was using an SM7b, then thought to myself well she is distorting the mic (If that's possible), so I tried a 57, then a 906e, then 2 varieties of Blue condensers..... then tried different preamps...... no change really.

I think perhaps these hyped frequencies are actually a natural phenomena in her voice.

Ok, below is a scratch clip I have on my laptop of her singing loudly to distorted guitars and a drum track. No serious issues here with a thin rip around 4.2 khz, but when I get back to the studio I will post a clip from a softer tune that will reveal my dilemma and hopefully someone has stumbled across this issue in their experience and can lend some advice......

Ok, just posted a verse and a chorus of a softer tune. Notice that the vocal sounds fine in the verse, but the chorus starts getting hyped frequencies above 2k and up to 7k. they are all over the place depending on the the different words she sings.... and only at higher volumes.... this is happening with all processing inactive as well.... I killed all eq's in the soft tune samples so you can hear what's going on... I'm puzzled to say the least...
Attached Files

Free Vocal Sample.mp3 (1.10 MB, 527 views)

Verse Sample.mp3 (711.7 KB, 445 views)

Chorus Sample.mp3 (1.98 MB, 443 views)


Last edited by Melodic Wave; 17th July 2015 at 02:27 AM..
Old 17th July 2015
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Vintageidiot's Avatar
What preamp are you using? Compressor? Seems pretty low level on the LV...
Old 17th July 2015
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Melodic Wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintageidiot View Post
What preamp are you using? Compressor? Seems pretty low level on the LV...
You are hearing a Blue Reactor through a Pro MPA II with JJ 12ax7, I also tried mic straight to 003 Rack. The levels in are good at around -10, seems that the source is on the mic end, but not certain.... Sorry, no final mix yet so the LV may be a bit low, but these guys love their guitars lol
Old 17th July 2015
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Vintageidiot's Avatar
I see. Well, the vocal seems too weak in level IMO. I hope someone else gives you their thoughts and is of more help....
Old 17th July 2015
  #5
Gear Addict
 
BluegrassDan's Avatar
The vocal mic is not good for her voice. SM7s and SM57s are sort of dull up top for capturing female vocals, and this clip of the Blue Reactor is harsh and sibilant in the upper mids without much air:
Blue Reactor Vocal Samples

The qualities from the linked clip reflect similarities in your recording of her vocal. If anything, the recordings sound a bit lo-fi without much "sparkle."

Can you borrow a good mic and preamp from someone? Shure KSM 44, AKG 414, or even better would be a C12 clone.
Old 17th July 2015
  #6
Gear Addict
 
BluegrassDan's Avatar
I'll add that the SM81 has always had this type of characteristic. It's plenty bright, but it's a harsh brightness that lacks air and always feels boxy.
Old 17th July 2015
  #7
Gear Addict
 
Melodic Wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BluegrassDan View Post
The vocal mic is not good for her voice. SM7s and SM57s are sort of dull up top for capturing female vocals, and this clip of the Blue Reactor is harsh and sibilant in the upper mids without much air:
Blue Reactor Vocal Samples

The qualities from the linked clip reflect similarities in your recording of her vocal. If anything, the recordings sound a bit lo-fi without much "sparkle."

Can you borrow a good mic and preamp from someone? Shure KSM 44, AKG 414, or even better would be a C12 clone.
Aren't the 414's very bright as well? Someone suggested that the Heil PR-40 would be a good choice for her voice, that it would warm it up a bit.....
Old 17th July 2015
  #8
Gear Addict
 
BluegrassDan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melodic Wave View Post
Aren't the 414's very bright as well? Someone suggested that the Heil PR-40 would be a good choice for her voice, that it would warm it up a bit.....
There are a few versions of the 414 and the one used mostly for vocals could be considered a bright mic. But it's bright in way that could be good for this vocal. Your audio samples don't really sound bright to me. They sound harsh and lo-fi because the mic is accentuating problem areas in the 2k-4k region while also rolling off the good stuff above 8k.

Also, your recorded example has some funkiness in the midrange in general. The 400-1,000 Hz area sounds boxy and there seems to be little depth and presence.

All IMHO.
Old 17th July 2015
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Me_Likey's Avatar
 

I notice she goes out of tune quite a bit on the louder pieces. Judicious use of autotune (or whatever) might make her voice settle in to the music.

Sometimes I'll create an empty vocal track and instantiate autotune. Then I'll select and cut the out-of-tune regions from the original track and paste them in the duplicate track that has autotune on it. Just copy all channel strip settings and plugs so you have two identical vocal tracks, except one has autotune. That way you're leaving the good untouched by evil autotune, but fixing the bad.

That's what I noticed not having heard it 1000 times like you, the "bad" frequencies may just be her singing out of tune.

My $.02
Old 17th July 2015
  #10
Lives for gear
 

She is singing in a somewhat pinched nasal manner on the quieter (verse?) selection, but she is doing it on some of the more rock parts as well.
I have heard women sing that way, but if this young lady wants to mimic this sound you are going to have to find a mic that works.

I wouldn't suggest any 414 because they tend to accentuate the range where she is making the pinched sound.
What you need is a mic that has a lot of body to it.
Off hand, I can't think of too many inexpensive mics that will do this.
Cheap condensers have the same issue as the 414.
I also wouldn't suggest a SM81 or any SDC.

The least expensive mic that I could recommend that would help would be something like a good, used Soundelux U95.
Old 17th July 2015
  #11
Lives for gear
 
DougS's Avatar
 

Don't know what your budget is. I had a similar problem with harshness in the 5k range with a female singer using an inexpensive condenser. We upgraded to a Pearlman TM-47 and the problem disappeared.

Less expensive alternatives (I've not used these but they were on my short list) might be the Pearlman TM-1 or Miktek CV-4 or Lauten Atlantis. The Atlantis has 3 voicings (dark, medium and bright).

I also agree with some of the above posters that you also have a problem where she is getting a little out of tune on some of the notes. Solve this with Auto-tune and it might sound better overall.

Sounds like a cool song!
Best of luck
Old 17th July 2015
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me_Likey View Post
IThat's what I noticed not having heard it 1000 times like you, the "bad" frequencies may just be her singing out of tune
I didn't say this, but the OP is obviously battling against the young lady's deficiencies as a vocalist.
The immediate solution is to find a mic that doesn't accentuate the problems.
The long term solution is for the young lady to improve her vocal technique.
Yes, there are tuning issues along with the tone issues.
I can't even make an assessment of the second (verse) example because I can't tell what is supposed to be occurring melodically.
Honestly, I feel that she is at a disadvantage on the second example because the backing track is rather vague in the melodic department.

With the right mic, judicious EQ and autotune you can beat a performance into something that sounds decent to most folks.
The artist faces the problem of these "magic tools" not being available in a live performance setting.
Unfortunately, as one's career progresses they will be judged on their live performance more and more.
In short, if you want longevity, then you have to know how to perform live.
You have a choice, learn to sing properly, use backing tracks or develop a stage persona that over-shadows your vocal deficiences.
The first and last choice require a lot of work by the artist.
Old 17th July 2015
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Me_Likey's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
I didn't say this, but the OP is obviously battling against the young lady's deficiencies as a vocalist.
The immediate solution is to find a mic that doesn't accentuate the problems.
The long term solution is for the young lady to improve her vocal technique.
Yes, there are tuning issues along with the tone issues.
I can't even make an assessment of the second (verse) example because I can't tell what is supposed to be occurring melodically.
Honestly, I feel that she is at a disadvantage on the second example because the backing track is rather vague in the melodic department.

With the right mic, judicious EQ and autotune you can beat a performance into something that sounds decent to most folks.
The artist faces the problem of these "magic tools" not being available in a live performance setting.
Unfortunately, as one's career progresses they will be judged on their live performance more and more.
In short, if you want longevity, then you have to know how to perform live.
You have a choice, learn to sing properly, use backing tracks or develop a stage persona that over-shadows your vocal deficiences.
The first and last choice require a lot of work by the artist.
It's hard to assess the "tone" if everything is affected by an out of tune performance. It will never sound "right". There's "good" out of tune singers, but I would have a hard time convincing myself this is all due to her style.

Anyhow, as an engineer I would do her a huge favor by fixing her performance with readily available tools. This would go a long way to saving the track. Also, my focus would be on this particular project, not necessarily her entire career. Not knowing her, she may not be interested in devoting the massive time and effort to becoming an accomplished vocalist. In that case I would go with her energy and passion and use autotune to make it more palatable.

Ok, I'm up to $.04 in this thread
Old 17th July 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me_Likey View Post
It's hard to assess the "tone" if everything is affected by an out of tune performance. It will never sound "right". There's "good" out of tune singers, but I would have a hard time convincing myself this is all due to her style.

Anyhow, as an engineer I would do her a huge favor by fixing her performance with readily available tools. This would go a long way to saving the track. Also, my focus would be on this particular project, not necessarily her entire career. Not knowing her, she may not be interested in devoting the massive time and effort to becoming an accomplished vocalist. In that case I would go with her energy and passion and use autotune to make it more palatable.

Ok, I'm up to $.04 in this thread
The equipment required to make the vocals sound "good" are not found inside of any electronic devices.

I am not referring to this young lady when I say this, but if you have a bad and out-of-tune performance and you then correct the tuning you are still left with a bad performance.
It is bad performance that is in tune.

Also, good tone and good pitching pretty much go hand in hand.
There can be potential, but until the flaws are addressed everything else is just a band aid.

BTW... My wife just heard the examples.
My wife is a conservatory trained vocalist (UNT Class of 1988.)
Her comment was that the young lady needs to have proper voice lessons and learn breathing technique.
She said that the young lady has a lot of potential, but until she learns to control her voice you should just record her with a good mic and let the recording be what it is.

Last edited by dbbubba; 17th July 2015 at 06:57 PM..
Old 17th July 2015
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Ernest Buckley's Avatar
A couple of thoughts…

1) its normal for a voice to change timbre and certain harmonics get exaggerated in certain ranges.

2) Have the singer perform the chorus with a little more control… have them hold back a bit or back off the mic.

3) If #1 is the case, record each section with a specific setting on your EQ and compression. I do this often.

4) Sometimes a singer simply needs to learn how to sing a song. Just because they can sing, does not mean they know how to sing a specific song. So… have them spend some time experimenting their tone, their timbre, and their rhythm. Something as simple as where they are breathing, can influence pitch, energy, and phrasing. All things to consider… so have them really master the song before pressing record. If you`re already in session, theres not much you can with this because time is $$$ but definitely try strategy #2 and #3 .
Old 17th July 2015
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Me_Likey's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
The equipment required to make the vocals sound "good" are not found inside of any electronic devices.
The equipment to make it sound GREAT isn't in any device. "Good" is a much lower target. I'm pretty confident I could improve that track, it's just not that hopeless. She has emotion and energy which in rock and roll counts for a LOT. Technical perfection sometimes comes at the cost of dry, uninteresting performances, at least in the Rock genre.
Old 17th July 2015
  #17
Gear Addict
 
Melodic Wave's Avatar
Guys, I just listened to those last 2 clips I posted, and something is haywire somewhere, I'll pull the session up asap and see what I've done. That sounds horrible and I've accidentally bumped/tweaked either my limiter or a vocal bus plug somehow..... I'll repost the 2nd and 3rd clips after I find the issue.

By the way, thank you for the input..... Very good points.... However, the final product will get a good dose of Melodyne before I call it finished..... I posted these clips with no tuning work obviously.....

Last edited by Melodic Wave; 17th July 2015 at 11:46 PM..
Old 18th July 2015
  #18
Gear Addict
 
BluegrassDan's Avatar
Hire me as a vocal coach for a day and I'll bring my 47, a couple preamps, and an LA2A!
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump