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Make bad singers sound good w/o autotune
Old 4 weeks ago
  #31
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I saw Greg Wells do it at a demonstration at AES last year. I consider myself to be particularly snobby about the artifacts and I was very impressed.
To be sure, it is possible to perform pitch corrections without noticeable artifact. I've been party to it.*

* That said, just as others' correction work has fallen short in my hearing, I worry that my own efforts might well be caught-out by someone whose ears were a little sharper, younger, and/or more attuned to the potential artifacts.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
People are doing it all the time and you're not aware that they're doing it because, well, that's how well they're doing it.

On the one hand that, on the other hand there's Country Radio.
^^ And that sums up my position.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #33
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
To be sure, it is possible to perform pitch corrections without noticeable artifact. I've been party to it.*

* That said, just as others' correction work has fallen short in my hearing, I worry that my own efforts might well be caught-out by someone whose ears were a little sharper, younger, and/or more attuned to the potential artifacts.
The main danger for someone skilled is making it TOO perfect! I sometimes find myself on rock vocalists tuning, printing them going back to the untuned and just cut in the bits that really sound off.

Artefacts I don’t really find an issue unless they are - by which I mean if I hear an artefact I fix it, and if I don’t hear it I’m pretty sure no one else will either.

I think they’re also more obvious to those who haven’t grown up with tuning.

As to the original premise - lots of valid comments - but I’d also question why no tuning is an absolute. It’s no point being principled if the end result is poorer than it could be. The whole hard tune then sing to that/vocal coaching etc is all great advice, but after that if a nudge here or there is required - why not?

There may be other reasons tuning isn’t an option of course
Old 4 weeks ago
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
As to the original premise - lots of valid comments - but I’d also question why no tuning is an absolute. It’s no point being principled if the end result is poorer than it could be. The whole hard tune then sing to that/vocal coaching etc is all great advice, but after that if a nudge here or there is required - why not?
I completely agree, but I read the original post describing a "bad singer" meaning someone who needs more than an occasional touch up.

I know some of y'all work with great singers all the time so it's not an issue, but I think we all agree that a light autotune to save a almost great take is one thing, but if a singer really needs work, the first step is to get a decent take.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #35
do many many takes, then do many many comping, then do many many editing
Old 4 weeks ago
  #36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
I completely agree, but I read the original post describing a "bad singer" meaning someone who needs more than an occasional touch up.

I know some of y'all work with great singers all the time so it's not an issue, but I think we all agree that a light autotune to save a almost great take is one thing, but if a singer really needs work, the first step is to get a decent take.
I totally agree.

Hence the comment about all the other things happening first!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #37
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If the singer has the time and inclination to really improve, and there's either no time deadline-or a generous time line on their project...

They can come to the studio, and do a few "before recordings" (look Ma no Autotune!). Then they have to "live with" these recordings for a while, a week or more, listening to them in the car, etc.

You can also record a cover song they're very familiar with, to help them with their confidence.
An expansion on this idea, is to also give them the "tuned" versions, so they can practice along to them.

Hopefully, this will give them some incentive, to improve their performances.
Maybe even take some vocal coaching, and their instructor could help them.
Then they can return to the studio, and do much better.

Personally, I train myself in a similar fashion, but my primary focus is live performing locally (I love the stage!). But the process is very similar.

Also I know singer's personalities vary, but I have to admit my game "gets upped", when I'm around a super strong singer who's listening to me.

If one of my (very) advanced singing buddies, went to a Pro Studio with me...
Sounds funny, but I'd sing a bit better! My primary issue is interpretation/energy level and getting recorded as well as when I'm singing onstage BTW.
(not pitch)

I've heard some of my live "through the board" recordings, and my home recordings honestly don't sound as good. (just a humble amateur recordist here!)
So I think putting away the headphones, and have them sing to the monitors is a great idea. (I'm with Bob Ohlsson on all this BTW)

Chris

P.S. I occasionally, will post a brief vocal recording here at GS. Some I felt were "second (or 3rd!) rate" recordings.
But I learned that would put a fire in me, to keep improving on that song, by singing it around town (most effective
BTW) or rehearsal.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #38
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
But my favourite thing when recording vocals that ALWAYS works is the 'get on the surfboard' trick. Basically make them do the first vowel/syllable of the first line of the first verse a few times in a row over the intro. To shape their throat to that tone, so when they drop the first line of the verse it's BANG right on the money.
That's a nice tip that I will be using for my very indifferent voice. If I make a good start it often inspires me to carry on trying harder.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
I completely agree, but I read the original post describing a "bad singer" meaning someone who needs more than an occasional touch up.
That's the way I read it too, there's a difference between a "bad singer" and a performance that needs some help, and every time I hear a "bad singer" they often need more than just tuning.

Quote:
I know some of y'all work with great singers all the time so it's not an issue, but I think we all agree that a light autotune to save a almost great take is one thing, but if a singer really needs work, the first step is to get a decent take.
Exactly. We can't make a bad vocal performance good, we can only enhance or prop-up a good performance.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #40
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BasHermus's Avatar
 

Well, define bad.
Are they out of tune?
No sense of timing?
All over the place volume wise?
No articulation?
No conviction?

In my limited experience the last one is the most important. Nothing more wince-inducing than a singer that lacks conviction (even when they sing in tune).

There are numerous singers who sing "badly" but have rather nice carreers (e.g. Bob Dylan, Billy Corgan, Anthony Kiedis, Mick Jagger etc.).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #41
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Your point about "conviction" is profound.

IMHO listening and practicing to singers who "become the song" helps a great deal.
Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #42
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biksonije's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ty45 View Post
What would you guys do to help bad singers sound as best they could without using autotune?
Reason with singer to sing in the voice "ability range", practice, practice and practice... and if nothing helps then help understand he/she don't have it. No software nor hardware will help.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #43
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Agressive comping of takes for vibe+pitch (as many as is possible before the clearly diminishing returns) and a good and thorough melodyning

Bad singers with great vibe end up feeling good.

Well pitched singers with 0 vibe end up feeling fine.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #44
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steel_wolf View Post
Agressive comping of takes for vibe+pitch (as many as is possible before the clearly diminishing returns) and a good and thorough melodyning

Bad singers with great vibe end up feeling good.

Well pitched singers with 0 vibe end up feeling fine.
When you said 'fine', surely you meant to say 'un-wrong'. lol.....and un-wrong is the enemy of all things good.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #45
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But two un-wrongs, don't make it un-right!

Cue Luther Ingrams's hit song... "(If Loving You Is Un-Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Un-Right")
Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #46
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post

But there are scores, hundreds of pop, rock and country songs from the early part of the century (the first decade after the 1998 release of the AT software) with vocals that show grotesque wrench marks of clumsy tuning. And they ALL made it through the label process. I didn't really NEED the extra proof that there are a lot of tin-ears in the music biz. =/
yeah because small tuning artifacts only matter to an extremely small subset of people that don't make up any part of the intended audience
Old 4 weeks ago
  #47
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Like musicians?
Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steel_wolf View Post
....and a good and thorough melodyning
Ah, so that's how we can make bad singers sound good "without Autotune"!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #49
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty James View Post
This is so true.
Tolerance truly is most often indifference, probably the most common form of hate.
I think the folks who created the Museum of Tolerance would have been fine with indifference. Getting ignored beats the hell out of what they actually got.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #50
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One of my closest friends (really like a Dad/Grandpa to me) in my childhood/young adulthood phase...Narrowly escaped with his wife, from a Concentration Camp in Lithuania. Tunneling, evading the guards/dogs, barbed wire-the whole thing. Great guy too.
Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #51
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s12512's Avatar
A singer can sound bad in multiple ways. But I’m assuming the op only means pitch since he mentioned auto tune. A good way to help with pitchy problems is to..........................................................................



Track thru auto tune. When singers sing thru auto tune they hear the pitch problems themselves very easily. Sometimes you can tell a singer to tighten up their pitch but it’s hard for them to hear it. It doesn’t have to be extreme but it is time saving. Also the situation with the artist can determine a lot of things. And time. I personally have tight deadlines from time to time so doing a millions takes ain’t gona cut it. I need to make sure the vocal production is on point that day. We might only have a part of a day to get things done with a certain artist no matter how good/bad they are. When they leave management/labels/etc expect it to be right soon after. It’s not always on the artist. Sometimes we have to make sure we’re on point as producers to bring out the best in the artist. That’s means good vocal production. From the beginning. And the atmosphere for an artist can determine a lot too. Make it fun! Some people are too serious. Tell some jokes. Wear a funny shirt. It’s more than just music sometimes
Old 4 weeks ago
  #52
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I doubt very much that there is a single method or work around that will work for every singer....people being different and all that.

I mixed a couple of songs from the same artist/musicians/studio/producer and couldn't help but notice how much better the vocals sounded when I removed all instances of Autotune from all the vocals. Not one person noticed or mentioned that they were missing when I sent the mixes for approval.

I don't dislike tuning software, but I can't get over the feeling that we're destroying a lot of goodness in the quest for hyper-precision and correctness.

Last edited by Samc; 4 weeks ago at 06:59 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #53
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cjogo's Avatar
Whatever happened to RAW ..Guess I started so many years ago --- Just record the client with what they bring to the studio .. Seems our equipment is as old as the artist No software for auto_tuning 'round here.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
The two tricks I use are to record a scratch vocal, then autotune it to death. Then have the singer record another take singing along with the autotuned voice.
Personally I find this to be a little confusing to tell which is my live voice and which is the guide track. But a similar idea that works is to use a keyboard sound as a guide track. I like to use flute sound or something like that. Another wind instrument like bassoon or sax might work depending on the range and tonality of the singer's voice. It gives you a guide that's still somewhat vocal-like and blends with your voice while letting you hear what you're singing more clearly.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #55
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo View Post
Whatever happened to RAW ..Guess I started so many years ago --- Just record the client with what they bring to the studio .. Seems our equipment is as old as the artist No software for auto_tuning 'round here.
Personally, if I’m engineering I’ll do what the producer wants.

If I’m producing I’ll make the best record I can.

If that means making the artist sound better than they are - I’m fine with that. Not my position to judge, I don’t want to have someone say “sounds a bit average” and me have to justify that with “they sound like that live”. I’m not making a documentary!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #56
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cjogo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
say “sounds a bit average” that with “they sound like that live”. I’m not making a documentary!

I try to make that final mix >> as much as they "sound like live" --( the artist certainly doesn't want to be selling CD's, at the stage door & sound nothing like the live performance ) No fancy tricks -- Well: except with what tools sit in the racks or the Roland DAW >>

We try to apply our hats ~~ to make it more than average .. up to their budget.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #57
A lot of great tips in this thread. I'll just share my process when I'm recording a less-than-perfect vocalist who has limited recording experience. I always request the lyrics to their song, either printed out, or in an email so I can print them out, double-spaced.

1) I walk my client through all the headphone tips / best practices before we even start. I tell them how the session is going to go. I answer their questions. I let them know that it's okay if they mess up, and that everyone messes up. Your first priority should be to make them feel as comfortable and at-home as possible, in a casual way. Try to handle any common questions ahead of time.

2) Try to get your microphone placement, level, and headphone mix correct as quick as possible (the more experience you have, the quicker this comes), and do not ask them to sing the entire song through multiple times while you experiment. You are possibly wasting their best takes if they are amateurish. Just ask them to sing one or two lines of the chorus. When you have everything as ready as it can be, ask them to sing the song through as a "test take, which is a warmup for you, and time for me to dial in levels" but definitely record this. Fine tune your levels during this take. Immediately after, compliment them and make sure their headphone mix is good for them. Don't offer any suggestions at this point. They are probably still nervous and uncomfortable.

3) Make sure they are comfortable and let them know again that it's no big deal if they mess up, and just keep going if possible, and that you might do several takes in a row and then comp together the best phrases into a final take. After the initial warm-up, test take, I usually do 3-4 takes.

4) During the next takes, if you feel like a phrase has been "nailed" underline that phrase and number it with the take you are on, or you can use a different color highlighter for each take. usually after 3-4 takes you will have it all or you will have so many blank spots that you will realize you overestimated the talent level of this singer (at which point you can lower your standards, or ask them to do a few more takes)

5) If I notice something that is easily fixable, I will give them a note between takes - but usually only one or two notes. More than that, and they will get nervous or forget.

6) After you think you have it, tell them they can take a break. I even suggest that they go outside and get some air for 5-10 minutes while I do some editing. Then you can comp together the phrases quickly without too much re-listening because you already have notes. don't worry about fades or breaths at this point. Make a note of any phrases that didn't quite cut it after all. Have the client listen back to the mix. At this point you may have them jump back in and fix certain phrases.

MOST of the time, this approach more than satisfies the client and they leave amazed that you were able to make them sound so good. A few other tips:

- keep room temp bottled water on hand and have them take sips between takes
- always compliment first before offering any feedback
- try to make it so the vocalist cannot see you while they are singing, unless they need to. both of my most used vocal-tracking spots, either the vocalist or I have to move to make eye contact. this really helps them to feel less nervous.
- have different lighting options. if the vocalist has the lyrics memorized, they may like something very dim.
- when you do punch-ins, have them start singing a phrase or two before the phrase you want so they get into the groove
- if the first verse sounds week, but the second verse is good - have them swap the verses on a couple takes so you can get a strong first verse
- if you're trying to go really fast, try to just pick the best take and only pop in phrases from other takes if it sounds bad
- most vocalists will not do any better after 5 takes, they will just start to where out and have less vibe.

lots of other great tips here. Sorry for the long post, but I hope it helps!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #58
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo View Post
I try to make that final mix >> as much as they "sound like live" --( the artist certainly doesn't want to be selling CD's, at the stage door & sound nothing like the live performance ) No fancy tricks -- Well: except with what tools sit in the racks or the Roland DAW >>

We try to apply our hats ~~ to make it more than average .. up to their budget.
Right. I try to make the best recording I can, regardless of how good the musicians. Different aims I guess.

I don't really aim for the "selling CDs at the stage door" target market.

But there's plenty of acts who sound different live to on record - many who sound better live, many who sound better on record too!

I just don't see why as a "record producer" someone should be concerning themselves with representing the band live with all their detrimental flaws - the things the band themselves would polish if they could.

That's not to say I want EVERYTHING clean/in tune/in time - it's to do with aesthetic. But making a recording and saying "there - that's what you sound like" and not making any effort to go "here - this is what you COULD sound like live, this is the best possible representation of your sound" - all because you don't want them to sound worse live - is weird to me.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #59
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cjogo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Norton View Post
A lot of great tips in this thread. I'll just share my process when I'm recording a less-than-perfect vocalist who has limited recording experience. I always request the lyrics to their song, either printed out, or in an email so I can print them out, double-spaced.

lots of other great tips here. Sorry for the long post, but I hope it helps!
Thanks >>> great steps to live by --- always give them praise. too ~!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #60
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cjogo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Right. - all because you don't want them to sound worse live - is weird to me.
I meant with the application towards AUTO TUNING -- Yes, always try everything to make a great recording ...

A perfect tuned singer on the CD -- maybe hours of a plugin tweaked ..

Then, on stage __ they have no where near = that same recorded vocal.

I guess it they have a label across the CD -- Warning :: Auto-tuned vocals .... Or is that just standard affair -- these days.


DO remembering looking at the first Antares rack at the NAMM -- about 89/90 ---thinking it would never make it into recordings --- too much work to do ^^ looking in that 2in screen and wasn't perfected yet ..

Last edited by cjogo; 4 weeks ago at 03:30 AM..
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