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Backing Vocals
Old 22nd June 2009
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Backing Vocals

I'm recording some backing vocals tommorrow at the studio I engineer at and use for my own personal work too.



I'm recording 3 backing vocalists for a mo-town inspired track. It's not actually hugely motown soundy likey but anyway...


I was thinking about using 3 close mics (one per singer) and two ambient.


At my disposal:
2x 414
2x U89
2x AKG 451
GT33
SM7, SM57 etc
3x C3000's
3x C1000's
RE20


I'm going to use a U89 for the lead vocal next week... So maybe I should use the 414's as ambient overheads and use the 3 C3000s for close mics?

Thanks for any help in advance.


cheers!
Old 22nd June 2009
  #2
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
someones got to say it:

It depends on

1> what the singers sound like, and how they sing
2> what the song sounds like
3> what you want the final mix to sound like
4> what the mic sounds like with each singer in that room

I'm sure its not what you want to hear, but honestly, no-one can really help you choose without being there and witnessing everything in context.

narco
Old 22nd June 2009
  #3
Gear Guru
Depends totally on the singers. How good are they? If they're really good, they can blend in the air better than you can on the faders. Have them wear one side of the phones so they can hear the natural blend. Have them stand around the mic, I'd use the 89 (omni), and move them around until you get a nice balance. Then go out and mark their foot positions on the floor with gaff tape so if they move around they can get back in position. Down and double and done.

If the singers aren't great, then you'll have to mic them individually.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #4
Gear Nut
 

I'm looking to get some ideas on mic set ups.



ie if I'm recording the three of them at once should I set them up in a semi circle type shape with a close mic each and then ie the 414's set up as ambient mics in an XY / AB formation.


EDIT: thanks PRobb.. hadnt read your post yet
Old 22nd June 2009
  #5
Gear Nut
 

If I'm using the U89 for lead vocals... do you not think I should avoid using it for the backing?


I guess I don't have to use the U89 for the lead though.



The singers are good. Very good technically.. not so much studio experience however.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #6
Lives for gear
Yeah...lots of questions.

Generally if the singers are really good you can put them around one mic and they will balance it based on the cue mix.

I'd use a single mic in omni, and double it, if thats the sound you want. You'll get a nice big natural sound.

Now if you are uncertain about the singers you might want them on separate mics. Or if you think they will need to be tuned. That might negate the room mics...but hey, you can always throw them out.

Most BGVs that you hear on the radio are at least doubled.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for the suggestions.



Normally when I do backing, I'll close mic the singers and record them one at a time, then double it, or triple it.


My current mix has got a lot of instruments... brass (L) .. electric guitar (R) .. doubled acoustic guitar (L+R) + other stuff... ie percussion elements and kit.

Backing will be panned (L) to balance out the electric guitar which is promonent.

I'm looking to get a natural sound for the backing.. so the omni mic sounds like a great route to go. Tuning wise the singers will be spot on.



Thanks again..
Old 22nd June 2009
  #8
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weirwood View Post
If I'm using the U89 for lead vocals... do you not think I should avoid using it for the backing?


I guess I don't have to use the U89 for the lead though.
I wouldn't worry about that. It's an issue when the same singer is doing all the leads and BGs and you're looking for a different sonic identity for the BGs. Not the case here. Use the mic that sound best. I said the 89 for BGs because I find that when BGs are a bit on the "warm" side (I hate those words) they sit behind the lead a bit better.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
I wouldn't worry about that. It's an issue when the same singer is doing all the leads and BGs and you're looking for a different sonic identity for the BGs. Not the case here. Use the mic that sound best. I said the 89 for BGs because I find that when BGs are a bit on the "warm" side (I hate those words) they sit behind the lead a bit better.

Excellent ok.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Crash's Avatar
What timing... I am mixing a project where we have about 5 tunes with this type of backing vocal vibe going on. Everyone is bringing up good points, most valid too. This project used 3 girls that sing together all the time, so I did the XY dealio and let them do their thing. We did some minimal coaching on volume and placement but after that, they were good. We did two passes on each tune so 4 tracks, or 2 stereo tracks, however you want to call that. It sounds big and spacious to my ears.

I would say that performance is key here, over mic selection. In fact, I think I used two unmodded Oktava MK319's through a couple of 1084 knockoffs for this go 'round and it sounds really good but it sounds really good because these chicks can sing. I could have put up any quality mic through a decent preamp and it would have rocked it. Seeing your mic list, I would be tempted to go with the 89's but that is me.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #11
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash View Post
I would say that performance is key here, over mic selection.
Always!

If you want it thick, and assuming they're good singers, try having them swap parts for the double.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Nice input Crash.


Got lots of time tommorrow. So I'll try both setups and I'll which sounds best.

It's all going through a Raindirk series 3 console so I'm hoping it'll sound great.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
 
travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by narco View Post
someones got to say it:

It depends on

1> what the singers sound like, and how they sing
2> what the song sounds like
3> what you want the final mix to sound like
4> what the mic sounds like with each singer in that room

I'm sure its not what you want to hear, but honestly, no-one can really help you choose without being there and witnessing everything in context.

narco
Narco, you can't answer like this without first telling the OP that he *must* use esoteric mics and preamps that the he doesn't even have.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Crash's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weirwood View Post
Nice input Crash.


Got lots of time tommorrow. So I'll try both setups and I'll which sounds best.

It's all going through a Raindirk series 3 console so I'm hoping it'll sound great.
If the performers are good, you'll be hard pressed to screw it up. I faced the same dilemma when I did our BGV sessions but once I heard them figuring out parts together in the control room, the right path became obvious to me. Good luck, sounds like you'll be fine with the gear ya' got.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #15
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash View Post
If the performers are good, you'll be hard pressed to screw it up. I faced the same dilemma when I did our BGV sessions but once I heard them figuring out parts together in the control room, the right path became obvious to me. Good luck, sounds like you'll be fine with the gear ya' got.
True that! When it sounds great without a mic, the trick is to get out of the way and just record it!
Old 22nd June 2009
  #16
Gear Guru
 

While narco is technically correct about how important your local individual conditions are, I feel pretty safe in advising you to not bother with the c3000s.

Your 414s or the U89s should cover it nicely. I often deliberately select a different mic for backing vocals from the one I use for lead. But not too different- i.e. if I am using a condenser on lead, my backups will be on a different condenser, but not on a 57, say.





If there are several sections with backing vocals and the singers are New to the song, it is often a good idea to skip-punch your way through the song. Teach them the A part first, then do all the "A" parts; then teach them the "B" part and go back and punch those wherever they occur.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #17
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post

If there are several sections with backing vocals and the singers are New to the song, it is often a good idea to skip-punch your way through the song. Teach them the A part first, then do all the "A" parts; then teach them the "B" part and go back and punch those wherever they occur.
Very good advice.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
EqnoixStudios's Avatar
 

Put all your sesssion energy into making sure the pitches are locked very tight. Nothing ruins background vox quicker. All the other things can be changed easy without consiquences on the final mix since the BG vocals aren't going to be the focus of the track.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #19
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for the advice guys.


Very much appreciated.
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