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Everything but the VOCAL(S) in the headphone mix?
Old 18th August 2011
  #1
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

Everything but the VOCAL(S) in the headphone mix?

Just wondering if anyone's A/B'd whether it's usually better to leave the vocal(s) out in the headphone mix. Better pitch/performance etc...?

BTW we're assuming the 'ol headphone one cup on/one cup off.

Have an acapella background (Barbershop), so admit to being a card carrying member of the Headphone Hater's Club to begin with-along with Autotuneheh.

Thanks in advance for any responses,
Chris
Old 18th August 2011
  #2
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I find it comes down to the singers personal preference.

I've tracked singers who leave both cans on and those who prefer the one on, one off approach. I'm a one on one off kind of guy myself when I'm called upon to sing.....
If a singers pitch is a little ropey, and they are not usually known for this then they are either having a bad day (which happens to every musician!) or they cant hear themselves properly....in which case suggest the other option, and /or adjust the levels.

IMHO there's no "approach A is better than approach B" answer for this.....use whatever gets the best performance out of the singer.
Old 18th August 2011
  #3
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chessparov's Avatar
 

Thanks drum, sorry if my question wasn't clear.

Was meaning are recordists (pro & home studio) finding better results typically WITHOUT putting the vocal(s) in the headphone mix...

Chris
Old 18th August 2011
  #4
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abechap024's Avatar
 

Ya I think thats what hes saying.

Its totally personal preference. Doing either one isn't going to guarantee anything.

You should be asking your talent
Old 18th August 2011
  #5
Gear Guru
 

it would always be singer's choice, not mine

IME, few singers, even the one-cup users, ask for that. It hardly ever occurs for me to offer it.

Quote:
Have an acapella background (Barbershop), so admit to being a card carrying member of the Headphone Hater's Club to begin with


back in the day, you used to see these little speaker pairs that clipped onto the mic stand and pointed at the singer's head. They were wired out of phase and aimed so that they would cancel when they converged at the mic, but the singer could hear fine.

It was a little 'neater' than recording in the control room and you could leave the speakers out of phase full-time, as they were only used for tracking as a headphone alternative.

I don't remember who sold them, but clearly you could DIY such a thing with almost any little speakers.
Old 19th August 2011
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov View Post
Thanks drum, sorry if my question wasn't clear.

Was meaning are recordists (pro & home studio) finding better results typically WITHOUT putting the vocal(s) in the headphone mix...

Chris
It totally varies. But the "pro" thing to do is to always have a pair of the same headphones in the control room for the engineer and or producer to be able to put on quickly to check what the singer hears personally.

An experienced producer working with an inexperienced singer might make the decisions on levels FOR the singer.

The more experienced the singer the more control of levels is given.

But to not have a pair of headphones by your side for reference is kind of "un professional" for lots of reasons.

If the artists headphones develop a problem, you can quickly give them yours!

You can listen for foldback mix issues (like stray instruments or harmonies too loud)

And you can keep an eye on overall volume. Inexperienced singers often demand too much volume and this can cause them to sing flat.

It's not unusual to see an engineer or producer putting the headphones on and off for checks at every new overdub stage to make sure everything is as perfect for the singer as possible.(it looks kind of manic as they shove them on for a check - then take them off very quickly)

But this it! - Showtime! All that fun engineering stuff with the drums / recording the track etc are all nothing if the vocals are poor. Concentration and engineering activity is operating at a high level.

If no vocals in the headphone produces the best vocal - that's exactly what to use.
Old 19th August 2011
  #7
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chessparov's Avatar
 

Seems like solid advice all round, and Jules-that post deserves a sticky!

Chris
Old 19th August 2011
  #8
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Insomniaclown's Avatar
 

Great post Jules! I gotta get another pair of phones.

Just to share my personal preferences when I'm recording. I like both cans on. Helps me to fall into the song and just perform. I like to have the vocal in the cans, but I need a certain level. Too low and I strain my voice to hear it, too high and I hold back too much. I have a preset in logic that I use when recording. EQ, compressor, some verb and delay to make it ambient.

For double tracking, I mute the lead. For harmonies, I'll keep the lead on, and pan the harmony to one side.

One thing I've learned with both cans on, if the playback level is too high, my pitch will be off. Too low and it's no fun! If I am having trouble getting it right, then I go one can off, and mute the vocal.

Yeah, picky I know.
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