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Mixing a Singer who sounds "small"
Old 10th September 2002
  #1
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XHipHop's Avatar
Mixing a Singer who sounds "small"

I'm pulling up a project i have to mix now and the singer sounds pretty thin, small, lacks some balls, etc.

His performance is good but i definitely need to thicken things up a little bit.

In this situation, what would you try? What are some good tips/tricks for handling this.

Pretend this is a mix you are doing on your own system and break down how you would try to handle it.

I can't wait to read some responses!
Bob
Old 10th September 2002
  #2
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Re: Mixing a Singer who sounds "small"

Quote:
Originally posted by XHipHop
I'm pulling up a project i have to mix now and the singer sounds pretty thin, small, lacks some balls, etc.
Ouch. Turd Polishing 101.

Quote:
His performance is good but i definitely need to thicken things up a little bit.
I usually try to "thicken" (assuming we are talking the same buzzword language) the performance by doubles in the tracking session. Lack of balls? Maybe try proxmity effect and have the vocalist sing closer to the mic for a bass boost (like that guy you here in the previews in movie theaters).

Quote:
In this situation, what would you try? What are some good tips/tricks for handling this.
Have him/her double themself. If they aren't tight, use vocal align. Then add the vocal aligned 'double' in at about one fourth of the lead to back it up.

Quote:
Pretend this is a mix you are doing on your own system and break down how you would try to handle it.
HA! Okay, I do this, say, EVERY OTHER DAY! (just kidding)
Hmmm, so we missed it on the tracking session. Ok. Try sending it vocal to, a chorus? Perhaps a "Micro Pitch Shift" type program (like on the Eventide H3000). It all depends on way you mean by "thicken". Try multing the vocal to a 2nd channel and running it through an amp or some type of distortion unit, or overdrive the hell out of an LA2a or 1176. Yuck right? Now, add it in very lightly, and take it a step further by automating the distortion up to highlight the words that rhyme.
Uhm, still no? Try an automated send to a delay to delay certain words than others.

Quote:
I can't wait to read some responses!
Bob
Hope this helps. Try to give us examples of the singer's style, what you want the singer to sound like, the style of music, etc...
Old 11th September 2002
  #3
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chessparov's Avatar
 

What do you guys think about also trying a photo-optical compressor like a Joe Meek in either hardware or plug-in form?

That style of compression adds a few pounds to my voice FWIW.

Chris
Old 11th September 2002
  #4
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chessparov's Avatar
 

Postscript to my last post...
You may want to do more investigation on the Bomb Factory plug-ins as I'm extremely limited in my knowledge of them.
Alphajerk doesn't think well of them (just read his posts on them)
and that causes me to be circumspect of how "real" they sound.

Has anyone who's reading this tried them?

Thanks
Chris
Old 11th September 2002
  #5
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XHipHop's Avatar
Here's the deal. Early in the spring i recorded a demo for a band to shop around to labels.

Suddenly, there is a good amount of label interest so i think if i can give them a kickass mix, i may find myself working with this band again on bigger and better things.

Now i wish my attitude on that session was not "ok, that sound is good enough..."

The style is poppy indie rock in the vein of The Get up Kids mixed with New Found Glory, i guess.

It basically sounds like he stood a little too far off the mic to my ears and it lacks energy and size.

Just thought i'd fill you guys in on what my purpose here was. I also thought this might be a good conversation just to share production tips.

Thanks again for your responses.
Bob
Old 11th September 2002
  #6
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
It's tough to say what I would do unless I heard the tracks in question. E-cue had some good ideas and I've used all of them at one time or another. The micropitch shift idea is pretty good. I use an old ART SGE for that. Select the pitch transposer and rather then do the chromatic thing I shift it down a few cents. Maybe you could try adding some low mids and cutting some highs, compess it a bit or a lot with something not too transparent. If you have an LA-2a this would be a good use for it. The Orban 414A that I have here also works pretty for that, so does the Demeter VTCL-2a which is loosely based on an LA-2a.

If the vocal isn't working well you have two other options. You can either retrack the vocal and make it sound closer and more exciting. The excitement is a factor of the performance or lack thereof. If it's lame there's nothing you can do. But, if the performance is good and the sound is lacking bring it in a different direction. If it sounds a bit roomy and thin make that work for the song. Give it the space it needs then and maybe thin the guitars out a bit. Listen to a STP album or the Hives Vedi Vidi Vicious for examples of that, especially the Hives. A big fat vocal just wouldn't work on that album.
Old 11th September 2002
  #7
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XHipHop's Avatar
Thanks, Jay. Changing direction is some good advice. I think i was trying to emulate something that just couldn't happen.

I'm gonna try some different compressors but i think i might have to start over on this one....damnit! madd
Old 11th September 2002
  #8
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Yeah, when things aren't working sometimes you just have to normal the console, pull the patchbay and start again from a new direction.
Old 11th September 2002
  #9
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Yeah, when things aren't working sometimes you just have to normal the console, pull the patchbay and start again from a new direction.
Clients hate this, but sometimes it's the best idea. Print what you've got first though. Usually when I do this the new mix comes together a lot quicker.

To answer the question, I'd look to compression and EQ. I'd use the VoxBox for both and then a second compressor as well. The Eventide idea is good too.
Old 11th September 2002
  #10
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by XHipHop
The style is poppy indie rock in the vein of The Get up Kids mixed with New Found Glory, i guess.

It basically sounds like he stood a little too far off the mic to my ears and it lacks energy and size.

Just thought i'd fill you guys in on what my purpose here was. I also thought this might be a good conversation just to share production tips.

Thanks again for your responses.
Bob
I'd suggest multing your lead to 2 channels. Overcompress (with an LA2A, or the like) one channel and ride it up in the verses, almost to the point of overdistortion. The Distressor, I know it's not a tube compressor but stay with me, is pretty kick ass for this too (10:1 ratio, say 0 attack and 8 release with DIST 2 enabled) as it has more tweekables. A 'trick' I've used with the Distreesor on Punk vox in the past is: Put it in "link" mode, with Dist 2 on, but don't plug anything in the Link connection in the back, this will give you mad distortion for days, so this is were the mult thing could help you out as you can blend the distorted signal with the regular. In the hook, try a more solid stateish (is that a word?) compressor like a 33609, DBX 160xt, or even a RNC. Experiment, and try to develop 'flips' on suggestions you read here.
Old 11th September 2002
  #11
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

yeah, i would compress the living snot out of it. maybe on a mult, maybe not. i might also use a pitch shifter and bring that up under the main vox. who knows without hearing it and knowing what you are after.

if it isnt something that could be "fixed" i would retrack it possibly and have them eat the mic for bass boost.

again, it depends. also you might want to try PSP mixBass on it. or if you have a DBX120Xds.
Old 11th September 2002
  #12
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Awe, man, why didn't I think of this earlier? :

Try sending it through an amp (I'd recommend a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, is kinda like ampfarm with the tubes & circuitry) and mic the amp. Give is enough DRIVE where you can hear it when the track is solo'ed, but hardly detectable mixed in the track.
Old 11th September 2002
  #13
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
The only problem I could envision with compressing the snot out of it or adding distortion from an amp or whatever is that he said the vocal has too much room tone. Adding distortion will just bring out more room tone, but maybe that's part of going in a different direction with the mixes.

Alpha, have you used a Subharmonic Synth just on a vocal? I use mine on kick, bass and toms all the time but I never got anything usable out of it on a vocal.
Old 11th September 2002
  #14
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

yeah, on mine i can dial in between 4 frequencies. i can find a combination of them that will add thickness. i also like pitch shifting too. that PSP MixBass works really well too, same idea as the subsynth.


if you got room tone, you are kinda fucked if you want a dry and in your face VOX.
Old 12th September 2002
  #15
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chessparov's Avatar
 

Jay, has your Joe Meek VC6 been handy in dealing with this issue?
My perception is that its compression adds "thickness" to vocal
tone in quasi-tube fashion.

Thanks
Chris
Old 12th September 2002
  #16
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Kind of. It can work ok for things like that. It's a totally different sound then an LA-2a which I guess is the standard "make it thicker" compressor. A Manley EL-OP is also really good at that, the Demeter that I have is ok to a point, not really the same thing but it's in the ball park. You need to get the idea of a tube vs. non-tube sound out of your head. Just because something has tubes in it doesn't automaticly make it sound thick and musical. There's plenty of bad sounding, thin tube gear out there. And not just the starved plate stuff either.
Old 12th September 2002
  #17
Gear Addict
 

How about sending just the vocal to a monitor speaker or to a guitar amp (I'd try clean first, dirty it up a little bit as needed), and close mic the speaker with a figure eight mic or something with big booty proximity boost. I'd think of this as a supplement rather than a replacement, but it depends on what you have and what you get back.

The only other thing that comes to mind that others haven't suggested would be a gimmick. Fat analog synth sounding filtering. Could give a track a sound that sticks in mind, but I wouldn't use it on a full four song demo.

Bear
Old 12th September 2002
  #18
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chessparov's Avatar
 

Thanks Jay for the feedback.

Chris
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