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How exactly do you monitor while recording?
Old 6 days ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
How exactly do you monitor while recording?

Hey everyone. I'm having some trouble monitoring myself while recording vocals. I have a track going through an fx channel with a bit of reverb, and i tried to give it a nice volume level against the rest of the song. It usually feels pretty uncomfortable though. Either I'm too loud to hear the music or the music drowns me out, basically making monitoring myself useless.
How loud do you guys usually mix? I'm getting okay results, but i can't get the vocals to really feel like they belong. If its worth listening to, i made a soundcloud and put two short samples up. Maybe if you notice anything i definitely need to fix let me know? thanks guys.

Edit: forgot the soundcloud link. Robert Pierce | Free Listening on SoundCloud
Old 4 days ago
  #2
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by brodieskiddlz View Post
Hey everyone. I'm having some trouble monitoring myself while recording vocals. I have a track going through an fx channel with a bit of reverb, and i tried to give it a nice volume level against the rest of the song. It usually feels pretty uncomfortable though. Either I'm too loud to hear the music or the music drowns me out, basically making monitoring myself useless.
I question the validity of this statement. The knobs or sliders are continuously variable. That means a goldilocks setting is possible. If "6" is too high and "5" is to low, how about "5.5"? How about "5.5001". Doesn't there have to be some point where it transitions from too loud to too soft? I work with some singers who have a pretty narrow sweet spot, but never with one that had an infinitely narrow sweet spot.

Now in addition to fine tuning your levels, there are things you can do. Many singers like to take one earpiece off on the headphones or push them back slightly so they hear their actual voice in the air of the room somewhat.

some singers like a little compression and reverb on the voice as they sing. Reverb is 'after' the sound, but live compression really works better with hardware. If you are using a plug-in channel strip, you may be creating a latency that clashes with your acoustic perception of your voice as it reverberates in your skull. Sometimes reversing the polarity on the plug-in can help with this.

In any case the lowest-latency path you can set up for monitoring, the better. You may be able to lower your buffer settings and do other stuff to reduce latency.

Some interfaces have a "zero" latency monitoring function. It's not really "zero" but it does get things down. And some interfaces can even support plug-ins which would be faster than going in and out of the DAW.

Some singers like to avoid headphones altogether and prefer to sing into speakers. This obviously creates serious bleed problems at mixdown, but a good vocal take is more important than a good mix. There are phase tricks that can be employed to reduce the amount of bleed you are going to get. Many threads on this topic.


Quote:
How loud do you guys usually mix?
I mix at low levels, and occasionally jump to very loud and very soft to check.

Quote:
I'm getting okay results, but i can't get the vocals to really feel like they belong. If its worth listening to, i made a soundcloud and put two short samples up. Maybe if you notice anything i definitely need to fix let me know? thanks guys.
It doesn't sound bad to me, or too disconnected. The first song, IMO, the vocals are mixed too loud for this style of music. I like the lead vocal to be the most prominent thing in the mix - but only JUST BARELY the most prominent thing. It's number one... but it wins by a nose. This often involves some fiddly automation of volume levels because there might be a line or two here and there that gets buried. So by automating, I can make sure every word of the vocal is heard, but not go much beyond that.

To get the vocals to "blend" more, one easy thing to try is to put the same reverb effect on the vocals as on the guitars and drums. So that everyone sounds like they are in the same space. Doesn't have to be a lot of reverb. But what reverbs you do have, some of the vocal reverbs should overlap the instrument reverbs.

The second song, the vocals seem more appropriate level wise, but could probably still come down to sit more 'within' the track. Or the track needs to come up. But don't just raise the tracks equally. You can get away with raising things like kick and bass and string pads more than you can get away with raising things like guitars, because guitars are in the same range as the vocals. That other stuff is well above or below the voice - so less conflict.

That's just my personal taste, mind you, others may disagree.

Last edited by joeq; 4 days ago at 07:09 AM..
Old 3 days ago
  #3
Gear Head
 

On Crawl Piece I hear that you are not in tune in music(especially last notes of phrases are completely out of tune). The problem is that: Or you was unabale to hear notes in music or you must practice more in singing. "New American Classic Piece" you sing way more better.
Old 2 days ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I question the validity of this statement. The knobs or sliders are continuously variable. That means a goldilocks setting is possible. If "6" is too high and "5" is to low, how about "5.5"? How about "5.5001". Doesn't there have to be some point where it transitions from too loud to too soft? I work with some singers who have a pretty narrow sweet spot, but never with one that had an infinitely narrow sweet spot.

Now in addition to fine tuning your levels, there are things you can do. Many singers like to take one earpiece off on the headphones or push them back slightly so they hear their actual voice in the air of the room somewhat.

some singers like a little compression and reverb on the voice as they sing. Reverb is 'after' the sound, but live compression really works better with hardware. If you are using a plug-in channel strip, you may be creating a latency that clashes with your acoustic perception of your voice as it reverberates in your skull. Sometimes reversing the polarity on the plug-in can help with this.

In any case the lowest-latency path you can set up for monitoring, the better. You may be able to lower your buffer settings and do other stuff to reduce latency.

Some interfaces have a "zero" latency monitoring function. It's not really "zero" but it does get things down. And some interfaces can even support plug-ins which would be faster than going in and out of the DAW.

Some singers like to avoid headphones altogether and prefer to sing into speakers. This obviously creates serious bleed problems at mixdown, but a good vocal take is more important than a good mix. There are phase tricks that can be employed to reduce the amount of bleed you are going to get. Many threads on this topic.



I mix at low levels, and occasionally jump to very loud and very soft to check.



It doesn't sound bad to me, or too disconnected. The first song, IMO, the vocals are mixed too loud for this style of music. I like the lead vocal to be the most prominent thing in the mix - but only JUST BARELY the most prominent thing. It's number one... but it wins by a nose. This often involves some fiddly automation of volume levels because there might be a line or two here and there that gets buried. So by automating, I can make sure every word of the vocal is heard, but not go much beyond that.

To get the vocals to "blend" more, one easy thing to try is to put the same reverb effect on the vocals as on the guitars and drums. So that everyone sounds like they are in the same space. Doesn't have to be a lot of reverb. But what reverbs you do have, some of the vocal reverbs should overlap the instrument reverbs.

The second song, the vocals seem more appropriate level wise, but could probably still come down to sit more 'within' the track. Or the track needs to come up. But don't just raise the tracks equally. You can get away with raising things like kick and bass and string pads more than you can get away with raising things like guitars, because guitars are in the same range as the vocals. That other stuff is well above or below the voice - so less conflict.

That's just my personal taste, mind you, others may disagree.

I didn't even realize i got any responses here lol.
So from what you're saying about monitoring levels, its just a matter of finding a comfortable listening level for the music, and then adding gain on your mic until its comfortable? I mean I figured thats what it is, but I don't know why I have such a hard time with it.

About the zero latency part, I'm running studio one with a persons fire studio, so I have zero latency turned on. If I turn it off i do hear latency. But when its engaged, none of my plugins function for a hot mic. I always figured it was supposed to do that in order to cut down on latency, but how do you record going in using software plugins then? I mean the only way I can find to do that is to turn off zero latency.

And after going back and listening to the files I uploaded, the vocals in Crawl are way too loud. The second clip was better, but it still seemed like it doesn't want to blend in. Is that just a function of it being my own voice? And like everything sounds weird with your own voice?

I'm currently working on a project now, trying to record 4 songs for my band. I mean I think its actually good stuff and musically its on a pretty good level. I think people will like it. I'm just having the worst time with it. I took a break from mixing for a while and I feel like I lost everything i did have.

I have this entire song tracked, but everything i do seems to make the mix worse. In the beginning there's just bass, double tracked more-clean-than-gritty guitars and EZ drummer. there's a melodic solo melody that goes over top of it, but I can't even get the rhythm section to sit right. Drums feel too loud, guitars don't feel punchy or defined. I mean i think they're pretty good tracks, good recordings, takes or whatever. I spend a lot more time tracking than mixing usually.
And don't even get me started on vocals. I recorded vocals with an AKG 214 and i think i hate it. I think its just wrong for my voice. I sound like an alien through it i feel like. Ill try to export a little piece of this original song to put up. Maybe it'll be more obvious to you.
Thanks for your advice.

Original Work Piece by Robert Pierce | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Its just 8 bars, but this is what I'm working with now. Gotta fix this balance before I move on to vocals.
Old 2 days ago
  #5
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by brodieskiddlz View Post
So from what you're saying about monitoring levels, its just a matter of finding a comfortable listening level for the music, and then adding gain on your mic until its comfortable? I mean I figured thats what it is, but I don't know why I have such a hard time with it.
there HAS to be a point where it is not yet "too loud", but is no longer "too soft". If such a point does not occur, then that's on you and you will have to train yourself to "listen harder" or "concentrate more" or "do two things at once" (sing and listen) It's do-able, because everybody else in the world does it.

Unless you are singing over karaoke tracks, don't forget you can adjust different elements of the mix to create a bed which is better to sing over, even though your final mix may be a different balance. Dialing in a good cue mix is a skill you can learn and since you have only one "client" to please, it shouldn't take that long.

Quote:
About the zero latency part, I'm running studio one with a persons fire studio, so I have zero latency turned on. If I turn it off i do hear latency. But when its engaged, none of my plugins function for a hot mic. I always figured it was supposed to do that in order to cut down on latency, but how do you record going in using software plugins then? I mean the only way I can find to do that is to turn off zero latency.
that's right. You can endure the latency or you can use hardware effects

back in the days of tape machines, there was no latency, and there were only hardware effects and many people still recorded raw because it was considered Best Practices. Having your recorded track be nothing but the raw mic leaves you with the widest possible palette of directions to go in when you mix. Committing to effects is risky unless you are already an experienced mixer. Unless you know what you are doing. Unless you know what you are going to want later on!

If you really want to record through plugins you can get one of the accelerated interfaces that can host the plug-ins inside the interface for the lowest possible latency. These will have their own cue-mixing app. The UAD stuff is one brand that has that, but there are others.

Quote:
And after going back and listening to the files I uploaded, the vocals in Crawl are way too loud. The second clip was better, but it still seemed like it doesn't want to blend in.
It's still on the loud side, lowering it would help it blend. As would some reverb. What control do you have over the rest of the mix? Can you for example raise the bass and kick and lower the guitars? Not saying that's what you must do, but something to try. If you are treating it like one karaoke track vs one vocal you will have these issues. When you start treating it like there are 16 tracks and the vocals are ONE of them, then you can start to do a better job of "blending"
Quote:
Is that just a function of it being my own voice? And like everything sounds weird with your own voice?
certainly you are the only person who hears your own voice rattling around in your skull. Everyone else hears it more or less like the microphone hears it. Like you hear them. Sure a different mic may be helpful, you should certainly TRY a number of different mics.

One more thing you might want to consider is that mixing is not for everybody.

Plenty of my clients track themselves, but when it comes to mixing, they bring it to a Specialist - me. A lot of people get this crazy idea in their heads that all these skills are fungible - but they are not. Musical skill does not automatically translate as audio skill. They expect to be good at all of it, which is nuts if you really examine the idea. You can be a great, funky drummer with incredible feel and timing, and still suck at singing, right? You might write beautiful melodies but need someone else to come up with decent lyrics. Happens all the time.

You can be a great great singer and suck at mixing.

In any case, developing any skill, even one you do have a 'natural talent' for, takes time. If you are in too much of a hurry, you will slight the skills that are more important to you now. Getting a good vocal down, from singing to mic selection, to setting a good cue mix, is the vital task that is directly in front of you now.

Mixing and mastering are two of the jobs most commonly 'farmed out' even by people who self-record. In any case, make your actual recording situation comfortable for yourself first - and make sure you have tracks worthy of mixing.
Old 2 days ago
  #6
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
there HAS to be a point where it is not yet "too loud", but is no longer "too soft". If such a point does not occur, then that's on you and you will have to train yourself to "listen harder" or "concentrate more" or "do two things at once" (sing and listen) It's do-able, because everybody else in the world does it.

Unless you are singing over karaoke tracks, don't forget you can adjust different elements of the mix to create a bed which is better to sing over, even though your final mix may be a different balance. Dialing in a good cue mix is a skill you can learn and since you have only one "client" to please, it shouldn't take that long.


that's right. You can endure the latency or you can use hardware effects

back in the days of tape machines, there was no latency, and there were only hardware effects and many people still recorded raw because it was considered Best Practices. Having your recorded track be nothing but the raw mic leaves you with the widest possible palette of directions to go in when you mix. Committing to effects is risky unless you are already an experienced mixer. Unless you know what you are doing. Unless you know what you are going to want later on!

If you really want to record through plugins you can get one of the accelerated interfaces that can host the plug-ins inside the interface for the lowest possible latency. These will have their own cue-mixing app. The UAD stuff is one brand that has that, but there are others.


It's still on the loud side, lowering it would help it blend. As would some reverb. What control do you have over the rest of the mix? Can you for example raise the bass and kick and lower the guitars? Not saying that's what you must do, but something to try. If you are treating it like one karaoke track vs one vocal you will have these issues. When you start treating it like there are 16 tracks and the vocals are ONE of them, then you can start to do a better job of "blending"

certainly you are the only person who hears your own voice rattling around in your skull. Everyone else hears it more or less like the microphone hears it. Like you hear them. Sure a different mic may be helpful, you should certainly TRY a number of different mics.

One more thing you might want to consider is that mixing is not for everybody.

Plenty of my clients track themselves, but when it comes to mixing, they bring it to a Specialist - me. A lot of people get this crazy idea in their heads that all these skills are fungible - but they are not. Musical skill does not automatically translate as audio skill. They expect to be good at all of it, which is nuts if you really examine the idea. You can be a great, funky drummer with incredible feel and timing, and still suck at singing, right? You might write beautiful melodies but need someone else to come up with decent lyrics. Happens all the time.

You can be a great great singer and suck at mixing.

In any case, developing any skill, even one you do have a 'natural talent' for, takes time. If you are in too much of a hurry, you will slight the skills that are more important to you now. Getting a good vocal down, from singing to mic selection, to setting a good cue mix, is the vital task that is directly in front of you now.

Mixing and mastering are two of the jobs most commonly 'farmed out' even by people who self-record. In any case, make your actual recording situation comfortable for yourself first - and make sure you have tracks worthy of mixing.
It’s pretty late and I was just about to head to bed, so I’ll reply more throroughlly another time, but just to clarify, I didn’t actually change anything in that original link I put up. I just added another file of a different song.
And I wanted to post now so I could say, I never really considered that last point you made. I may have my expectations a bit high. I recorded two songs in my life that I considered really well done, even though there were still problems that I noticed all throughout. Maybe I should be shifting my focus more onto recording great tracks to send to someone. I’ve never had anyone do any work for me so I literally have no reference point for price range here. Is it like kinda majorly expensive to have someone mix say 3 songs?
Old 2 days ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by brodieskiddlz View Post
It’s pretty late and I was just about to head to bed, so I’ll reply more throroughlly another time, but just to clarify, I didn’t actually change anything in that original link I put up. I just added another file of a different song.
And I wanted to post now so I could say, I never really considered that last point you made. I may have my expectations a bit high. I recorded two songs in my life that I considered really well done, even though there were still problems that I noticed all throughout. Maybe I should be shifting my focus more onto recording great tracks to send to someone. I’ve never had anyone do any work for me so I literally have no reference point for price range here. Is it like kinda majorly expensive to have someone mix say 3 songs?
A famous guy will be expensive, but many mixers are quite reasonable. But you will have to do some homework. You will have to find someone, you will have find out what their rates are, and most importantly you will have to listen to samples of their work and decide if you like it. You may have to go through several mixers until you find one you really feel comfortable with.

Like a barber, a mechanic or a plumber. There are good ones and bad ones, conscientious ones and rip-off artists and there people who are good... but not as good for foreign cars ... or not sas good for long hair.

In the 21st Century, the world is your marketplace. There are people who work online, but you may want a local guy - so you can sit in. Or even if you don't sit there the whole time, communicate better listening together.
Old 1 day ago
  #8
My solution is to not bother too much. If my vocals are a bit loud - don’t matter, I know my songs well enough to sing anyway. If they’re too quiet - don’t matter, just pop a finger in my ear.

This simple attitude let me relax, which is the most important when making music. I can just focus on trying to express what I want to express.

But maybe that’s just me
Old 1 day ago
  #9
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I'd add a couple of other vocal takes. one like a sibilance track where you ghost out the track and barely sing it and concentrate on sibilances. you'll probably have to suppress the existing sibilances in the first vocal. then do a thinner shouty aggressive edgy vocal. then you can start trying short muddy echos on the shouty vocal. you're basically shooting to build up the articulation while building out the mixing options.
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