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Help with vocal mixing/recording Dynamic Microphones
Old 19th December 2010
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
Bilic's Avatar
 

Help with vocal mixing/recording

Heres a clip of one of my acoustic songs, im really happy with the sound of the guitar..but when the vocals kick in it doesnt have that big sound in my opinon, doesnt sound professional.. still sounds kind of boxy or something.

you must turn this up loud becuase i recorded it at very low levels

Any tips?

gear used : PRo tools 8
Digi rack 003+
Great River MP-2NV
AKG C414
Shure sm57
Attached Files

awfd.mp3 (1.29 MB, 143 views)

Old 19th December 2010
  #2
Gear Head
 

I'm hearing big time phase problems on the acoustic guitar, I'm thinking you used stereo mic'ing on this? I would highly suggest to just use a single mic pointed at the fretboard right next to the sound hole, and double track that, panning each hard left and right. The tone itself of the guitar sounds good, and I think the vocals sound great.

If you really don't want to double track it or can't, I would zoom in really far on the guitar tracks and nudge one of them so that the peaks line up, or try phase inverting one of the tracks and then this. If that doesn't work, it might be better to use a doubler on the track that sounds best and ditch the other one.
Old 20th December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

not sure about the delay (or very short reverb, whatever it is) on the vocals.

It sounds fine a lot of the time, but sounds super-prominent on particular lines or phrases - it suddenly pops out.

Several solutions to this. One is ride the levels of it. Another is turn it down (not advisable, as it sounds OK most of the time). Another might be to put a compressor on it side-chained to the vocal so that the louder the vocal is, the more the delay (or reverb) is compressed.

What do you want the vocal to sound like? I mean, the vocal is a kind of "it's been a long night, I'm lying in a heap on the floor" kind of vocal. In my opinion, it shouldn't sound "big". If it sounded "big", it'd sound weird.

I mean, you could double-track it. You could put a warm-sounding compressor on it, set at a very low threshold, and compress the hell out of it so we hear every blink of the singer's eyelashes. You could try that. I'm not sure it'd necessarily improve the song.

FWIW, it does not sound boxy at the moment, in my humble opinion - it sounds like an accurate recording. An accurate recording is a professional one. If that's not enough, change the arrangement or re-record.
Old 20th December 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
Bilic's Avatar
 

Thanks guys.

I did use stereo mic'ing on this track, I think i just left them in the center though, instead of panning them left and right, i cant remember it was very late when i recorded this, i will check tomorrow.. could that be why there is phasing?
Also on my 2 channel preamp, would pushing in the "polarity" button stop the phasing? or how do you phase invert a track?
I don't know why but i seem to get better results when i record in stereo.

I'm a noob at this, so sorry for these questions..

What is "riding the levels out"? and what do you mean by putting a compressor on it "side-chained" to the vocal?

I only have one compressor plug in, its the one that came with pro tools... should I get others? what are some good warm compressors out there?

and lastly here is the sound I'm going for YouTube - Brand New - Soco Amaretto Lime

Thank you
Old 20th December 2010
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

the vocals sound muddy to me.. not warm.. as for warm compressors.. softube makes some good stuff.. and if you can afford it.. i really recommend the Waves V-series compressor on vocals.

The guitar sounds a little. uh tinny? I don't know if that is the right word but it sounds like a cheap guitar that doesn't resonate very well.. try adding some reverb here and there to liven up the track.
Old 20th December 2010
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Bilic's Avatar
 

Okay thanks, do you mean just add reverb to the entire track? or do you mean only at specific parts?

Its definitely not a cheap guitar though, brand new Taylor, must be the way i eq'd it or something.. i know the vocals don't sound warm at the moment and that's my main problem, so i will look into getting waves v series.
Old 20th December 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 

One thing I'm really bad at is hearing when things are muddy or not. My own mixes are invariably quite muddy - I have to constantly check against pro recordings cos I always think things sound fine, when they're a total mudbath. I thought your mix sounded pretty good from a general EQ point of view, but if other people are hearing mud, they're probably right. Double-check your mix against a male-voice+acoustic-guitar mix you really like.

Riding the levels just means that a sound engineer is manually, physically bringing the faders down on a mixing console on loud notes, bringing them back up afterwards etc etc.

I guess "riding levels" is a confusing term to use these days of DAWs: the DAW equivalent is Automation. There are a couple of moments in your vocals where I could really hear the delay on them, even though it's pretty much unnoticeable for the rest of it. That might not bother you, you might be happy with that. If it bugs you though, one way to fix it is use Automation to "record" turning your Delay down at those points. (Just like using a Macro in MS Office software.) If it's only one point in the song, that's probably what I'd do.

Side-chaining is when you use one instrument as a kind of "prompt", or determining factor, for an effect on something else. It's often used with Compressors. If your Delay is on a Bus, you can add a Compression plug-in. You can then send the vocal to the Compressor's Side-Chaining feature (there'll be a drop-down menu or something in your DAW's compressor). This means the vocal is now governing the amount of compression the Delay Bus receives. Experiment with Threshold in the compressor and you end up with a situation that the louder the vocal gets, the less Delay it receives.

There's a really good book called Mixing Audio, by Roey Izhaki, which explains all this **** much better than I can. Make it top of your xmas list.
Old 20th December 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
 

By the way, does ProTools really only have one compressor?! I use cheap old Logic Express, and that has 4 or 5.

Using compression with a very low threshold on a vocal - so all the vocals get compressed, not just the loud parts - can make a vocal sound more "professional". Equally it can squeeze character out of the voice, or make it sound too processed.

Anway, whatever you do I wouldn't bother getting Waves, or any more plug-ins, until you feel confident using what you already have.
Old 20th December 2010
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
Bilic's Avatar
 

I fooled around with some things, so heres an updated version.. tell me if its better or worse.. i havnt fixed the phase problem on the guitar yet.
Attached Files

anotherword.mp3 (1.29 MB, 187 views)

Old 20th December 2010
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilic View Post
I fooled around with some things, so heres an updated version.. tell me if its better or worse.. i havnt fixed the phase problem on the guitar yet.
this sounds a little better. send me the sound files so i can mix it a little to show you what i mean.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilic View Post
Okay thanks, do you mean just add reverb to the entire track? or do you mean only at specific parts?

Its definitely not a cheap guitar though, brand new Taylor, must be the way i eq'd it or something.. i know the vocals don't sound warm at the moment and that's my main problem, so i will look into getting waves v series.
I figured it wasnt cheaped when i saw you were using a 414. Maybe try taking all the eq off. Which mics did you use to stereo mic?
I'd add light reverb on the guitar and vox.
Old 20th December 2010
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by binarymilton View Post
One thing I'm really bad at is hearing when things are muddy or not. My own mixes are invariably quite muddy - I have to constantly check against pro recordings cos I always think things sound fine, when they're a total mudbath. I thought your mix sounded pretty good from a general EQ point of view, but if other people are hearing mud, they're probably right. Double-check your mix against a male-voice+acoustic-guitar mix you really like.
Hmm.. maybe its your listening/mixing room?? have you acoustically treated it? what monitors do you use?
Old 20th December 2010
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
Bilic's Avatar
 

here is a download link to a .zip file of the two tracks unedited Tracks.zip
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