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Common vocal recording/mixing mistakes?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by neptunian, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. neptunian

    neptunian Member

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    So in what way do amateur's vocal mixes differ from pro mixes, and what could they have done better?

    Alternatively, what mistakes have you come to avoid when recording and mixing vocals (cleans, growls, screams, etc.)?

    On a related note, I noticed an ironic tendency for home recorded vocal mixes to sound too hi-fi, up front, articulate, and karaoke-like whereas in pro mixes they just sit better despite (or because of) being "less real sounding" somehow. Haven't yet figured out what the deal is with that. Maybe this thread could shed some light on that too.
     
  2. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    Wow that's a big chapter man! Other guys here are far better than me at recording/mixing so they could elaborate but recording wise, I'd say have a good mic and a good mic pre (SM7b and GAP pre73 in my case - it works very well in most cases) and make sure to get as less natural verb as possible. Use windscreen, blankets, whatvever. The rest is the Holy Grail: a killer singer! If the vocal production is great (that's the singer's job but that's your job too as a producer), the result is fine. Hope that helps!
     
  3. Jormyn

    Jormyn Member

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    I have a ton of trouble with this. Mostly, I think it's that the pro guys (due to practice and knowledge) just have a better idea of what you can do to a vocal track to make it sit in the mix without killing the vocals. Frequency ranges where there's nothing but air, for instance, or spots that you can notch out of the guitars without losing any "meaningful" content.
     
  4. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    Also automation and good use of compressions are the key.
     
  5. waltz mastering

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    Sibilance is something that I see a lot.
    Common around 6-8K on male vocals. hate it.
    Easier to take care of in the mix.
     
  6. Pharaoh's Curse

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    99.9% of the vocal sound is the vocalist. A pro singer sounds good everywhere.
     
  7. Unearthlybrutal

    Unearthlybrutal Metalhead \m/

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    True.
    Choosing mic that sounds the best for the particular vocalist is where I start.
    Then EQ and compression.
     
  8. Ericlingus

    Ericlingus Prettiest Hair Around

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    do you guys use pop filters with your sm7b? Or just the pop screen that is built on it?
     
  9. Unearthlybrutal

    Unearthlybrutal Metalhead \m/

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    Also depends on the vocalist.
    If there is quiet parts (in metal???), I don't see the pop filter so necessary.
    I don't own sm7b, but usually I use pop filter when recording vocals.
     
  10. Ericlingus

    Ericlingus Prettiest Hair Around

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    I think it would be a good idea just to make sure the vocalist doesn't get too close to the mic.
     
  11. xFkx

    xFkx gain induction

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    I loathe the sound of cheap condenser mics and cheap converters, it takes way too much effort for them to sit nicely in the mix.
     
  12. szymon

    szymon Member

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    ^This.

    I've made a small sample to back that up:


    First one is done with a cheap condenser mic recorded through the usb interface.

    Second is recorded with a U87 into a pushed Neve preamp. She was singing better also, but you get the point here :)

    At first, it may seem like it lacks top end, but in the mix it sits very well with as little as comression and some eq to brighten this up (not too much though :p)

    Edit: Proper room treatment is also overlooked a lot. Especially with condenser mics, which tend to be more vulnerable to badly treated rooms. Reflections and room nodes creep up on you when compressing vocals, resulting with phasey and weak sound.
     
    #12 szymon, Oct 31, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2015
  13. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    I've never encountered a singer who did sound better pushed back 10-20ms. Singers rush; try slowing them down a bit.
     
  14. mephetic_exhumation

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    IMO, the one that's built in works well in most cases. But sometimes plosives will still pass through if someone is too close and has shitty technique . I'd put one in front just in case.
     
  15. Fox Mulder

    Fox Mulder The Truth Is Out There

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    Converters from the early 90s you mean? :loco:
     
  16. Kellii

    Kellii Member

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    For me the difference is Room sound. There is usually audible mud, standing waves and bad reflections, it always makes vocals sound karaoke-like. A good room to record vocals in is crucial for a professional sound.

    Tuning is also a dead give away. If the singer is nothing special and you don't pitch correct the vocals (or pitch correct badly/ too noticeably) it sounds like an amateur vocal mix.

    Unfortunately there are more vocalists who need pitch correction on their vocals than don't.
     
  17. neptunian

    neptunian Member

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    Is total lack of room (too much treatment) ever a problem? Or is that preferred?
     
  18. neptunian

    neptunian Member

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    :confused: Isn't the first sample (CAD) the one that lacks the top end? The second sample sounds like it already has plenty of top end to me.
     
    #18 neptunian, Oct 31, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2015
  19. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    Preferred 99.9% of the time.
     
  20. Winston Wolf

    Winston Wolf Member

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    Indeed.I don't think there are any THAT bad converters around these days to significantly affect anything.
     

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