#1
I'm fairly new to recording. I've messed around here and there before, but never really got into it. Recently, I purchased an interface (PreSonus Audiobox) and for what I need its pretty good.

Right now I'm recording some old acoustic songs that I wrote a couple years ago and never got a chance to record. I've been able to get some great sounding acoustic tones using an old condenser mic, a tiny bit of compression, and the ever slightest amount of EQ'ing (in other words, its basically just a natural acoustic sound).

However, when I record my vocals they always sound dry and really stand out in the mix (and not in a good way). I don't mean they are too loud, I mean they just don't sound good and its very noticeable. My mic choice is very limited - I have the old condenser that I use to record my acoustic guitar with (and this mic sounds good for vocals in a live scenario) and a couple cheap dynamic mics. I don't have the money to buy new mics for recording right now so I have to make due with what I have.

Any tricks to getting my vocals to sound better? Maybe turning the mic volume down and compensating by singing louder? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
#2
A clip of the soloed vocal track would help. It could be a lot of things, but those same things aren't necessarily the problem.

Also, telling us what mics you're using would help.

An old condensor mic isn't necessarily bad. I'm just waiting for someone to come in with:

"I'm using this really old mic. I'm pretty sure it's a condenser. It's made by RCA, and I imagine if they were any good, they'd probably still be making mics today."





Have you tried the dynamic mics?

Are you recording the acoustic guitar with the condenser mic in the same room as you're recording the vocals? Because if you are, then we can rule out the room (probably) as the culprit.

Is the condenser mic a small diaphragm? This would explain the good sound on the guitar, but not so good on vocals. Well, not the "not so good" but the "not the sound I was looking for."

What are your levels like going to the interface? What are your levels like in your software?

What plugins - if any - are you using on the vocals?

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#3
To solve the dryness: Add reverb later - Like, with a plugin.

And yeah, a sample would be nice, because I take it it's not only the dryness that bugs you.
Last edited by Yax at Apr 4, 2012,
#4
My vocal set up goes through kind of a lot to get to what it is, but I like it. I used to have a very similar problem -- it wasn't exactly too loud, it just didn't sound like it belonged there.

I use effect plugins in FL Studio, but the concepts should carry over.

Here's my signal chain, in this order:

Microphone
I actually use a rock band microphone, so there's no doubt some compensating to do...

Compressor
Set to a 0dB threshold with 14dB of gain
A compressor basically lessens the difference between quiet things and loud things. This will save headaches when it comes to the point of mixing the song so that all the vocals are loud and quiet enough in the spots where they need to be -- because what you want at the end is for the whole track to be just about the same volume.

The gain also adds a subtle bit of drive to the vocal track, which sounds like a terrible idea, but is actually present on almost every professional vocal recording you've ever heard because it mimics the sound of the PA you would be going through live.

Delay
I have this set to 71 ms and mixed very subtly in. This gives me a doubled sound as though I recorded the vocal line twice to thicken it a bit, only without having to actually be good enough to sing it EXACTLY the same way twice.

EQ
I turn it almost all the way down at 52Hz because my voice has a lot of low end that doesn't need to be in the mix, or else you have to make it too loud to make it intelligible. At 355Hz it's just below center, and at 12105Hz it's just above center. If your EQ has more, fewer, or different wavelengths, you can approximate and connect the dots as needed. Also, that's for my voice, so results may vary.

Reverb
This bit is important because I use a very similar reverb to what's on the guitar. If there's no reverb it sounds unnatural because the room you're in would provide it in person, but that doesn't really translate into the one spot of the room that your mic is in. Also, if your reverb is very different on the vocals than the guitar and it's not obviously on purpose for artistic effect (as in for a line of vocals or a specific section of the song), it could sound out of place because of that, as well.

"Amp"
There's not actually an amp. It goes straight into the track that's recording this way--hence the gain on the compressor earlier.

Then adjust the volume of the vocal track to suit.

Very rarely, I will double up with two kinds of reverb that are both very very subtle but combine to something natural sounding, but that's something that I usually only do if there's still an issue after all that and I'm trouble shooting (i.e. trying stupid shit to see if it works).


In an ideal world, you would record the guitar and the vocals simultaneously--as though you were just playing the song for someone--and then make adjustments to the vocal track, which will have some guitar bleeding in. That very little bit of bleeding of the guitar into the vocal track serves to kind of unify it at the end of all of this. Should still be fine if you can't do that, though.


If you take this as a template and adjust to suit your voice, you should be golden. Let me know if it helps!
Last edited by goblin_king14 at Apr 14, 2012,
#5
Quote by goblin_king14


Compressor
Set to a 0dB threshold with 14dB of gain
A compressor basically lessens the difference between quiet things and loud things. This will save headaches when it comes to the point of mixing the song so that all the vocals are loud and quiet enough in the spots where they need to be -- because what you want at the end is for the whole track to be just about the same volume.

The gain also adds a subtle bit of drive to the vocal track, which sounds like a terrible idea, but is actually present on almost every professional vocal recording you've ever heard because it mimics the sound of the PA you would be going through live.


If you set the threshold to 0 dB you are not actually compressing any thing. What you should do is take the threshold to -x dB and then look at the gain reduction, if there is gain reduction on every note that is too much and you are compressing too much as you are trying to reduce only the louder parts and not everthing, if there is no gain reduction you are not compressing any thing. You also forgot about the ratio which controls the dynamic range of what is being compressed. If the ratio is 1:1 you are not compressing any thing; if the ratio is inf:1 the signal will be compressed to the level of the threshold. For vocals you want to start will a ratio of 2:1 and you will have to use your ears and adujst it accordingly. Also you might want to consider using diffrent plugin for both the compressor and EQ as diffrent plugins will add a diffrent overall sound, this is what makes one plugin worth £50 and another worth £1000+ they both do the same job but produce a diffrent overall sound, same rule applies to analouge.


Quote by goblin_king14


"Amp"
There's not actually an amp. It goes straight into the track that's recording this way--hence the gain on the compressor earlier.

Then adjust the volume of the vocal track to suit.

Very rarely, I will double up with two kinds of reverb that are both very very subtle but combine to something natural sounding, but that's something that I usually only do if there's still an issue after all that and I'm trouble shooting (i.e. trying stupid shit to see if it works).


If you had adjusted your gain levels, before recording, so that you have the maximum amount of input signal without clipping you would not have to of used the makeup gain on the compressor, this rule only applies to digital recording. It is called makeup gain for a reason, when compressing it makes the output signal quieter, you adjust this to make it louder again, hence the name "makeup gain".

Quote by goblin_king14

In an ideal world, you would record the guitar and the vocals simultaneously--as though you were just playing the song for someone--and then make adjustments to the vocal track, which will have some guitar bleeding in. That very little bit of bleeding of the guitar into the vocal track serves to kind of unify it at the end of all of this. Should still be fine if you can't do that, though.


Incorrect, "in an ideal world" you would want to record them separately to remove the bleed. When you are micing a drum kit in a studio you are trying to minimize the bleed on each mic, "in an ideal world" you would want to record each part of the drum kit separately. The more isolation the better; this rule applies to every instrument.
Last edited by GT2Z at Apr 15, 2012,
#6
Quote by GT2Z
If you set the threshold to 0 dB you are not actually compressing any thing. What you should do is take the threshold to -x dB and then look at the gain reduction, if there is gain reduction on every note that is too much and you are compressing too much as you are trying to reduce only the louder parts and not everthing, if there is no gain reduction you are not compressing any thing. You also forgot about the ratio which controls the dynamic range of what is being compressed. If the ratio is 1:1 you are not compressing any thing; if the ratio is inf:1 the signal will be compressed to the level of the threshold. For vocals you want to start will a ratio of 2:1 and you will have to use your ears and adujst it accordingly. Also you might want to consider using diffrent plugin for both the compressor and EQ as diffrent plugins will add a diffrent overall sound, this is what makes one plugin worth £50 and another worth £1000+ they both do the same job but produce a diffrent overall sound, same rule applies to analouge.


Yes.

Quote by GT2Z

If you had adjusted your gain levels, before recording, so that you have the maximum amount of input signal without clipping you would not have to of used the makeup gain on the compressor, this rule only applies to digital recording. It is called makeup gain for a reason, when compressing it makes the output signal quieter, you adjust this to make it louder again, hence the name "makeup gain".


No. You want to have the bulk of your signal no higher than about -12db. The occasional spike above that is fine, but to keep it up hot in the yellow just shy of clipping was wisdom that applied in the days of 16-bit recording, but in the last ten years, is no longer valid.

Makeup gain is there for a reason. The people who make compressors know that compressors reduce the amplitude of the wave, and thus, the user may require that to be made up, thus "make up gain." Even analogue compressors at the high end have gain controls.

Quote by GT2Z

Incorrect, "in an ideal world" you would want to record them separately to remove the bleed. When you are micing a drum kit in a studio you are trying to minimize the bleed on each mic, "in an ideal world" you would want to record each part of the drum kit separately. The more isolation the better; this rule applies to every instrument.


This depends on whose ideal world you live in. There are all sorts of good reasons for wanting to do what you are suggesting, but there are all sorts of equally compelling good reasons to record everything at once while the musicians play live.

Consider even something as simple as recording a drum set. (okay, not that simple, but nonetheless...)

You've got, say, eight mics on your kit. Does it always sound better when you gate each mic? No. Sometimes that bleed between the mics gives the kit a livelier feel, which is sometimes what you want. Sometimes too much gating and isolation makes things sound too processed and unnatural, which is often what you don't want.

Imagine a folk trio. You would listen to them in a room with their voices and instruments blending to create a total effect. Do you really want to isolate and treat each element clinically, or do you want something more organic? Obviously, this same logic/rationale could apply to a rock band as well.

I doubt that Steve Albini would have said that he wanted a clinical, each track perfectly isolated recording for the Nevermind album. OTOH, I doubt that Mutt Lange wanted anything less than clinical and perfect for the Hysteria album.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#7
Quote by axemanchris

I doubt that Steve Albini would have said that he wanted a clinical, each track perfectly isolated recording for the Nevermind album.

I believe you mean In Utero.

The Nevermind tracks were isolated pretty well. I heard Butch Vig show the multi tracks on youtube before. Also was Albini involved with Nevermind?
#8
Quote by FireHawk
I believe you mean In Utero.

The Nevermind tracks were isolated pretty well. I heard Butch Vig show the multi tracks on youtube before. Also was Albini involved with Nevermind?


Ah, yes... In Utero. Not Nevermind.

Thank you.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#9
Something ive never done is putting reverb or delay on the track itself. Always bus it out and put them on separate aux channels and mix it back into the mix from there, it can cause some problems with levels if your doing like... 48 tracks of audio, but for a few tracks you really shouldnt have to worry about any of the bigger problems.
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Gear?
Ibanez S570DXQM
Maxon OD 808 overdrive pedal
Boss NS-2
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Recording?
Too much to list.