#1
Ok here's the deal. I have a Presonus Firepod and 2 Shure SM-57's.

Me and my guitarist (rhythm and lead, respectively) mic up our amps for the songs we record. For recording the solo, we put both mics to the soloing amp.

Our drummer has his own set up; he records, we mix it all together. Sounds good (we dont have a bassist, fyi).

However, when it comes time to record vocals (im the singer) I cant get them to sound right.
Not saying because of the way I sing, the singing is fine, but the recorded vocals are like they're real muddy and the volume is all over the place and it generally real messy.

I set up the mic stand and just sing right into the mic, my mouth maybe 2-3 inches away from the mic.

Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
#2
2-3 inches might be a bit too close depending on the mic. You could get some proximity effect if you're nor careful. (And even if you don't get proximity effect you should still apply a low cut since there's really nothing going on in the human voice below 100-200Hz unless you're singing the villain part in an opera.) First off, aim slightly to the side of the mic. This helps reduce plosives and "ess"-sounds. As for the varying volume that just sounds like bad microphone technique. You need to vary the distance to the mic depending on what kind of force you put behind your vocals. In the end though all lead vocals will have to be volume adjusted slightly with automation during mixing (these kind of changes can't be done well with a compressor).
#3
Thanks for the replies so far.

Quote by slash-120
Hmm maybe buy a condensor and a pop filter? Only other thing I can think of is If your recording using the two 57's if there pointing near each other they'll be out of phase and it sounds crap. Then you need to invert it ( don't ask me how)


What?

Quote by ebon00
2-3 inches might be a bit too close depending on the mic. You could get some proximity effect if you're nor careful. (And even if you don't get proximity effect you should still apply a low cut since there's really nothing going on in the human voice below 100-200Hz unless you're singing the villain part in an opera.) First off, aim slightly to the side of the mic. This helps reduce plosives and "ess"-sounds. As for the varying volume that just sounds like bad microphone technique. You need to vary the distance to the mic depending on what kind of force you put behind your vocals. In the end though all lead vocals will have to be volume adjusted slightly with automation during mixing (these kind of changes can't be done well with a compressor).


Im not really down with all the jargin, im still a novice, so could explain what proximity effect is?

Thanks in advance.
#4
i think the sound you want is the same sound i like. download the blockfish compresser vst plugin....

http://www.digitalfishphones.com/main.php?item=2&subItem=5

use the preset...."up close vocal". this compresses the vocal with significantly reduces volume differences and really pulls the vocal forward in the mix. you may then find you need to download the spitfish and floorfish also as they all work together to make it sound nice. but i think the most important piece of the puzzle is the preset on the compressor.

then add reverb, and some eq. works for me
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#5
If it sounds too muddy your not EQing right.

Sm57 is ok for recording vocals but not the best.

I would go with a condenser mic(for less mudiness) have a compressor/limiter/gate to even out your volumes.

EQ, bring some of the lows down, mids and highs just a bit up...

but if your not gonna go with the condenser, its all about eqing your sm57.
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#6
Quote by jumi1174
Ok here's the deal. I have a Presonus Firepod and 2 Shure SM-57's.

Me and my guitarist (rhythm and lead, respectively) mic up our amps for the songs we record. For recording the solo, we put both mics to the soloing amp.

Our drummer has his own set up; he records, we mix it all together. Sounds good (we dont have a bassist, fyi).

However, when it comes time to record vocals (im the singer) I cant get them to sound right.
Not saying because of the way I sing, the singing is fine, but the recorded vocals are like they're real muddy and the volume is all over the place and it generally real messy.

I set up the mic stand and just sing right into the mic, my mouth maybe 2-3 inches away from the mic.

Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.



When you do vocals, you should compress the crap out of them. The volume issue will be taken care of. Experiment with small amounts of reverb. Also, the muddiness is probably coming from the fact that you are using an sm57 for vocals. Thats not really what its made for. See if you can get your hands on a condenser mic. Ask the drummer if he's using condenser mic's as drum overheads, and if he is, use one for your vocals.
#7
Quote by jumi1174
TIm not really down with all the jargin, im still a novice, so could explain what proximity effect is?


In short it's an increase in bass frequencies because you're too close to the capsule of the microphone. Read more here.
#8
Quote by frank694
If it sounds too muddy your not EQing right.

Sm57 is ok for recording vocals but not the best.

I would go with a condenser mic(for less mudiness) have a compressor/limiter/gate to even out your volumes.

EQ, bring some of the lows down, mids and highs just a bit up...

but if your not gonna go with the condenser, its all about eqing your sm57.



You shouldn't really have to do any eq'ing on vocals. Mess around with mic placement. The higher up (i.e. around your nose) will be brighter and lower (i.e. throat) will be bassier. And try to get a condenser
#9
The only tips I have have really already been said. The '57 isn't the best for vocals, but it certainly does the job. Use a pop filter to reduce any plosives. This will have the added effect of making sure you don't end up too close to the mic.

Then, when mixing, just apply a nice compression. This should sort out the volume problems somewhat. As for the muddiness, you might be able to counteract this a little bit by setting up some kind of ghetto vocal booth, to reduce the reflections of the room.
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#10
Put up a quick click so we can hear exactly what you're talking about. The "muddy" frequency is usually around ~400Hz, use that as a starting point, not as a set frequency.
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#11
Sounds like the results of poor mic and vocal technique (which doesn't necessarily have to do with a person's ability to sing), as well as possibly poor eq'ing. However to properly diagnose I would need to hear some clips.
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#12
Wow, thanks for all the replies so far guys. I didnt think there would be this many. Ive been busy so thats why its taken me so long to update.

For everyone wanting an example of the vocals go my profile and look at the band Revolution Concept (we got a new name now, but UG wont let me change it...) (or go here - http://artists.ultimate-guitar.com/revcon/).

The only bad vocals like the ones im talking about is in "The End". That was the first sound we ever recorded, infact the drums on their are from a drum machine because that was before we were all set up. The vocals werent the best becasue 1) I was trying to yell them and 2) the problems in my original post.

The other songs came out good (dont criticize my singing ability to bad... I dont suck but im not Plant...) because (imo) I was singing low.

I dont have any other examples of the "bad" vocals because quite frankly I delete them when they suck. It seems the problem occurs when I try to get louder.

Also, could you experts give me some tips on good vocal technique and vocal recording and mic technique?

Thanks in advance.
#13
I really like the main riff in "the end" not a fan of the intro or soloing. soloing pisses me off in general. but that main riff could go somewhere. ( dont know why the song has so little of it)
#14
Quote by blackmajik2021
I really like the main riff in "the end" not a fan of the intro or soloing. soloing pisses me off in general. but that main riff could go somewhere. ( dont know why the song has so little of it)


You know, you really should ask the Beatles that...

Quote by jumi1174
The only bad vocals like the ones im talking about is in "The End". That was the first sound we ever recorded, infact the drums on their are from a drum machine because that was before we were all set up. The vocals werent the best becasue 1) I was trying to yell them and 2) the problems in my original post.


One of the first things you should do is tune the instruments before recording. Here today and She talks to angels are soooooooo horrible with that out-of-tune guitar. Even so, you're off pitch-wise here and there. Basically, your problems have little or nothing to do with poor recording, it's the fact that you're not good at singing (both "physical" technique and microphone technique). Practice makes slightly less awful, that's all I can say because I've been singing on and off for years and I'm still only passable at best, so tune your guitar properly and work through a bunch of songs that are in your register. That way you'll get better. But unless you hear the pitch problems with the guitar and the vocals in your recordings you might have to do some ear training first, otherwise you're partly wasting your time.

I know that's probably a little more harsh than you'd hoped for but it's better to start moving in the right direction as soon as possible so don't let this get you down.
#16
Quote by ebon00

One of the first things you should do is tune the instruments before recording. Here today and She talks to angels are soooooooo horrible with that out-of-tune guitar. Even so, you're off pitch-wise here and there. Basically, your problems have little or nothing to do with poor recording, it's the fact that you're not good at singing (both "physical" technique and microphone technique). Practice makes slightly less awful, that's all I can say because I've been singing on and off for years and I'm still only passable at best, so tune your guitar properly and work through a bunch of songs that are in your register. That way you'll get better. But unless you hear the pitch problems with the guitar and the vocals in your recordings you might have to do some ear training first, otherwise you're partly wasting your time.

I know that's probably a little more harsh than you'd hoped for but it's better to start moving in the right direction as soon as possible so don't let this get you down.


The guitar was in tune... It was an old acoustic my friend has and it had old ass strings and i liked the sound of it so thats why i recorded with that. Im 99.9% sure it wasnt out of tune.

Anyways, I know im no Plant or Mercury when it comes to vocals, and I know I need work on it, but I dont think im that horrible (Maybe I am...).

I honestly thought the guitar sounded good, like it had a cool little twangy, "beat-up" sound, if you will. If it is really is out of tune that bad, thanks for letting me know. But that's neither here nor there because the guitar can be fixed, the vocals take a lot more time. Im not trying to sound like the original singers in the covers we have.

Please tell me some good "physical" techniques and microphone techniques.

EDIT: Would an SM-58 be a good mic even though its not a condenser (it's a dynamic correct?)?
Last edited by jumi1174 at Feb 10, 2008,
#17
Quote by Say Ocean
When you do vocals, you should compress the crap out of them. The volume issue will be taken care of. Experiment with small amounts of reverb. Also, the muddiness is probably coming from the fact that you are using an sm57 for vocals. Thats not really what its made for. See if you can get your hands on a condenser mic. Ask the drummer if he's using condenser mic's as drum overheads, and if he is, use one for your vocals.


how could you tell someone to "compress the crap" out of every vocal they record? thats not correct at all, every singer is different and every recording requires a different creative take. Don't listen to this advice.

Also, the "muddiness" is not because of the sm57, i can assure you that. The sure sm 57 is know for doing the opposite and making things "pop out" of a mix because it boosts the high mids(to my ears its sounds like 5-10k) natrually.of any microphone, the 57 is the most versitile, and perfectly fine for vocals, go tell no-names mick jagger and phill collins "thats not what it's really made for"

your problem(this is asside from the obvious other things, i'm just gonna focus on vox right now) in these recordings is the vocal is too low in the mix, your mic technique is not very good, its sounds like you're off axis sometimes. and i doubt you did any sound-proofing/baffling. make a fort out of blankets to block of room sound and consequent comb filtering. most importantly,even after all this you will never get it to sound good without a REAL ENGINEER.

ps. an sm 57 is good for vocals, and the demo application you're using it for. but i might suggest a different mic would actually sound good on your vocals
#18
Quote by jumi1174
The guitar was in tune...


See, that's a problem. If you can't hear what's in tune you won't be able to tell if you're singing in tune. And that's always number one (even if some singers have made a career out of poor, out-of-tune vocals).

Quote by jumi1174
Please tell me some good "physical" techniques and microphone techniques.


Easier said than done. Teaching/learning to sing is a very hands-on process that doesn't translate well to the written word. In the initial stages it's best to just go camp-fire style and go through a ton of songs using an acoustic (making sure you stay within your range). Good singers are those that sing a lot, not necessarily those with good technique (although that sure helps). If you want to read something about technique you can start here.
#19
I wouldn't choose a 57 as my first choice vocal mic - ever. However, I wouldn't rule it out either. A good engineer/producer knows that different types of mics will complement different types of voices differently. Just because a Neumann U87 is an awesome mic, it doesn't mean it is the best mic for everyone's voice.

Hell... I recorded one singer who, no matter what mic I chose, always sounded strident and brittle. I even tried my large diaphragm dynamic mic (kick mic) that is built for bringing out lower frequencies. No luck. In the end, I wound up trying the mic I hate most for vocals - an SM58. I'll be damned, it was the best mic for her voice out of all of 'em.

About the condensors that the drummer is using for the kit. Careful there. They're probably small-diaphragm condensors if they are typical drum overheads. Again, to overgeneralize a bit, small diaphragm condensors are generally not that well-suited for vocals.

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#20
Thanks for the replies everyone.

To ebon00:
I never have taken ear training or what not, but I can tune my guitat by ear pretty close (not perfectly close like some people). Some tips for getting better at recognizing pitch?

Thanks in advance.
#21
There is a difference between hearing perfect pitch, and singing perfect pitch. They are pretty unrelated. Because what you hear when you sing, is completely different than what is recorded. Singing in perfect pitch is done by lots and lots and lots of practice. Sit there with a keyboard and do vocal scales, a lot.

And about mic technique. The more power you put behind your vocals, the more you should move your mouth away from the mic, unless you want a certain part to stand out a bit; but that can be done in mixing and mastering.