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Author Topic: Terry: About Vocal Production  (Read 22609 times)

Curve Dominant

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2005, 12:16:06 am »

compasspnt wrote on Thu, 10 February 2005 07:23

Eric Vincent wrote on Sun, 06 February 2005 13:29

About headphone mixes, and the general subject of how vocalists monitor their performance: I was wondering how you generally approach this aspect, and if there are certain things you find consistently work well (or cause problems)?


Man, do I hate headphones!  If there were any other way, I would do it in a flash.  I often sing myself, so I see it from both sides, the bad side and the bad side.  I hate the Sony headphones, they are so brittle.  The ones I have found that I like are the Fostex T-120 (I think that's the number, T-something.)


Terry,

I've been using Audio Technica ATH-M40 flat response headphones, both for myself and clients (mostly singers and guitarists). They're flat-response, and have a smooth easy sound to them that's not the least fatiguing IMHO.

RE: Reverb in cans...

Ya know, the nice thing about working with non-famous vocalists is, you can tell them something like, "I'm not putting reverb in your headphones, because you'll sing better without it," and they say, "Oh, OK!" Other than that, I really coddle them when it comes to getting a headphone mix they feel comfortable with.

........

***OK, another question!***

Do you often find the very best vocal takes, are the very first ones they sing?

This happens to me a lot: I casually say to the vocalist, "Just run through the song to warm up, no pressure or anything," not telling them I'm actually recording it. Later when I'm summing all the takes, I find 80% of the ones I use for the final vocal, were from that take!

RedRawSore

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2005, 01:48:17 pm »

Hey Bob,

I'm glad to hear that someone else undrstands the value of cutting the vox out of the mix in the cans.  I'm not coming from an enigeering perspective here, but from a singer who is wayyyyy  more comfortable not hearing his own voice.   When I hear it in playback, I try to "adjust" to make it sound the way I want to hear it in my head, whereas if I don't hre anything I just open my mouth and sing. . .sortof.  I still have some issues with redlight syndrome,  but it's worlds better without my own voice distracting me.

I've been wonering for a while if anyone else was better without themselves. . and now I know  Thanks

-Chris
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2005, 02:39:03 pm »

I always found REAL reverb in the cans to help. Lexicons and a number of other digital reverb units shift the pitches around and really throw singers off.

RMoore

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2005, 03:12:25 pm »

compasspnt wrote on Sun, 06 February 2005 15:52

Ryan Moore wrote on Sun, 06 February 2005 05:34


Hmm, not much different than anyone else? Smile
Can't say I've heard of too many ocean splash or bat vibe sessions...
Whatever it takes - classic!
I am <loving> all the info and anecdotes in this forum - thanks Terry!
RM




Hi Ryan,

I feel a little strange here...this idea was Bj
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compasspnt

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2005, 03:20:36 pm »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Thu, 10 February 2005 11:04

...To my surprise the pitch was best by far with both phones on and no vocal mike in the phones!...
I've never been able to talk anybody experienced into trying it but it's been great food for thought.

Hey Bob,

I tried this on myself overdubbing last night, and I guess I've done it one way so long, I couldn't seem to get the feel for it.  Maybe it takes some practice, or one should start out this way...
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2005, 12:29:29 am »

It makes sense that it would be a drastic change.

As I said, it completely took me by surprise and was the only method I had never seen done previously. The vocal coach had sung on Broadway during the early '60s and told us about never being able to hear himself on stage yet some recordings made from he audience had shown him to be perfectly in tune.

maxdimario

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2005, 05:35:42 am »

maybe I'm crazy, but I find that a bandwidth-limited sound in the headphones (cheap headphones with no high end) can help the singer sing more naturally. this doesn't apply to someone who specifically needs the full-range sound to feel at ease.

Sometimes a real hi-fi sound in the cans can exaggerate the already exaggerated high end of condenser mics (especially my u47) to the point that the singer backs off on the body and fundamental of the tone of the voice, and concentrates his/her vocal consciousness on the high frequency lip/nose sounds.
in other words the voice is not as full and more restrained if the singer hears themselves in hi-fi cans.

if you think about it the vocal recordings done in the days before cans and proper monitoring have a fuller voice overall.

in fact, I think that the evolution of monitor systems for both studio and live work, have spoiled singers.

the beatles, just like most of their rock peers, grew up singing at full voice for hours in clubs where the pa was probably less than 100w and was used only for the vocals.

cab callaway could sing over the orchestra with no mic if he needed to.

really makes you sing when you have to shout, be in tune, and not sound harsh and thin over a band without the help of a full monitor system.
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2005, 04:28:13 pm »

They also had to have their microphone technique almost perfect just to communicate with the audience. Prior to the mid '50s the PA often consisted of no more than a guitar amp with a mike plugged into it.

Etch-A-Sketch

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2005, 04:05:06 pm »

Quote:

 title=compasspnt wrote on Fri, 11 February 2005 19:23
The only pre I have found that does the vocal distortion I like is the API 512 (at least of the ones I have, or have tried).  I always said I would never  give away any 'trade secrets,' but anyway, if I want max voc overdrive, I will run the mic into the first API pre, then actually go line-out into mic-in of a second one, which sends it into orbit (be careful!), then do the overdriving slightly of each subsequent piece as mentioned before.



Terry,

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  You are a gentleman and a scholar!

I've used API 312s in the past for Vocals, Bass, and Drums but didn't really care for them on vocals.  So I never bothered to try any APIs on vocals since then.  I'll have to try and get my hands on some 512s and play around with them.  

Oh, and no worries about giving out trade secrets.  One thing I've noticed over the years about giving out trade secrets/signature sounds...just because someone knows what they are, doesn't mean they have the ears to know when and how to use them.  I think your secrets are still safe with you.  

Thanks again and take care,

-Derek
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Jason Phair

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2005, 07:42:07 pm »

The best vocal production lesson I've ever heard was from Bob Olhsson - breathe with the singer.  I do it live, and it's such a difference - while I love crushing vocals with compression in the studio, I like a very light touch live, and just use the fader and this idea to compensate.  A world of difference it makes.

Edited to spell Bob's name right Wink
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Get that fucking thing off my vocal will ya?

Thanks.

rush909

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2005, 09:14:08 am »

Hey Terry...  I have question regarding getting a Thick vocal sound...  the kind of sound that you can put up in the mix and it can support the entire record.    I have a pretty good chain a Tracy Korby KAT2 system with Elam251 capsule.. going into UA 6176 (610 pre & 1176 comp) into a Apogee Rosetta 800... While I get a good sonic sound from this setup...  I can't seem to get the kind of sound where it feels like the singer is right in the middle of speaker "talking to you" where you can reach out an touch them.   Not all recordings I hear seem to have that quality...  my recordings much like many still seem to be lacking some "pin point focus".    how do you achive that?  is my room too live?  is it that I'm not compressing enough to make my vocal recording thick enough thus sounding more present?  or is it some other trade secret Smile

BTW your comment about using multiple microphones for a single recording really opened my eyes to different possibilities...  

any suggestions are greatly appreciated...

r.  
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compasspnt

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2005, 05:30:05 pm »

rush909 wrote on Fri, 18 February 2005 09:14

...  I have question regarding getting a Thick vocal sound... I have a pretty good chain a Tracy Korby KAT2 system with Elam251 capsule.. going into UA 6176 ... While I get a good sonic sound from this setup...  I can't seem to get the kind of sound where it feels like the singer is right in the middle of the speaker "talking to you" where you can reach out an touch them.   Not all recordings I hear seem to have that quality...  my recordings much like many still seem to be lacking some "pin point focus".    how do you achieve that?  is my room too live?  is it that I'm not compressing enough to make my vocal recording thick enough thus sounding more present?  or is it some other trade secret...



Interesting question...

I think this quality absolutely emanates from the singer first and foremost.  There are obviously mics better suited to a particular vocalist than others, with a more usable proximity effect, as well as limiters better for the purpose at hand, and so on, but if the singer doesn't have that "pin-point focus," coupled with an immediacy in the delivery, it will be harder to achieve this.  First, I always try to narrow down the singer's mental outlook, to get them to explain what they are singing about.  This is not only so that I can help in getting that meaning translated "to tape" (as if, ha ha), but also so that the vocalist will thusly be examining the issues for themself at  that critical moment.

Technically, I haven't used the KAT2, so I can't comment on it in specifics.  But I certainly know Tracy and his proclivities for excellent microphone knowledge, so I imagine it is quite good.  Likewise, I have not used the new UA series.  I do know that I would not reach first for an 1176 as vocal limiter, however.  As mentioned in other posts, I always used to use the old tube/valve UA 176 compressor, which is quite a different animal than the 1176 type.  The method of achieving gain reduction is totally different in the two.  Today, I almost always use my custom Lucas Limiting Amplifier, which is tube, and loosly based on the 176 concept.  The gain reduction here occurs inside the tube itself (somewhat like the old Fairchild method also), so it is sonically different than other types.  The smoothness, I believe, allows for use of greater compression amounts, without degrading the sonics, or sounding over-compressed.  This can force the vocal out front a bit more.

Another factor is of course what else in the track is around the vocal.  George Martin used to say that he would carefully tailor the instrumentation in The Beatles' recordings so that there weren't too many instruments in any one frequency range; thus  the vocals didn't have to "fight" too much to be heard.  I think this is true.  In some cases, equalisation of the things in a mix OTHER than the vocal will affect its apparent immediacy as much, if not more, than equalisation of the vocal itself.

You mention the liveness of the room; of course I don't know how live your room is, but I do think that the room should not be terribly live.  I will "wall off" part of my room with soft-sided baffles around three sides of the singer, and put some tall ASC tubetraps (with the 30 ms reflective side facing towards the mic) within a few feet of the front of the vocal performance.  30 ms or less of relection or repeat is perceived by the human ear  as being part of the original performance, so this can just so slightly "beef up" the performance.  However, as seen in myriad photographs of said Beatles, as well as Sinatra, Dean Martin, and many others, many great vocals were done right in the middle of a large studio room, with no baffling, no pop screen, no headphones; just a U47 and a singer!  But these, I notice, almost always were in quite large rooms, with no walls close to the singer, so that there weren't any short-to-medium, early reflections.

I don't know if any of this is helpful; again, it's probably the same things most people are doing.  But I would reiterate that I believe it starts with the vocalist!

Thanks for the question!

Terry
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rush909

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2005, 05:58:03 pm »

wow! thanks for the quick repsonse...  thanks for the answer... I will take some of your ideas/suggestions and experiment and report back...  more than it looks like from your answer that I am missing some "industry strength" vocal limiting as well as vocal booth tuning to avoid reflects smearing the vocal sound..

thanks again!  

rachid.
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Adam Tal

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2005, 09:13:01 am »

Hi Terry!
I would really like to know -
when you record those great vocalists, how many  
takes does it usually take to get the "right one"?
Do you stack up lots of takes, and then spend hours choosing the best parts? or do you only keep 1-2 (or 3-4) takes that you think would be good?
Also - do you deal with a lot of bad takes (pitch\rhythm\other problems), or does the vocalist get it right from the first time, and just try to get better takes?

[first post here... Hi all...Smile]
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WhyKooper

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Re: Terry: About Vocal Production
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2005, 12:16:43 pm »

I've run into singers who do outstanding performances ..but only when singing to monitor speakers.  They can't nail it with headphones no matter what I try.  Which doesn't work most of the time because of the leakage.  Have you ever run into this?  How do you handle it?
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