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Author Topic: Nashville Vocals  (Read 27021 times)

New Orleans Steve

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Nashville Vocals
« on: March 20, 2005, 02:16:30 pm »



O.K. It has been a while since I listened to some modern Nashville stuff. Don't get me wrong; I love old style country and roots stuff. But current CMT format, I don't really keep current on that.
  Now, I have always felt that Nashville has given vocals and 'the song' more respect than any other format. And indeed it's always in front, present and every nuance audible. These are values I always strive for in almost all pop I record.

Well, I went to a family gathering in a cabin in the woods. I went up a day earlier with my sister and brother in law. He's a NASCAR kind of guy. He warned me, "They have satellite TV, but it only gets about 8 channels." Of course he put it on CMT (where it stayed all weekend). Within minutes, I noticed the Vocals. Dead On - This is the sound I often want and can never quite nail.

It wasn't just the first cut - It was EVERY cut. I am sure they were all different labels, recording formats, production teams, etc. Not only did they all sound 'Right', but they all sounded the SAME.

I tried to discern what was going on, like sonic signature, etc. They didn't sound like ANY mic pre, compressor or anything. They all sounded like the singer was just right there - Singing.

I don't feel this way with regards to other radio formats. With other music, I often (right or wrong) can speculate as to what gear and techinique was used. But this modern 'country', more properly CMT format leaves me scratching my head and blown away by the presence and 'quality'.

Again, I would not call the sound, full, present, open or anything just there and great.

Is there some secret weapon currently in vogue with this format?

Thanks for any input you may have,
Steve
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vernier

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2005, 08:40:02 pm »

Yeah ..they're using Autotune (and it sounds weird). To get a perspective of good sounding vocals ..play some Patsy Cline, George Jones, Tammy Wynette (and a hundred others from the 60's).
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Hallams

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2005, 09:05:25 pm »

I think it is the sound of what can be achieved in the box. I  find it very difficult to get that sound when mixing in analogue especially with busy material, but when i started pulling a vocal sound in the box with look ahead compression and good (?)  digital eq etc, i was able to get "that" sound. Personally i think it is  overdone. A bit like the digital photos of  those perfect in every way models that leaves you with the feeling that you are no longer looking at the real thing . One of my favorite vocal sounds is from a Stan Getz recording . You can hear her lips when she opens her mouth, and it is real.
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compasspnt

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2005, 10:03:00 pm »

Some (not all) of the Nashville guys just draw straight lines on EVERYTHING with Autotune.  And I know of one producer there who actually has artists sing THROUGH Autotune live, on automatic, during initial vocal tracking.  It is all definitely the box sound to the max.
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Tim Halligan

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2005, 08:00:19 am »

...and add the brutal brickwall limiting before the uplink, and voila!


Laughing

Cheers,
Tim
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New Orleans Steve

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2005, 09:04:00 am »

Auto Tune


O.K. Thanks for the response everybody!

This would certainly explain why I can't get this sound. I still go 'analogue style' with ADATS.

Still. Always, Nashville vocals rule. Even pre auto-tune. I have mastered several classic vocal styles, but that particular one has eluded me.

I know conventional wisdom says, 'listen to every voice' when picking the vocal chain. But for me it has been more about the song. That is, picking the vocal chain that will work best for the song or tracking situation at hand. Again, for me this is the case 90% of the time. The other 10% is for what I would call problem cases - Usually sibilance. And there a ribbon is usually the answer.

When in OD mode I rarely can best my Manley Gold ref. into a Demeter. The exception is when I chouse to use a dynamic or singers that have there own natural Sssss, rather than sibilance induced or very much excited by electronics.

More techniques are always welcome....Anyone.

Steve
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2005, 10:24:23 am »

Not just a little of it is the singers themselves. Remember that they are getting signed for their convincing voices and good looks rather than for their songwriting ability which is more the case today in other genres. I just about keeled over when I heard Lynn Anderson singing through an SM58 in a bar last year!

thedoc

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2005, 10:44:35 am »

I have often wondered if a lot of volume graphing was being used to make the singer sound "Closer" without compression artifacts...?
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2005, 11:26:29 am »

So now we call gain riding "volume graphing!"

Smile

Older engineers rode gain a lot during the live recording. It was not uncommon for me to cover a 10dB range with some of the Motown artists.

Barry Hufker

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2005, 11:46:59 am »

I am sure as Bob and others would admit, there's a big difference between riding a fader (or even volume graphing) and using a device to create a career.

In the past tho' as in the present, many careers were manufactured.  Think of some of the singers of the 50s, think of second-rate English and American groups in the 60s, think of Milli-vanilli (is that how you even spell that? -- and who cares??).  Think of... well you name who you want.

Some singers, and to my mind Roy Orbison is one of them -- who not only wasn't a good singer in voice quality, but very often had severe pitch problems -- have had lasting careers.  Rock and Roll (and probably many other types of music) has never required good singing, just a distinctive voice.  But technology now allows us to make a singer "better."

There was a recent segment on one of the gossip shows (like Access Hollywood). They took the person Simon Cowell (of American Idol) called "the worst singer in America" and brought her into a recording studio.  By the time the producer was finished with her catterwalling,she sounded as good as a lot of people who are selling a lot of discs.

I think the trend in our profession is no different than it is in many professions -- we do something because we can whether we ought to or not.

Barry
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2005, 11:51:53 am »

In the past many careers were EXPANDED from success as an actor or broadcast personality but that's quite different from being manufactured.

thedoc

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2005, 01:08:22 pm »

criminy...so what did I start with that?

for me Volume graphing is the same as riding a fader...just an off line way to do it.  I do both.  I promise not to turn chicken shiit into chicken salad...!
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Doc

drumsound

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2005, 01:16:11 pm »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Mon, 21 March 2005 10:26

So now we call gain riding "volume graphing!"

Smile

Older engineers rode gain a lot during the live recording. It was not uncommon for me to cover a 10dB range with some of the Motown artists.


Bob,

Were those singers that consistent that you could learn how they were going to sing after a pass or two?  The few times I've been brave enough the singer "goes for it" and I end either getting too hot because they belted, or too low because they decided to bring it down.  Of course if that was "the take" I left it and dealt later...
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New Orleans Steve

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2005, 02:09:42 pm »

???
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New Orleans Steve

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2005, 02:15:54 pm »

   I can get a big, bright open sound. It took me forever but it was just upping the annie on my vocal chain. But it always has a trace of ESssss (not always bad) and an intimacy that these cuts Do Not have. Once again what I am getting has a close sound. It took me forever to get there. These videos lack that - It just sounds like there are right there in the room without that 'Cozy with the mic' thing.

Thanks All
Steve
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