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#1 2013-01-26 23:44:59

gilad
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Question about vocal recording.

Ok,
So I have recorded numerous songs at my home studio. They sound excellent in my headset. Right on..
Problem is when I listen through my computer speakers, or in my car it sounds off pitch which is weird....

Anyone familiar with this issue and what is causing it? Frequencies?? Would really like to know. :)

Thanks
Gilad

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2013-01-26 23:44:59

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#2 2013-01-26 23:51:04

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

The problem is the headset.

Listenning too close to the source cause a distortion in pitch perception that you will have to compensate first.

The result on the car and the computer speakers is probably telling the truth.

Try to record and listen right away and compensate for it, see how it feels.

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#3 2013-01-26 23:57:40

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

FelipeCarvalho wrote:

The problem is the headset.

Listenning too close to the source cause a distortion in pitch perception that you will have to compensate first.

The result on the car and the computer speakers is probably telling the truth.

Try to record and listen right away and compensate for it, see how it feels.

Thanks for the reply Felipe.

That is a bit confusing. The headset are professional Studio head sets. The song sounds really clear through them. No distortion..

For an example. Listen to this with a headset, and then without. You will hear what I am talking about.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFMTnOVwaIY

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#4 2013-01-27 00:43:09

ronws
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

What Felipe is talking about is what I have learned to call the near-field effect of headphones.

In most pro studios, the mix is not done through headphones but through near-field monitors. These are mid-sized speakers with a wide response. And the pros will mix down to something portable and take to various players, like a portable cd player, a house stereo, a car stereo, and make notes and go back and adjust.

Gone are the days of mixing to tape to play in tape players. Test your mix as an mp3 that can jack into the car. Or an ipod base station. That is how most people are listening to music, these days.

I have noticed a distinct difference between the sound qualities of what I have recorded as played back in Audacity and how it sounds as an mp3 playing in my ipod, even though I have some decent ear buds for that.

For example, the mix for my cover of "Jesus Just Left Chicago" sounds fine in the headphones I use on the computer. And is way to trebly and tinny on the ipod.

Headphones, because of the proximity to the ear, offer a more bassy sound. So, I when I am recording vocals against a previous track, I take the left can off, pan the backing hard right and make it a little treble, to keep from pulling my voice down.

Last edited by ronws (2013-01-27 00:44:22)


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#5 2013-01-27 07:45:45

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

I see.
So at the end would EQing fix this to sound well on speakers as well?

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#6 2013-01-27 14:00:03

ronws
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

gilad wrote:

I see.
So at the end would EQing fix this to sound well on speakers as well?

In so many simple words, as I understand it, yes. I was reading a book on recording and they were talking about singing with playback monitor in headphones, whether both cans or one.

Basically, your mind is doing what you ask it do, which is to sing in key with what you are hearing. Let me repeat: to sing in key with what you are hearing. Ergo, if what you are hearing is off or is pulling you in one direction or another of eq, your voice will follow. A number of singers when recording with playback in headphones prefer a dry sound to the voice. Not too much eq adjustment or reverb or echo.

And some singers can't do headphones. They prefer a monitor placed in the dead zone behind the mic, sometimes referred to as acoustic monitoring. Another solution I have seen a video for, and our own Adolph Namlik built his own, is mic and playback controls at the mic stand. Where you can control volume, bass to treble eq, and with or without wet reverb.

But I have learned about recording is that mixing things is not about an equal volume level for all parts. That ends up sounding like a muddy mess. The trick to a good mix is different things in prominence at different times, also depending on the genre. In a hip-hop or dance song, the drums and bass are king. vocals and guitar parts are faded in when they are used and faded out when not used. For example, backing vocals on such a song will always sound like they are behind the bass and drums.

On a rock song, bass and guitar, except for the vocal parts, then the guitar is faded back and the singer actually sings to the bass. (Because all harmony is in relation to the bass guitar sounds.)

But it's not always about the eq settings. Sometimes, how you compress a track does all that is necessary. Mixing a song is like cooking a stew. It pays to be more subtle. Otherwise, you keep adding spices and then you cannot eat the stew but instead, can use it to strip chrome off of a bumper.

Other times, the natural eq of the voice is fine and rather than high compress, one might reduce volume and then add a little echo. For that will give a little more prominence to the high tones in the voice.

And the only way to make a good mix is by ear. And, to do that, you have to hear the recording in players you expect to use.

So, yeah, mix with the computer speakers in mind, if that is how you expect to have the music heard.

And it depends on how pro you want to go. A song that is released from a professional record label has a world class producer like Mutt Lange or Bob Rock. And the recording has been well seasoned by the recording guy and producer. And then has gone through the hands of a mastering process, where additional compression and volume boost and yes, autotune, are used to bring everything to perfection and a volume level that ensures that the music will play well, especially on cd, in any environment.

If you expect to finish the product on cd, then you need to export to and burn a test cd and play it on a cd player. And make adjustments on that. And it helps to have a finished product for a model. What they call a sound sample. Let's say that you like the production values of Mutt Lange. Then you should have a copy of Hysteria by Def Leppard. Fuzzy bass, wet, echoy drums with double bass kick, layered and compressed vocals. Kind of a whiny, boxed in sound to the guitars.

Other times, have the wisdom to record mostly dry. Mutt Lange was also the producer for the breakout album "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC. Different sound values on that album. Less echo and reverb on vocals and guitar. This is what gives it that in-your-face-and-up-front feel and immediacy. More echo, farther away from you, less echo, closer to you. From the very first crunch of the guitar, Angus is standing right on top of your skull.

Alas, being a producer is like being an artist. Or like how Guitargeorge describes his recording process. It is never actually finished. You just get to a point where any more changes are not improving anything.

Same with reviewing a mix. That's why mixing takes so long. It's not the actual adjustments of sound values and punching tracks in and out. Those are clicks and drags. What takes time is "stepping away from the stew." Do something that gets your head completely out of it. Then go back and listen and what was not apparent before is now an ugly thumb sticking up and needs to be fixed. Until you reach the point that no matter how many potty breaks you take, you are not hearing anything different. Then, it is done.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#7 2013-01-27 15:58:20

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

gilad was it you who did the mix?

The pitch correction is not well programmed... On a few notes its going haphazard, and its too exagerated in my opinion...

I dont hear the pitch problems you describe, I do hear a very common problem of "not sound right" that is due to a consistency issue with the vowels, and that yes, its a sensation similar to being off pitch, actually being off pitch is not as strong as it is.

If you want send the raws my way via email, I will see what I can do.

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#8 2013-01-27 16:41:26

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Ronws:  Thank you so much for this amazing reply. You rock ;) It makes things much more clearer now.

Felipe: Thanks. No, I didnt do the mix.
When you say consistency issue with the vowels, can you give me a slight broader explanation please? :)

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#9 2013-01-27 18:46:04

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Too much difference from one vowel to the other causing a break on the quality and causing small problems like slight scoops.

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#10 2013-01-27 19:48:18

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

That chinese to me ;)

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#11 2013-01-27 22:41:23

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Dunno how to make it more clear. From one vowel to the other, there is too much movement of the vocal tract, making the change between each vowels too big, the result to the listenner is the same as an unintentional break of registration. There is a sudden shift on the perceived qualities of the voice, as if you were singing one vowel in one way, the other in some other way.

Which in its turn requires the larynx to tense up to remain stable, making the problem worse and causes the scoops, meanning that the attack of notes start to come from bellow the pitch and then you rise to the correct point. This small gliss causes a sensation of "pitchness" regardless of ending on the right pitch half of a second later.

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#12 2013-01-27 23:20:18

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Aha... That makes it much more clearer.

So, how do I get rid of the gliss habit?... Any suggestions?

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#13 2013-01-27 23:30:26

ronws
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Gilad, what helped me with scoops is thinking about onset of the note. Especially, what vowel you are forming. I know others might disagree with me but "uh" is a low tongue for me. And if I approach the onset of a note from that, I will scoop, or ramp up to the note from below. That is what scooping is. A slight ramp up from below. Sometimes, it's fine for artistic effect. Just like the opposite, note crash, is sometimes used for artistic effect, like what Bob Seger does in "Turn the Page."

So, if you find yourself ramping up to the note (scooping,) then onset the note from a different vowel, like ee. And it doesn't have to be audible. Simply form the ee vowel without sound. Then, as the note begins, shift easily to the actual vowel of the word. When I would sing the word "Love" I would do the uh sound like how we speak it, with a low tongue. By thinking oo, I didn't drop the tongue and it kept it from bottoming out, like I used to do. In so many words, from my redneck perspective, vowels are linked to formants. Essentially, let the back of the tongue center on a vowel, even if you use other articulation to achieve the actual word.

Something else I notice by accident. How much compressor is used. I don't have an in-line compressor. Any compression I use is in Audacity and it is applied to the entire track of which ever track is selected. Anyway, part of the compressor's job is to elevate the volume of soft volume noises. And it can do that to onsets, too. I played with compression on one song and the effect sounded like I was scooping when I was not. Essentially, the ramp of the folds approaching adduction was being amplified, creating a scoop that did not exist acoustically. Plus, I subjected it to a bottom heavy eq pre-set (Columbia, I think). So, watch out for that, too.

Some of my best recordings that many others have liked had the least amount of processing on them. No echo or reverb. No eq adjustment. No more than 1.5 to 1 or 2 to 1 compressor and a high threshold, with db gain after compression. About as close as you can get to the actual acoustic experience of being here in the room. Because my voice already has plenty of ring and carrying power to it.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#14 2013-01-28 07:02:26

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Hmm.. You know what. I did record it with the following:
1) Reverb
2) Slight delay
3) Compression
4) Noise Gate

This really might be the cause. Should I just record it raw?

BTW, once I recorded it, I removed all these effects although noise gate did its job and cant be undone, but I sent to the mix only the raw recording.

Maybe I should just record it raw with noise gate?

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#15 2013-01-28 08:34:27

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

There is no problem in recording as such. The best you feel when recording, the better the results.

To counter the scooping, relaxing, soften the attacks of the consonants and anticipate the postures of the note, so that you dont bring ir to place on the attack.

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#16 2013-01-29 02:11:20

ronws
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Well, Gilad, I can answer only from personal experience. The less effects, the better. It's funny, I once sent a friend a link to my cover of "Rainbow in the Dark" and my cover of "I Don't Believe in Love."

"Rainbow in the Dark" was mixed by someone else with lots of effects and editing.

"I Don't Believe in Love" was mixed by me. I think the main thing I messed up was the eq. I should have left it alone but I put on a bottom-heavy pre-set to make up for the lack of baritone in my voice, since I felt the song really requires a baritone singer and am just not a baritone, though I had tried for a long time.

I will send you the links so that I don't de-rail your thread.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#17 2013-01-29 07:50:14

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Ronws, Thank you very much. You most definitely hear the difference. In "Rainbow in the dark", the vocals blend nicely with the music and in "I dont beleive in love" it sounds muffled. I need to do my self some tests.

Felipe, Can you please point to a word or phrase where you hear the scooping? I heard the song a couple times, yet I dont really hear sliding up to a note. Would love if you can point it out. It will help me pin point my problem.

Thanks! :)

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#18 2013-01-31 00:42:21

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

The two most problematic spots regarding scoop/pitch is on "for this chance" on the first verses, and on the first chorus, "I cant believe".

Whenever you have two vowels on an important note like the "I" on the chorus, unless you are doing a very wild interpretation planning, define the open one, always. And remember to time breathing and the attack of the note, you need that AH to come through and set the mood for the rest of the chorus.

In that note besides the scoop, the vowel is clearly out of place, thats why I believe its a matter of homogeneity/consistency. And because of it, some parts of the first verses sound more spoken rather than sang.

Scooping is not perceived or done as a glide to the note, unless its a very weird problem, the impression on the listenner is always "pitchy" as you describe, which simply can not be the case given the ammount of correction being used on the rest of the track, actually it sounds like autotune or similar set to auto, not a very good idea with this kind of material. And scooping usually a symptom of another issue, nobody does it on purpose.

Is the song yours? I think the ideas are very catchy and its a quite cool song. One thing that may help with the feel of the verses is to lower the overall dynamic a lot, bring it very soft on that lower area, should minimize effects of it and will make an awesome contrast when you go higher.

Last edited by FelipeCarvalho (2013-01-31 00:43:54)

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#19 2013-01-31 02:33:03

ronws
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

I think what Felipe is saying (and he can certainly correct me) is that in a word that has a dipthong or changing vowel sound, one of the vowel sounds should have prominence over the other. Same as with some two syllable words. In the case of a word, the first syllable is short and submissive and the second syllable is given the dominance or prominence. With a vowel that changes, the first part of the vowel should be dominant. For example, when singing "I" or "eye," the dipthong is actually ah changing to ee. For most people, the ah should be prominent, followed by a quick ee. Unless you are Dennis DeYoung, in which case, ever dipthong sets up a mailbox on ee.
:lol:


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#20 2013-01-31 11:08:45

gilad
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

Felipe: Thanks! Yes, its mine. When you say lower all the dynamics, you mean the instruments? To make it a more softer song? I was thinking of having quiet violins and right when I can't believe comes in the strings fill the void, give it a more cinematic feel.  Regarding the current mix, I don't know how much and what tuning was done to the vocals, but I am sure something was done. I don't like that auto-tune sound. ill make sure all my songs from now on don't have that effect.

Rons: Thanks for clearing it up. That makes a lot of sense.

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#21 2013-01-31 15:48:14

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Question about vocal recording.

gilad, oh yeah its a very bizarre use, but dont discard it, it can be much better and when we are trying to deliver a recording is not the same as sending material for feedback, use whatever you have at hand, these things dont make anyone sing well anyways, its just more practical and it will allow more freedom.

About the dynamics, I mean your voice! Lower the intensity, more gentle in there, no need to go airy, in a way, "sing less" in those areas, so that you have some margin to "sing more" on the chorus. I think the problem will almost disappear, as long the the tech guy dont mess with it ahahahah.

Makes sense?

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