Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Recording Lead Vocals- PDF available on request

Last response: in Home Audio
Share
Anonymous
February 13, 2005 2:26:18 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Producing Lead Vocals


There are many types of singing and various methods of recording vocals
from classical, crooning, rock etc. You will discover that you need to
develop personal styles and techniques of capturing and enhancing their
performance.

As a producer or engineer you need to know what is required of your
talents to effectively fulfill your role in capturing a good take and
sound.

Listening to various successful recordings will provide you with not
only a reference point but also with a framework to further enhance
your goals and objectives in capturing a solid quality performance.
Audition some CDs of vocalist's sounds that can be related to what
you require. On a reference monitoring system, this should give you a
starting point in where to go with equalization, processing, and
balance in a mix.

You will require a good quality microphone (condenser), a preamp (that
can amplify a very dynamic performance and maintain a quiet noise
floor), a versatile equalizer and a transparent compressor/limiter.

Because recording vocals is often a sensitive and emotional issue for
singers, it is a good idea to consistently give the singer positive
feedback of words of accomplishment and encouragement.


Microphones

For most vocalists a high quality large diaphragm condenser microphone
is often the choice. If you have access to a tube mic, even better. The
tube mic will sound warmer and if there is any distortion, it will be
less offensive to the ear. U-47, AT3035, C-12, M-49, C-4000B are often
found in better studios and work remarkably well. U-87, AKG 414 and
Rhode mics will be found in about every studio and often work quite
well. The U-87 will have an even frequency response, where the 414 will
accentuate the high end. If recording a rock vocalist try a Shure
SM-57. You will get an enhanced mid-range sound with no
distortion.Ribbon mics like the RCA models are very good but most have
a high noise floor.

When recording bed tracks, change the mic from song to song to get a
general idea of which mic sounds the best. Also when ready to record
final vocals, line up 3-4 mics and quickly have the vocalist go from
one to the other to see which mic is the most desirable. Remember to
check all the dynamic parts of the song; certain mics sound good in
verses but might be to thin sounding in the choruses.

Microphone placement

For a lead vocal place the mic around 3"-6" from the singer. A pop
filter may be required. In choosing a pop filter, make sure it stops a
lot of wind transmission (blow at the filter and place your hand on the
other side to check) and does not affect the frequency response too
much. (Place the pop filter between your ear and a speaker and move it
in and out of the way and listen for any sound degradation). Place the
pop filter as close to microphone as possible for vocalist's do not
like singing close to a pop filter. If the singer is too bassy from the
proximity effect, either change the pattern from cardiod to omni,
insert a high pass filter or simply have the singer stand a couple of
inches further back from the mic. Take note that when a vocalist is
moving back and forth from the mic in an area from 1"-3", the low
end will drastically change and become very hard to control. Make sure
the microphone is suspended in a cradle to remove or to prevent
unwanted rumble coming through the mic stand. Make sure the acoustics
of the room do not influence the desired vocal sound, which occurs when
the vocalist stands too far back from the microphone. If the room is
too live try to have the singer move in closer to the mic or dampen the
room with blankets or baffles usually close to the singer. If there is
a music stand involved for the singer to read lyrics make sure it is
dampened down and the stand doesn't ring sympathetically with the
vocal performance.

Creating The Right Environment

Before recording vocals, ask the singer what they need to feel
comfortable in the studio when recording. Remember singing is an
emotional and mental experience, so having the singer feeling relaxed
is very critical. Try to set up baffles covered in quilts and blankets
close to the vocalist, this makes the studio seem more comfortable and
helps reduce the room acoustics in the sound of the singer. Keep the
lighting tapered with a lamp or candles. You might need a small lamp to
place on the music stand so the lyrics will be seen easily. Have a
comfortable chair and table to place things on and a pitcher of water
and a glass for vocalist's throats dry up quickly. Make sure there
are pencils on the music stand for singers have a habit of changing
lyrics at the last minute. Also place them in an area of the studio
that they will be in a position to not have to look at the control room
all the time. Standing in the middle of a big studio with bright
lighting and people staring at you can be very intimidating for a
vocalist, so creating a very comfortable and relaxed environment is
very important.

Equalization

Male Vocalist:
High pass filter at 50hz
Low end 100hz-200hz
Low mids 400hz-800hz; med "Q"
Mid range 3khz-5khz
Top end 10khz and up

Female Vocalist:
High Pass filter at 80hz
Low end 200hz-300hz
Lo mids 400hz-800hz
Mid range 3khz-5khz
Top end 10khz and up

Limiting and Compression

A good vocalist will work with mic distance in relationship to
dynamics. During soft and loud passages they will intuitively move back
and forth from the mic. This will lower the effect of the dynamic
control function and maintain a high quality sound. However, when
starting out as an engineer or producer you will most likely not have
this luxury or feel intimidated to solicit advice to the vocalist. Even
with a good microphone and good mic preamp, recording vocalists can be
a major problem if various processing is inserted in the wrong
sequence. For example: if you insert a compressor or limiter with too
slow of an attack time what ends up happening is the dynamics of the
vocal performance expands. This is caused by too slow of an attack time
on your comp/limiter whereby the initial transient passes through the
comp/limiter unaffected and the remaining vocal dynamic is affected. If
inserting EQ that enhances the mid range or high end, before this type
of setting on the comp limiter it will exacerbate the problem even
further. You could also introduce sibilance problems into the sound. To
play it safe I would suggest this technique:

First limit the vocal with a quick attack and quick release time - this
will allow you to manage the transients of the vocal. This will make
the vocal more suitable for compression, if desired. Do not EQ the
vocal before limiting. Insert the EQ directly after limiting but before
compressing. With compression the limited vocal will allow you to use a
medium to slow attack time and medium to slow release time. This
affectively compresses the tonality or vowel sounds of the vocal, which
often require level management. A ratio of 2:1 to 4:1 should suffice.
An attack time between 25-100 ms and a release time of 200-500 ms, or
better yet use your ears to get the right attack and release settings.
Make sure the release time is slow enough to prevent pumping and
breathing yet fast enough to not affect the next part of the signal
that might not need to be compressed. When dynamically processing a
vocal try to have the vocal go back to unity gain as often as you can
for example: with a 4:1 ratio the meter should be moving from 0VU to
-4VU. If you see the meter moving from -8VU to -4VU you are
over-compressing and corrupting the quality of the vocal. Remember, the
more you dynamically process a signal, the thinner the sound will get.
Dynamic processing does not process evenly over the frequency range,
especially in low-priced compressor/limiters. EQ before compresssing.
For example if the vocal has too much low-end and is not EQed the
compression will be triggered by the low end which will only thin out
the sound leaving dynamic problems untouched. Also, if you are EQing
mid-range into the vocal the compression will factor in the EQ and
compress effectively.


Sibilance

Sibilance is a problem that can destroy the fidelity of a production
- a singer who's every S and T is accompanied by a burst of
high-frequency noise. This isn't anybody's fault, it's all down to how
an individual's mouth works, but it seems that the better the
microphone the more sibilance is captured. This is especially true of
some condenser mics, but unfortunately some people tend to equate a
very bright vocal sound as being more refined or better produced.
What's more, adding effects such as reverb or using heavy compression
can make sibilance noticeably worse.

As sibilance is a high-frequency problem, and equalizers are designed
to emphasize high-frequency detail, it's hardly surprising that using
an enhancer tends to exaggerate sibilance even more. The best place to
tackle this problem is back at the source, and if you have a mic that's
less susceptible to the offending frequencies, try this first. Don't
worry if it's not as bright as the original mic; you can use
equalization to help compensate for that. Be aware of high frequency
distortion that might sound similar to sibilance. The high frequency
distortion will most likely be coming from the mic or mic pre-amp.
Changing the position of the singer relative to the mic may help in
decreasing the sibilance, but in serious cases, you may need to resort
to using a de-esser.

If you need to de-ess, do it before you EQ and comp/limit. Any high end
equalization before the de-esser will make it work harder. Also focus
on the problem frequency range of the sibilance. If you notice a
"shzzz" sound, the problem area will be in the 3kHz-7kHz range. If
it sounds "ssss" it is in the 8kHz-12kHz range. Most de-essers have
a mode where you can listen to what is being removed from the signal
called a side-chain monitor. This will effectively let you target the
problem frequencies accurately and also indicate how much of the
sibilance you are removing. When de-essing try to avoid looking at the
reduction meter and use your ears. De-ess as much as necessary without
creating a lisp problem.

De-essing is "frequency select limiting". It uses very fast
attack and release times due to the short waves lengths common to
sibilance. Most DAWs have plug-ins that will de-ess but actual analog
multi-band compressors work best. You can vary the Q, the ratio, the
attack and release times and the amount of gain reduction. The Brook
Sirens unit in studio 2 is one of the best de-essers out there.

De-essing the reverb send from vocals will greatly reduce the
level and duration in the reverb. Remember that sibilance is just
noise; there is no musical component to it. In most natural reverb
settings you will rarely hear a sibilance problem in the decay of a
sound. By de-essing the sibilance the reverb will still produce high
frequency reverb content that might be desired when mixing especially
if there is a lot of EQ in the 12-15K range used for creating a breathy
intimate effect.

If you are adding mid-range and high-frequency to a vocal
always de-ess before you EQ. This will prevent the compressor from
creating more of a sibilance problem, keeping in mind that high
frequencies contribute a small amount to the overall lead vocal level.

For example: in a word like SPARK the S content will meter -20VU and
the PARK will meter 0VU. If I compress the signal without de-essing
before hand the S will remain at -20VU and the PARK will drop to -6VU.
What you have done is taken the original 20db difference between the S
and the PARK and now made it 14db effectively creating more of a
sibilance problem. If you were to EQ the high frequency range this will
exacerbate the problem even further. The trick is to get the PARK
sounding as compressed and EQed as you like and then with the de-esser
inserted before the compressor and the EQ, take away the amount of
sibilance you want.


Headphone Mix

It is very important that you take the time to provide an excellent
headphone monitor mix to the vocalist for singing. Most vocalists will
need to hear a clear band mix with sufficient harmonic and rhythm
content. If the vocalist is getting ahead or behind the beat you will
need to send more drums or instruments with a rhythmic component. If
the song when finished will have only a lead vocal and a solo
instrument for the intro and first verse, you might suggest to the
drummer to keep time by playing the hi-hat softly so it can be used to
keep everybody in time and then can be removed for the final mix. Note
that most singers do sing ahead of the beat.
If the vocalist's pitch is a problem then you might need to send more
harmonic instrumentation to the headphone mix. If there is not enough
there you might put down a synth pad guide track for the vocalist may
reference their pitch too and then not use it in the final mix. If the
vocalist has to come in before the downbeat insert a pitch reference a
couple of seconds before the song starts. This works especially well if
there are key changes in the song and you always have to back to the
beginning. This is also a good time to experiment with reverb settings;
compression, EQ and effects for singers love to hear an enhanced sound
in their headphones. If you find the singer projecting too much or
singing too softly then they are not hearing themselves properly in the
headphones and this will cause numerous technical and performance
problems. Try to set up to record at least 4 tracks so you can have 4
takes to choose from to make a master take.


Producing Backup Singers

Backup vocals are mainly used to provide harmonies to the lead
vocalist. To produce them properly you need to relate to them, how much
they need to express in volume and timbre for them to blend well with
the lead vocalist. There are many ways to record backup singers. One is
for them to split parts amongst themselves on the studio floor and
double track their performance. Often they will perform another
harmonic blend to contribute harmonically to the lead vocal which
usually occurs in the choruses. By doubling or tripling the backup
vocals it will allow you to mix them in at a level where the musical
component will stand out without them having to sound too present. Good
singers will sing without vibrato and will either close off their S's
or not sing them while performing, which keeps the performance sounding
clean. Often, lead singers make poor backup vocalists due to the fact
that they can't control their dynamics or sing without vibrato. It
is important to give them a headphone mix that focuses on the lead
vocalist, harmonic content and rhythm. Just supplying them with four or
five elements that are indicative of accurate pitch and rhythm will be
enough to enable them to sing well. If the lead singer is also doing
the backup vocals you will obviously need to use a lot of tracks
(Queen), the singer will have to focus on matching the phrasing on
their previous vocal tracks. When recording, it is advisable to use a
good quality condenser microphone in a cardioid pickup. If you have a
stereo condenser try it, for it will allow you to achieve a stereo
perspective and widen the pickup pattern. Try to avoid giving one mic
to one singer if using more than two backup singers. This will
deteriorate the effect of proper blending. Always give the singers at
least 2 bars before they start singing for pitch and time reference.
Make sure to clean up all the extraneous vocal sounds when you are
finished recording. If recording to more than one track set up all
additional tracks with the same processing and levels so you do not
have to continually set up tracks on the go, whereby you're slowing
down the recording process. Try to always set up more tracks than you
need. Bus assign to all tracks and make sure all signal routing is
clean. If the band recorded to an automated rhythm you will be allowed
to use one chorus for all the remaining of the choruses (Lose My
Breath). I myself like to have songs build in dynamics and prefer to
have the backup vocal performances a little more expressive towards the
end of the song. With compression, use a ratio of 3:1 - 4:1 for just
tightening up the dynamics. If you're using 3 or more tracks, try
bussing to one stereo set of tracks. This will allow you to bus
compress, EQ and process all the backup performances uniformly. With EQ
make sure that the backup vocal performance does not encroach in on the
lead vocal performance. There are exceptions to this rule due to the
nature of the production. In panning backup vocals try to place them on
equal sides of the centre image (9 o'clock and 3 o'clock). Panning
them hard left and hard right tends to draw too much focus to their
performance. In mixing try grouping all your tracks to one channel
input for one master send for all performances. Remember this channel
is to serve just as a master send so all backup vocal tracks get the
same amount of processing. Remember to take the master send track's
main signal out of the 2 mix. When mixing in your backup vocal tracks
to the final mix keep in mind their priority of their importance to the
song.
Anonymous
February 13, 2005 4:42:18 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

>>>If you have access to a tube mic, even better. The
tube mic will sound warmer...

Yeah, warm and punchy...

--
Steven Sena
XS Sound Recording
www.xssound.com

"kevindoylemusic" <kevindoylemusic@rogers.com> wrote in message
news:1108322778.228869.114950@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com...
> Producing Lead Vocals
>
>
> There are many types of singing and various methods of recording vocals
> from classical, crooning, rock etc. You will discover that you need to
> develop personal styles and techniques of capturing and enhancing their
> performance.
>
> As a producer or engineer you need to know what is required of your
> talents to effectively fulfill your role in capturing a good take and
> sound.
>
> Listening to various successful recordings will provide you with not
> only a reference point but also with a framework to further enhance
> your goals and objectives in capturing a solid quality performance.
> Audition some CDs of vocalist's sounds that can be related to what
> you require. On a reference monitoring system, this should give you a
> starting point in where to go with equalization, processing, and
> balance in a mix.
>
> You will require a good quality microphone (condenser), a preamp (that
> can amplify a very dynamic performance and maintain a quiet noise
> floor), a versatile equalizer and a transparent compressor/limiter.
>
> Because recording vocals is often a sensitive and emotional issue for
> singers, it is a good idea to consistently give the singer positive
> feedback of words of accomplishment and encouragement.
>
>
> Microphones
>
> For most vocalists a high quality large diaphragm condenser microphone
> is often the choice. If you have access to a tube mic, even better. The
> tube mic will sound warmer and if there is any distortion, it will be
> less offensive to the ear. U-47, AT3035, C-12, M-49, C-4000B are often
> found in better studios and work remarkably well. U-87, AKG 414 and
> Rhode mics will be found in about every studio and often work quite
> well. The U-87 will have an even frequency response, where the 414 will
> accentuate the high end. If recording a rock vocalist try a Shure
> SM-57. You will get an enhanced mid-range sound with no
> distortion.Ribbon mics like the RCA models are very good but most have
> a high noise floor.
>
> When recording bed tracks, change the mic from song to song to get a
> general idea of which mic sounds the best. Also when ready to record
> final vocals, line up 3-4 mics and quickly have the vocalist go from
> one to the other to see which mic is the most desirable. Remember to
> check all the dynamic parts of the song; certain mics sound good in
> verses but might be to thin sounding in the choruses.
>
> Microphone placement
>
> For a lead vocal place the mic around 3"-6" from the singer. A pop
> filter may be required. In choosing a pop filter, make sure it stops a
> lot of wind transmission (blow at the filter and place your hand on the
> other side to check) and does not affect the frequency response too
> much. (Place the pop filter between your ear and a speaker and move it
> in and out of the way and listen for any sound degradation). Place the
> pop filter as close to microphone as possible for vocalist's do not
> like singing close to a pop filter. If the singer is too bassy from the
> proximity effect, either change the pattern from cardiod to omni,
> insert a high pass filter or simply have the singer stand a couple of
> inches further back from the mic. Take note that when a vocalist is
> moving back and forth from the mic in an area from 1"-3", the low
> end will drastically change and become very hard to control. Make sure
> the microphone is suspended in a cradle to remove or to prevent
> unwanted rumble coming through the mic stand. Make sure the acoustics
> of the room do not influence the desired vocal sound, which occurs when
> the vocalist stands too far back from the microphone. If the room is
> too live try to have the singer move in closer to the mic or dampen the
> room with blankets or baffles usually close to the singer. If there is
> a music stand involved for the singer to read lyrics make sure it is
> dampened down and the stand doesn't ring sympathetically with the
> vocal performance.
>
> Creating The Right Environment
>
> Before recording vocals, ask the singer what they need to feel
> comfortable in the studio when recording. Remember singing is an
> emotional and mental experience, so having the singer feeling relaxed
> is very critical. Try to set up baffles covered in quilts and blankets
> close to the vocalist, this makes the studio seem more comfortable and
> helps reduce the room acoustics in the sound of the singer. Keep the
> lighting tapered with a lamp or candles. You might need a small lamp to
> place on the music stand so the lyrics will be seen easily. Have a
> comfortable chair and table to place things on and a pitcher of water
> and a glass for vocalist's throats dry up quickly. Make sure there
> are pencils on the music stand for singers have a habit of changing
> lyrics at the last minute. Also place them in an area of the studio
> that they will be in a position to not have to look at the control room
> all the time. Standing in the middle of a big studio with bright
> lighting and people staring at you can be very intimidating for a
> vocalist, so creating a very comfortable and relaxed environment is
> very important.
>
> Equalization
>
> Male Vocalist:
> High pass filter at 50hz
> Low end 100hz-200hz
> Low mids 400hz-800hz; med "Q"
> Mid range 3khz-5khz
> Top end 10khz and up
>
> Female Vocalist:
> High Pass filter at 80hz
> Low end 200hz-300hz
> Lo mids 400hz-800hz
> Mid range 3khz-5khz
> Top end 10khz and up
>
> Limiting and Compression
>
> A good vocalist will work with mic distance in relationship to
> dynamics. During soft and loud passages they will intuitively move back
> and forth from the mic. This will lower the effect of the dynamic
> control function and maintain a high quality sound. However, when
> starting out as an engineer or producer you will most likely not have
> this luxury or feel intimidated to solicit advice to the vocalist. Even
> with a good microphone and good mic preamp, recording vocalists can be
> a major problem if various processing is inserted in the wrong
> sequence. For example: if you insert a compressor or limiter with too
> slow of an attack time what ends up happening is the dynamics of the
> vocal performance expands. This is caused by too slow of an attack time
> on your comp/limiter whereby the initial transient passes through the
> comp/limiter unaffected and the remaining vocal dynamic is affected. If
> inserting EQ that enhances the mid range or high end, before this type
> of setting on the comp limiter it will exacerbate the problem even
> further. You could also introduce sibilance problems into the sound. To
> play it safe I would suggest this technique:
>
> First limit the vocal with a quick attack and quick release time - this
> will allow you to manage the transients of the vocal. This will make
> the vocal more suitable for compression, if desired. Do not EQ the
> vocal before limiting. Insert the EQ directly after limiting but before
> compressing. With compression the limited vocal will allow you to use a
> medium to slow attack time and medium to slow release time. This
> affectively compresses the tonality or vowel sounds of the vocal, which
> often require level management. A ratio of 2:1 to 4:1 should suffice.
> An attack time between 25-100 ms and a release time of 200-500 ms, or
> better yet use your ears to get the right attack and release settings.
> Make sure the release time is slow enough to prevent pumping and
> breathing yet fast enough to not affect the next part of the signal
> that might not need to be compressed. When dynamically processing a
> vocal try to have the vocal go back to unity gain as often as you can
> for example: with a 4:1 ratio the meter should be moving from 0VU to
> -4VU. If you see the meter moving from -8VU to -4VU you are
> over-compressing and corrupting the quality of the vocal. Remember, the
> more you dynamically process a signal, the thinner the sound will get.
> Dynamic processing does not process evenly over the frequency range,
> especially in low-priced compressor/limiters. EQ before compresssing.
> For example if the vocal has too much low-end and is not EQed the
> compression will be triggered by the low end which will only thin out
> the sound leaving dynamic problems untouched. Also, if you are EQing
> mid-range into the vocal the compression will factor in the EQ and
> compress effectively.
>
>
> Sibilance
>
> Sibilance is a problem that can destroy the fidelity of a production
> - a singer who's every S and T is accompanied by a burst of
> high-frequency noise. This isn't anybody's fault, it's all down to how
> an individual's mouth works, but it seems that the better the
> microphone the more sibilance is captured. This is especially true of
> some condenser mics, but unfortunately some people tend to equate a
> very bright vocal sound as being more refined or better produced.
> What's more, adding effects such as reverb or using heavy compression
> can make sibilance noticeably worse.
>
> As sibilance is a high-frequency problem, and equalizers are designed
> to emphasize high-frequency detail, it's hardly surprising that using
> an enhancer tends to exaggerate sibilance even more. The best place to
> tackle this problem is back at the source, and if you have a mic that's
> less susceptible to the offending frequencies, try this first. Don't
> worry if it's not as bright as the original mic; you can use
> equalization to help compensate for that. Be aware of high frequency
> distortion that might sound similar to sibilance. The high frequency
> distortion will most likely be coming from the mic or mic pre-amp.
> Changing the position of the singer relative to the mic may help in
> decreasing the sibilance, but in serious cases, you may need to resort
> to using a de-esser.
>
> If you need to de-ess, do it before you EQ and comp/limit. Any high end
> equalization before the de-esser will make it work harder. Also focus
> on the problem frequency range of the sibilance. If you notice a
> "shzzz" sound, the problem area will be in the 3kHz-7kHz range. If
> it sounds "ssss" it is in the 8kHz-12kHz range. Most de-essers have
> a mode where you can listen to what is being removed from the signal
> called a side-chain monitor. This will effectively let you target the
> problem frequencies accurately and also indicate how much of the
> sibilance you are removing. When de-essing try to avoid looking at the
> reduction meter and use your ears. De-ess as much as necessary without
> creating a lisp problem.
>
> De-essing is "frequency select limiting". It uses very fast
> attack and release times due to the short waves lengths common to
> sibilance. Most DAWs have plug-ins that will de-ess but actual analog
> multi-band compressors work best. You can vary the Q, the ratio, the
> attack and release times and the amount of gain reduction. The Brook
> Sirens unit in studio 2 is one of the best de-essers out there.
>
> De-essing the reverb send from vocals will greatly reduce the
> level and duration in the reverb. Remember that sibilance is just
> noise; there is no musical component to it. In most natural reverb
> settings you will rarely hear a sibilance problem in the decay of a
> sound. By de-essing the sibilance the reverb will still produce high
> frequency reverb content that might be desired when mixing especially
> if there is a lot of EQ in the 12-15K range used for creating a breathy
> intimate effect.
>
> If you are adding mid-range and high-frequency to a vocal
> always de-ess before you EQ. This will prevent the compressor from
> creating more of a sibilance problem, keeping in mind that high
> frequencies contribute a small amount to the overall lead vocal level.
>
> For example: in a word like SPARK the S content will meter -20VU and
> the PARK will meter 0VU. If I compress the signal without de-essing
> before hand the S will remain at -20VU and the PARK will drop to -6VU.
> What you have done is taken the original 20db difference between the S
> and the PARK and now made it 14db effectively creating more of a
> sibilance problem. If you were to EQ the high frequency range this will
> exacerbate the problem even further. The trick is to get the PARK
> sounding as compressed and EQed as you like and then with the de-esser
> inserted before the compressor and the EQ, take away the amount of
> sibilance you want.
>
>
> Headphone Mix
>
> It is very important that you take the time to provide an excellent
> headphone monitor mix to the vocalist for singing. Most vocalists will
> need to hear a clear band mix with sufficient harmonic and rhythm
> content. If the vocalist is getting ahead or behind the beat you will
> need to send more drums or instruments with a rhythmic component. If
> the song when finished will have only a lead vocal and a solo
> instrument for the intro and first verse, you might suggest to the
> drummer to keep time by playing the hi-hat softly so it can be used to
> keep everybody in time and then can be removed for the final mix. Note
> that most singers do sing ahead of the beat.
> If the vocalist's pitch is a problem then you might need to send more
> harmonic instrumentation to the headphone mix. If there is not enough
> there you might put down a synth pad guide track for the vocalist may
> reference their pitch too and then not use it in the final mix. If the
> vocalist has to come in before the downbeat insert a pitch reference a
> couple of seconds before the song starts. This works especially well if
> there are key changes in the song and you always have to back to the
> beginning. This is also a good time to experiment with reverb settings;
> compression, EQ and effects for singers love to hear an enhanced sound
> in their headphones. If you find the singer projecting too much or
> singing too softly then they are not hearing themselves properly in the
> headphones and this will cause numerous technical and performance
> problems. Try to set up to record at least 4 tracks so you can have 4
> takes to choose from to make a master take.
>
>
> Producing Backup Singers
>
> Backup vocals are mainly used to provide harmonies to the lead
> vocalist. To produce them properly you need to relate to them, how much
> they need to express in volume and timbre for them to blend well with
> the lead vocalist. There are many ways to record backup singers. One is
> for them to split parts amongst themselves on the studio floor and
> double track their performance. Often they will perform another
> harmonic blend to contribute harmonically to the lead vocal which
> usually occurs in the choruses. By doubling or tripling the backup
> vocals it will allow you to mix them in at a level where the musical
> component will stand out without them having to sound too present. Good
> singers will sing without vibrato and will either close off their S's
> or not sing them while performing, which keeps the performance sounding
> clean. Often, lead singers make poor backup vocalists due to the fact
> that they can't control their dynamics or sing without vibrato. It
> is important to give them a headphone mix that focuses on the lead
> vocalist, harmonic content and rhythm. Just supplying them with four or
> five elements that are indicative of accurate pitch and rhythm will be
> enough to enable them to sing well. If the lead singer is also doing
> the backup vocals you will obviously need to use a lot of tracks
> (Queen), the singer will have to focus on matching the phrasing on
> their previous vocal tracks. When recording, it is advisable to use a
> good quality condenser microphone in a cardioid pickup. If you have a
> stereo condenser try it, for it will allow you to achieve a stereo
> perspective and widen the pickup pattern. Try to avoid giving one mic
> to one singer if using more than two backup singers. This will
> deteriorate the effect of proper blending. Always give the singers at
> least 2 bars before they start singing for pitch and time reference.
> Make sure to clean up all the extraneous vocal sounds when you are
> finished recording. If recording to more than one track set up all
> additional tracks with the same processing and levels so you do not
> have to continually set up tracks on the go, whereby you're slowing
> down the recording process. Try to always set up more tracks than you
> need. Bus assign to all tracks and make sure all signal routing is
> clean. If the band recorded to an automated rhythm you will be allowed
> to use one chorus for all the remaining of the choruses (Lose My
> Breath). I myself like to have songs build in dynamics and prefer to
> have the backup vocal performances a little more expressive towards the
> end of the song. With compression, use a ratio of 3:1 - 4:1 for just
> tightening up the dynamics. If you're using 3 or more tracks, try
> bussing to one stereo set of tracks. This will allow you to bus
> compress, EQ and process all the backup performances uniformly. With EQ
> make sure that the backup vocal performance does not encroach in on the
> lead vocal performance. There are exceptions to this rule due to the
> nature of the production. In panning backup vocals try to place them on
> equal sides of the centre image (9 o'clock and 3 o'clock). Panning
> them hard left and hard right tends to draw too much focus to their
> performance. In mixing try grouping all your tracks to one channel
> input for one master send for all performances. Remember this channel
> is to serve just as a master send so all backup vocal tracks get the
> same amount of processing. Remember to take the master send track's
> main signal out of the 2 mix. When mixing in your backup vocal tracks
> to the final mix keep in mind their priority of their importance to the
> song.
>
!