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Recording Vocals - Have You Done It?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Steph Dawe, Oct 2, 2004.

  1. Mods - shift this where you like - I didn't know where to post it.
    I'm going to have a stab at singing on my original for my Music Tech assignment. :bassist:

    The singer for the school rock band can't read music, and I have no other way of getting the idea I have across to her, so I figured I'd do it myself.

    I've video taped myself singing - well, I taped the wall and sang in the background :oops: :D - and it came out ok, so I have high hopes for this recording I want to do.

    My questions are:

    - Have any of you guys recorded vocals?
    - If so, do you have any tips you wanna share? :D

    I've never recorded anything before, so I'm half excited and half freakin' out. :help: And if you have any advice on recording bass as well, that'd be great.

    Thanks in advance. :smug:
  2. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Water. Lots and lots of water.
  3. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Compressors could be your best friend. In my old band, I had to compress the poo out of my singer's vocals because, while he had a great voice in a tonal sense, his dynamics were all over the place and he didn't have any control. A friend of mine records his singer/songwriter acoustic guitar 'n' vocals songs without any compression at all, because he's got control and knows how to work the mike.
  4. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    What are the mics at your disposal? I'd reccomend a Shure Beta58 if you have one. Great vocal mics.

    Use a windscreen, and try to record yourself somewhere where there is no ambient noise or reverb, unless you want reverb. We've got a specially constructed vocal booth at my school for this purpose. The thing I find in most amateur recordings with vocals that is the biggest problem is that I can very easily hear the room around the vocalist, and not JUST the vocalist. This is always annoying as hell, and has totally ruined entire CDs that have come out of previous years in the demo program that I'm in now.

    If you've got *just* the voice, and no room around you on the track, then you can do anything you want -- add any kind of reverb, etc. etc., but if it's already there, you can't do anything with it. Yesterday I was in the studio with my band recording a funk song and an epic metal song. On the metal one, the vocals didn't sound good at all dry, so we had her sing the same notes through a long metal pipe that just happened to be around the studio (the studio doubles as performance area), through the windscreen, and into a Beta58. Very subtle change, but exactly what was needed. But first and foremost, you need to control the area around you so you can TRY it with a totally dry track, and then do modifications as wanted/needed.
  5. Uh... wish I had my Music Tech folder with me... I'm not sure what the mic is that's permanently in the Quiet Room (vocal booth), but it's a really good one - I've heard past recordings that other classes have done and it's real good.

    We've got really good stuff at school, second only to the Uni stuff here in Adelaide in terms of public schools. 16 track recording desk, effects machine (it's called Layla if anyone's interested); it won't be really amateur in a sense, I mean we're students in the class but what we have to work with is almost pro stuff, if not so.
  6. Ethon


    Jan 25, 2003
    Akron, Ohio
    Not to be a downer, but it's what you can do with the equipment you have, not the equipment itself :p
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I've found that mayonnaise works well, too.
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Unless you're making the majority of your income off of it, it's amateur. Don't take it as an insult, but if you're not a pro doing this to pay the rent, then it's amateur...I'm amateur too. Most of us here are!

    Good luck...or if it's already done, then how'd it turn out?
  9. A band 'round these parts' did their demo in their practice space. They got signed to TVT and TVT just remastered it, gave it nice artwork and sent it out. It sounds fantastic, and it's been used in at least 2 movies (Scary Movie and 3000 Miles to Graceland).
  10. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Umm...hooray for them?
  11. Ummm... yippee?

    Point is, with the stuff that's available to amateurs you can get a REALLY good quality recording- to the point of you really won't know if it came from Electric Ladyland or Electronic Larryland (Larry's basement).
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Yes...but that was never a point of contention.
  13. So then "amateur" status means what?
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Well, did you rent the space? Pay a recording engineer? Are you going to make a significant amount of money with this record?

    Money is really the only thing separating amateur from professional. You can have crappy pros (Hoobastank) and great amateurs (plenty of local people).
  15. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.
    IME, For recording bass I would say get your source sound as close as possible to the sound you want to print to tape.

    Use compression and shelving E.Q. sparingly, if at all..

    Try combo.'s/blends of D.I and a mike on an amp. Personally I prefer just miking the amp( simplicity); but do whatever the song calls for and gives you the "best" result.

    You could also try adding a third track of "reamped" bass to the previous blend ( bassically miking up a "monitor" and recording a playback of the bass. )

    Then bring the mixed "blend" or single bass track up on two faders; sometimes the extra gain greatly improves the track.
  16. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I actually tried doing some bass stuff with a mic'd amp today with a professional recording engineer, AND my brother (specializing in sound at the Ryerson Theatre School)...a competition mic'd amp vs. a DI'd bass will almost always end up with a DI winning out. There is a reason that DI is the preferred method of recording bass...getting a good mic'd sound is difficult. Very difficult. The blend thing is cool if you've got the time, and extra channel on the board.
  17. {OE}


    Sep 23, 2004
    Connecticut, U.S.
    Your right, because it is easier And that is what you will typically get from the average engineer. Creativity does not end at the musicians fingers. Some of the most famous basslines and bass sounds were recorded with mic.'s or even bass speakers wired up as mic.'s. Getting a good bass sound from a mic isnt that hard . ( or maybe its just me.... )

    It was just general advice, that may,or may not apply to what is needed. If it works, use it; but IMO, its better to know more and not need it, than to know less and need more (huh!?) lol
  18. Eldermike


    Jul 27, 2004
    The thing about recording that can be frustrating is it's consistent relentless insistence on reproducing what you are actually doing. I don't mean that in a bad way but I have found that all the tricks known today can't replace a good performance.

    I have an above average home studio and it has taught me some good things. The performance aspects of recording are major compared to the equipments capability to compensate for less than consistent performance. Like using limiters or compressors beyond reasonable limits to compensate for inconsistent performance. This practice works to a degree but you are removing subtitle qualities within the music that makes it music in the first place.

    I think everyone should spend some time recording, it will change the way you think about performance.

    As always, it's only my humble opinion.
  19. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    Im a firm believer that I cannot sing, at all, however i was amazed what a bit of selective Eq'ing and a Bass Drum compression mike did for my voice. :)
  20. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    Ultimately you have to use what the school has. Mixing and Mastering will probably be bigger challenges. I'm lucky enough to be in a band with a guy who has $$ to spend and built a recording studio in his basement. In the 4 years that I've been with him he's upgraded equipment and i can tell ya this FWIW - With really good mics and mic preamps (like high end ribbon mics and Universal audio mic pres), you really don't have to do too much other than some frequency slotting at mixdown.