Does alot of production go into making vocals sound good in rock music?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Marquee Moon, Sep 1, 2019.

  1. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    Nice, man. My music is definitley punk influenced. I feel like in order to get the vintage rock vibe of recordings from the 60s and 70s, you need that reverb on the vocals. It doesnt have to be alot, but I can't stand hearing a voice on recording that sounds like its right next to my ear.
     
  2. ahiddentableau

    ahiddentableau Tele-Meister

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    One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet that is very possible here flows from the distinction between the production stage and the mixing stage of the recording process. I can't say for certain, but I bet the reverb you heard in the rough mix was probably the tracking reverb he set up for your singer. This is a common practice. The recordist/engineer will make a rough vocal chain for the singer with lots of reverb to be used during tracking. When you're singing in the studio it makes a singer feel more confident. This reverb--or a similar reverb added after the fact for the band's benefit--was probably on the vocals you heard during tracking on the rough mix. So you got attached to that sound.

    Sounds like you had good reasons for it, too, because you've been pretty specific in articulating just what it is that you're after. You need to talk to your guy and make sure he understands what you want from the project. If you're going for an overall sound like your avatar's name, as you said, you basically have to have some of that bigger 70s reverb sound on the vocal.
     
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  3. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Delay can do this better than reverb especially if you do it in parallel on a send return bus and add parallel compression.

    But if you want reverb by all means do it especially if you know exactly what you want.
     
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  4. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, maybe the mix guy wanted you to hear your vocals unprocessed
    so you can determine what needs are eminent?

    Can you get a mix note to him and request what you believe is missing?

    You first have to have a semi educated guess as to what you feel needs to be
    reintroduced into your vocals. Maybe the overall mix needs a little verb or something?
    Maybe you can give the engineer a reference song like what you did here
    with us. That might clue him in as to how you want to sound.

    Your audio guy is also human, so he might be listening to
    some pretty dry stuff lately and that influenced his decision making.
    Maybe he needs help in that decision making process from you and
    the group. Approached correctly, he might welcome it. Thanks.
     
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  5. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

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    I am no recording pro, but I think that OP was referring to engineering, not production. That also seems to be what most of the answers address.
     
  6. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, this is why verb can be a glue if done
    with care on a specific buss mix. like
    the band in the same room. You know.
     
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  7. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    I was under the impression that effects and things like that were production issues, while engineering was how you set up the mikes and record the basic tracks.
     
  8. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

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    In general terms, producers work with the artists to understand and contribute to the visions of how things should be. Engineers help them achieve it with technical expertise. An artist and/or producer might say that a particular track needs a different kind of distortion than what they are presently hearing. An engineer might swap out several types of distortion to get the desired effect.
     
  9. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    How soon after the tracking session did you get your mixes? Because you say "I just got out of the studio", it sounds like a very quick mix that the engineer has thrown together so that you can evaluate your own performance. A proper mix will take several hours per song, sometimes longer. If that's the case then you need to book a time to sit with the engineer before starting the real mix and find out what the engineer is thinking and how they want to go about things, as well as to communicate your vision for the mix.

    As mentioned above, what you heard when tracking is your monitor mix, designed to help you feel confident and perform well. A proper finished mix is a different kettle of fish.

    A few things to note about reverb:
    • It isn't always bright. It can be made to sound bright, dark, or somewhere inbetween. All depends on how the reverb is adjusted. They usually have some EQing controls for the reverberated signal (but leave the dry signal intact).
    • More reverb pushes the vocal further back in space.
    • Less reverb brings the vocal forward in space and makes it punchier. That's usually where you want it to be.
    • Reverb can be used to "glue" a mix by making it sound like the vocal is in the same room as the instruments.
    • Often it's best to reduce the reverb to the point where the listener can't distinguish the reverb itself, but when the reverb is bypassed something is missing and it doesn't sound as natural.

    Reverb isn't all of it. The vocal also heavily depends on having the right compression and EQ. And mixing the vocal isn't just about what you do to the vocal, it's also about how you mix other instruments so as to get out of the way of the vocal.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
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  10. Ben Harmless

    Ben Harmless Friend of Leo's

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    +1 on all of these points. A lot of the old plate reverb built in studios back in the 50s had a limited bandwidth. To hear that, try rolling off above about 6k and below about 300. The 'verb actually gets out of the way pretty effectively when you cut parts of the response.

    I tend to treat reverb as more of a dramatic effect than anything else, but the "glue" application is one that I've employed. I'm partial to plates or small-to-medium rooms.

    ...keeping in mind of course that it's challenging to invent a space with reverb that is as good as if you'd recorded in a stellar room to begin with. I just got done tracking in a studio with a massive room that they use mainly for its natural reverb. It was astounding.

    Oh, and FWIW, if one has the luxury of recording on their own schedule, I find that blurring or eliminating the lines between "engineering" and "production" can substantially boost the creative process and result in more interesting or stimulating art. Of course, one can always get bogged down in the process. YMMV.
     
  11. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Holic

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    Either you can sing, or you can't. If you are spending a ton of time & processing to get the vocals right, then it is probably no fault of the studio or engineer. Either the artist is impossible to satisfy, or else they shouldn't be there to begin with.
     
  12. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Sometimes, unless you have a super unique voice like Willie Nelson, and a a unique voice with a very limited range. Just depends on lots of variables.

    One could write about this for hours, and it's not just the voices that create opportunities for mix trials there's also added instruments, and play overs.
     
  13. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm kind of glad I don't have to worry about this any more.

    a couple of nasty bouts of bronchitis last year ripped the guts out of my voice. So on the new material I'm working on now I'm all but talking my way through the songs. Singing? History.

    Don't have to worry about carrying a tune or hitting high notes any more. Leaving in the growls and the grunts, no reverb, no delay, nothing. It works or it doesn't. Kind of liberating.
     
  14. oceanblue

    oceanblue Tele-Meister

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    This thread makes me think of an interview I saw with one of the members of the Cars, and they said they made their first album in 13 days and something like 7 or 8 days of it was spent on vocals.
     
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  15. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    To-MAH-to, To-MAY-to.

    Producer: "That snare sounds dull, can you brighten it up?"

    Engineer: "Let's slap an 1176 on that mofo at 4:1 with medium attach and short release, then scoop out some 300hz and and dial in a pinch of 4k to hear the strainers"

    Drummer: "I hit things"
     
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  16. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Great thread!

    Just wondering, anyone here rely a lot on a given room's acoustics in recording vocals? Or does that make modifying vocals at the board unmanageable so you prefer dry/dead rooms?

    Also, anyone record vocals in a lively room and then the accompanying instruments elsewhere/in a dead room, or straight into the board?

    Finally, when recording a series of songs or a CD's worth, what clashing vocal styles/tones/recording & mixing approaches would you warn against? E.g., let's say one song has a rockabilly kind of slapback on the vocals, but the CD also has very straight-in folky vocals over just an acoustic, etc. Which works best first in terms of song sequence, or does it all depend? Do some sequences of vocal styles inherently clash, and others complement each other well, when heard in succession?
     
  17. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    Did you ask him his intent? If he was sending it to you to hear how the vocals turned out... maybe he just removed all the effects so you could "hear the track" in it's raw state?

    As for the title of this thread... YES... yes it does!
     
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  18. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Totally agree with all of this. Just want to add that pre-delay can be used so that the reverb doesn’t start immediately when the vocal starts. Glyn? Johns used around thirty milliseconds or a bit more, slight different in the right and left sides. Chris Lord Alge sometimes uses ten times that amount, allegedly. That and the early reflections will help give a sense of the space the vocal is in, and can help the vocal, or whatever, step to the front a bit while still having a cohesive sound between the vocal and the rest of the instruments.

    I know at one point you were pondering recording to tape. Did that end up happening? And if so is any editing being done on tape or are you editing in a DAW?

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  19. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    that depends on the material and the desired result. some would say dylan couldn't sing, others say it wouldn't be the same without dylan's vocals.

    there are many styles of music, and just as many styles of singing. a good singer brings their imprint to the material, but just because you don't sing like your favorite singers, doesn't mean you can't sing.
     
  20. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Ad Free Member

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    Hugely useful but woefully overlooked in so many situations! It keeps the 'verb from mushing out the lyrics by giving the consonants a chance to form before the boing-boing sets in.
     
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