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. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    My preferred method of recording is to put the band together in a large room so they can make eye contact, then baffle off the amps just enough to isolate them from the drums. No one wears headphones except the drummer, scratch vocals get monitored through a small stage wedge and the rest of the band hears each other's amps. My philosophy is that technical considerations should always come second to musical ones, and making the band feel comfortable and allowing them to play in a familiar situation (i.e., not wearing cans) is critical to getting good performances.

    Engineers that came up in the digital age panic when they see my setup.

    "But, but, you'll get LEAKAGE!!!!!" they wail.

    "And?" I ask.

    "But then you won't have total control over everything in the mix!!!!!"

    "So? 'leakage' is just another word for 'ambiance'. The Stones had a crap ton of leakage on Exile and Sticky Fingers, but I think those came out OK. You can hear leakage all over Zeppelin records, and if we're really, really lucky today the stuff we're about to record might sound half as cool as that."

    Most times we go back and re-record vocals, but sometimes the scratch vocal is the keeper- cymbal wash, guitar bleed and all. When I re-record, I generally put the singer in the middle of the big live room, because I hate the early reflections you get even in well-treated booths. Plenty of billion-selling vocals have been cut in vocal booths though, so what do I know?

    As for complimentary production styles, there are NO rules. Some artists want to have a consistent sound over the whole recording, others are all over the map. You can segue a fast song out of a slow one, and vice versa. I was wrong, though- there is ONE rule- it's all gotta be good. How you define that though is up to you.
     
  2. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Sounds like a very wise and nuance-encouraging approach. Thanks for the feedback.

    AND you sound like Mike from "Better Call Saul" when you say all this, too!
     
  3. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Holic

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    When I hit the mix phase and get around to the vocals, the first thing I do is to comp the takes to get the final performance. Next, I start the basic EQ which will probably be adjusted in contexts as I refine the rest. With the basic Eq set I cut the vocal performance up into regions and treat the regions so that they are all the same volume density. I do so by gently compressing individual sections offline. If you don't set a basic volume density, the next phase, leveling, can be noticeable. I then level things out using automation and handle any timbre shifts caused by the vocalista moving his or her head using automated EQ. Next comes timing with harmony parts, including entrances, exists, plosives, palatals, and labials. Once you get it timed you can manually tune with Antares Autotune or something similar.

    And then you can monkey with ambiance, etc. I pretty much work up the ambient treatment to make the vocal match the spirit of the song. You can expect pre-delay with my reverb treatments but I also paint in delays.

    So, yeah. I'm pretty much as busy as a one-armed paper hanger during vocal treatment.

    But you know what? The better the vocalista, the less I have to do. For example, I've got a vocal session coming up on Monday with a gal who requires very little treatment. The big challenge with that one is that one of the producers will be joining the session remotely from the other side of the continent.

    Bob
     
  4. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    Hey Geoff! yeah this was just a small demo done at a cheap studio. It came together pretty nicely as far as the backing tracks go. I think digital sounds allright, and like people have said on here, its alot more about the person engineering and the performers of course. I came to this thread a bit late tonight, but I'll be back on this weekend at the latest to see what you all wrote. I think it was just a very quick mix. I paid for the mixing and gave him some insight as to what I would like, and now I'm hoping for the best. I'll ask him if he can play around with the pre delay.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  5. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

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    Good points, especially the last sentence. You didn’t talk about how mixed the overall band tracks were when you listened and were disappointed... but slapped-together band tracks make it hard to mix standout vocals (or any lead instrument). With no other changes to your current vocal track, some careful left and right panning of the other instruments can create a hole for your vocals to live in and all of a sudden it’s way more prominent.

    EQing is big too...hard to sing through guitars or cymbals that are full throttle all the time, or a too-loud snare, or whatever.

    You have many options to play with before getting down on yourself... and even if these takes sucked, no big whoop...take another crack at it; make it fun. Don’t get too precious about it and lose the performance energy.
     
  6. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well pre delay is one tool. But it’s all part of a package of stuff that affects the whole. I’m not sure asking for more/less predelay is particularly helpful in and of itself.

    If you want the vocals more distinct or forward or brighter or darker or more reverberant or more general, but still specific terms might be more helpful. You can then ask, would more predelay help the vocals do x.

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck with it.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  7. PCollen

    PCollen Friend of Leo's

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    Autotune is all over Billy Gibbons' latest album.
     
  8. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    All great responses!

    As we all know, there's a fine line we are aware of always in the back
    of our mixing minds.... that of not over producing the vocal track to
    where it sounds so beefed up and modified that it doesn't sonically
    fit in with the rest of the tracks!

    You can't have a really strong vocal and a whimpy guitar track.
    Or a great Bass line with a slouchy drum groove! Balance, right?
     
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  9. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    is that the one from 2018?
     
  10. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    I wouldnt say I'm a bad singer. I think for backing vocals I am pretty good, even though my voice is a little thin. I've had people compare me to david bowie, which I like. I think I sound a little like billy Corgan, who I'm not a big fan of. I think I just haven't put the time in the way I have with guitar. I definitely think I'm going to try to learn how to sing properly.
     
  11. PCollen

    PCollen Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, I think that one is the most recent.
     
  12. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    As they say, you can't make chicken salad out of chicken s*!t. I have heard isolated vocals from a few well known songs. They sound raw but you can tell the better pure vocalists. I remember Dave Grohl saying this a tribute to the Beatles: "that sound that only the back of John Lennon's throat could produce."
    There is still a lot of studio magic that goes into a finely crafted vocal performance.
     
  13. t-ray

    t-ray Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Like everything else, working at it makes a huge difference. My father had an absolutely beautiful tenor voice which, sadly, I did not inherit. But at 59 years old, I think I sing much better than I did ten or even 25 years ago, because in the last 5 years I have been working at it. I read about singing techniques, I try them out and practice what seems to be working. Nevertheless, I don't love my voice, but I really enjoy playing my guitar and singing.
     
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  14. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    haha yeah, its the same here. I'm not self concious at all about my guitar playing because I've done it so long and people have allways complimented me on it.
     
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