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The Non Glamorous Parts of Producing a Song

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by matman14, Mar 7, 2021.

  1. swervinbob

    swervinbob Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah, I saw an interview with Phil Collen recently where he said that until Vivian Campbell came along, nobody in the band could do the high background vocals. Mutt did all of that in the studio.
     
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  2. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    Ugh, de-essing a vocal with clip gain.
    Yes there are good de-essers out there, but nothing is as transparent as just cutting the S into a clip and reducing the level.
    It's tedium defined and you have to keep stopping for breaks because you become hyper sensitive to the sound and end up with no S sounds at all, if you keep on going too long.

    Will probably still end up with a de-esser on the send ahead of the vocal delay/reverb so they don't build all that S energy back up again.

    Every time I de-ess, I think about how I should start bringing a thesaurus to songwriting sessions. Find alternate words with no S sounds and encourage the songwriters to substitute them in.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
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  3. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    So I'm not the only one who has this problem? I try de-essers, and they just destroy the vocal. I didn't have such a problem with the last vocal I worked on. Was it a lack of sibilants in the lyrics or improved mic technique I had unknowingly developed? I'm pretty sure I was using the same mic.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
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  4. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, there's only so much you can do with mic choice and technique. The mic is usually 2-3 feet away from the singer and if someone was belting out a song that close to your ear, those S sounds would get pretty irritating pretty fast. For whatever reason, as a species we seem to be hyper-attuned to that S sound. It's never very loud but really sticks out.

    De-essers always make me think the singer sounds like they have a lisp. all the "ess" turns into "thhh" sounds. I'll use the fabfilter one on background vocals where it isn't as important and to save my sanity. I also used one on some drum overheads to tame a harsh hi-hat a couple of times too
     
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  5. Ed Driscoll

    Ed Driscoll Tele-Afflicted

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    I spent about an hour and a half tonight working on a vocal track with a lot of sibilance chopping out the "esses," "teees," and a few other hard fricative sounds onto their own track so that I could set their levels and minimize the compression on them. It's a PITA, but the results in the end are worth it. This video from a British production/mastering house who is doing a daily March Minute Mix Tips series lists a few ways to reduce sibilance without a de-esser:

     
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  6. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    We would use a de-esser twice back in the day
    when doing industrials.

    First lightly on the track and if needed, again
    on a vocal mix buss. It came out nice.
     
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  7. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

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    Really? Are you recording opera?
     
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  8. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Putting them on a separate track is a good idea and I feel stupid for not having thought of it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
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  9. Audiowonderland

    Audiowonderland Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I liked the days when engineers could record a drum kit well enough that it didn't need samples. They don't even try anymore.
     
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  10. suthol

    suthol Friend of Leo's

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    This I simply don't understand, even with my limited skill & tools I can get as much or as little punch as I want
     
  11. Audiowonderland

    Audiowonderland Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Exactly.. we have taken the art from the artistry. Anyone can copy and paste and think they have skills
     
  12. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    It's not copying and pasting, in this instance.

    If you have samples at the ready to be triggered, you can change the sound of a real drum kit at any time after it's been recorded. I don't do this, but I could see the value of it, especially if I wanted different or better tunings on the toms. I have a mic'd kit, ready to go. I like my kick drum sound and the snare is easy enough for me to tune on the fly, to a degree, because it has a lever to adjust the tension of the snare. But what if I wanted to go for another sound -- maybe make the kick sound more like a cannon or something. I've got the part, I've got the feel, but I want a different sound. I don't want to retune my kick and go through some mic'ing nightmare searching for a sound or spend time messing with the compression, the EQ, the gate and the reverb. It's not something I'll probably do, but I can see how it might be a good solution.
     
  13. Audiowonderland

    Audiowonderland Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    These things are not a nightmare for experienced engineers. Its what they do. I rather enjoyed having those guys around. You got finished tracks when you were done tracking. You could play with it if you wanted to but you weren't cutting up bass parts, pitch/time correcting everything to within and inch of its life to "fix" things. It was right from the start. No one worried about trying 12 different bass drum sounds because what they had sounded good.

    There always was and always will be studio tinkering but the reasons for it have changed. They used to do it to find new things, to innovate. Now they do it to fix mistakes or copy what the last guy did.
     
  14. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    What you're saying simply isn't true. It wasn't always right from the start back in the good ol' days. Tracks were abandoned, studios were changed in search of the right sound, albums were scrapped. Glaring mistakes often stayed in, guitars and basses were out of tune. Etc.

    Of course, experienced engineers are going to be much better able to get good sounds and get them more quickly. But comping takes and tracks has been commonplace since at least the late '60s, it just used to be done with a razor blade instead of a computer mouse. Is it more common now? Sure. Why? Why does a dog lick its balls? Does it always result in a better end product? No.

    And you're complaining that people are just copying what the last guy did? That's same as it ever was for most of anything out there.

    Today, digital recording is affordable to everyone. You could get the tools to make a hit record for maybe less than $1000 -- certainly less than $2000. The synths I have at my fingertips today, you wouldn't be able to buy them for $1 million in 1985. What you can't buy is talent and learned skills, but, I gotta tell you, YouTube is a great help with the latter. More people are experimenting creatively and more people are making crap. Oh, well.

    I've read and watched a lot about the recording of many an album. Recently, I've focused on synths a lot, and it's funny how often they were just using the damn preset. The opening of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" wasn't just a Synclavier preset. The musical sequence was lifted from a record made to demo its sounds.

    With the Beatles, you had a great balance of the uptight EMI engineers in their white lab coats being pushed and prodded by the wildly creative lads, with their experienced but open-minded producer in the middle.

    Sure, it would be nice to have an experienced engineer on staff. But most of us don't have that option. So?... So what.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
  15. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah that one threw me too. Condenser maybe? All I know is my 57 and 58 need me closer. MUCH closer. And I sing loud sometimes. I do move away when I'm wailing out. I guess I'll have to see how much I do. But if I do too much it obviously loses something.

    I've seen vids of people recording that were much closer than 2-3 feet. I mean, good recordings. Not trying to be contrary, I just reporting what I see. But my guess is it's all about mics and how someone does something is probably different.
     
  16. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    The song needs what it needs. If you need it to feel like the vocalist is whispering in your ear, or up close and intimate, you should have them close up on the mic. If you want an open, airy sound, they should back off. This is true from opera to rap, from blue grass to metal (unless it's cookie monster vocals right up on the mic)
    I have found it uncommon to need the sound of a very powerful vocal sung right up on the mic all the way through the song, for every vocal part, however.

    Good singers, nice mics, good rooms, and nice gear give you a lot of options.

    It's likely to be different in a home recording environment because even if everything else is in place, the room is often not good sounding without a good deal of treatment to make it into a lively but controlled acoustic space. And people have gotten the idea you need to record vocals (and pretty much everything else) in tiny "booths", forcing you to more closely mic everything.
    Plus there is frequently a tendency to record other elements too loud, tricking us in to thinking the vocal needs to be more powerful, so the singer needs to go harder and get closer to the mic.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  17. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah. I totally hear you. I'm still learning so I didn't mean that to come across as this is how it's supposed to be done. I did a kind of loud kind of vocal on a song yesterday and definitely moved back some. but it was maybe a foot. If that. I meant more like my interface and mics won't pick up if I'm that far away. Well maybe they would..... If I upped the input.

    It seemed like my 57 needed me to be kind of close with the input on the interface all the up on the knob. Not even getting any clipping. The 58 seems a bit less like that but I'm still experimenting.

    I may have to try further away with the levels more turned up and see how it goes.

    I haven't done a both yet or towels around me. LOL. I just sing in whatever room I've set up in. I've done my garage, living room, bedroom and now my basement room. I don't know if I can tell THAT much of a difference in any of them. I think the bedroom might be the best??? Possibly.
     
  18. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

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    Without trying to be over general, a good distance for recording 'pop' vocals is about 30-50cm. Condenser mics are generally the choice over dynamic or ribbon mics. Live is different due to the setting.

    More experienced singers know to sing off axis when those tricky consonants come up, or back up slightly and look up if belting notes out.

    Close micing has the advantage of greater manipulation at laters stages. Too much room on the mic is practically impossible to remove later, hence my gag about opera.

    However, if the recording has been done previously and you are left trying to fix other people's mistakes all the above goes out the window. If you're trying to salvage a great take, and sibilance is spoiling things this is where the engineer earns their stripes! In my studio days I never found a de-esser that worked better than EQ, automating level and using a gate to 'duck'.

    Today I'd use the DAW, cutting out offending consonants and treat on a separate track(s). PITA, but that's what engineers do.
     
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  19. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've never noticed that — which probably just proves your point.

    I'll certainly never make a recording that sounds as good as any of theirs. I can't think of anyone else who has, either. I like some of my music as much I like theirs, and I like other artists' music more. But that's song quality, not sound quality.
     
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  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've never noticed that — which probably just proves your point.

    I'll certainly never make a recording that sounds as good as any of theirs. I can't think of anyone else who has, either. I like some of my music as much I like theirs, and I like other artists' music more. But that's song quality, not sound quality.
     
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