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The Non Glamorous Parts of Producing a Song

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

  1. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    The Beatles weren't at all sloppy for the time. It wasn't that they could do no wrong. They were making great music, and moving the goal posts forward with each recording, innovating with both their songs and their sonics. The elements might not always have been perfect, but they came together to create a great end product. They're a good argument against chasing perfection, a la Mutt Lange, who has been known to record individual strings in guitar chords.
     
  2. Mike M

    Mike M Tele-Holic

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    I love how all their early singles (Please Please me, From me to you, She loves You, I want to hold your Hand) all have proper and amazing endings instead of fade outs.

    Because Goffin-King, and almost every other writer from that era, never had to figure how they would end a song when they played it live.
     
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  3. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah, I try to sing off axis when I know a P or S or loud part is coming up. I'm still not very great at it cuz I get some of that sometimes. And then sometimes I just use a pop filter....


    So just a little comment and question about vocal mics.... I have a 58 and then got a 57 and used that the last two songs. After this last song I used both and I determined I personally like the 58 better for vocals but the 57 for instruments. Which I think is normal. I was hoping I would like the 57 for vocals cuz my 58 is borrowed. LOL. I've used an MXL990 condensor for vocals and I didn't like that as much as the 58... I've got a baritone deeper voice and I feel like the 58 brings that out better than other mics. To be sure I sometimes have to get rid of some of the low end mud but the 57 doesn't sound like... me I think. I do think the 58 might lack a little clarity possibly. Is there a better mic to step up from a 58 that isn't wow expensive? Or do you just have to spend a lot for the good vocal mics?

    I suppose I could try to boost some of the high end frequencies after the fact. I don't use much reverb or anything yet so that's probably part of the problem. LOL.
     
  4. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

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    I was spoiled at the studios I worked and had access to every decent mic under the sun. However, almost without fail, we recorded vocals using high-end Neumann (U47/8 through U87 variants) or sometimes AKG (414). I did use Shure dynamics, mostly the SM57 on drums and amps. SM57 and SM58 are largely the same - different shields and 57 is toppier.

    Interestingly, of all the musicians I recorded who'd invested in gear, not one vocalist brought in a mic for me to use.

    So with that in mind, I'd say use the best you can afford - Audio Technica and Rode make decent entry condenser mics - and when you get to the studio to record your hit album, use their Neumann mics!

    You can also experiment with vocal technique on the 58 as well. I recorded some great vocals with imperfect gear, which had nothing to do with my engineering skills, but those of the singer. Mic proximity changes the tone. Close-up accentuates bass, and other mouth noises. Backing off introduces more room. Using pop shields might help certain consonants, but will also filter out a little high-end, which is already precious on dynamic mics. Try turning your head slightly or if you invest in a LDC condenser mic sellotape a pencil to the front to 'diffuse' the pop eruption (sometimes works!).

    Recording flat, maybe with a little EQ and light compression, is best. The golden rule is to capture the performance with as little dicking around as possible (technical term). Post recording you can play non-destructively until the cows come home.

    Dynamic mics tend to be missing high, high-end so no amount of EQ will make it sound like a U87, but in the context of the overall recording, that might not matter.

    I hope this helps :)
     
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  5. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. I for sure am not spending money on a Nuemann. LOL.

    So far I've only been using audacity to record so I can't put any kind of stuff on WHILE tracking. At least not that I know of. Maybe I can.... LOL.
     
  6. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    For vocal mics, it basically boils down to use case. I am approaching this as someone who started working in recording studios in 1986 and have been involved ever since, so my perspective is quite possibly skewed differently than many here. Maybe I sound like a gear snob, and I probably am, so apologies in advance.

    The order of importance for pretty much anything being recorded is: The material, the performer/performance, then the room/recording space, then the mic, then the pre and any tracking hardware and then the converters.
    If the material and the performance of it isn't great, the other stuff matters less. It's hard to get passionate about a jingle for Cheerios or an insurance agent on Main St in Pasadena, no matter how good the singer is. But sometimes you have to try.

    If the performance and the material is great then the space becomes more important.

    Most of the studios are known for their room sounds. I want room sound if I'm in a great space, it adds something to the recording and means less processing later. I've had conversations with musicians the first time they recorded at Sunset Sound, or the Village, or Westlake Studios, or Revolver Recording and they're kind of blown away. "Why do we sound so much better? We recorded this 15 times in our rehearsal space and it never sounded like this, but I don't think we did anything different".. Yup, you didn't record it here. The recording space makes a huge difference to clarity, depth and quality in every track. And when that is compounded across 30 or 40 tracks, wow!
    Probably the most significant investment anyone recording at home can make, is to get some room correction going. Even if your spouse won't let it be permanent, store it under the bed, in the garage, wherever, and set it up when you record. A lot of home recording have great ideas and performances but the space let's them down and severely limit what is possible,
    If you don't have to worry about the sound of your space getting into your recordings any longer, because it no longer sounds bad, suddenly your SM58/SM57s become more versatile tools. You can play with different distance mic set ups, more gain and further away for some tracks, closer up for others.
    Now your "Faders up" starting point for mixing a song already has more depth and clarity because that's how it was recorded, and the whole process goes much faster and much easier.

    If I have fine musicians with good material, in great recording spaces, now the mic becomes important to get right. I want every nuance of the performance and of the room.
    SM58s are great mics. They are cheap, durable, reliable, have great off axis sound rejection that prevent feedback and bleed in live shows, and have a frequency bump that helps the vocal cut through in live shows (even if the Front of House sound guy isn't on his game). For recording a good singer, with good material, in a good recording space however, it's probably not first choice.

    If we're at a point of great material, great performers, great space, great mic, now other things become important do we have the right pre, do I want to add color to the sound or get a very clean sound, do I want something that blunts transients or is incredibly detailed, do I want to EQ/compress now and burn in the sound and get things to go faster later.

    Once all that is in place now conversion becomes important. Yes cheap converters use similar chips to more expensive ones, no that doesn't make them the same. The analog front end that feeds the chip are vastly different. At this point THD, Slew rates, self noise and reliability and long term driver support become a factor. If you have a great song, with a great singer, in a great space, with a great mic, through a great recording chain, now the amount of THD the amount of detail that the analog part of the converter gives to the chips to turn into zeros and ones becomes important. I don't want to put in all that work to get the perfect sound only to have the converter make it less good.

    A lot of the marketing seems to be around how much you can do in the digital realm, to kinda, sorta fix your recordings. In studios typically the focus is the other way around get it right at the source and you don't have to try and fix anything, you don't need to be able to run 8 plugins on every track, have 20 band EQs, multi band compression, stereo image fixers and so on.

    While this thread was meant as a slightly light hearted jab at some of the tedium of the tasks in the studio, in all honesty, if I get a bass part that needs more than a few timing tweaks, we're going to re-track it.
    If a vocal needs more than a couple of dBs of EQ in more than a couple of bands, and more than a light touch (if any) of pitch correction, we're going to do it again (Unless we're going for a very specific , processed sound) (Or the singer really was that bad and you have no choice which does still sometimes happen).
    If a drum track needs more than a little beefing up, I'm going to see if we can have a do over. It'll still probably get beefed up because that's been the thing in drums for about 15 years now, like gated reverb in the '90s, completely fake snare sounds in the '80s, or parallel compression in the '70s-'80s. It's what people expect.

    I'm in a position where If I buy gear, It's a business expense that I can write off, and the better results I get for artists, the more chances I get to pick and choose who I work with.
    Getting a good mix from great musicians with great material that is well arranged, recorded in great spaces on great gear is a joy, not a chore.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
  7. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    If you want your own vocal mic the Sennheiser e835 has a bit more presence than the SM58.

    Another dynamic that has a great sound with a little more “air” for not a lot more is the Miktek PM9. It’s in that Beta58a vein to some degree and a super/hyper-cardioid if it matters. There’s a video out there with Molly Tuttle using one in a “live” studio band session. I had one and it’s a nice mic but also emphasized sibilants in my bari voice. I really liked the finished mixes but it was more work than the SM58 to get those Sss-es managed so I moved it along.

    Are you using a pop filter with the SM57? That can make a noticeable difference too.
     
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  8. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Afflicted

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    I have tried the 57 with and without the pop filter. I'm not sure if I liked either as much as a 58 with or without a pop filter.

    @matman14 I really appreciate you taking the time to explain all that. I'm starting to turn my attention towards possibly doing some room treatments. I have a basement room. It's not ideal. None of my situation is ideal. But I'm doing it anyway. LOL. With very little extra money. So I'm in a completely different boat than you. It's for fun. A hobby, something to get my songs down cuz I just like to.

    I think I can sing, but I wouldn't call myself a great singer by any stretch. So... My main point was to try and see if there is a step up from a 58 without being super expensive I've seen people recommend the SM7B, I think. And there was another sure Beta 58 maybe?

    Anyways.....

    Right now I'm frustrated with a song cuz I feel like I lost a bunch of mojo when reducing buffer size. Like the tracks become more dead sounding. But I don't know if it's just the song or me or what.... But I think my laptop has lived out it's usefulness for recording. It's super slow with very little ram and at first I wasn't needing to reduce buffer size to get the recording to be on time. But now I am....

    Can reducing buffer size reduce the quality of the sound of a track?
     
  9. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    It shouldn't. Digital generally works until it doesn't, and when it doesn't it's very obvious. With buffers, once you get to the point that the processor in your computer isn't able to handle the data at the buffer you've set (buffer is too low), You'll get audible pops, clicks and dropouts (audio completely disappears for a moment) in your live monitoring and your recording.

    Up until that point it should have no additional impact on the sound at all.

    The Beta 58 is very similar to the SM 58, the main difference is in the polar pattern, the beta being supercardioid vs the sm being cardioid.
    Basically, the Beta offers more sound rejection to the sides, at the expense of slightly less rejection directly behind the mic. That can be useful on a small stage or if things are tightly packed together for some reason. Other than that I think the capsules are the same and the frequency response plots are virtually the same too.

    SM7B also uses the same or a very similar capsule to the SM58/57 but some of the electronics that follow are different. The SM7B allows you to roll off the low and and do a mid boost which changes the sound a bit. The SM7B is also less sensitive so it needs a lot more gain to get to the same level as the 57/58. The larger diaphragm has more inertia so it takes more sound energy to get it moving and you have that typical dynamic loss of high end. Not a big deal for some drums or loud electric guitar but a consideration for vocals or acoustic instruments.
    You used to see them in radio stations a lot, but in the last ten years pretty much all you see is RE20s. At least in the stations I've been to.
    I've personally found it uncommon to be in a situation where the SM7B was the single best choice or a real step up. I can think of three occasions in the last few years where we ended up using one on a lead vocal.

    The SM7(B) gets a lot of clout because MJ recorded the vocals for thriller (or at least some of them) on one. I was working at Westlake Studios years ago and set up an SM7 in studio A where MJ recorded thriller(everyone does), and it wasn't all that great (Sacrilege I know!), because none of us were MJ, or had a style, material or a voice that was anything remotely like his.
    I do have an SM7B and use it on guitar amps and kick drums sometimes. Sometimes for scratch vocals so I don't have to worry about warming up or knocking around a tube mic.

    You're not going to get much of a variation in sound on your vocals by switching to a slightly different version of the same thing.

    Be leery of "night and day" comparison statements and who is making them. they seem to get parroted a lot on internet forums.
    For example, switching a throttle cable in a race car, for a driver who is in the car all the time racing might be "night and day" for that driver. For me in my Honda in the LA traffic, It could be more a case of "wait something changed? really? are you sure?"
    Same for audio, someone who does audio 10-12 hours a day 7 days a week probably has a very different standard of what "a night and day difference" means.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
  10. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  11. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
  12. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I love when you are posting! Even if you are roasting me, I don't mind. And, for the record, I think you destroyed chet, so you know, FLEX!

    Once we get rid of Farhan and Kapler, our baseball fortunes will turn in the way that the Giants DOMINATED the 2010's.
     
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  13. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Cool! That should coincide with when I start growing that fluffy new head of hair! ;)

    Hold on. This is a recording forum. Uh... microphone.
     
  14. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Afflicted

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    @matman14 Thank you for those thoughts!!!! I didn't address what I think you were trying to say in the post before, generally speaking. And if I heard you right I think you were saying your focus is to get it to sound good at the point of recording and not post tracking. However that works. I know some people use different things to help the sound quality while recording. I don't know if I would ever spend the dough on some rack compressor or reverb. But it's worth considering....

    I have really been fond of Deep Sea Diver's music and that Jessica Dobson seems kinda cool. She seems kind of open to share her processes of some recordings and such. She did a podcast with some guy about recording the song Impossible Weight. I think one thing I took away is that they were using an old school spring reverb unit on practically everything. She likes her guitars more reverby than I do for my own music but I think they were using that thing on vocals and a lot of other stuff. I don't remember the name of the unit but she showed a picture and it was like this thing in a wooden type box that looks like it was from the 60s or 70s. It wasn't small either I don't think. Like Amp head size or bigger.

    Anyways.... I'm planning on starting with reaper and maybe there are some plug ins that people use in that type of a setting. I'm more old school myself and I don't plan to give up my guitar and bass amps. Cuz I just can't wrap my head around getting sounds I want inside a program. Plus it feels more enjoyable to use amps. And that's a big reason for doing this. I'm trying not to be a stick in the mud though and learn about new things.

    I may have to try a pedal for vocals... LOL. Just to see. I was gonna run my vocals through my guitar amp for this last song but I had kind of a deadline for wanting to be done tracking and I ran out of time.
     
  15. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I don't think outboard gear is the way to go for the home recordist, unless you're really into the gear more than the recording. And I understand wanting to use your guitar amps, but it does up the challenge. With bass, just go direct. I won't even use amp sims for bass, hardware or software -- just bass direct and plug-ins for EQ and compression.
     
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  16. suthol

    suthol Friend of Leo's

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    As a rank amateur recording voices that are on the other side of 70 so not what they used to be I use Waves Tune and ReaComp on the way in, set to suit the key and voice.

    If there's a key modulation I'll have a second track with the correct Tune settings ready to arm.

    Saves most of the hard work later and doesn't seem intrusive on the printed track.

    I also turn track monitoring off and direct monitor the vocals at the little Focusrite Solo.

    YMMV
     
  17. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Afflicted

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    So far the best sound I get on my bass, to my ears, is xlr out of my Fender rumble 100 AND micing it. Last one I thought sounded really good I haven't posted yet but the SM57 was 13-1/2" away. I didn't pick that dimension, it's just where I put it and when I measured it that's where it was.

    I'm not sure I'll ever do direct into the interface. We will see. I'm sure it would be good to try. I like hearing an amp when I'm playing. It's just how it is for me. But I don't consider myself a person all that into gear. I don't barely ever use pedals and I don't care to have some big pedal board. I don't necessarily always want a new amp and other things. I just want the ones I have to work and I typically try to exhaust the performance of what is at hand than looking for new stuff. A bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush. That being said I like how different guitars give me different tones. And I'm still stuck on the fact that every time I ever used modeling amps, it never sounded like I was connected to the playing. To me. Like there was too big of a disconnect between my fingers and the sound and I don't like that. And I wouldn't mind having a tube amp to try but I don't think I'm gonna pony up the money for one. But I do kind of want to try a Fender champ. A small one. I think it may be better than my Vox Cambridge. I would like the cambridge better if it had an xlr out or one that didn't make so much noise when going from the 1/4" jack to my computer.

    @suthol Thank you for the tip. I forgot if I ever asked you this, what DAW are you using?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
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  18. suthol

    suthol Friend of Leo's

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    I'm using Reaper on PC, after trying Cubase, Cakewalk and Pro Tools, Reaper was the one that clicked with me

    I liked the feel of Cubase when I mixed the stems of a song we recorded at a local shed studio but in the end couldn't get my Peavey USB mixer to talk to it when I started recording so the hunt for something that I could use began and Reaper ultimately became " the one "

    We each have our favorite DAW and Garageband/Logic are the obvious ones for Mac users, they all do the same thing in often slightly different ways, the one that makes sense to the user is the one they will stick with and sing the praises of.

    There are user forums for all of the DAWs and plenty of tutorials at the university of YouTube
     
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  19. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Let It Be had the most out of place guitar solo
    I have ever heard. Especially the ending.
    It was so out of place for such an otherwise beautiful song!

    Out of place.
    Out of balance.

    Someone's decision making got hijacked on that mix.
    The version which had the prominent organ, sans dry guitar solo was best but
    it never saw the light of day at the time.

    There's lots of people that see the Beatles through rose colored glasses,
    or a glass onion....... but not "everything they did" was untouchable.
    Funny how that song and /or session got 3 different set of ears and producers,
    All with somewhat contrasting outcomes.

    With and without guitar. Two versions of Let It Be:


     
  20. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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