PDA

View Full Version : Post-recording Vocal Tricks




Itsallkosher
Aug 17, 2011, 01:25 PM
I'm just trying to understand in general, what studio "tricks" are used often in a professional studio after recording vocals.

For example, suppose I have a great singer, but sometimes there's a tiny note that might be a hair flat, or maybe there might be a harsh sounding note from an incorrect placement of the soft palate when singing. Basically, how do studio professionals make a really good singer, sound great? And how does a really poor singer sound good in recordings? We all know that some musicians are incredible on their CDs, but in live performances just can't sing. And some other performers, for example, Sara Bareilles sound great live, but in the studio sound flawless. What are some techniques used for vocals in the studio after recording?



musio
Aug 17, 2011, 03:43 PM
Autotune. Sorry, nothing is real :(

pofv
Aug 17, 2011, 06:13 PM
If tuning is an issue, then yes Autotune. But most of the time great singers will sing ever so slightly out of tune and the performance still sounds great. These days all poor singers will get a heavy auto-tune treatment.

The way you would process a vocal can really depend on the style and context of the piece. Generally a fair amount of compression is used to even out the level. Using subtle distortions, chorus effects, or filters can also make the vocal stand out of a heavy sounding song. Creating a space in the mix is also a huge key. In vocal-centric music everything is secondary to the vocal and a lot of reverb is often used to get a larger than life effect.

Really listen intently to how different songs and styles process a vocal and you might see similar trends.

As far as the live vs recorded scenario, some people can naturally sing live fairly well. Others (like me) it might take a bazillion takes just to get something that sounds decent. And since live is always just 1 take, it'll sound not quite there. Often times bad singers will sing countless takes that are then pieced together to get a good sounding result. This is my personal process, since I think the end product is a little better than singing a bad take and trying to fix it with autotune.

zimv20
Aug 17, 2011, 09:44 PM
it might take a bazillion takes

that's my "trick". i don't think there are tricks here, it's all about hard work. the singer needs to be able to sing (at least here, since i don't use autotune). i do what i can by making the singer comfortable, giving them a good headphone feed, doing a few takes, doing some hard listening, and re-recording (and re-re-recording) the parts that need work.

i then comp together a single good take. at mix time, before any de-essing and compression, i edit the entire thing by hand to volume match (but still allow dynamic range), remove extraneous noise, and remove hard esses and tees.

no tricks, just hard work.

Papanate
Aug 18, 2011, 10:05 AM
I'm just trying to understand in general, what studio "tricks" are used often in a professional studio after recording vocals.

There are no 'tricks'. Mic selection and matching a preamplifier to the chosen mic is most of the work on the way in with Pro Vocalist who sing well.
Then having them sing the track a few times so you can build a comp track that fixes the tiny bits that may be errant or slightly out. Then maybe a bit of compression to smooth it out; reverb to open the track up.

Itsallkosher
Aug 18, 2011, 10:38 AM
Reverb, De-esssing, compression, chorus effects, etc. are some of the "tricks" I was referring to. Thanks for some of the replies. I'm just interested on what happens (and how) between the original vocal recording, and the final product.

Papanate
Aug 20, 2011, 04:47 PM
Reverb, De-esssing, compression, chorus effects, etc. are some of the "tricks" I was referring to. Thanks for some of the replies. I'm just interested on what happens (and how) between the original vocal recording, and the final product.


You mean the final that ends up for sale?

Vox R Vox...if they aren't right they won't get better in post unless they are right at tracking. So either you build comp tracks to make a single fantastic performance or you micro edit with a pencil and spot auto tune to do the same thing.

Mixing can do some fixes...and mastering can knit together tracks...but nothing in post will improve unless it's already good

dented42ford
Aug 26, 2011, 11:10 PM
Um, "Tricks"? Well, that is what most of us pro audio guys spend our careers learning - especially with regard to vocals [and drums].

One note a hair flat? Melodyne or Autotune (I prefer the former).
Vocal not punchy enough? Compression.
Too sibilant? De-ess, or better yet Melodyne again.
Sound dull? EQ. A Lot. Or, better yet, record it better to begin with - there's a reason we spend thousands of dollars on mics and pres and outboard gear.
Dynamics mucking with your mix? Automate, or see previous point.
Too thin? That is a can of worms - eq, compression, "doubling" (either through a plugin or an actual 2nd recording), delay, reverb, parallel all of the above, modulation...

Basically, there are LOTS of tricks, any or none of which may be applicable to any given situation!