Singing Forum by Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy
Hey Dudes and Divas!

Welcome to Singer Forum by Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy. Enrolled KTVA vocalists have access to the full singer forums, self-registered members have access to limited areas of the KTVA singing forum. Register to learn more.

To enroll in Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy Singing Lessons click here.

God's Plan - cover

Comments

  • DiegoDiego Posts: 334Member
    edited April 15
    I'd like to hear the vocal tracks without any effects, because some effects or I don't know what It is, is drowning your voice out on some parts. I can't really understand much. The solo I feel is a bit too loud compared to the rest of the song, there's is a big change in level. If you could lower that a bit.

    -Diego
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    Hi,

    thanks for reply. I played this first for NON singers - and that was some of their exact comment. But I wanted to get my more experienced colleagues to listen before I changed it.

    Should I just post a DRY version? Or leave both to compare?
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    It also seems like my interface / mic never records the vocals loud enough, and Im constantly having to boost them.
  • DiegoDiego Posts: 334Member
    It would be better to post both the Dry Vocals and the other track to compare.
    What type of microphone are you using? Be sure when you boost the levels, try to mix them evenly so it sounds ''continuous".
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    edited August 13
    I've spent a lot of time mixing it. One issue is, when I change from headphones to speakers, etc - the mix sounds different to me.

    A lot of my time mixing, is adjust the effects. I really haven't found a good tutorial that
    instructs on what effects to add.

  • DiegoDiego Posts: 334Member
    edited April 15
    Maybe @videoace OR @TommyM can help you with that.
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    Thanks Diego - is he a well versed Engineer?
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    edited August 13
    Is it a grass is greener problem?
  • TommyMTommyM Posts: 270Pro
    I'm not an engineer, I'm just a self-taught amateur but I think I've got most of the basics down. I like to offer any advice I can, especially to people just starting out with home recording and mixing, based on the countless mistakes I made myself over the years in the hopes that others can save time and focus on making good music. Videoace (Tony) has actual analog engineering experience and knows his stuff, while I'm pretty much 100% digital since it's what I learned with. Anyhow...

    To be completely honest with you, the mix sucks and your voice (which actually sounds like it's got a really nice tone to it) is drowned out by everything from the reverb to the drums. Don't worry about it though, it's all just a matter of approaching it differently and having a clear idea in your mind of how you want the mix to sound. There's lots of wee subtleties and tricks available to you depending on what you're doing and the gear you're using.

    What's your current setup? Which software or hardware are you using to mix on?

    Right now, in reference to that mix and with the hopes it'll help your future recordings, try the following:

    - If you're having problems recording your mic at sufficient volume, chances are your gain settings are either too low or, if the signal's hitting the yellow or red all the time, too high. Depending on your mic, there are ways to sort that but there's a lot to be said for recording your input at a lower gain level. It lowers the noise floor (that "hiss" typical of bad or old recordings) and the whole recording can be "normalized" in your programme of choice. Typically, normalization is set to -2dB but all it really does is bring up the whole signal to one uniform level without clipping, i.e. distorting/overdriving. I normalize every audio track I record to -2dB, whether it's vocals or a guitar, just to give a more consistent audio level across the track from the off.

    - Think of your mix as being like a room or a stage. Placement of the instruments is key, so your kick drum and bass are punching in the centre; maybe you've got your snare and hats panned around 15-25% to the left or right to emulate the way the drums are set up; guitars typically go with at least one track panned hard left and the other hard right, but doubling them and bringing them in at a lower level (since they're technically 'closer' to the listener than the hard panned ones so will appear louder). Solo's can be different as, since the vocal usually drops out, there's space in the centre of the stereo field to slip the lead in there and give it prominence. Main vocal is always upfront with your backing vocals panned to taste. Think about how you place your stuff in your room and apply that to your mix - Look at each individual aspect of it, but also look at its place within the whole room and how it creates YOUR style.

    - Reverb and effects are tricky and can totally mess up a track, just as has happened here with the disembodied vocals! They're WAY too far away and indistinguishable because they're literally drenched in reverb, so rather than creating a space in which to place your sounds, you're creating a big muddy puddle that doesn't fit with the rest of the track. Reverb, unless you're using it as a special effect for a specific reason, is primarily used to create the illusion of a three-dimensional space in which you're placing your sounds. It's used to glue sounds together sonically, placing them in a similar psycho-acoustic space to create the illusion of their existing in the same place. In your track, you've evidently either applied the effect as an insert or you've added it to the whole track (known as "destructive processing") as a one-shot and thus can't go back and change it. Again, unless it's as a special effect or for a specific reason, reverb should be set as what's known as a "Send" or a "Return". This means that we control how much of the dry signal goes into the effect and how much of the wet signal we mix back in to the whole, if that makes sense.

    - Stuff like EQ and compression are deceptively simple, but also more complicated in a weird diametrically opposed way. A compressors primary purpose is to effectively compress an audio signal, reduce the transients (the big peaks in a waveform, usually a snare hit or a big scream or something) and bring everything up to a uniform output level. An EQ is used to shape the sound. That's pretty much it. It's just when you come to actually use them that you realize, while the tools themselves are simple enough, the canvas upon which you're working is often more like a roughcast wall than a nice smooth surface.

    I like talking about this kinda stuff too so feel free to ask whatever you need and I'm sure either me or Tony, or another member no doubt, can offer some help.
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    edited August 2
    ="TommyM">I'm not an engineer, I'm just a self-taught amateur but I think I've got most of the basics down. I like to offer any advice I can, especially to people just starting out with home recording and mixing, based on the countless mistakes I made myself over the years in the hopes that others can save time and focus on making good music.


    thanks TomymyM - much appreciated.
    -////////////// Stuff like EQ and compression are deceptively simple, but also more complicated in a weird diametrically opposed way.


    ////////////////A compressors primary purpose is to effectively compress an audio signal, reduce the transients (the big peaks in a waveform, usually a snare hit or a big scream or something) and bring everything up to a uniform output level.////



  • videoacevideoace Posts: 1,104Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Recording vocals is actually easier than people make it out to be. You want the strongest signal possible going in to your recorder. I usually record my vocals to peak when it just hits the yellow on the L.E.D. meters. I leave the EQ in neutral positions.

    Adding effects to vocals is usually where it gets muddy. I like to keep the effects on vocals to a minimum. I usually add a little reverb, and a small amount of chorus, and that's usually it.
    Effects are made to enhance your sound, unless you're looking for an un-natural sound, then you can experiment.
    Sometimes less=more

    Peace, Tony
  • TommyMTommyM Posts: 270Pro
    Thanks for the comprehensive reply, @iking, I'll go through your post and see if I can offer anything helpful:

    The fact you say DAW, interfaces and mics in the plural suggest you're more into this than I thought. My apologies, I initially thought you were maybe just running through Audacity or something for the sake of a way to record but you're clearly into this stuff. With that in mind, let's talk tech...hahaha!

    I agree with Tony on the vocal recording thing. They're easy to record, it's more about the way in which you do it and the space you're in to minimize stuff like reflections and all that hoodoo. I think a big difference nowadays is that most home recorded vocals aren't run through any hardware aside from the A/D converter in the interface, so rather than recording a subtly compressed vocal with the bottom end chopped out, you're more likely to record it completely dry then post-process. This is why I suggest normalizing the dry signal to -2dB, it brings everything up to a fairly uniform level and gives you a reasonably firm foundation, volume-wise at least, to mix from.

    The way your effects usage sounded made me think they'd been applied in the way it's done in Audacity, i.e. applied to the whole track as a one-shot that you need to undo and edit to make any changes on. Now you've mentioned Izotope's software, the sonic landscape literally clicked in my mind as I thought something about it sounded oddly familiar. I used Ozone3 for a while when I'd started as I thought it'd help give my mixes that shine I thought they were meant to have. Instead, due to the fact I didn't know what I was doing, it led to muddy, crap mixes with horrible overtones and noisy distortions. It wasn't the software's fault, it was me being a moron and not having a clue but I did find, even later as I was learning, that the Izotope software does seem to have a certain 'flavour' to it overall.

    One of the killers about using Ozone or any of the one-size-fits-all mastering plug-ins is the multiband compressors. They can be MASSIVELY useful, but they can also destroy a mix in two seconds. Even now, I tend to avoid using multiband compression unless I really, really need to 'cause it's so precise and powerful that you can disrupt the entire thing. It sounds patronizing, I know, but don't mess about with multiband compression until you actually know what you're doing. It's complicated and is usually only used by mastering engineers unless it's done for a specific mix-related purpose, e.g. sidechaining the snare frequencies so that they're gated slightly when the vocal kicks in to avoid cluttering.

    My advice would be to stop using all-inclusive plug-ins until you get to grips with what each individual section does and how, depending on the way they're chained, they'll affect the sound. I found plug-ins like that to be an easy excuse to get lazy, but when I forced myself to strip it back and start using individual plug-ins, chained in the optimal way for the source, I learned far more than I would have otherwise. It's also a lot more fun 'cause you can get more creative and experiment to see what each thing DOES to the sound as you build the track.

    Mix-wise, when it comes to the levels of the solos, as you've mentioned, there's a few things you can do. In this mix, you've definitely got the solo guitar too loud and the way you've processed it makes it sound noisy and out of place within the track; like it's just been stuck in as an afterthought, sonically, rather than part of the composition. You can use the automation feature in your DAW to ride the volume of the track, ensuring it's balanced throughout. You could also judiciously EQ it so that it has plenty of presence, but doesn't overwhelm. This is more technical but it's an option. You could also ride the fader manually - set your DAW to "Write" for the automation and then play the track back while using the fader to adjust the levels as you go. Once you're done, change the DAW to "Read" for the automation and away you go. You can also fine-tune the automation further once you've manually rode the fader, so there's lots of options. Ideally though, you want to give the solo prominence, but you don't want it poking out of the mix like a sore thumb.

    With your guitar, you might want to add in a noise gate so that the hiss and hum between parts doesn't interfere with the mix. When you compress your sound, as I'd said, you raise up the noise floor which is what has happened here and why the guitar sounds so rough. Another option is noise reduction software, but these need to be used carefully of you lose a massive chunk of the top-end. These vary in quality massively. I personally use Waves NS1 or Z-Noise as they're the only ones that give me the quality I need, but unless you're using cracked software then they're ridiculously expensive.

    (Continued)
  • TommyMTommyM Posts: 270Pro
    (Continued)

    Since you're using a DAW, you should be able to do insert and send effects that can be altered while the sound plays. Some stuff to avoid:

    - Don't throw heavy effects like reverb onto an insert UNLESS you're using it to get a sound specifically for that track. Create a send/return and add it there BUT always add an EQ plug-in after it and cut off everything below around maybe 150-200Hz. Adding reverb to a bottom-end heavy sound creates sonic mud; trimming the frequencies back so that the reverb can focus on the higher frequencies lets it sing more and resonate more naturally, while also freeing up space in your mix.

    - Think about how an old mixing desk works. Tony can probably offer more on the specifics of this, but they typically consisted of a very basic set of effects yet produced some of the best known tracks in the world. Consider the benefits of simplicity before making everything complex. Even modern desks typically only have those basic functions, like EQ and compression, maybe a gate or expander as is the case with an SSL desk, but they still send the signal either to a DAW for further editing, or route it old-school through hardware for more extreme effects like delays, phasers, etc. Your basic track, say the dry vocal track for instance, at its root only needs very basic processing to improve sound and even out the levels. Try sticking to only basic plug-ins on each track. My basic effects chain for a vocal track (post-processing/insert) is as follows: One high-pass EQ set to cut off everything below 90Hz, unless it's a deeper, bassier vocal; a basic compressor to even out the sound (setting something like ratio 2:1, slower attack, medium release and set to bite around maybe 5dB depending) then a more aggressive compression to catch the transients and bring up the level overall followed by an EQ to shape the sound specific to the mix. In most cases though, this involves a further cut below 90Hz, a high-shelf boost around 8kHz upwards and then surgical boots and cuts between 500Hz and 8kHz depending on the track. That is pretty much all you'll hear on my vocal tracks. I use delays and reverbs as sends, but they're mixed into the ambience of the track so that they provide that virtual space.

    - You can get away with modulation effects like chorus or flanger as inserts. My only advice would be not to overdo them unless you're trying to get a specific effect, e.g. that nice chorusy bass sound that gives it some movement and depth. Modulation effects are awesome on backing vocals, guitar parts, percussion and all stuff in the mid- to high frequencies as they provide a sense of movement that can often spice up a flaccid sounding part. Same goes for delays, but in my experience they're just a bit easier to control and manipulate as sends than they are as inserts.

    - As I'd said in the first post, try to use individual plug-ins and learn to use them effectively. Free plug-ins can be amazing and shouldn't be underestimated. Some of my favourite effects - like Blockfish, a great wee compressor; dBGlitch and LiveCut, both AMAZING sonic mangling devices; Voxengo SPAN, my go-to spectrum analyzer - are free so look at what's out there. Play around, experiment, install and uninstall if they suck etc. You may find that a freebie works better and gives you the sound you need over a super high-end plug-in. Even big name producers still go back to freeware for a lot of stuff, so it's definitely worth investigating.

    - Which one of the U47 clones are you using? The original mics are just orgasmically good, but I've heard good things about a few of the copies. That might also be working against you in part, strange as it may sound. The frequency response on those sorts of mics, or at least on the Neumann U47 itself, contains a boost around 10kHz and then slopes down after that. It might sound like nothing, but in my experience a lot of hiss and background noise like you hear on your guitar track sits around 12-14kHz in a big, jagged peak and it can be hard to eliminate it without affecting your sound. They're AMAZING for vocals, their response range just gives this gorgeous body and shine to a good vocal so I'm not knocking it at all. It's just that this may be a contributory factor if you're using the mic to record guitar. I'm guessing you're not and you're going through something like Amplitube, but I thought it was worth mentioning in case it was useful.

    The long and short of it is, just like with the singing, stripping it back to basics and building a solid foundation to work from. Most of this is just common sense as you're actually doing it, but we have a tendency to overcomplicate stuff when it's that simple.
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    videoace said:

    Recording vocals is actually easier than people make it out to be. You want the strongest signal possible going in to your recorder. I usually record my vocals to peak when it just hits the yellow on the L.E.D. meters. I leave the EQ in neutral positions.

    Adding effects to vocals is usually where it gets muddy. I like to keep the effects on vocals to a minimum. I usually add a little reverb, and a small amount of chorus, and that's usually it.
    Effects are made to enhance your sound, unless you're looking for an un-natural sound, then you can experiment.
    Sometimes less=more

    Peace, Tony

    thanks Tony. I tried your method in MIX 2.

    ................... just chorus, which i wasnt even using before.
    and kept some slight reverb. and EQ, I cut over 10 effects.

    But TOMMYM says its still covered in effects, so not sure anymore what you guys are talking about.

    Im tempted to go back to my original mix.




  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    the one effect I regret cutting is compression -- since the levels are haywire, and im having a hard time correcting that just with volume knobs.



  • DiegoDiego Posts: 334Member
    Can you post the DRY vocal track for this?
  • ikingiking Posts: 177Pro
    edited August 2
    Hi Diego,

    Im starting to think Im going to need effects added to try and smooth it out. Otherwise rerecord all the vocals which at this point I dont have time to do.

    thanks

Sign In or Register to comment.