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Vocal Photoshop

Michael4000Michael4000 STREAMING PRO Posts: 992
How much of a difference do you guys think audio engineers make on the recordings of the pros? Could they make the regular guys and gals like us with our cell phone microphones and soundcloud uploads sound like a pop star? Or should a good singer just sound good even on the crude equipment most of us are using.


  • HuduVuduHuduVudu 2.0 PRO Posts: 1,818
    Unless they are using autotune ... not much. Pretty much what you hear is what they are singing. There may be some reverb, but if you heard the difference you would understand that it is not much.

    These singers are doing this for a livelihood so they are singing for literally hours a day. They sound that good for a reason.
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management Posts: 3,978
    edited December 2018
    Hi @Michael4000,

    that is a VERY good question. I am making music for a long time. I even had several bands with whom we made recordings in "professional" studios (me being the guitar player). Whenever I watched documentaries, for example: Earth, Wind & Fire who tried to make "that" perfect sound, I thought that I would like to do the same. So I always wondered what I should buy to make me sound professional. My guitar teacher always told me that the sound comes from my fingers - but I was not able to hear it.

    The same thoughts have reoccupied me when I was dealing with that Christmas song thing. I am so happy with singing and I enjoy it so much. And ... I wanted to show you all how far I got in 5 months. So I set up the microphone, started my DAW, put several "fancy" plugins in the channel strip and ... was absolutely disappointed. Pitch issues all over the place, timing problems, thin voice, ... why do I not sound like Ken?

    I was frustrated. Then my (very cool) guitar teacher knocked at the door to my brain: "If you are good enough you can pick up a guitar while sitting at a campfire and it will sound great." - So I had second thoughts on that recording topic. I dismantled the microphone stand, closed my DAW and decided to do it quick and dirty. THAT was the moment I was able to concentrate on SINGING. Not trying to sound professional helped me to come back to what it is about: LEARNING HOW TO SING.

  • Michael4000Michael4000 STREAMING PRO Posts: 992
    Thanks for sharing this experience Doc
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    Bearing all that in mind... start combing youtube for isolated vocal tracks. You will quickly discover which singers were the real deal and which were sonic creations of the recording engineers. (and various stages of that sliding scale)
    I have even heard George Lynch isolated guitar tracks, and suddenly I am not quite so hard on myself, as I understand how his 'layering' works now. Hearing the original, unaltered tones can be quite enlightening for us tone seekers!

    It all boils down to, the original source recording HAS to be solid, otherwise you are just putting lipstick on a pig.
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management Posts: 3,978
    Hi @Furious_Phil,

    otherwise you are just putting lipstick on a pig.

    In our german language we would say it in this way: "You can't polish s**t".


  • JurajMJurajM Member Posts: 54
    From my experience of watching a lot of live/studio performances on youtube, I would agree with @HuduVudu that the voices are changed much only if they are using autotune and a lot of pitch correction. But anyways if the singer is good they just need to polish the recordings to be more enjoyable. I dont seem to know a lot of people who like to listen to phone recordings.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    What hasn't been said in this thread is that most pro recordings, including Freddie Mercury, Rob Halford, and other incredible vocalists, are done one line at a time, and what you hear on the playback is a "composite" which literally IS photoshopping a line or a word at a time, recording several takes, and choosing the best ones with which to use in the composite. It's an electronic collage.

    What we see when Ken does his videos is he turns on the recorder and does the whole thing in one take, in front of the camera. If he doesn't like the way it came out, he does the whole thing over again.

    We might be seeing take 7, but we're seeing take 7 from end-to-end. It's a LIVE recording, which is NOT what you hear in Pro Records. Those are nearly 100% composites, crafted by skilled engineers and record producers taking the raw materials of the 100 takes from the artist and making it larger than life.

    So even Freddie, and Paul McCartney and everyone else since about the early 1970's has been making composites for the lead vocals, the guitar solos, the backing vocals and everything else. That's why it all sounds so perfect.
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management Posts: 3,978
    Yes, Bob, and it is really amazing you focus Ken is.
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