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Mixing vocals with backing track + compression/effects question

I dont know where to put this, but I think it's mainly a technical question so let's try here.
Well, I found a DAW that works (had some issues in an older thread). It's just Audacity, but the newest version has realtime-effects and some new features. With Reaper I had a nasty sound all the time, probably a latency problem. With Audacity those problems are gone which is a step forward.

So I just recorded a song for the first time and it was not pretty. Big face palm. I played it 10 times and then deleted the damn thing. The lyrics were correct, my onsets were fine and the pitch was good. But sounds like I am singing from another room and overall it sounds amateurish they way I come through in the "mix".
I noticed that I close down the v and m consonants very hard. Never thought about that until I heard it recorded. Seems I have to reset the throat quickly and it sounds strange. It becomes staccatoish. Like I am gasping at times. Long ah vowel sounds and high notes sounded ok.
These issues I have to work with. But I think some problems are technical as well.

What can be done to get the vocals to sound more crisp and harmonize with the backing track? Now it sounds like I'm coming from the outside and trying to break through in to the track. Very bizarre.
Also I am quite loud if the song goes up high like A5-B5. I was so close to hit the red area. My volume is not even further down either. Can compression help? They have a few choices in Audacity but I don't know how they work.

How do you guys approach the recording process? Given that you can sing the song of course. I mean what equipment and effects do you use? Is it a must to have a real studio mic? I am still working with a live mic (Rode M2).
Not sure if that is the issue though. I have just not found a good setting. I cannot be too close to the mic because then it sounds weird. Too intimate and a lot of plosives.

Any input would be appreciated.

Comments

  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,239
    can you post a snippet of this recording? the ic is maybe not studio standard but it should not sound as described. what's your audio interface?

    compression is not so easy to understand and dial in properly, i suggest you look for a video tutorial for beginners to get an idea how they work.
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 54
    Thanks again for helping a beginner @Klaus_T . I appreciate it.

    Since I deleted the first one I will re-record the same stuff and try to eliminate my own mistakes as much as possible, so that we can focus on enhancing the sound from a technical standpoint.
    Where is a good place to upload a mp3 or wav file?

    The audio interface is a Behringer U-Phoria UMC22. It does have a mic pre-amp which I fiddled with quite a lot.
    I just cannot wrap my head around the entire thing. If I crank it up even a bit then I distort when I lean in to the sound or go very high. If I turn the pre-amp down then the low end disappears and I sound like a mouse singing from the room next door. So difficult to find a proper setting!
    I'm a lyric tenor and with a small voice I believe I will benefit from having a boomy low end when recording.

    Thanks. I will have a look for a tutorial. I have read the basics on compression and EQ, so I kind of understand what it does. But seems pretty difficult to manage.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,239
    hm yeah let's here the sample first. the gain should not be that sensitive or at least the sound difference should not be huge IF you use the signal chain the way it is intended. i suggest watching some beginner tutorials on recording, too, not only compression. soundcloud or youtube come to mind for an upload but there are others too
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 54
    I have just re-recorded and it still sounds like shit. The vocals are on pitch but very unpolished, however the recording itself stinks even more .
    A mouse next door - that's what it sounds like. There is very little low end. I was not very far from the mic. 6-7cm maybe.
    I am going to bed now but will make a snippet tomorrow and then it might be easier to make an assesment. Thanks again.

    I did follow some guy on YT that used the same interface. Will check that tutorial again, but I think I have connected everything correctly and used the right software.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,239
    ok, please tag me @Klaus_T when you upload
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 54
    Thank you so much @Klaus_T
    I put it on SendBig as I don't wanted to make a fool out of myself on Soundcloud or YouTube just yet.
    Link should be valid for 5 days. The file name is snippet1.mp3

    Just look for a download arrow here:
    https://www.sendbig.com/view-files/?Id=804f53eb-57ed-3fde-569f-17c0f21b9c07
    If it doesn't work I will give it another go.

    Some of my own observations on the recording:
    It sounds stuffed.
    Like coming from another room.
    Uneven vocal volume. Might be bad microphone behaviour from my side?
    Is it missing some low end or is it just me who think so?

    The vocal part:
    I included my poor consonant approach for reference. It goes to an A4 on the word "tears" and I close the T down hard and that's like an artillery strike on the voice. I never recovered during the whole phrase that followed. I can hear I was stuck with a frontal small sound.
    Voice in general sounds thin mixed with the track I think. I don't hear it like that when I practise and just have the mic and headphones. It goes between D4 and A4, so it's like standard tenor range and not unusually high. Maybe I am actually this small on the sound, I don't know. I don't feel any problems at all with the range but I am scared of the consonants. It all goes so quickly and then I do the same mistake over and over again.
    I guess I must go through a long period of recording and listening and eventually get rid of the moving targets that KT is mentioning in the course.

  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,239
    you can set links to private on both YT or soundcloud, i.e. you need the link in order to listen. i downloaded as an exception, but normally it is not a good idea to post download-only, no one normally will download. it is hard to say what is going on, mixed with the playback. what is the distance from the mic?
  • INFJINFJ 2.0 PRO Posts: 54
    @Klaus_T I see. Next time I will try Soundcloud then.

    I'd say 6-7 centimetres. Not sure what that would correspond to in the US, but probably just above 2 inches.
    The mic pre-amp gain knob was turned up around 55% for that recording. That's usually where it's safe from distorting.
    I wonder if the microphone is just not up for the job? It needs Phantom Power to work, and the interface does have that. I have made sure it is on all the time. I don't see I have done something wrong with the setup.
    The frustrating thing is that there seems to be no middle ground. Either it's too sensitive or it doesn't pick stuff up.

    I'm contemplating to get a Rode studio mic instead. It comes with the pop filter which I probably need since I am having trouble with consonants.
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