Do your recordings suffer from vocaltracks that don’t cut it? Are your fansunder the false impression that you are an instrumental band? Do paranormal investigators claim the vocals on your CD are actually recordings from the spirit world? Well, read on, because I’mgoing to give you six ways to put thosepathetic whispers you’ve been recordingupfront and in-your-face.
Use a Good Preamp
When it comes to recording vocals,beg, borrow, or steal a nice preamp.A high-end box will impart a punchyvibe that you have to experience to believe. You don’t think professionale ngineers and producers plop downseveral grand on a great mic preampjust to stroke their egos, do ya?
Recording your voice too soft willresult in noise and hum when youboost it to in-your-face levels at mixdown.Record it too hot, however, andyou are sure to get distortion. So, ifyou’re recording a sensitive, chanteuse type singer, position the mic four to sixinches from their mouth. Put your average rock screamer about one footaway. Also, tell singers to back off themic a few inches when they get loud,and move in a few inches closer forquiet parts. Beware of pops, plosives,and sibilance. Use a pop filter at alltimes, and have boomy types sing a bitto the side of the mic.
You don’t need an expensivecondenser mic to get killer vocals.Inexpensive dynamic mics are toughenough to track screamers, and theycan deliver excellent sounds. SuperproducerBruce Sweden used a $350(street price) Shure SM7B to recordMichael Jackson’s vocals on Thriller,the best-selling album of all time, sosuck on that. However, if a condenseris best for a singer’s voice, choose amodel with a –10dB or –20dB padswitch, and when the screamin’ getstoo loud and crazy, click it!
Vocalists are generally a squirrely bunch with little or no self-control.Even though you’ve set the levelswith obsessive-compulsive attentionto detail, I guarantee you avocalist will somehow find a way tocock up your well-laid plans bysinging louder or softer than whenyou were setting things up. A compressor is a great way to mitigatesuch disasters. A mild ratio of 2:1with a –10dB threshold is a greatplace to start. Then, adjust everythingto taste until whatever comesout of the singer’s mouth is putdown nice and consistent.
The decent mic/killer preampapproach should take you a long waytowards achieving an in-your-faceattitude rivaling the girls on CharmSchool. However, you still may need abit of help, and this is where EQ cansave you. I typically boost a littlebetween 125Hz and 250Hz to capturea bit of meat iness, and then boostbetween 2kHz and 4kHz to dial inpresence and articulation. I also rolloff a good deal of the bottom end sothe compressor doesn’t bring up anylow-end rumble.
The all-time Hail Mary play for addingthickness and power to vocals is havingthe vocalist double a line bysinging along with the original take.But let’s get real he...