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Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion

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Uncle E
KVRAF
 
6687 posts since 21 Nov, 2000, from Southern California

Postby Uncle E; Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:55 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Greg Houston wrote:I'll probably spend the next three months fiddling with the reverbs I have trying to get something similar.


Or you can spend $150 and have them right now, Toontrack just put the EZmix 2 Bundle on sale. The Bundle is EZmix 2 plus 6 MixPacks, so you could choose the Ambient MixPack and then get 5 more. Several of the MixPacks are strictly for vocals.
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Greg Houston
KVRist
 
299 posts since 28 Jul, 2011, from USA

Postby Greg Houston; Tue Apr 01, 2014 11:06 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Uncle E wrote:Or you can spend $150 and have them right now, Toontrack just put the EZmix 2 Bundle on sale.


If only money grew on trees. Had some GIK Acoustics panels arrive yesterday. Absolutely loving them, but that sapped my disposable cash.
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don1thedon
KVRian
 
996 posts since 25 Sep, 2002

Postby don1thedon; Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:22 pm Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Very interesting topic this Greg and some really interesting contributions all - Thanks!
MarlboroMan23
KVRist
 
130 posts since 24 Aug, 2006

Postby MarlboroMan23; Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:02 pm Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Along the lines of rotating the mic a little off axis, I've read taping a pencil in front of a large diaphragm condenser mic can help with excessive sibilance. Ribbon mics help too.

On the software side I like the de-essers in Pod Farm.
mrblitz
KVRAF
 
2643 posts since 21 Jul, 2009

Postby mrblitz; Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:33 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

wrestled with my lexicon lambda i/o device for years. it's spec'd to have built-in pre-amps, but they seem to do less of the 'amp' thing and maybe more of the 'pre' thing (they're quiet).

finally added a ~$35 external pre-amp and things are way better. even at very low voice levels, the mics work better. overall, the resulting waveforms seem much less 'spikey' and have a noticeable 'compression' or 'tightness' or sort of 'presence' that they've never had before. problems with 'sh' and 'k' and 'ss' are far less.

used to have to do a more-or-less detailed edit in the wav editor to take the sibilance out on every vocal take. after getting the pre-amp, most vocal takes require no real editing.

haven't experimented too much, but it also seems like the pre-amp improves the sound of direct-in guitar as well.

the on-the-box description of the pre-amp says it adds 'warmth and compression' and it seems to do just that.

in short, adding a pre-amp to a semi-pro i/o-a/d might do anybody wonders on their vocal takes.

imo plug-ins are almost an afterthought compared to getting a good take. ymmv
PFozz
KVRist
 
314 posts since 30 Apr, 2004, from France

Postby PFozz; Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:32 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Thanks for sharing this, Greg :tu:

Greg Houston wrote:
Uncle E wrote:Or you can spend $150 and have them right now, Toontrack just put the EZmix 2 Bundle on sale.

If only money grew on trees. Had some GIK Acoustics panels arrive yesterday. Absolutely loving them, but that sapped my disposable cash.

EZMix2 is an excellent product.
That said, Overloud is involved in the project and if you just want a reverb, having both BReverb2 and EZMix2 may be redundant(?). That said, there is a lot to explore in EZMix2.

Many thanks for mentionning EAReverb SE as a part of your arsenal, by the way :oops:

"Feature request for ALL plugins: Undo/Redo" (Greg's sig)
I will surely contact you about it within a few weeks ;-)

I recorded this at pracky about a week ago, on the vocals there's just eq, comp and a bit of long plate reverb, you'll notice I haven't even bothered with acoustic treatment, sounds perfectly fine.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agiGi1G6du8

I have no luck with the video (just can hear the first 30 seconds) but liked your voice... Will try again later.
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Greg Houston
KVRist
 
299 posts since 28 Jul, 2011, from USA

Postby Greg Houston; Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:50 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

PFozz wrote:"Feature request for ALL plugins: Undo/Redo" (Greg's sig)
I will surely contact you about it within a few weeks ;-)


Thanks!

Out of the blue I got some tips on another forum and am able to get in the ballpark of the Morning Phase verb effect with both EAReverb SE and REVelation now no problem. Turn the early reflections all the way down. Add the reverb as an insert (not a send), and then put your LA-2A after the reverb. The compressor merges the instrument with the reverb tail so they don't sound detached. Seems obvious now, and I'm loving the results.
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Agreed
KVRian
 
1137 posts since 2 Mar, 2009, from Crossett, Arkansas, USA

Postby Agreed; Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:21 pm Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Uncle E wrote:
Agreed wrote:To balance out captain obvious level "just track it better idiots"


I'm surprised you guys took so much offense to his comment. These days, not nearly enough emphasis is put into good practice tracking and getting good performances.


Didn't take offense to it so much as it's about as useful as tits on a boar. "Track as well as you possibly can" is step one out of god knows how many. This thread is clearly not intended for discussing whether one should track their stuff well or not, because it is blatantly, almost tautologically true.

Yes you should. You should track well. And so should we all. Then, once that's done... (discussion starts here)

You see what I mean?
Krzysztof Oktalski
KVRist
 
188 posts since 31 Aug, 2006

Postby Krzysztof Oktalski; Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:51 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

I don't like to think about plugins much when recording vocals. I spend a lot of time trying different mics, pres, distances. By the time I record anything it usually sounds great, and I know I'm not going to have to do very much ITB. The only plugins I ever use on a vocal chain are Equilibrium and Compassion - sometimes 2 Compassion's if I need to de-ess. As much as I love our plugins, I could easily do without them compared to the mics, pres, pop shields, room and decent singer. The plugins are usually corrective in nature, inferring you've already done something wrong! Had I of got the positioning, micing and talked to the singer about technique we wouldn't need to EQ the vocals. Verbs are another thing entirely, in as much as I consider that more a part of creating the space of the recording, and although a lot of that might apply to vocals, I don't conflate the processes.

Even some of the fundamentals, like intonation, can be momentarily sacrificed for an emotional take. That's where the magic is, I've often left takes that I wasn't 100% happy with the pitching because I liked the overall effect, this recording in particular comes to mind :
https://soundcloud.com/freestyle-record ... its-a-fine

Sometimes it's all in the moment and technically better takes get cast aside for some raw emotion.

TL;DR - I agree with Captain Obvious.
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Greg Houston
KVRist
 
299 posts since 28 Jul, 2011, from USA

Postby Greg Houston; Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:13 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Krzysztof Oktalski wrote: I spend a lot of time trying different mics, pres, distances.


Not everyone has an arsenal of mics to choose from.

Not everyone has an arsenal of pres to choose from.

Not everyone can afford full room correction.

Yes, everyone can work with distance, angle, technique in general.

Yes, these are important. This post presupposes that a person has done the best that they can out of the box with what their finances and skill allow.

So we've got the best we can get out of the box. And even if that is great you will almost certainly add some compression and EQ for fitting it in the mix. I recommended one of each of these that are particularly helpful for smoothing out vocals, and then two specific reverbs that tend to compliment this smoothing effect.
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Uncle E
KVRAF
 
6687 posts since 21 Nov, 2000, from Southern California

Postby Uncle E; Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:46 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Agreed wrote:Didn't take offense to it so much as it's about as useful as tits on a boar. "Track as well as you possibly can" is step one out of god knows how many. This thread is clearly not intended for discussing whether one should track their stuff well or not, because it is blatantly, almost tautologically true.

Yes you should. You should track well. And so should we all. Then, once that's done... (discussion starts here)

You see what I mean?


Yes, I think I see now. It wasn't so much the declaration, it was the lack of any useful tips accompanying it. I'll throw in a few tracking tips to make up for that:

#1 Record at several different distances and learn to use distance to accomplish the effect you're after.

#2 Point the mic towards the singers, not the nose, to avoid plosives.

#3 Nylon pop filters change the sound, sometimes for the better.

#4 Live mics can be excellent for recording vocals in noisy or otherwise imperfect recording environments.

#5 Choose a mic that works well with your preamp, or vice versa. SM57's and 58's sound amazing through Neve's but they're not so great through the pre's in most interfaces. Condensers, tube mics, and active ribbons are more forgiving of low- to medium-level preamps.
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Uncle E
KVRAF
 
6687 posts since 21 Nov, 2000, from Southern California

Postby Uncle E; Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:57 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Greg Houston wrote:This post presupposes that a person has done the best that they can out of the box with what their finances and skill allow.


Here's an example of bad mic positioning absolutely ruining what should have been an amazing take:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiBi8scFD68
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Greg Houston
KVRist
 
299 posts since 28 Jul, 2011, from USA

Postby Greg Houston; Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:27 pm Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

At this point Unkle I'm not sure if you are trolling me or just have really poor reading comprehension, but rather than try to clarify again what I or Agreed said perhaps I should just rename the thread "Tips on All Aspects of Vocals" and it can be derailed and become a general repository of tips for all things vocal related.

Regarding the non sequitur video, that should not have been an amazing take. She was likely either being recorded by a little mic pinned to her or by the mic on the camera. It was casual, impromptu, not meant to become an amazing recording that goes platinum.

Anyway, there is plenty of good info in the thread and trying to keep it on topic seems sort of pointless so I'm signing out. Cheers!
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lingyai
KVRAF
 
1585 posts since 27 Jan, 2011

Postby lingyai; Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:11 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

Greg Houston wrote:
2. Voxengo Overtone GEQ. This thing is free. It is magical. I've been using Voxengo products for years, and their UIs still confuse the hell out of me, but you want this setup so that EQ1 and EQ2 work independently of each other. For smoothing out vocals the 2k and 6k bands on this EQ are particularly useful. The 12k band on this EQ is yummy. I've never heard anything like it.!



Greg, could you elaborate on how to use the two EQs independently? Let's say I want to cut at 2K. Do you mean to make the same cut on each, or on just one of them?
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do_androids_dream
KVRian
 
961 posts since 26 Oct, 2007, from UK

Postby do_androids_dream; Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:37 am Re: Tips for Getting Smooth Vocals in the Box

This is certainly a strange thread to me as every single vocal will require different work to get it 'smooth' (whatever that means). A vocal I was working on a few months ago took: Hornet autogain then sending through two compressors, lots of eq cuts to get rid of very uneven low honky frequencies, volume automation and then a further compressor on the end of the chain, then a further eq to put back in some frequencies (after peaky frequencies had been removed with the previous eq). A vocal I have just finished working on took the tiniest amount of overall compression, then a tiny amount of compression to the 150 - 220 Hz region (with a multiband comp), a few very slight cuts and a very slight boost at 10K. As you can see these vocals needed very different approaches. I'm not sure how anyone can formulate a template for this let alone specific plugins.
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