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fourloudbarks

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Posts: 117 Member Since: 17/11/2012

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Mar 18 17 9:23 AM

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During the process of mixing a local group that I recorded, I found myself trying to track down, to no avail, the source of distortion on the vocal track.  Plugins, gain, was it the mic I had used, was it the preamp, my converters?  Well, yesterday, when the singer stopped by, I suddenly discovered the source!   His voice distorted while speaking during normal conversation with no mics or electronics involved.  I had never noticed this before, but after hearing the exact same thing from my monitors for many hours, I guess I was more perceptive to it.  

This brings me to questions of practice employed by the members here.  Do you purposefully spend some time conversing with your clients while listening for subtle vocal characteristics.  Do you have them perform without any mics set up so you can evaluate their characteristics?   How might your session change based on noted characteristics you hope to minimize?   

I feel somewhat humbled and think I need to learn how to listen to human voice.

 

Earl Norris www.fourloudbarks.com

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,044 Member Since:04/02/2011

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Mar 18 17 9:41 AM

I've run into this before!

I actually had the opposite thing happen the other day-- I was tracking a vocalist I know well, but she's been sick. I pulled up the same chain we've always used, and heard what sounded like something weird in her larnyx. So I immediately went out into the live room to hear her sing, and her voice sounded fine. Went back in and switched channels on the desk... turns out a transistor (or something) was going south in the preamp I had patched in.

brad allen williams

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maarvold

Aqua Marine

Posts: 2,933 Member Since:23/01/2011

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Mar 18 17 10:01 AM

When I'm working with singers, I typically have 3-4 mics set up and, in the case of tube mics, warmed up.  I always go into the live room and ask them to sing a little bit for me: this helps me decide what mic might be flattering for them and also gives me a good idea what should be coming out of the speakers.  Every once in a great while, the mic I put up will really accentuate some aspect significantly more than listening in the room pointed out, although this doesn't happen very often.  

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morespaceecho

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Posts: 2,190 Member Since:29/01/2011

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Mar 18 17 11:39 AM

this reminds me of the story roger moutenot told about recording yo la tengo......he puts the vocal mic up, goes back in the control room, says "ok sing" and.....nothing. confused, he turns the mic pre all the way up. still barely getting anything. wtf. is something broken? he goes out to the live room, asks them to just sing a little bit. they sing at a level barely above a whisper. aha! now he understands.

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,476 Member Since:26/01/2011

#4 [url]

Mar 18 17 12:21 PM

I had exactly the same thing happen. I was recording a singer I've known for years, but hadn't recorded for a while, and I was getting distortion. Gain staging was correct, I switched everything in the signal chain from mic to compressor and the distortion was still there. I listened in headphones in the control room to make sure it wasn't my monitors. Nothing worked. I finally went into the studio and asked her to sing and there it was. In the years since I last recorded her she had developed some sort of vocal affectation, I don't know what else to call it, that sounded to me like distortion. At that point it was out of my hands.

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jesse decarlo

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Posts: 1,425 Member Since:24/03/2013

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Mar 18 17 1:29 PM

Have you noticed that some young singers have developed a vocal affectation that sounds a lot like Autotune? I find it slightly unnerving when I hear it.

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scullyfan

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,543 Member Since:27/07/2011

#6 [url]

Mar 18 17 1:36 PM

I don't know that I would call it distortion, but I once had a singer whose nasal voice caused my perfectly good U47 to sound as if it were broken. I am not exaggerating. This guy's voice coupled with the U47 sounded like it was going through a distortion pedal. Up until that point I'd never heard anyone's voice do something like that. I switched him to a different mic and carried on, but I was sure my 47 was on the blink. After the session I re-tested the 47 with my voice and it was fine, which was a blessing for me. I just about had an anxiety attack when the guy first started singing and I heard that horrible sound.

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morespaceecho

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 2,190 Member Since:29/01/2011

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Mar 18 17 1:44 PM

jesse decarlo wrote:
Have you noticed that some young singers have developed a vocal affectation that sounds a lot like Autotune? I find it slightly unnerving when I hear it.


yep. i don't like it, at all, but i'm an old man what do i know.

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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demiana

Gold Finger

Posts: 474 Member Since:18/02/2011

#9 [url]

Mar 18 17 2:46 PM

I recorded a guy playing solo harmonica once. The mics were picking up all sorts of weird grunting and gurgling noises that were completely inaudible in the room. Tried four different mics and it was the same on all of them.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,044 Member Since:04/02/2011

#10 [url]

Mar 18 17 3:07 PM

jesse decarlo wrote:
Have you noticed that some young singers have developed a vocal affectation that sounds a lot like Autotune? I find it slightly unnerving when I hear it.

Absolutely!

Life imitates Art imitates Life.

I've tried to put my finger on exactly WHAT it is. Near as I can tell, it's a way of moving between pitches very quickly? But a little elusive to describe

brad allen williams

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chance

Aqua Marine

Posts: 2,539 Member Since:30/01/2011

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Mar 18 17 3:42 PM

soapfoot wrote:
it's a way of moving between pitches very quickly? But a little elusive to describe

Yes. I hate that. When I confronted this girl singer, her reply was that "she liked the way so & so sings" not even knowing that it was not so & so's singing style, it was an effect added to her vox. It almost sounds like yodoling. She did much better singing like herself

Chance Pataki The Musicians Workshop www.the-musicians-workshop.com musicians.workshop@gte.net

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maarvold

Aqua Marine

Posts: 2,933 Member Since:23/01/2011

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Mar 18 17 8:35 PM

jesse decarlo wrote:
Have you noticed that some young singers have developed a vocal affectation that sounds a lot like Autotune? I find it slightly unnerving when I hear it.

 
A couple of decades ago I encountered two or three singers, over the course of several years, where they sounded compressed (with seemingly audible clamping/pumping) when they were not compressed: very strange.  

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