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recording vocals live ?


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  • recording vocals live ?

    hi guys, currently i record bands in my studio , instruments first (live jamming), then vocals separate. 

    Is it possible to get good vocal recording in such loud setting ? dynamic vocal mics I have are ES58, XM8500 and OM5. 

  • #2

    sure. It depends on a lot of things though;

    How loud the band is and whether they can turn down and yet still keep a vibe/groove

    how you orient the players to use the rejection patterns of the mics to minimize the bleed of the band into the track

    what is behind the vocal mic, like a wall, open space, absortive materials

    whether you have or need stage monitoring wedges

    the strength of the vocalist and their technique

    I'd choose the best dynamic mic possible, which is probably the Audix


    • WRGKMC
      WRGKMC commented
      Editing a comment

      I've done scratch vocals in the studio with live bands for many years. Having that live vibe can be an essential part of getting a good band performance recorded if they are used to keying off the vocals for their parts. The problems you have are bleedover. Having the instruments, especially the drums and drum mics, set in the room so they dont get bleedover from the vocals, and vice versa is what you have to deal with.

      Bleedover isnt a bad thing if there isnt allot of bad phasing which is subtractive from the direct sound. You've probibly heard of the 3:1 rule. If you have two mics recording the same source you want to attempt to have them 3, 6, 9 feet from the first mic so the bleedover is in phase. If you have a singer with a hand held mic moving around you can even have a phase shifting effect from the two mics picking up the same drum cymbals.

      I did a project several months ago and made the mistake of letting the singer use a hand held condenser. I spent a month trying to get those songs to sound right and even then it sounded bad. I had the singer come back and redo the parts without the bleedover and I was able to get the mix to sound the way it should. The cymbals in the mic was the culprit. The high frequencies of the voice were being masked by the cymbal bleedover and there was just no way to carve them out with an EQ and have a decent sounding vocal left.

      On the other hand, I used dymac mics for decades and tapped mic inserts on the mixer and got some amazing recordings that didnt need to have the vocals done over. They may have had a little better quality tracking them solo, but its a trade off for the interaction of the band and vocalist that may have suffered.

      Big key is with even dynamic mics is you need to get the singer as isolated from the other instruments as possible and pointing away from the drums. My studio is extremely dead because my first concern was to make it sound proofed. In that I succeeded, but theres practically no reflection off walls making the entire room a vocal booth. I do box my drums in though to get better isolation mixing them. I use walls about 3' High and its sufficiant in keeping sound out of most of the mics, and you can actually run the guitars and bass lower because it cuts down on the db level in the room. You can still hear the drums well because you can walk over and look down into the set and hear all the drums fine. It does keep the guitars and bass out of the drum mics which helps you get better/louder drum tones in a mix without increasing the bass an guitar in the mix.

      I use a live PA instead of headphones as well. you could have everyone track with headphones, but they do color the sound and people tend to compensate for that color tweaking their setup, or using altered dynamics. I tried this method for about 10 years on and off, and found, for all the hassle involved in getting them tweaked just right and getting them so everyone hears what they are supposed to hear, the results werent any better than recording without them.

      You can of course try it both ways and see which suits you. I do suggest you invest in good isolation headphones, that can be worn confortably for long periods. Oh, and make sure the drummer uses wireless bones. Wired headphones are always getting snagged up back there and they wind up on the dirty floor 9X out of 10 and get ragged out quickly. Tracking parts solo of course is optional. If the band does use headphones then there no problem besides bleedover into the vocal mic and everyone should be able to hear the singer.

      You can even split the mic signal and have one leg go to the daw dry, and the feed the othe leg to a mixer that mixes the live vocals with the rest of the instruments out of the daw. This mixer can have an effects loop with eacho or reverb that the musicians hear, but its not tracked. This gives the singer that live concert sound but what you capture recording is the dry signal. The singer can even be in charge of the mixer so he can balance the vocal and instrument levels.  

  • #3

    thanks all for the help. i will make sure the guitarists/bassists turn down, and will make use of headphones for tracking. so the only bleed will be the drums into the vocal mic.the vocals won't be projected to the PA. so I'm guessing i shouldn't use AT2020 for vocals eh? too sensitive


    • WRGKMC
      WRGKMC commented
      Editing a comment

      If a large diaphram can pickup headphone bleed and be anoying, just imagine what happens when you have all the noise in the room hitting it.

      Unless you have a vocal booth, or have the singer in another room (very possible to do with longer cords) it will likely be a bad choice. I'd use a dynamic stage mic like an SM57 or SM58 if you have one. You could use that mic on the drums instead tracking live. Then go back and retrack the vocals using the AT2020 solo where you have no other sounds going on.