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brittle vocals

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  • brittle vocals

    You all have been giving me some great insights. Quick review: I've been fooling with a Tascam recorder in my basement for several years and have put over a hundred songs on it so far.

    I learn more every time I sit down to mix and have figured out how to solve a lot of problems. A few of you have given me advice on mic preamps, which I'm taking to heart. (read: I'll get one when I have the scratch.)

    There's one problem in particular, though, that has me stymied. All the tracks I record, but most especially vocal and electric guitar tracks, sound brittle. Even when I dial the trebles and mids down radically, everything has harsh edges. All the hard consonant sounds - T especially, and also S, K, and CH - jump out very unmusically.

    It would be great to smooth or soften the sound.It it just the nature of the Tascam? Is there a remedy? What works?

    If a preamp will help with that, tell more more. How can it help? What should I be looking for? What should I avoid?

    Getting there. Thanks!
    ( •)—:::
    Sent on my six-string jumbo ukelele

  • #2
    Compression? De-essing? Sorry, I'm not really an expert on recording but I do know that vocals almost always need compression, dynamic range compression, that is. De-essing is a special compressor that acts only on the treble "sibilant" sounds. These technologies were essential for making recording that could be played back on vinyl records, but it helps tame vocals in a way that we're used to hearing them. Which is why un-processed vocals sound "harsh" as you say.

    Clean guitars can use compression too. Distorted guitars typically don't need compression because distortion & overdrive compress the signal naturally on their own.
    This space left intentionally blank.


    • Delmont
      Delmont commented
      Editing a comment
      Are there any under-$250 single- or dual-input mic preamps you recommend to solve it?
      Last edited by Delmont; 03-06-2017, 03:46 PM.

  • #3
    You didn't mention your mic. Does it happen with more than one kind of microphone? Always start with the first things first.
    Todd Peterson
    Marketing Manager
    Transamerica Audio Group


    • Delmont
      Delmont commented
      Editing a comment
      Have an Audix OM2, a Sennheiser e945, and an Audio Technica AT2020. Used the OM2 on this batch of tunes. Will try the other mics on future efforts.

      Wondering what preamp will suit me best.

  • #4
    A good condenser mic, not ever mic works for ever singer. Tube preamp with eq and compressor limiter. The vocs should sound good before you hit the record button. Don't forget the mic pop screen.

    That's just my 2 cents.

    Don't forget your ears are your best friend.

    Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

    Join Date: Aug 2001
    Location: N. Adams, MA USA
    Posts as of Jan 10th 2013: 82,617


    • Delmont
      Delmont commented
      Editing a comment

      Tried a pop screen, but it muffled my voice too much. I'll try it again sometime. What preamps do you recommend for under $250? What do you like about them?

  • #5
    I couldn't give much advice without actually hearing a sample. What you think as the vocals and guitar being to harsh may simply be the rest of your tracks being too dull and that simply stand out too much.

    Your problem probably isn't the Tascam, but if its a stand alone recorder, you undoubtedly have issues using the built in effects. You only have one set of audio tools in a stand alone recorder and if they aren't a good match for taming the music you're pretty much screwed.

    With a DAW your have your choice or thousands of different plugins, all with they're only color and character. Once you get to know them its a simple process of finding what works for a particular track.

    There can be many other possible issues with your tracks, mic choices, amp choices, instrument choices, gain levels, mixing issues, Un-mastered vs mastered material, Headphone, Headphone amp, studio monitors, room acoustics. This doesn't even cover the musicians ability to play well to begin with. The list goes on and on.

    We could make a hundred guesses and never get close to the actual cause. A sample is going to let us know what you're hearing.

    I can say, when people start talking about buying new preamps to get a warmer sound, they are usually chasing the wrong solution.
    I'd ask what monitors you're using before a preamp. All a preamp needs to do is capture what the mic is actually hearing. The monitors are the key tool in making what was captured sound great.

    If you have good monitors and are recording to a stand alone, I'd move the tracks to a DAW and work with them there. That's where all your manufacturers are focusing they're efforts on making good plugins for fixing your issues.


    • Delmont
      Delmont commented
      Editing a comment

      I've remixed everything and will be uploading it later this week. I'll post the link here when it's done.

      The monitors are bad, so I listen to everything on headphones and three different stereos, instead. (Actually, the car stereo broke last week. When we get a new car, I'll be using the car again.)

      None of the tunes are on a DAW. I wish I had one, but I don't. I've used ProTools and it's great. Maybe someday I'll have a DAW. For now, it's the Tascam.

      I can only move stereo AIFF tracks off the Tascam. That's good for mastering but not for editing individual tracks.
      Last edited by Delmont; 03-07-2017, 11:43 AM.