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Rainbow in the Dark

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ronws
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So, I've been working on this song. When I sing it, I know I am on pitch. I've changed one minor thing. Instead of dropping one earbud out, I keep them both in and cup one ear to hear myself, as if I was fully with the band. Anyway, on this one, I didn't use compressor or leveller (Audacity software plug-ins). For one thing, there is no soft part of this song. It's all full voice. Yes, my singing volume is loud but I am not pushing or straining and even tried for a little grit, which may not get picked up.

What I did differently is in the recording mic volume. Even though I have adjusted downward the system mic level in the computer config, I also lowered the mic volume during the recording of the track. Later, in playback to mix, I bring the mic level up from -5 to 0 or neutral. Also, I changed the eq from the Columbia pre-set to a modified version of the acoustic pre-set. Here's the deal. With the other pre-sets, like Columbia, it is bass heavy and drops off significantly in part of what would be male tenor. I happen to notice, this time, that when I sing the track, I have wall to wall waveforms, especially on this song. With the Columbia pre-set, it is half the amplitude. I know enough about physics to know how this is affecting the sound. It is, in part, in fact, responsible for what I hear wrong in the vocal track, even when I knew I was on pitch. I've been hampering myself by mixing out the tones of my upper range. I mean, that is what eq is all about. Bring some tones to the front and squashing others. My modified acoustic eq is the acoustic preset, which nearly a straight line along a few clicks above zero, with dials up a little on the very bass end and just slightly elevated at the upper end, with a severe drop off at the highest end. It doesn't sound that much different than the actual track, pre-eq.

Aside from having a better mic (one day), do I need to put a bell curve or hump in the middle? How does one mix for one's own voice? I'm a total neophyte when it comes to recording. Are there tricks to mixing a fairly clean tenor voice? I want to mix this right, without losing the highs. See, I mixed it a few different ways and the bass heavy eq's made me sound off or funny on the high pitches. So, I tried the modified acoustic eq and magically, what I thought was a pitch issue was gone, primarily because I wasn't stamping it down with an eq that drops it out of presence.

I sang this song as I remember it, aside from a few accents and variations that I included. This backing track was sent to me by an angel. Later in the track, the harmony vocal that is provided is mistimed. It came way too early in a chorus. If you hear it and think my timing is off, I ask that you listen to the original performer.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/Dio%20-%20Rainbow%20In%20The%20Dark4.mp3

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Ron - good job. I think you're improving. Your pitch was good and you channel the emotion of the song well. I think that it would be very helpful for you to get comments from an experienced vocal coach such as Steven Fraser or chanteurmoderne (just as examples) on how you can take your voice to the next level. I'm sure they could point out a couple of very simple things that you're currently not doing and your skills would continue to grow.

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Thanks, jonpall. Your 5 cents is worth more than that, to me. I know I had one or two notes that, to me, seemed pitchy and I could probably fix that on later renditions. I might have to go back to the physics of it and figure out exactly how to eq a certain part of the range.

Though we all need voice pointers here and there, and I know my singing has improved, even to my own perception, since coming to this forum, I can be a total idiot in recording. And that's part of my learning process, as well.

Anyway, thanks, again.

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No doubt you are making some good improvements Ron! It is so frustrating that your mic is limiting the true tone of your voice. The frequencies right around 2 or 3 khz are so prominent that is takes away from the actual performance. It's not your fault of course but with a better mic that can capture your full tones your performances will no doubt sound 100% better to the listener.

It's interesting to note that when I record myself singing like Rob Halford or Brian Johnson, I have to EQ my voice quite differently for each or it sounds like hell! I'm going to take your recording and see what I can do on my Logic Pro 9 software to let your voice blend a little better with the backing tracks. Great singing and a marked improvement from prior efforts. Keep rocking dude!!!

Update: I tried tinkering with the recording but there wasn't much I could do with the voice already mixed with the music unfortunately.

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I've sent you an email, Mike, with my addy in it. With your email addy, I can directly email a separate vocal file and a separate karoake backing file (mp3 format.) Unless you prefer wav or ogg.

And thank you for understanding my plight. My mic is a desk mic that I bought at Office Depot. My wedding band is 5 mm wide and is wider than the opening in the end of the mic, which means that the membrane is even smaller. It's a miracle you can hear me at all. It's almost like singing into a cell phone mic. Add to that, the fact that I have a loud singing voice. I know I have mentioned before the physics of sound generation and the limits a mic can put on that. A membrane is a membrane and it vibrates in response to pressure waves of air. It's size determines how fast it can vibrate (pitch or frequency) and how far it moves back and forth in oscillation (amplitude or volume of the wave.) When it maxes out, it loses the ability to pick up finer tones, can flatten a pitch, or make a sound seem choppy because it couldn't adjust to vocal volume change fast enough, or simply not vibrate fast enough, causing clipping, or clicks and distortion and pitchiness. Add to that, the effects of plug-ins, such as for Audacity, which is what I use. Compressor brings up low volume and lowers high volume through an algorithm. Leveller tries to make all pitches the same volume. Both can have the effect of altering pitch or squashing tone, which is perceived as a pitch change.

If you wish, you could email the result back to me and I can put it into my dropbox account and link it here. As I said in my email, the only thing I have done to it is a modified acoustic eq which is generally +2 or +3 dB across most of the spectrum with a slight ramp up in the tenor range of 2k to 4k and a slight ramp up in the bass below my voice. I don't think that should hamper your mixing ability. But I'm not sure you can mix out the mic distortion. If you do, it might require pitch correction after the fact, thanks to the effect of eq moving some tones to prominence and squashing other tones in the same note.

And thank you for mentioning the need in your own work of having to essentially mix each song differently, especially of different artists. I'm not that good, yet. I am a bumbling boob when it comes to recording and mixing and stellar engineer Mutt Lange is way above my pay grade. I am learning, though. First off, I should quit running down the eq in the tenor range, especially when I am singing a tenor song. I have also learned that I can adjust the filter function longer or shorter. I'm not sure what that's going to do but I am experimenting with it. And believe me, when I can, I will get a decent mic that I can jack in to this computer and provide a better sample of how I actually sound.

Though I don't think I sound like Dio, I can and do sing this song with some distortion, though not as thick as he does. But I think my resonance is similar. Similar to how he did it at the concert in Waacken in 2004 that I linked in the magic moments thread. Also, of course, are the high notes I added, that are not in the original. I felt they fit my voice. And seeing the way he sang it live, I feel comfortable with my exercise of poetic license in doing so.

And thank you very much for the compliment. I was going to say that I usually sing this way but this is the first time, this past week or so, to actually work this song all the way through and I can't guarantee that my time here hasn't already had an effect. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it has. From the viewpoints and kicks in the butt that I get from jonpall, to the encouragement and support that I get from others, from the inspiration that I get from you. You are the rock god.

I think my breath support has improved. I have built up more muscle tone to hold twang better and more consistently, which are two different things. Even down to what I am learning about recording, which is another ball of wax, entirely, from just performing live. Live, I have no problem. And even if I make a mistake, live, it's like Kip Winger says. Live is very forgiving. You can make mistakes because they are gone and forgotten and people only remember the high parts and the last note. But, in recording, the slightest mistake is there for eternal prosperity.

One of the important things I have learned, from your bare honesty, is that sometimes, multiple takes are necessary. I'm not that good at patching, yet. I am learning. But, I normally record vocals in one take, especially as I expect to perform it live and need to teach myself how to conserve and manage my voice through the entire length of a song. And, live, especially with an acoustic guitar and no mic, mixing is happening in the ear of the listener. All I need is a drunk audience.:lol:

Anyway, reply to my email and I can get the separate files to you.

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Regarding recording, it is a strange animal to be sure Ron! What you think you know about frequencies etc go out the window once you get down to the nitty gritty! I had to stop using my brain and start using my EARS which for me is a challenge. I have begun to better understand masking effects of other instruments and that it isn't necessary to keep all the true frequencies of your voice in a recording along with music since the backing tracks will also require some of those to be heard clearly.

One thing I've been doing lately is notching the frequencies in the backing tracks that my voice is needing to cut through the mix with. It actually helps a lot to get the vocals to be heard over the background without just lowering the entire backing tracks volume. This changes from song to song and style to style. I mentioned in my prior post that it sounded like you had a lot of presence in the 3 khz range in the recording and when I checked it out on my laptop I was bang on. You learn after a while what frequencies are usually the dominant ones. The low mids are the trickier ones since human hearing is not as fine tuned to these frequencies like they are in the high mids. Thank evolution for that! lol Studio engineers are so unappreciated for the talents that they have. It is SO easy to make a recording sound bad and there is such a fine line between sounding incredible and powerful and sounding overhyped and fatiguing.

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Amen to that, brother. The physics geek in me understood every word you wrote, even if I don't know yet how to do it with the mixing capabilities of Audacity. And that's what I have been understanding from your post about having to mix each song differently. Whereas, I would sing a track and slap Columbia pre-set on it and it either turned out okay or it didn't. And yes, I knew I singing somewhere between 2k and 4k and that was getting dropped out by the Columbia pre-set.

Probably the crappiest mix I did was the last "Highway to Hell" that everyone liked. I overloaded the mic easily. Generic eq. And supertwang to get some rattle and create almost a cartoon voice. And that one, everyone liked. The whole thing was distorted, primarily because of listening to old recordings of the original song and realizing that Bon Scott splatted the mic regularly. Not that I am trying to sound like him, as a rule. But it very much goes along with what you are saying. Not only is whatever the mic is or is not picking up, but also how it is mixed in with the other track(s). There's not anything one can do to change a karaoke track. It's all mixed down to one mp3 file. As opposed to singing in the studio with the master file or master tape where each channel or mic can be re-mixed at the time vocals are added in. Recording engineers earn their money, as I am learning.

And if the vocal track I have sent you is too problematic from mic distortion, I can try and sing with the mic farther away, though it will lose in singing volume and some tones, from it's own physical limitations as well as proximity. Until I get a better mic.

I get to start a temp job on Monday that pays half of what I was usually making. My own business is slow right now and I don't have the funds to spend on promoting like I would like to promote it. In addition, I am being sued in county court by a collection for some dental bills and I am looking at putting the house in hock to consolidate credit.

And I might just get out of this electrial crap all together. The job market has changed and I can't compete because I am a natural born american citizen and my pay rate is above minimum wage. So, if I have to make a lower wage, it might as well be closer to home. I may lose a utility. I'm trying to hold on to home phone/internet because that is how my parents-in-law and my step-daughter stay in contact with us. And allows me access to this forum that is so important to me. And I am just about out of money, literally.

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Ron, I can completely sympathize with you my friend. these are tough times for many of us. I'm very blessed to have a wonderful girlfriend who owns the home we live in and is giving me the chance to grow my business. Never stop recording no matter what the equipment Ron. We all learn from each others posts and I'm certainly no exception.

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Ron, your warmups and effort are paying buddy, every aspect of your voice sounds improved, keep it up.

that it isn't necessary to keep all the true frequencies of your voice in a recording along with music since the backing tracks will also require some of those to be heard clearly.

It'd be nice if more singers realized that - a lot less mixes would be destroyed.

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Here's the "enhanced" version of your recording Ron. I'm sorry I couldn't do any better than this but the missing frequencies caused by the mic didn't give me much to work with. I warmed your vocals a little with some EQ and then added some delay and reverb both with warm EQ and the highs rolled off completely. It helped a lot but the result isn't quite what I was hoping for.

https://files.me.com/muskysnax/wosf8y.mp3

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Wow! You made it sound like I knew what I was doing. Excellent, Mike. You're hired.

I've re-sent the karoake track. I thought I had sent two attachments, the vocal track and the backing track and you said that you needed the backing track.

Anyway, I very much appreciate that you did this, as well as your pointers and wisdom. True, the highs are not as bright as how I sing them but, hey, it still sounds pretty nice in your mix. One day, I hope to have a real mic. Even then, I will be tempted to send the tracks to you. I have learned so much that mixing is an art and skill all unto itself.

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Update for other readers. The Mike mix you hear is the result of separate vocal and karoake tracks. So, that's as good as it gets.

And Mike, I haven't gotten tired of your singing. On the other hand, with you taking a break, at least you had the time to do this.

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This recording sounds like me. It's the closest I have had a recording sound like me with this mic. For those wondering what I did differently, primarily, I moved the mic farther away, to avoid overloading it with volume. In fact, I would play back just the vocal track to make sure that it was within the bandwidth limits of the track bandwidth that I have in display. And I didn't eq anything. And sent that to Mike, just to see if it was a better sounding track as far as clarity and quality. And he decided to mix it for me. Man, what a difference backing away from the mic makes.

And what a difference it makes to have someone beside myself mix it. Not only does my voice sound right in this, but the volume mix is matched well, too. The vocals are not overbearing, nor are they drowned out by the instruments. You have so many talents, Mike. Even if you decided not to sing professionally, you could have fun as recording engineer or even an FOH engineer for other bands. You've got that "ear" that makes the difference. Of course, I would rather see you on the stage. And this is the first time I've ever said this; I would buy this recording, even though it's me, which would ordinarily sound self-aggrandizement. It's not. It's thanks to Mike's magic. Just imagine if I had a decent mic.

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Thanks, Chavie. And my high note at the end was the easiest, if you want to know the truth.

And, yeah, it takes some cajones. There are always inevitable comparisons to the original. We can't help it. All that being said, though, the mix is astounding.

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It was definitely different, but I really liked that about it. It's no real fun hearing it exactly like the original(I fall victim to that but I don't feel as though I've found "my" voice yet ya know? lol), I feel like your voice shined through well on this. This was done with your old desktop mic correct?

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It was definitely different, but I really liked that about it. It's no real fun hearing it exactly like the original(I fall victim to that but I don't feel as though I've found "my" voice yet ya know? lol), I feel like your voice shined through well on this. This was done with your old desktop mic correct?

Yes, this was done with the desk mic. I recently was given a real mic, the whole kit and kaboodle and have recently (yesterday evening) recorded a newer version which is in the process of being mixed.

Thanks for the compliments. I know I don't sound like Ronnie James Dio but I was singing this in the same style that he does. Nor was I trying to sound like him. But I find this style of singing comfortable to me. The new mic catches much more of my overtones, including the low ones. A fuller sound, if you will. In the newest version, still to be posted here, I was still singing from about 15 inches away from the pop filter. It turns out I have a really bright tone, anyway, no doubt from a strong twang. But, we'll see how it turns out. I have also saved the barebones vocal track, in case anyone wants to hear pre and post mix.

As for who I sound like, it depends on what day it is and who you ask. My father-in-law thinks I sound like Luka Bloom, an irish folk and contemporary artist. Father-in-law does wear a hearing, though. My wife has thought, now and then, that I sound like David Byron, original singer for Uriah Heep. I think my voice is a little brighter than his, now that I think about it.

When I do a cover of a song, I don't try to sound like the original singer. I aim to hit the range they are singing in. But, it appears, my sound is all my own. And, with this new mic, at least I don't sound like Billy Corgan in a soup can.

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Here's Ron's latest version of the song recorded with a nice new mic. Way to go Ron, I can hear you making improvements already! You really sang your ass off this time. https://files.me.com/muskysnax/arjknv.mp3

(Hope you like my mixing.)

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Billy Corgan in a soup can.

That gave me a good chuckle. This version with the new setup sounds MUCH better, I'm able to hear so much more coming through the headphones.

Singing like original is something I do because I don't know my range and know really know what my voice is. I just kind of go, and what I can do I do and what I can't, well, I try anyways and keep the recording for a laugh later on.

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