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Studio Vocals

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PopVlad
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Hey Guys,

This is going to sound real dumb, but could you tell me about your experiences in a studio while recording the vocals?

The reason for asking is that I went to a Studio last week for the first time to record a short vocal demo and I failed big time. I was shouting to get to a G4, when normally it’s a comfortable note for me.

I think that part of that was nerves, but the other part was that I couldn't hear myself very well through the studio headphones.

I mean, obviously, I COULD hear myself, but it was nowhere near the clarity of my home recordings (a simple condenser mic + headphones), which threw me off.

The sound engineer told me that everything was set up as usual and I just needed to readjust myself to the feeling of singing in a really sound proof environment.

Any tips here? Is singing in a sound proof vocal booth that much different in terms of hearing oneself?

Cheers,

Vlad

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Ask if the engineer could please turn up the volume of the vocals a bit - until you have a good mix. Have some reverb. Sometimes it works to have headphones on only one ear, to hear yourself better.

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Thanks Jonpall, so you SHOULD be able to hear yourself crystal clear then?

As for the one ear thingy, wouldn't the backing track (or whatever) interfere with the recording?

Being able to hear yourself very clearly, yet hear the backing track well enough to stay in beat with the music - and just being extremely comfortable on all levels, is the single most important thing a recording engineer (the guy on the mixer) should do for the singer - and the single best thing he can do to improve the quality of the vocals. If the singer doesn't have very good conditions in terms of mix, just enough reverb, feeling comfortable, then the vocal track will almost always suffer.

It's only if your headphone mix is VERY loud that the sound from the headphones might bleed slightly into the vocal track. But the first thing to do is simply try spend a good time getting the absolute best balance and sound in your headphones. You should mostly hear your own voice, but enough of the backing track so that you don't fall behind the beat. Hope this helps!

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Being able to hear yourself very clearly, yet hear the backing track well enough to stay in beat with the music - and just being extremely comfortable on all levels, is the single most important thing a recording engineer (the guy on the mixer) should do for the singer - and the single best thing he can do to improve the quality of the vocals. If the singer doesn't have very good conditions in terms of mix, just enough reverb, feeling comfortable, then the vocal track will almost always suffer.

<---That.

It is their responsibility to have good isolation headphones and provide a mix the singer feels comfortable with.

Big cats spend a day (or days) till they get a comfortable mix - then they proceed to record.

You can burn out your voice in a few minutes if you can't hear yourself as if you were singing without headphones -

that's why most singers sing with one ear "free".

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Thanks, everyone!

Yeah, I'll be more "pushy" to get the mix I am comfortable with next time I go there.

And, no, there was zero latency.

I guess, part of the trouble I ran into was also the nerves...

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The biggest thing for me when recording studio vocals is the lack of natural resonance in a vocal booth..

When singing live and especially through a microphone, with reverb and volume and timbre it becomes easy and familiar to hit the notes you are hitting.. Come to a studio and trying to achieve the same easiness is rarely easy. My advice to you would be to spend a lot of time warming up as you dont have the benefit of adrenaline pumping blood around your cords as much. Also practice as much as possible in this environment to find your mix.

Again, speak to the engineer, tell him what you are used to, I know exactly how you feel man, and have come out of a studio thinking that I cant sing, when its simply a mixture of an unfamilar set-up mixed with my confidence being knocked by my own vocal insecurity..

Good luck!

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I personally always need to have one of the headphones off. Something is just always off when I don't. It shouldn't cause too much noise, especially if you keep it flush with your head so the sound is still trapped (or you could ask him to pan your mix to one side only). There was this product called the Vocal Acoustic Monitor that Jaime Vendera talked about a lot which is basically a curved piece of plastic that reflects your voice back to your ear for better monitoring. They seem to be out of stock, so I'm not sure if they still make them or if there's other similar products. You could probably fashion your own, too.

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