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aravindmadis

Difference between live and studio singing

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Would love to hear thoughts here from folks.  

I have always assumed that live singing is far more difficult than studio.  You get only one attempt to sing it right.  On the other hand, someone(maybe it was Ronws) here once said that in live singing, you mistakes get buried in the noise whereas studio singing I feel the mistakes get amplified.. 

I feel that somehow when I sing live, I have a decent technique, I can make the song sound good singing in one take.. Same thing in studio is so much difficult.. Especially when singing on to a karaoke track.. Every single mistake gets amplified.. 

Am I alone here.. Would love to hear from folks here.. 

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I haven't done much recording, but my guess is that when you're recording or practising, your technique is going to be the best it can ever be at that point in time. In a live situation, it's almost certainly going to deteriorate. However, if you're a perfectionist, you're going to have a very tough time in the studio trying to make sure you nail everything 100%, especially if you're recording for the final mix and not just some demo.

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It's not just me saying it. Kip Winger talked about it, too. Every one makes mistakes and in a live situation, people will not always remember the mistakes. Often, the remember the choruses and the last note. But, in recording, what you have is forever. To me, it is more of a challenge to record.

 

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    More than 20 false starts in one 3 min song gets a little irritating.........but it is par for the course.......after 3 hours on a 3 min song you start thinking about what is good enough.......and then you start recording again.........yes, recording is a little more difficult than one shot live......

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@aravin generally speaking I would say that it is a bit easier on the studio. But just a bit, because there is a different kind of pressure, you can take your time, etc. Live sometimes you have to handle totally different approaches on different songs, no pauses, its a one shot situation, etc.

 

This idea that live is easier is not so much because the mistakes are burried, its simply because you are not monitoring and actually checking what you did after you perform the song. This is deceptive, and do not believe for one second that what you are actually doing live is any better than what you are doing on the studio. To be fair, sometimes the pressure of the situation can actually help keep the energy level adequate, but its usually not the case.

 

Also, another thing that I often find on gigs is that the sound guy, if not told otherwise, will draw a smile-like EQ on all the vocals (cutting midrange, boosting bass and treeble). Which effectively hides mistakes, but also the clarity, lyrics, and even personality. Sounds acceptable for a few minutes, but after a while it becomes really tiresome and sterile to listen to. Specially if combined with a totally washed out reverb. This also may give the notion that the mistakes are buried, and they are, together with everything else you are doing :).

 

In my own experience, every song that I record and polish on the studio becomes much better when playing live, despite of the technical requirements. I actually am on the process of doing the same with every song of the setlist and I am finding lots of surprises (the not so good kinds hehehe :) ).

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Thanks folks.. Really appreciate your comments. 

Although this is highly subjective and depends on the skill level of the singers, how long do professionals take to record studio recordings?  The reason why I ask is that I am finding that what is necessary to make my recordings better beyond a level(provided the song is in my skill set) is simply a matter of putting in the time(in my case hours to record and listen and re-record and edit), to make it perfect.  As someone who has a full time job doing something else, time is not a luxury that I have.  It is simply impractical for me to spend 3 hours in an evening to record a song.  I do have to eat dinner and I find that it really messes up with my voice and I have to start with warm up again.  Most of my recordings are with me not even fully warmed up(I take about 1 hour or so to get fully warmed up).  

I am getting a sense of fulfillment with the improvement in my skill.  I am not able to translate it to all my recordings because of availability of time.  That too I have to sing and listen and go back(I guess it would be lot faster if I could just sing and someone would do the mixing).. Or maybe I haven't found how to use the DAW in a way that it saves time for me.  Also yeah, where I live it is pretty hot.  I have an untreated room and therefore I to switch off the air conditioner when actually recording and turn it back on when trying to listen and mix.  Yeah, so a lot of variables for me to manage.. 

Either way, happy to learn that recording is indeed not easy, especially if you are seeking perfection.. 

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I would say both have their own set of challenges. It can very "difficult" (for lack of a better word) to hear yourself on a recording.  Sometimes the engineer makes you sound a little to a lot different than you actually sound to yourself. 

From a stress standpoint, I would say recording in a studio is more stressful.

 

 

 

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Hi Aravind, I have to agree with Felipe and Bob. I'm not and never been more than a hobby musician. I've done some recordings and played in bands. I thinks both situations have their own types of pressure. I can totally relate to what Felipe said about polishing a song in the studio and performing it live afterwards. Sometimes we record band practice or some performance we did, and I get mortified hearing so many mistakes I did (and so my band mates) that we didn't noticed during the performance. On the other hand, during the performance the energy level is so high that it makes me feel good, and the crowd response feeds back and makes me push harder (and sometimes sound better), and so on. On the studio (I haven't been recording in such a long time) the pressure is way different, and I would like to quote Ronws regarding R.L.S. (Red Light Syndrome). When you push record, everything gets screwed up. On the other hand, you don't need to nail the song in one take. Very very few singers do it for real. A long time ago I was watching some documentary about Deff Leppard, and singer said once they were recording on the same studio as Whitesnake (in different rooms), and every night he would bump into David Coverdale and they would quickly chat about how was their day, and David would always tell him he finished another one, and another one, while Deff Leppard singer was still struggling with the first song, and how it would take him so much longer to accomplish it...

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@aaravin that depends on what you are doing.

If you are at home studying a song either to work on technique or solving a interpretation, it can take long. Should be something possible to finish but its ok to take weeks for example.

Now, if you are going to a studio to record original material or demo material, something that is not a study, but actual content, and you are paying for studio time, you should have this already defined. Even if you are doing it at home, in my opinion its a different mindset and a different approach. For best results its actually best to have it done quick, most problems should be solved on the pre-production (when you learn the song, the lyrics, the interpretation, get the technique down, etc).

 

In summary you first nail it down, taking as long as necessary, and then you record it for real, and this should be rather straight forward.

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     The good thing about studio recording is that you are Not just recording to see what you sound like, you are recording to make it sound good. You are paying more attention to your voice and how to use it. Finding out what works and what does not.

  Now that I have really started paying better attention to some of the comments on the Review section I feel that I have improved.  While making the recording I am paying attention the tone, Pitch and delivery. I also get immediate feedback by listening to the results. I will record again with some adjustments and see what difference is there. I used to only worry about pitch, thinking that the tone is what it is and cannot or should not be messed with. Needless to say I was wrong about that.

    Some songs that I could only record by breaking up the different parts, I can now sing straight through without a noticable change in the tone of voice or without running myself out of air.

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I think it depends on the person's psychology and situation. I'm sure if people played back a close mic version of their live performances and layered it to a karaoke track most would not be more satisfied than if they recorded it in a studio. But if you're not listening back to the performance then you never really know what it sounds like.

 

I'm in a situation where I simply can't sing live reliably, even in a very controlled environment, like at home, if I get a bad enough flare up of nerve pain I have to rest. I can't power through. I can't force it, and the more I try, the worse it gets. It creates a cycle where it hurts, I wince and tense up, the more I tense up, the more it hurts, the more I try to force, the more it hurts, and I gotta let it pass.

 

One thing I've learned from having my problem is your psychological state has significant impact on not just your voice but the support muscles around it. During complications with one of my medications, I had a full on panic attack. And the throat muscles literally 'locked' rock hard, it's one of the physiological things that happens.

 

Even if you don't have a health problem, you can't sing like that. You have to be able to relax to sing. So nerves, stress, anxiety, etc, they all take their toll. There's just no way I would be able to sing live in a stressful environment with all the tension. Roy Orbison in his later years developed stage fright, and would be shakey, and trembling for the first few songs every night and he'd have to fight it out until he could get more used to it every night. It never went away. He wasn't the type of singer to just push so you could hear his voice trembling, which was actually probably the healthiest thing he could do, where as a lot of people might get drunk and just push.

 

For me that initial tension would be enough to put me out of commission. How people respond and how they push through a high stress environment varies, regardless I think people are more at risk whenever pushing and not paying attention. Live you can't really hear yourself as well. So even if you're to nervous you'd be more likely to push. I know I can get problems with noise isolating headphones and being more likely to push when I can't hear what my voice is doing, I fall into old habits. I just can't handle the push/strain/tension anymore, but backing the day I could kind of just wear myself out until I felt fatigued and just 'stop.' As long as I stopped and rested eventually it would be ok.

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Like Killer said, it really depends on the situation.  I've got my own vocal studio set up and am in full control when recording.  So there is no pressure.  

However, when I am in a situation in a recording studio with a producer calling the shots, it is a different story because you have to deliver - and time is money.  There can a lot of pressure.

I really like singing live because you already know the material and you can experiment with different nuances. And if you make a mistake, who cares.  But you need to have a great monitor setup.  If you can't hear yourself it can be bad because you can get into the habit of pushing.

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Performing live is a different pressure than recording. Live, there is no stopping, no do-overs or patches. Do it right, do it now. Granted, mistakes may be forgiven or buried but some people do better live, some do better in the studio.

My analogy for that is a friend of mine who was one of the best electricians I knew. His work was stellar. He even had sections of the code book memorized. He simply could not pass the journeyman test. Some kind of test anxiety. Out in the workplace, on a ladder, no problem. In a room at a desk with 80 questions staring at you, just didn't work for him

Same with singing live versus recording.

With recording, you can keep doing it over until it is perfect. And have it sound perfect. Now, let me hear you do it live.

 

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