zijin_cheng

Vocal recording does not sound like me at all?

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Hello all, I used to use a crappy USB Art M-one condenser mic but after doing much research have upgraded to a Scarlett 2i2 combined with an MXL V67G.

Problem

I recorded myself and to be honest, while the recording is clean and clear (at least compared to my crappy USB condenser mic), it sounds so different from when I sing in person. This recording lacks power, and it just has this really dampened feeling, and sounds so boring compared to myself singing in person (friends who I show this to agree also).

I'm wondering if this can be fixed just through software like EQ-ing and compressing, reverb etc, or do I need a better mic? If I do, I would preferably like to spend below $100.

Recording Info

The recording I have below is just noise reduction and normalize, no compression, reverb, equalizer nothing. I have tried some basic compression & reverb on another recording and while it improves the output (have not uploaded this MP3 yet), still doesn't sound the same as in person. Am I just a newb at EQ-ing? Or is this a microphone limitation?

Recording below

 

 

EDIT: If this is the wrong forum, mods please move to correct one

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     It does not matter who you are or how good you sound, you will still not sound the same to yourself as you do on a recording. That being said, yes the type of equipment you use can and will make a difference to the sound of a recording. Microphones are made for specific purposes and with different inherent frequency responses.  The wrong or right microphone can make an amateur SOUND like a professional and a professional sound like an amateur. 

    Just as there is an art to singing there is an art to recording.

    If you are going to do the recording yourself for professional purposes it would be worth it to take a course in recording and learn how to use the various effects that enhance or reproduce the desired "Live" sound that you expect. It may take the same type of devotion that you put into your singing to achieve the results in recording. The other option is to allow a professional  sound engineer to record your voice work.

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47 minutes ago, MDEW said:

     It does not matter who you are or how good you sound, you will still not sound the same to yourself as you do on a recording. That being said, yes the type of equipment you use can and will make a difference to the sound of a recording. Microphones are made for specific purposes and with different inherent frequency responses.  The wrong or right microphone can make an amateur SOUND like a professional and a professional sound like an amateur. 

    Just as there is an art to singing there is an art to recording.

    If you are going to do the recording yourself for professional purposes it would be worth it to take a course in recording and learn how to use the various effects that enhance or reproduce the desired "Live" sound that you expect. It may take the same type of devotion that you put into your singing to achieve the results in recording. The other option is to allow a professional  sound engineer to record your voice work.

Thanks for your reply, I'm currently not looking to record professionally, I just had the amateur perception that a better mic would bring a recording closer to what my voice sounded like in person (not just to me, but to others).
And I was surprised to find that the recording sounded very dead and boring (while being clean and crisp at the same time). However, I'm guessing the audio recorded on this better mic is infinitely more flexible than on a bad mic, so I can play with it to make it sound better?

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For how long have you been using your new mic? Do you sing using headphones for feedback?

Maybe you need to get used to the new mic. It can take a while. It is a new instrument, just like a new guitar, after all, except that you are operating it with your voice.

In fact, the whole software stack can affect the recording. Which software are you using? Do you select a driver for the mic? Does the operating system select one for you? Does the mic come with its own driver for you to install (if so, does that driver load), or does it rely on whatever the operating system gives it? (I have a mic that 'mumbles' back, unless I force a different driver to load by changing the order in which I load the software and plug things in. It sounds completely different with different drivers and middleware.)

Anyway, I think that getting used to a mic is good vocal exercise. It helps you to train your voice in areas where the mic isn't helping. You've probably done that already with your old mic without necessarily being aware of it. I deliberate stuck with a crap mic for a while, just for that. Of course, you still want an optimal mic for when you are recording for real.

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37 minutes ago, kickingtone said:

For how long have you been using your new mic? Do you sing using headphones for feedback?

Maybe you need to get used to the new mic. It can take a while. It is a new instrument, just like a new guitar, after all, except that you are operating it with your voice.

In fact, the whole software stack can affect the recording. Which software are you using? Do you select a driver for the mic? Does the operating system select one for you? Does the mic come with its own driver for you to install (if so, does that driver load), or does it rely on whatever the operating system gives it? (I have a mic that 'mumbles' back, unless I force a different driver to load by changing the order in which I load the software and plug things in. It sounds completely different with different drivers and middleware.)

Anyway, I think that getting used to a mic is good vocal exercise. It helps you to train your voice in areas where the mic isn't helping. You've probably done that already with your old mic without necessarily being aware of it. I deliberate stuck with a crap mic for a while, just for that. Of course, you still want an optimal mic for when you are recording for real.

Thanks again, this raises more questions than it answers, but I think its good as it gives me a good picture of what I need to do and what I need to expect.

Very quickly, I'm using the Scarlett 2i2 interface with drivers and recording in Audacity. I have audition as well but I really dislike the interface so I stick with Audacity.

However, what I'm interested in is you saying that I probably unconsciously trained to overcome the mic's shortcomings, and I do remember doing that on the old mic. However, I've been trying to do that on this mic and it seems like I've hit a wall that I thought was my vocal genetics, but turns out its as you said, lots of EQing and software tweaks to do to the audio file itself!

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   : This is not a direct response to your last post: just general information.

   Any vocal recorded without effects or from enough distance from your mouth to give room ambiance will sound dull and lifeless. A bold statement I know and one that will be challenged. Still the main thing that gives life to a live un-amplified or even amplified voice is the sound bouncing off the walls and objects in a room creating echoes and reverberation. So to give your voice that live sound....add a little reverb and echo to your recording and see what difference it makes.

      The reason to record with a microphone held close to your lips in a sound absorbent environment is so you can add the reverb and echo later without having cross interference from room vibrations.

      And why are stages , stadiums, podiums and churches built  in the fashion that you find  them? To enhance and direct the echo and reverberation of the voice and music.

     Of course there is also an art to adding these effects on a recording to make them work the way you want them to.

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3 minutes ago, MDEW said:

   : This is not a direct response to your last post: just general information.

   Any vocal recorded without effects or from enough distance from your mouth to give room ambiance will sound dull and lifeless. A bold statement I know and one that will be challenged. Still the main thing that gives life to a live un-amplified or even amplified voice is the sound bouncing off the walls and objects in a room creating echoes and reverberation. So to give your voice that live sound....add a little reverb and echo to your recording and see what difference it makes.

      The reason to record with a microphone held close to your lips in a sound absorbent environment is so you can add the reverb and echo later without having cross interference from room vibrations.

      And why are stages , stadiums, podiums and churches built  in the fashion that you find  them? To enhance and direct the echo and reverberation of the voice and music.

     Of course there is also an art to adding these effects on a recording to make them work the way you want them to.

Now that's the word I'm looking for, lifeless. My recording wasn't dull or boring, it was lifeless. As opposed to singing in the car, bathroom, living room where the echo gives it character. 

 

Thanks again for your help and prompt replies.

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1 minute ago, zijin_cheng said:

Now that's the word I'm looking for, lifeless. My recording wasn't dull or boring, it was lifeless. As opposed to singing in the car, bathroom, living room where the echo gives it character. 

 

Thanks again for your help and prompt replies.

Your voice did not sound Dull or boring at all. Far better than I expected. I did not mean to imply that your voice had any faults. And yes Life can be restored with the correct use of EQ and effects. And finding the right microphone or setting for the original source recording(your voice) can make all the difference in the world.

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15 minutes ago, MDEW said:

Your voice did not sound Dull or boring at all. Far better than I expected. I did not mean to imply that your voice had any faults. And yes Life can be restored with the correct use of EQ and effects. And finding the right microphone or setting for the original source recording(your voice) can make all the difference in the world.

Ah you might have misunderstood me, what I was trying to say was that the recording sounds dull, boring, lifeless next to my voice in person.

And thank you for the kind words.

However, as someone on a budget (the very nice way of saying I'm a cheapskate), I don't think I could do much better than the MXL V67G below $100USD, so I'll most likely stick with this for now. My singing teacher has the MXL 770 which sounds a bit different but not that much better.

 

Ninja EDIT: I have more recordings on my channel using the older mic which recorded a lot of room sound as I had to sit 2-3 feet away, otherwise I would clip the mic even with gain turned all the way down. I'm guessing in those older clips the room sound gave my voice more character than this new mic where I'm 7" at most from the mic proper.

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Proximity effect changes a lot of things in the sound. Closer to the mic means more bass in the voice. Further away thins it out, but adds more room ambience. Hang up quilted packing blankets to deaden the room when recording. I used to own a mobile recording studio, and that worked wonders for the sound. Also, learn to EQ properly. And remember, you can't EQ what's not there, so the mic definitely matters too. MXL mics are pretty bright and a bit on the cheap sounding side of things, but with some good EQ, the V67G is completely usable.

Here's the best cheat sheet I've ever found for EQing. Training, such as Golden Ears Audio Eartraining would do you better, but you can still get quite a bit from using the info in this cheat sheet.
Magic Frequencies.pdf

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36 minutes ago, zijin_cheng said:

Very quickly, I'm using the Scarlett 2i2 interface with drivers and recording in Audacity. I have audition as well but I really dislike the interface so I stick with Audacity.

Audacity has a dropdown for selecting the driver and some middleware. You can change whatever gets selected by default. My mic comes with its own driver that says "compatible with Windows 2000, XP, 7 blah, blah, blah... operating systems", but it sounds much better with the native Windows driver, so I get that to load instead. Obviously, the sound card is also a factor. The reason it sounds better with the "wrong driver" is probably because "compatible" only means that it will load and won't crash. It doesn't guarantee the quality. Clearly, the native Windows driver is a better match for the mic than the mic's driver is for Windows and my soundcard etc. in my setup.

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18 hours ago, MDEW said:

    If you are going to do the recording yourself for professional purposes it would be worth it to take a course in recording and learn how to use the various effects that enhance or reproduce the desired "Live" sound that you expect.

What and where would you find such courses?

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17 hours ago, kickingtone said:

Maybe you need to get used to the new mic. It can take a while. It is a new instrument, just like a new guitar, after all, except that you are operating it with your voice.

What do you think its like learning to ride a BMX with stabilizers or something

 

17 hours ago, kickingtone said:

Anyway, I think that getting used to a mic is good vocal exercise. It helps you to train your voice in areas where the mic isn't helping.

Thats right! and the home recording forum can help you on how do I make the bits that I can not sing sound better

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6 hours ago, Atkinson The Bop! said:

What and where would you find such courses?

I mentioned one... Golden Ears Audio Eartraining. It teaches your ear to hear EQ, effects, compressions, etc., at an unbelievable level of clarity. On top of  Golden Ears Audio Eartraining helping you actually hear what you need to, in order to know what effects and order to use, any YouTube tutorial from a trusted source about the vocal effects chain will do.

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On 3/9/2018 at 12:37 PM, Draven Grey said:

I mentioned one... Golden Ears Audio Eartraining. It teaches your ear to hear EQ, effects, compressions, etc., at an unbelievable level of clarity. On top of  Golden Ears Audio Eartraining helping you actually hear what you need to, in order to know what effects and order to use, any YouTube tutorial from a trusted source about the vocal effects chain will do.

I havent done Golden Ears or any of the other ones yet but I NEED TO! lol. been focusing heavily on learning mixing for a few months and its crazy how easily the ears can get fooled etc

 

there is also this one, u ever checked it out?

 

https://www.soundgym.co/

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On 3/8/2018 at 1:59 PM, Draven Grey said:

Proximity effect changes a lot of things in the sound. Closer to the mic means more bass in the voice. Further away thins it out, but adds more room ambience. Hang up quilted packing blankets to deaden the room when recording. I used to own a mobile recording studio, and that worked wonders for the sound. Also, learn to EQ properly. And remember, you can't EQ what's not there, so the mic definitely matters too. MXL mics are pretty bright and a bit on the cheap sounding side of things, but with some good EQ, the V67G is completely usable.

Here's the best cheat sheet I've ever found for EQing. Training, such as Golden Ears Audio Eartraining would do you better, but you can still get quite a bit from using the info in this cheat sheet.
Magic Frequencies.pdf

So that means that the less room sound there is in the recording (e.g. closer ot the mic), it will sound worse unedited but its easier it is to EQ?

 

And thanks, will check that out.

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1 hour ago, zijin_cheng said:

So that means that the less room sound there is in the recording (e.g. closer ot the mic), it will sound worse unedited but its easier it is to EQ?

 

And thanks, will check that out.

That's not what I meant. Dry vocals rarely sound great. Closer to the mic, you'll get a more true sound to the mic you're using. Further away gives you more room sound, which are not controllable in a mix. In most situations, especially when the room isn't treated to have no reflections and absorb bass frequencies, it's better to sing closer to the mic and then EQ, compress, and add reverb to your taste. I personally prefer compressing the EQ and compressor happening before the interface into the computer, but most people don't have that option.

3 hours ago, kickingtone said:

Fooled how? I am curious.

Fooled because your ears easily get fatigued and you start hearing things incorrectly, including hearing things that might not even be there because of how acoustics,, harmonics, and human perception work. When mixing, I take a 10 minute break every 15 minutes. Les often than that and I start having to correct things in the mix later that I didn't even know I was doing. These days, I consult on mixes and put my energy into mastering instead. For mastering, I take a 10 minute break every 10 minutes. I also have absolutely incredible studio monitors, where you can hear every little thing with crystal clarity, and yet still have to take those breaks to keep hearing it all correctly.

 

8 hours ago, JonJon said:

I havent done Golden Ears or any of the other ones yet but I NEED TO! lol. been focusing heavily on learning mixing for a few months and its crazy how easily the ears can get fooled etc

 

there is also this one, u ever checked it out?

 

https://www.soundgym.co/

I've been through that course too. Perhaps it's because I had already been through Golden Ears, but I found Sound Gym to be unnecessarily playful, which seemed to slow down the process of learning, and also not as in depth as Golden Ears. Golden Ears, by contrast and perhaps to its detriment, feels like a college-level exam.

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9 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

That's not what I meant. Dry vocals rarely sound great. Closer to the mic, you'll get a more true sound to the mic you're using. Further away gives you more room sound, which are not controllable in a mix. In most situations, especially when the room isn't treated to have no reflections and absorb bass frequencies, it's better to sing closer to the mic and then EQ, compress, and add reverb to your taste. I personally prefer compressing the EQ and compressor happening before the interface into the computer, but most people don't have that option.

Fooled because your ears easily get fatigued and you start hearing things incorrectly, including hearing things that might not even be there because of how acoustics,, harmonics, and human perception work. When mixing, I take a 10 minute break every 15 minutes. Les often than that and I start having to correct things in the mix later that I didn't even know I was doing. These days, I consult on mixes and put my energy into mastering instead. For mastering, I take a 10 minute break every 10 minutes. I also have absolutely incredible studio monitors, where you can hear every little thing with crystal clarity, and yet still have to take those breaks to keep hearing it all correctly.

 

I've been through that course too. Perhaps it's because I had already been through Golden Ears, but I found Sound Gym to be unnecessarily playful, which seemed to slow down the process of learning, and also not as in depth as Golden Ears. Golden Ears, by contrast and perhaps to its detriment, feels like a college-level exam.

Actually your reply to my reply is exactly what I meant, I'm still new at this audio stuff so I'm still not in with the up to date jargon or descriptions, but that answer is what I'm asking, thanks.

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54 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

Fooled because your ears easily get fatigued and you start hearing things incorrectly, including hearing things that might not even be there because of how acoustics,, harmonics, and human perception work. When mixing, I take a 10 minute break every 15 minutes. Les often than that and I start having to correct things in the mix later that I didn't even know I was doing. These days, I consult on mixes and put my energy into mastering instead. For mastering, I take a 10 minute break every 10 minutes. I also have absolutely incredible studio monitors, where you can hear every little thing with crystal clarity, and yet still have to take those breaks to keep hearing it all correctly.

I'd still like to hear JonJon's take on what he said (and I hope your reply hasn't changed what he meant! :) )

Yes, I know what you mean. I did a thread on such psycho-acoustic effects once, although I don't know if it is on these forums. When listening to my own vocals, I take a break from time to time to assess how they sound fresh.

I have to say, that I don't see it as the ears being fooled, though. It is just how the ears work. The psychological sensory experience is built out of physical clues and cues. The more we build up the sensory experience, the slightly less significant the physical clues and cues become, and we can become more tolerant in joining up the dots. After we let the picture fade, we need the cues back again, otherwise the music may sound ambiguous or ill-defined.

I think that skilled composers exploit this behaviour. They start off very explicit, but later in a piece of music they can exploit tolerances and expectations built up earlier, to artistic effect. Sometimes, it also seems as if writers exploit your familiarity with the original, when writing a cover. They play off the original, so to speak, even though you cannot physically hear the original. It won't work as intended, though, if the listener is not familiar with the original. It may even sound loose or lacking.

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On 08/03/2018 at 11:02 AM, zijin_cheng said:

I have tried some basic compression & reverb on another recording and while it improves the output (have not uploaded this MP3 yet), still doesn't sound the same as in person.

I believe we talked about this on another place.

In regards to this particular statement, perhaps the main problem here is exactly a mismatch between how you are using the tool (the mic), and what you are trying to achieve.

If you close mic anything, be it a voice, a guitar, drums or hands clapping, it will not sound the same as it sounds in the room.

Think it was video, you have an actor performing. You have a webcam, and a professional grade camera capable of recording 4k with full dynamic range and lossless compression. We can say for sure that the professional cam is much superior.

However, if you place the professional camera 10 cm away from the actor eyes, and the webcam is placed in a distance that captures the whole body of the actor, as well as the scene, it is very possible that the webcam will have a result closer to being useful than what you will get with the pro cam at these conditions.

Granted that close-miking vocals is very normal, and it does not compare to a poorly placed video camera, it is similar in the sense that the results you get from positioning and distance play a huge role on the result you hear, much more than the build/circuit/design quality of the mic ever will.

In short, if you want to capture the natural sound of your room, move the mic away from you. And if you want to close mic, expect a different sound. Test various distances, and then see the one that best fits what you want.

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5 hours ago, kickingtone said:

I'd still like to hear JonJon's take on what he said (and I hope your reply hasn't changed what he meant! :) )

Yes, I know what you mean. I did a thread on such psycho-acoustic effects once, although I don't know if it is on these forums. When listening to my own vocals, I take a break from time to time to assess how they sound fresh.

I have to say, that I don't see it as the ears being fooled, though. It is just how the ears work. The psychological sensory experience is built out of physical clues and cues. The more we build up the sensory experience, the slightly less significant the physical clues and cues become, and we can become more tolerant in joining up the dots. After we let the picture fade, we need the cues back again, otherwise the music may sound ambiguous or ill-defined.

I think that skilled composers exploit this behaviour. They start off very explicit, but later in a piece of music they can exploit tolerances and expectations built up earlier, to artistic effect. Sometimes, it also seems as if writers exploit your familiarity with the original, when writing a cover. They play off the original, so to speak, even though you cannot physically hear the original. It won't work as intended, though, if the listener is not familiar with the original. It may even sound loose or lacking.

I dont mean it in any deeply philosophical sense. I just mean your ears play tricks on you

 

for instance you might be mixing and u muted all of your cymbals for whatever reason. But after a while you forget and it starts to sound normal lol. Then you realize it and you are like "why didnt i hear that??"

 

or for instance if I am playing windows media player through my laptop i will sometimes turn on the EQ to try to add some bass. Then maybe the next morning I hook up the laptop to my monitors...but i forget I have the EQ on lol. So in reality it is now WAY boomy. But it takes a while to realize it and sometimes its not until you see the EQ is on

 

I guess the moral of the story is that anything starts to sound "normal" after a while

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20 hours ago, Felipe Carvalho said:

I believe we talked about this on another place.

In regards to this particular statement, perhaps the main problem here is exactly a mismatch between how you are using the tool (the mic), and what you are trying to achieve.

If you close mic anything, be it a voice, a guitar, drums or hands clapping, it will not sound the same as it sounds in the room.

Think it was video, you have an actor performing. You have a webcam, and a professional grade camera capable of recording 4k with full dynamic range and lossless compression. We can say for sure that the professional cam is much superior.

However, if you place the professional camera 10 cm away from the actor eyes, and the webcam is placed in a distance that captures the whole body of the actor, as well as the scene, it is very possible that the webcam will have a result closer to being useful than what you will get with the pro cam at these conditions.

Granted that close-miking vocals is very normal, and it does not compare to a poorly placed video camera, it is similar in the sense that the results you get from positioning and distance play a huge role on the result you hear, much more than the build/circuit/design quality of the mic ever will.

In short, if you want to capture the natural sound of your room, move the mic away from you. And if you want to close mic, expect a different sound. Test various distances, and then see the one that best fits what you want.

Thanks Felipe I do remember that. I recognize that the farther away I am from the mic the more room sound I introduce, my question has evolved somewhat.

The question is more along the lines of: "If I sing close to the mic to eliminate room sound and get a more true to life recording of my voice so its more flexible in post, is it possible to edit this audio to make it sound closer to what it sounds in the room?"

I'm trying to do that with limited knowledge and having no success. Is this because its very difficult for an amateur or do I just need to learn more and practice more audio post processing?

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34 minutes ago, zijin_cheng said:

Thanks Felipe I do remember that. I recognize that the farther away I am from the mic the more room sound I introduce, my question has evolved somewhat.

The question is more along the lines of: "If I sing close to the mic to eliminate room sound and get a more true to life recording of my voice so its more flexible in post, is it possible to edit this audio to make it sound closer to what it sounds in the room?"

I'm trying to do that with limited knowledge and having no success. Is this because its very difficult for an amateur or do I just need to learn more and practice more audio post processing?

Yes, but you don't necessarily want to. What you want to do is process the vocals to sit best in the mix with the music - giving it a more polished sound and somewhat recreating the feel of hearing it live at a concert. At a concert, the spacial harmonics play a big role in what we think we're hearing, which adds a lot of perceived layers, harmonics, lushness, and "sparkle" to the sound. In a recording, where we don't have the same type of social harmonics, we do that through EQ, layering, chorus, compression, reverb, delay, and more. Here's the first video in a great 3-part tutorial on mixing vocals. I encourage you to watch all 3 and start experimenting with it.

 

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51 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

Yes, but you don't necessarily want to. What you want to do is process the vocals to sit best in the mix with the music - giving it a more polished sound and somewhat recreating the feel of hearing it live at a concert. At a concert, the spacial harmonics play a big role in what we think we're hearing, which adds a lot of perceived layers, harmonics, lushness, and "sparkle" to the sound. In a recording, where we don't have the same type of social harmonics, we do that through EQ, layering, chorus, compression, reverb, delay, and more. Here's the first video in a great 3-part tutorial on mixing vocals. I encourage you to watch all 3 and start experimenting with it.

 

Thanks for introducing me to this, I've listened to all 3 videos, and to be honest this is exactly what I'm looking for, I appreciate it. Its time for me to start learning more about audio processing so that I can do this.

However I'm using Audacity (or Audition if needed), and the default compressor even to my untrained ears is pretty rough. I'm not ready to pay for compressors yet and wondering if you have any recommendations for free compressor plugins.

I've heard good things about Chris' Dynamic Compressor.

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