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Question about creating a live vocal tone

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tankaviator
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Hello all,

I have been working on my singing for a long time (all by my lonesome I admit) and feel like it is time to start branching out into more "interesting" endeavors. I am looking at auditioning for bands, but my demo tracks are lacking, mainly because all I have is a completely dry signal that tends be constantly clipped due to my style of singing (screaming/singing similar to Slipknot's style). I want to be able to create a good sound (both live and simple recordings) but am overwhelmed when it comes to the myriad of choices of items to add to the signal path.

Currently my path is: SM58->Tascam 144->Cubase LE 5

That's it... its pretty bare and leads to a signal that is difficult to work with because of all the clipping (I can overdrive my mic easily from 18" away), and for a ton of other reasons I am not even aware of I am sure. I have some desires, and I know where I want to get to, I just don't know how to start the journey to find my path. Ultimately I am really only looking to work with my live vocals, knowing that any decent DAW and/or studio has the ability to attenuate the signal correctly, get it digitized, and then use the engineer's expertise to build the final sound. Some of the ideas I have been looking at are:

Rack option: Sm58->Tube Compressor->Tube Pre->(... insert stuff here)->Tascam 144

This seems to be a traditional approach, and may be a good option in any case, but it seems that this method has 2 drawbacks: 1) hard (expensive) to experiment with sound; 2) hard to make it portable for auditions or gigs.

VoiceLive 2 option: SM58->VoiceLive2->Tascam 144

This seems to be the best starting point. It seems to have a great following (and reviews), easy to experiment with, easy to travel with, etc, etc. There are two drawbacks here as well: 1) The ~$800 price tag is hard to commit to when I don't have any hands-on playtime with it (its a leap of faith); 2) It seems to have the potential of hiding bad technique, from both me and others (but that is where lessons come in).

Tc Helicon pedals option: SM58->VoiceTone Correct XT->VoiceTone Create XT->(etc)->Tascam 144

This seems to be an option that has a lot of flexibility, maintains many benefits of the VoiceLive option, and has the ability to "grow". The drawbacks here are: 1) Eventually the cost can exceed the VoiceLive 2 option (hence may be a waste of money in the long run); 2) Can start to become "unwieldy" requiring a pedal board for easy setup and teardown.

If there are options I missed feel free to point them out. Hell, if you think I am wasting my time with this question feel free to point that out too. I am looking at starting live lessons with a rock coach in Seattle, so I am not trying to hide deficiencies in my technique, just enhance and shape the sound to create more interest, fit in with the mix better, etc etc.

Thanks in advance for your time with this. I really feel like I am at a point where I can take the next step, I just can't find the right step to take (both artistically and developmentally).

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If you are clipping you need to turn the input down. Recording a vocal track with no backing is sort of boring. You might as well just show up at an audition and sing live. No one wants to hear a vocal track all by itself just like no one likes to hear a bass guitar playing all by itself. Drowning your voice in effects won't really help. Any experienced musicians can tell if you can really sing or not, even if a recorded demo doesn't sound professional. Leave the effects for when you actually have a band and record some tracks.

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The problem with the clipping is that I have is I have bakup tracks, and I am using the live monitoring on my 144 to hear both my voice and the backing track. If I turn the input down down so I don't clip, I can't hear myself in my monitor. If I turn it up so that I can hear myself I clip. That wasn't really the gist of my question tho...

The question is what is the best way to start playing with my tone, something that I can "take with me", experiment, and grow with. I am at the point that I want to start playing with my tone outside of a DAW. I have dry vocals over backing tracks, and I have sent them out as an example of what I can do.

I appreciate your input. I realize I indicated my clipping issue (hence the compressor in the first option, and the others supposedly have built-in compressors). I hope I was clear that I didn't want to use any of this as a crutch but as an enhancement. This is a personal endeavor, hopefully a growth experience for me.

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The problem with the clipping is that I have is I have bakup tracks, and I am using the live monitoring on my 144 to hear both my voice and the backing track. If I turn the input down down so I don't clip, I can't hear myself in my monitor. If I turn it up so that I can hear myself I clip. That wasn't really the gist of my question tho...

The question is what is the best way to start playing with my tone, something that I can "take with me", experiment, and grow with. I am at the point that I want to start playing with my tone outside of a DAW. I have dry vocals over backing tracks, and I have sent them out as an example of what I can do.

I appreciate your input. I realize I indicated my clipping issue (hence the compressor in the first option, and the others supposedly have built-in compressors). I hope I was clear that I didn't want to use any of this as a crutch but as an enhancement. This is a personal endeavor, hopefully a growth experience for me.

tankaviator: I don't know much about the equipment you are using, but cardioid pattern mics have a ring of low isensitivity in a cone 45 degress off axis behind the mic. If you put your monitors at that angle (at any distance you choose) the mic will not hear them very much, but you will.

I hope this helps,

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tankaviator - To avoid clipping you need to be able to control your vocal signal independent of the input gain on your mic. If you are clipping you've got to turn the gain down. How you hear yourself along with the music is critical for a vocalist. You'll need to monitor your voice with reverb too.

Both TC products look really good. VoiceLive2 seems to have a lot of stuff I would never use, but maybe you would. The Voice Tone correct seems like a great little device, and one that a future sound man would like. Or if nothing else, a great tool to use at band rehearsals. The only thing I wouldn't use is the pitch correction feature. I think it could be used as a crutch which would be a little dangerous for technique.

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tankaviator - you are not overloading an SM58 from 1.5ft away with your voice ;) You're adding too much gain at some point in the signal chain so that the next device can't handle it.

Can't help much with live gear, but as for the recording yourself with a backing track, can't you use headphones to listen to the track? I know it's not as good as loudspeakers, but it's better than being one sneeze or cough away from destroying your equipment and ears with feedback :D

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