The Vocalist Magazine SPRING 2013 ISSUE - Page 47

But worse than either of these, at least from an engineering viewpoint, is a vocal that fluctuates between too close and too far from the mic. Dynamic variation in a vocal can be exciting. But without a bit of preparation and technical know-how, vocals meant to move from a whisper to a scream can end up more like an incomprehensible mutter to an intolerably distorted howl. Before recording, make sure the engineer knows the entire dynamic range of your performance. Test out the quietest and the loudest bits before tracking. The engineer may need to adjust input levels and compression in order to make sure the cle of pantyhose-like mesh placed in front of the mic. (Actual pantyhose stretched over a bent coat hanger is a time-honored budget alternative.) How to fix it: Maintain the proper distance from the microphone — not too close, not too far. Aim problem consonants and deep breaths slightly above, below, or to the side of the mic. Learn to project and focus your voice so at least as much tone comes out as air. Correct unwanted low end with EQ, and tame sibilance with de-essing during the mix. Use a pop screen. Above all, be aware of your particular vocal tics, and adapt your mic technique to work with them. entire dynamic range can be captured without problems. As a vocalist, you can help in this process by moving slightly closer to the mic for quieter passages and moving back a bit for louder parts. Speaking of breath, overloud breaths between phrases can distract from a vocal and make it sound overwrought, or even comical. If you tend to breathe really loudly, get into the habit of moving slightly off-mic for deep breaths. There’s also the twin menace of sibilance — a nasty, high-endy “sss” sound that overwhelms the rest of the track whenever an “s” sound occurs — and outof-control plosives (those microphone-popping “p” sounds). Both problems distract from the meaning and emotion of the vocal, and can make an otherwise well-recorded track sound amateurish. But there are a few tricks that may help. Try softening your “s” sounds, and aim them slightly away from the mic. Instead of projecting “sh” sounds straight forward through your teeth, let them develop farther back, against the roof of your mouth. To tame plosives, try using less air to propel “p,” “b,” “d,” and “t” sounds out of your mouth, and move your lips slightly off-mic for these sounds. Another extremely effective tool for reducing plosive problems is a pop shield or pop screen, basically a cir Thanks to digital audio, you no longer need a professional engineer to destroy your tracks — now anyone can do it! One surefire way to mangle a vocal is through overenthusiastic or inattentive digital editing. When creating a comp, don’t use the exact same audio bits too many times through the course of the song. For example, pasting out the “best” chorus again and again pretty much guarantees that your listeners will tune out. Even if it’s unconscious, people know when they’re hearing the same thing over and over. Keep it fresh by using slightly different takes of sections that repeat. Also be aware of the differences in vocal tone and room sound between different vocal takes. If a singer is warmed up, accustomed to singing for some length of time, and uses good mic technique, this problem can be minimized. If you must use vocal takes recorded on different days, try to make sure every other variable — mic placement, technique, room — remains the same. If the vocal tone changes dramatically as a recording session progresses, it makes for significantly fewer options 3 Criminal Comps young woman singing in studio 47