We got a ton of marvellous questions this week! (as per usual! haha!) Let’s get right into it!
What do you do when you’re recording a vocal that has a large dynamic range between verse and chorus and the singer wants to record it in one take?
Okay, let’s start with the mic pre’s. We have two main mic pre’s, the BAE 1028, and the UK Sound 1173. The BAE 1028 is a Neve style mic pre- when using it on vocals I don’t ever engage the EQ. If you’ve got air conditioning noise or other extraneous low rumbling sounds, you’d want to engage the High Passing, I often go as high as 70hz. Generally speaking though, I don’t do any EQ on a vocal on the way in, I leave that to the mixing stage.
For a verse we set our input sensitivity (gain control) up to maybe even 40 DB (this is all dependent of course on how loud the singer is!). When the chorus comes in, I might click it back two if they are projecting far more, this isn’t always necessary, however other times I might do more if the singer is incredibly dynamic. I just change the gain setting depending on how large the dynamic range of the singer.
If you’re going into a compressor, you might want to adjust the output gain. I personally love the sound of a mic pre just starting to overload, if it’s audible I will click it back one, so it’s still adding harmonics but the signal isn’t audibly clipping in an unpleasant way (although mic pre distortion can be the right things for some tracks!). Often, not always, I will set it to about half to 2/3rds, or full out to be super clean. Set to half, with the gain higher I’m pushing it just a little bit into the output stage, adding a little saturation.
You can do it any way you like, this is how I adjust the input gain for different sections and add the Mic Pre coloration I’m looking for!
Another thing I do is use my lyric sheet to mark off a verse, mark off takes that I like, ring letters or words, and mark down gain settings as well. So while the vocal’s going down, I have my lyric sheet and I am boosting or cutting the input sensitivity, if there’s a word the artist is coming to and they wail this word, I know based on my lyric sheet when to cut it or boost it.
There’s nothing better than getting your mic preamp and marking off different settings- we usually use a little bit of tape. There is no substitute for a little bit of extra work, honestly! If you do a little extra work you will get wonderful results and be really really happy. You’ll be just on the verge of distortion on the mic pre, keeping it a little bit under your going to get a fullness of sound.
I particularly love Audient, as I’m sure your aware. I love a BAE as well! I use them on everything, I like the sound of Neve style preamps. There are lots of different things out there but one of the things I love about analog, if you do have analog mic pre’s, is to just drive them a little bit harder and the ducking them down when they get louder. This is a skill that I highly suggest that you get into doing and you will get the best vocal sounds.
If there is one thing that people always compliment me on it is the vocal sounds! I believe it’s a forte that I love and really want to explore and help you get better at.
We also cover the following questions during this episode of FAQ Friday!
•Are you ever 100% Happy With a mix, or do you settle with something a bit less?
Do you ever finish a mix and feel happy, then come back to it and all of a sudden hear a bunch of things you want to change?
• What is your back up procedure? How do you protect against data loss?
• What guitar are you using in this video? (Last FAQ Friday)
• Any advice for producers/artists trying to get a career going while working a day job?
• I did my first recording, mixing and master. Anywhere I can post it to get feedback on how to improve?