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Vocal Treatments Vocal doubling ala Lennon/Beatles

#1 User is offline   obcbeatle Icon

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:05 PM

Hello:

Recently I've been trying to figure out ways to improve my vocal tracks from within Garageband. I understand that the most important thing to do is make sure you have a good vocal recording in the first place because post processing can do very little if the recorded vocal take is poor. But with my limited vocal abilities, this is a challenge. I spend an awful lot of time recording multiple tracks (takes) of my vocals and pick out the best parts. So occasionally I will somewhat nail a verse or chorus vocal :-) Anyway, I grew up listening to The Beatles so I am familiar with their vocal treatments from a listening stand point. Specifically, the use of what I think is vocal doubling on many John Lennon vocals. So I've been playing around with the idea of using vocal doubling on some of my vocals to see what effect. My questions are:

1) Is it as simple as copying the vocal track you want to double to a new track and then fading the new vocal track to taste? I have been doing that with various success, but wondered if some of you with more recording experience than I know a few tricks that might help me out. For instance, I suppose you could have (2) vocal tracks that were actually (2) seperate takes that you double. But my experience has been that there is usually enough variance in one of the (2) takes that some nuance can be heard when doubling that makes the doubling not really a good treatment. Of course this could be because of my vocal constraints :-)

2) I have tried adding some reverb and occasionally echo in my vocals, but I usually end up removing it since it really never seems to add much "good flavor" to my ears. I feel like I'm missing something here since I read about and hear the use of reverb on vocals a lot, but I can never get what I'd call a worthwhile effect. I'm basically just soloing the vocal track and adding a little reverb to taste, THEN listening to it in the full mix. And I've tried adding the reverb to a vocal track while listening to it in the full mix. Is there a different/better way of doing this?

3) My primary game plan for vocal recording is: record multiple tracks (I usually end up with 8-10 vocal tracks of the entire song). Then I go back and listen to each vocal track SOLO to find the best sounding 1st verse take, 2nd verse take, chorus take, bridge take, etc. Then I listen to the best takes within the full mix to make sure they are OK with everything else that is going on (in tempo, in tune with the other instruments, etc.). Lastly I start editing. So I may end up with (6) vocal tracks/takes in the final mix e.g., V1 is the first verse, V2 is the first chorus, V3 is the second verse, etc. and I then have to fade these (6) vocal tracks/takes so that the volume levels are consistent in the full mix. Am I missing some tricks that would make this process a lot easier when dealing with a vocalist like me with a very limited vocal range, etc. Again, I'm looking for any advice on how to improve the process and quality of vocal recording.

4) I use a Shure SM58 mic for vocals and also have an SM57, but usually use it for mic'ing my guitars. Is there any benefit to using both the 58 AND 57 together when recording the vocal? I usually just play things by ear as far as mic placement (proximity, room acoustics, etc.).

Any pointers to links/comments/suggestions would be appreciated re: how to enhance vocals during/after the recording process AND I am really interested specifically in learning the process of doubling a vocal to enhance its sound within the full mix. Thanks in advance!

#2 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 01:40 PM

Hi Jerry,
I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to singing.
I have problems listening to lots of my vocals.
Be that as it may, you can try a few things.

Yes, making sure you have the best vocal track as possible to begin with is paramount.
One thing to remember when you're recording your vocal is to make sure you are recording onto a Mono track.
Recording in stereo diminishes the possibilites of doing lots of the things I'm going to suggest in order to make it sound better.
I'll let the other guys explain the science behind that.

But once you have your vocal recorded onto a Mono track.
Simply create a duplicate separate track of the vocal.
Then you are free to offset the tracks and/or Pan them to get a fuller sound.

I would start by offsetting (I checked and this is possible with Garageband) the starting points of the tracks.
For example, take the original track and offset it in the minus direction by 5 milliseconds (the smallest unit in most DAWs that appear in your GUI)
If you were to start that track from position 2.0.0.0, that last zero represent milliseconds.
(btw, I always start my recording at 2.0.0.0. precisely because i want to be able to do the above)
So I would offset the original track start position to 1.4.4.115.
Then I would go to the copied vocal track and offset it forward to 2.0.0.5.
Listen to how it sounds. You can try adding or reducing the offset (i use 5 MS increments) and see how the differences sound.

Then you can also Pan the tracks L & R.
Again i usually Pan in increments of plus or minus 5.
So Pan the original 5L and the copied vocal 5R. See how it sounds.
How much offset and panning will also depend on the tempo of the song which will also play into the mix. (pun intended) ;)
On slower songs, one can have offsets of plus and minus 20MS and Panning of L30 and R30.
So try it out and see if it works for you.
Have fun. :)
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#3 User is offline   Alistair S Icon

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 07:06 PM

There's a huge amount that can be said about this.

First, there are simple plugs you can add, like ADT from vacuumsound

Second, you can do a certain amount with panned delays.

Third, none will be as good as doing more than one vocal. However, double-tracking vocals is difficult and requires a certain discipline. If you use a some side-chaining on a gate (as you would for "dipping" a bass and kick, for example) you can make them tighter, if tightness is what you want. You still, however, have to be able to repeat a vocal performance pretty closely.

Yes, using Melodyne or some auto-tuning can help, but just singing it right will generally sound better.

It often take a few tracks, and some experimenting with panning and delays to get right.

Don't neglect the opportunity to edit the BVs as well. Removing the sibilants and the plosives on the BV won't generally be noticed, Focus on supporting the vowels. The other stuff can be cut, often.

Give some examples and it may be possible to comment further. Who knows? Maybe we could play with your examples and show what we mean more precisely!
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Posted 10 March 2012 - 07:56 PM

View Postobcbeatle, on 10 March 2012 - 12:05 PM, said:

1) Is it as simple as copying the vocal track you want to double to a new track and then fading the new vocal track to taste? I have been doing that with various success, but wondered if some of you with more recording experience than I know a few tricks that might help me out. For instance, I suppose you could have (2) vocal tracks that were actually (2) seperate takes that you double. But my experience has been that there is usually enough variance in one of the (2) takes that some nuance can be heard when doubling that makes the doubling not really a good treatment. Of course this could be because of my vocal constraints :-)


Doubling a vocal means to record a second vocal track and blend it with the original. Copying a track doesn't add anything, it just makes it louder. I'm not a fan of doing the offset/delay trick, it just adds more to the song to record another vocal.

As far as EQ, reverb, etc. It's all personal taste. High-passing a vocal is usually a good starting point though, depending on your range, you won't need much of anything that's in the low frequencies.
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#5 User is offline   Scotto Icon

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 12:38 AM

Quote

1) Is it as simple as copying the vocal track you want to double to a new track and then fading the new vocal track to taste? I have been doing that with various success, but wondered if some of you with more recording experience than I know a few tricks that might help me out. For instance, I suppose you could have (2) vocal tracks that were actually (2) seperate takes that you double. But my experience has been that there is usually enough variance in one of the (2) takes that some nuance can be heard when doubling that makes the doubling not really a good treatment. Of course this could be because of my vocal constraints :-)


Doubling can be a lot of things. You can sing the same parts twice seperatly on different tracks and pan one left and one right. You have to make sure your singing fairly close but the slight variation does add a nice effect. I'm not currently doing that anymore becuse I couldn't pull it off for some reason but it is a trick I've read about.

Quote

2) I have tried adding some reverb and occasionally echo in my vocals, but I usually end up removing it since it really never seems to add much "good flavor" to my ears. I feel like I'm missing something here since I read about and hear the use of reverb on vocals a lot, but I can never get what I'd call a worthwhile effect. I'm basically just soloing the vocal track and adding a little reverb to taste, THEN listening to it in the full mix. And I've tried adding the reverb to a vocal track while listening to it in the full mix. Is there a different/better way of doing this?


These days I use a very small amount of reverb. Like 10 - 20% depending on the setting (I.E. Plate - Hall). when the vocal is by itself you hear that reverb but when it is in the song the reverb isn't noticable. The vocal is fuller but in the song the lower setting is transparent. Really any setting should kind of be that I think...

Quote

3) My primary game plan for vocal recording is: record multiple tracks (I usually end up with 8-10 vocal tracks of the entire song). Then I go back and listen to each vocal track SOLO to find the best sounding 1st verse take, 2nd verse take, chorus take, bridge take, etc. Then I listen to the best takes within the full mix to make sure they are OK with everything else that is going on (in tempo, in tune with the other instruments, etc.). Lastly I start editing. So I may end up with (6) vocal tracks/takes in the final mix e.g., V1 is the first verse, V2 is the first chorus, V3 is the second verse, etc. and I then have to fade these (6) vocal tracks/takes so that the volume levels are consistent in the full mix. Am I missing some tricks that would make this process a lot easier when dealing with a vocalist like me with a very limited vocal range, etc. Again, I'm looking for any advice on how to improve the process and quality of vocal recording.


So I'm a vocalist but I don't count on getting the vocal or feel right the first time on a new song but I have a trick that makes it so I don't have a lot of tracks to deal with. I highlight the section I'm working on and set the record to loop (you can set just play too). I'll give a little lead in time before and after the section so I can breath and prepare as needed. Then I sing it over and over and until I think I like it. It's continuous and eventually I think I hit something and play it back to see if it is indeed a keeper. Most DAWs can do this I think it is brilliant. Working out guitar solos is another plus for that feature...

Quote

4) I use a Shure SM58 mic for vocals and also have an SM57, but usually use it for mic'ing my guitars. Is there any benefit to using both the 58 AND 57 together when recording the vocal? I usually just play things by ear as far as mic placement (proximity, room acoustics, etc.).


There are folks that have said they can get a good recorded vocal sound out of an SM58. Unfortunately I'm not one of them. I invested in a recording mic for vocals with phantom power. I think if you are using something like an SM58 as your vocal mic you'll have to play with EQ a bit. Sorry... wish I knew more on that front.

My process is a compressor vocal leveler, Reverb 10 -20%, and normalization to bring it in line with the other tracks volumewise. Helps when those sliders are somewhat related to each other...

For backgrounds I've done some cut and paste doubling with an offset on the second track. It makes for a nice blended sound. In the end you gotta figure out what your ears are telling you aside from ...ug bad... ug good. Unfortunately I have not figured out how to get past the simple bad/good entirely myself.

Hope that helps somewhat...

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:41 PM

I'll just add that you should probably stay clear of using more than one mic at the same time to avoid potential phase cancellation issues between the mics.

#7 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:02 PM

View PostDavid@HoboSage.com, on 12 March 2012 - 10:41 PM, said:

I'll just add that you should probably stay clear of using more than one mic at the same time to avoid potential phase cancellation issues between the mics.
Jerry,
Reading what David is talking about, another thought occurred to me (hey at my age, <_< the synapses that have to get crossed continue to fray :lol:)
but do you have a pre-amp that you use along with your SM58? :unsure:
That will also help fatten the vocal sound that finally comes out the output end. :rolleyes:
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#8 User is offline   obcbeatle Icon

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:50 AM

Thanks for all the replies so far. I've already started incorporating what you all have suggested in a couple song recordings!

1) I started using the region loop function in Garageband so that it automatically loops and saves takes over and over until I think I nailed one. Thanks for that tip Scotto!
2) I've been playing around with panning two tracks of the same vocal (one R, one L) and then off-setting for a doubling effect. It has not been an exact science for me so I need to keep playing with it. Thanks for that tip Danny!
3) The ADT plugin looks cool Alistair. Thanks for that link! I was going to d/l it, but saw it was for OSX 10.4 (Tiger) and I'm running 10.5 (Leopard). Might work anyway, but I need to Google and see if Leopard users are having any problems with it first. I also need to research side-chaining/gate, auto-tuning (I saw that in GB but wasn't sure it would really fix a vocal that is a tad flat? I guess I'll try it) and BV's (I think that means P's and S's too?) since I'm not sure what some of that means. I'll check out a home recording website for help. I'm still learning about HR'ing. I also may be up for giving examples if I start to get really frustrated :-) Thanks for all those tips!

FunkDaddy. I will research high-passing. I think that means taking out the real high and low frequencies, but I'm not sure how to do it in GB yet. I'll look for a YouTube tutorial or something. Thanks for that tip!

Scotto. I used 15% reverb on a vocal this week and it did help a little. That was a good starting point for me. Thanks for the suggestion! Compression and normalization I will have to read about and figure out how to do in GB. I'll keep using the SM58 till I can afford something else :-)

Danny/David, I'm not sure my Apogee Duet has a pre-amp on the XLR's but the SM58 has always sounded pretty good thru it, I think. The SM57 too (for guitar mic'ing). I'll stay clear from using two mic's for vocals. Thanks!

#9 User is offline   Alistair S Icon

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 10:26 AM

Sorry, I shouldn't use acronyms. By "BVs" I simply meant backing vocals :)
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Posted 14 March 2012 - 10:32 AM

View PostAlistair S, on 14 March 2012 - 10:26 AM, said:

Sorry, I shouldn't use acronyms. By "BVs" I simply meant backing vocals :)


Ahhh....now I get it! And thanks for that specific suggestion about backing vocals and concentrating on the vowels. I happen to be laying down a BV track for a song this week (hopefully), and I'll keep in mind the vowels! I am really vocally challenged however :-)

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 11:24 AM

View Postobcbeatle, on 14 March 2012 - 08:50 AM, said:

2) I've been playing around with panning two tracks of the same vocal (one R, one L) and then off-setting for a doubling effect. It has not been an exact science for me so I need to keep playing with it. Thanks for that tip Danny!


You might actually using try three copies - the original panned in the center - then pan the other two extreme right and left - slightly offset each by different amounts e.g. 5 and 10 msecs - then pitch shift one a few cents sharp and one a few cents flat.
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#12 User is offline   obcbeatle Icon

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:20 AM

Thanks for this great tip neuroron! I just tried this on a new song I'm working on and I do like the result. I'm not sure how you pitch shift in Garageband though. And it seems counter to everything I've ever strived for in trying to sing (and tuning guitars) to flatten or sharp a pitch. But alas, I have a lot to learn about home recording :-) Thanks again for the feedback!

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:48 AM

I'm going to put forth the hardcore drill-sargeant opinion here:

You should be able to sing a solid double (and triple) with your own vocal, and if you can't its because you haven't really sorted out your phrasing.

I work with string and horn players who can quadruple their own parts, and so tightly that you have to solo their mic to make sure they're playing. They can do this because they decide (taking into account the producer;s notes) exactly how they are going to phrase the part during rehearsal.

The double on a pop vocal needs to be tight, but nowhere near as tight as a classical string player gets it (those Beatle tracks you're emulating are pretty loose). It's the tiny variations in pitch and timing that give the double its richness.

IMO, you will never get that sound from an electronic double. I've used cut-n-paste-n-shift techniques for slamming out a client demo, but for the real deal I will always ask the singer to do the double for realz. You should demand no less of yourself: decide how you want to phrase the line, practice til you've got it nailed, and then just do it.

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:47 PM

View PostGravity Jim, on 21 March 2012 - 10:48 AM, said:

I'm going to put forth the hardcore drill-sargeant opinion here:

You should be able to sing a solid double (and triple) with your own vocal, and if you can't its because you haven't really sorted out your phrasing.

I work with string and horn players who can quadruple their own parts, and so tightly that you have to solo their mic to make sure they're playing. They can do this because they decide (taking into account the producer;s notes) exactly how they are going to phrase the part during rehearsal.

The double on a pop vocal needs to be tight, but nowhere near as tight as a classical string player gets it (those Beatle tracks you're emulating are pretty loose). It's the tiny variations in pitch and timing that give the double its richness.

IMO, you will never get that sound from an electronic double. I've used cut-n-paste-n-shift techniques for slamming out a client demo, but for the real deal I will always ask the singer to do the double for realz. You should demand no less of yourself: decide how you want to phrase the line, practice til you've got it nailed, and then just do it.

You can also do the "double" a verse (or a line) at a time so it's easier to remember exactly how you've phrased it, especially if it is something you phrase a little differently from performance to performance.
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Posted 23 March 2012 - 11:59 AM

A high-pass filter is pretty simple, just an EQ that cuts out all the low end beneath a certain point (or let's the "high pass" through...if you will) A lot of vocals don't need much in the low end so it's better to just get rid of them completely. Most EQ's that have presets will probably have a high/hi pass filter preset. If not, in a graphic EQ, the lowest band will probably have a hi-pass setting (graphically, it will look like the top half of the letter "C")
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Posted 24 March 2012 - 08:55 AM

Doubling a vocal is something I have a knack for doing. It is a feel thing more than anything. You do not want the two takes to be exact however, you would like the differncesto be extremely subtle. Singing down your doubles is the way to go. A copied track as Funk pointed out is only going to ghive you a few more dbs of volume.

I learned something while doing a vocal session with a hip hop artist recently. this particular artist's demo recordings always had something going on in the vocals that I just couldn't figure out, and then, I pulled up a song only to find Five LV (LEAD VOCAL) tracks! These were not manually doubled, they were each recorded separately. I started hitting mute buttons, and suddendly there it was-clarity.

Think for just a moment about what happens when you record something twice...You have just overlapped the frequencies. Consider it this way...The more copies you have (or original takes-doesn't matter) of the same performance, the less "up-front" your vocal is going to be. One vocal take on it's own will sound so much more defined/detailed than Two or Three takes ever will(no matter how solid the takes may be). What seems to happen to a lot of people is, they just can't get one vocal track to sit in a mix. The first thing they try is to make the vocal louder (only natural, our brain hears louder as better). Problem is, louder isn't always better, it's just the obvious, and the obvious isn't likely to be what you are after. Getting an LV to sit well within a mix has everything to do with making certain that it's most beautiful frequencies have enough room to breathe. In short...You can only have so much 2-5k happening at the same time on a record. If every source on a record has an upper midrange boost you won't be able to listen to it for more than a minute before it starts to really annoy you. I believe, the tendency is for people to want very source on their record to be as loud as everything else...This is not the way it works.

I would stay away from panning a LV LCR (Left Center Right) unless you're doing so for a special effect. LVs in the center yes, even the doubles. Unless they are soft-panned (any thing not 100% Left or Right would be said to be "soft-panned." BV's shouldn't be panned center. If it is pop music of any sort, the panning should be LCR (Everything Left, Center, or Right.

*Just a note: 57's and 58's are dynamic microphones. These types of microphones require a LOT of gain. It's also nice if your preamp can match impedance when using dynamic (or ribbon) microphone. If you have to crank the gain on your interface in order to hear your vocals this is why. Your gain shouldn't be ranked if it introduces a bunch of noise. If this sounds familiar look into a god premp which has at least 70dbs of gain. Match the impedance as well and you may believe that you are listening to an entirely different microphone.

OK as far as a 58 or 57 goes...Here is how I hear these microphones. The 58 sounds "smoother." The 57 sounds more "aggressive". Using both on the same LV wouldn't be advisable IMHO. 57 is a tiny bit "brighter". And don't listen to people who tell you that you have to use a condensor microphone for vocals- B/S! The 57 gets used quite a bit on LV duties for rock style records. Another great dynamic mic choice on vocals is the Shure SM7B.

Before you start applying treatments, get great takes. Try to forget about eq unless you have to correct a sound. Want "brighter?" use your 57...THIS IS eq! If you make a bunch of eq boosts you're really only making a big fat mess. Fix the sound at the source-ALWAYS. When all else fails THEN use eq. Above all-LISTEN twice as much as you think you should listen...And never, never rush...Be patient, and use your ears. Trust your ears before you trust anything else, especially gear.

Good luck! :)

Now, go sing down those LV takes! :)
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Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:34 AM

Thanks again for all the feedback from the group on vocal treatments. I've learned a lot.

Jim: I now agree with you on the variations of pitch and timing making a more rich double. Even though I can get the phrasing correct, it is difficult for me to get the pitch good enough on some songs to the point that I have (2) or more takes to double. I know that may sound like laziness, but I'm currently working on a song I've re-recorded (3) times in (3) different keys to try to wrap my vocal around a chorus that needs a strong (high end of the octave) vocal. But alas, I literal couldn't get my voice to stay in pitch. When I sang it using lower octave notes (variation to stay in pitch) the vocals were pretty uninspiring. I think the bottom line for ME is that I am a perfectionist and I'm probably never going to be happy with my vocals so I intend to query for a vocalist if someone is interested in my songs. Also, I will note now that I believe for doubling or maybe for background vocals too in general, I think I prefer (2) different vocalist to just me trying to do the lead and BV vocals. There is a timbre thing going on when (2) different people sing that really makes a vocal stand out to my ear. I'm just now learning this. So maybe if I could interest someone in doing say the lead vocal, then maybe I could do part of the BV. Just a thought. Anyway thanks for your input! I honesty did a vocal recording session after your inspired post and worked on the phrasing, memorizing the lyrics, etc. and it helped. Unfortunately I was not blessed with very good vocal cords so though the extra effort helped, I'm still disappointed with MY vocal work :-)

Neuroron: Thanks for that tip! I'm currently doing my vocals in pieces to help with phrasing and memorizing lyrics. For instance, I will set the repeat loop for the first verse region and just do takes till I think I nail it. Than repeat that method for the first chorus, second verse, second chorus, etc. I end up with multiple takes for each vocal section (verses/choruses) and a seperate track for each verse, chorus, etc. Then I start picking thru the takes. It would sure be nice to just set the repeat loop thru the whole song and record multiple takes of me singing thru the entire song but because of my vocal limitations, that method is a lot more work. I sometimes do a last take/track of me singing the entire song so that I may get a more emotional take that I can grab something from. I do that because usually I'm at a point where I think I already have enough good takes and I can just relax and sing :-) Just thought I'd mention that as it has helped me sometimes get a more emotionally vocal chorus, for instance. Anyway, thanks for your tip!

FunkDaddy: I still haven't gotten around to figuring out how to do a high pass filter or vocal compression (post processing) in Garageband, but it's on my to-do list :-) It's amazing how much time it takes to write AND record a song properly. But all the recent work I've done trying to improve my home recording skills has definitely made me make sure my songs are more polished before even trying to record them ;-) Thanks again for your feedback!

Lzi: A lot of great tips here. Thanks for taking the time for giving feedback! I am now trying to record (2) seperate takes for doubling, instead of copying/pasting one to double. Also, per your advice I'm keeping the lead vocal centered and the backing vocals panned (one mono BV vocal R, the other L). So as far as panning goes, I'm currently doing LV+Drums+Bass+Main Rhythm Guitar centered (guitar is my main instrument, so the rhythm guitar is usually acoustic) and BV's+Electric Guitar(s) panned L/R (I sometimes soft pan, sometimes hard pan depending on what my ears tell me). And any other instruments are usually panned (not centered) depending on the song. And thanks much for the tips on the SM57's and 58's! My SM58, I think, works great thru my Apogee Duet interface for vocals. I'm still not sure of the preamps in the Duet, but I'm not complaining. My ears think it is OK. And just as important, thanks for the tip on the SM57 being brighter! I started using the SM58 instead of the SM57 for my acoustic guitar to get a warmer sound. That tip helped me a lot! I still use the SM57 for mic'ing my guitar amps. As far as post processing vocals, I agree with you to try to get the best sound thru mic'ing and good takes. I currently do very little to the vocals after recording anyway since I still have a lot to learn about using compression, reverb and EQ to fix or tighten things up. These are mostly Garageband questions that I need to research. Thanks again for your feedback!

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 09:33 AM

First, remember that EQ, Compression, and reverb are what they are and because you are working with Garage band shouldn't cause anything to change. An EQ is an EQ whther you are recording to 2" tape, Protools, Logic, Garageband or, whatever medium. The only thing that changes are the plug ins that you use (maybe).

One basic rule works well for all three processes though-LESS IS ALWAYS MORE, especially when we are talking about reverb. *Hint: Try a nice short delay rather than using reverb on your LV.

I don't know if centering the guitar is such a good idea. Try hard panning it Left and or Right. The guitar needs to stay out of th way of the vocals (I'm a guitarist myself). Unless it is a lead part or, a solo acoustic guitar/vocal piece, then try soft panning the acoustic, otherwise keep the guitar parts hard panned Left and Right, and yeah, forget about manually copying parts. It is always better to play down your doubles-ALWAYS.

As far as preamps goes, I've never used your particu;lar interface but, I have used another Apogee interface and the preamps were nice and clean, nothing you'd want to call "colored" but, they are decent enough. If your source sounds good, your recordings should sound fine. If your music is "clean" without a lot of distorted, heavy electric guitar stuff going on you should be fine.


Are you recording your vocals hot enough? I like to record vocals at around -6 dbs (unless I foresee using more compression than I usually like to use. A lot of choices as far as processing goes just depend on who is singing. If I had an unlimited budget, I would purchase a rack full of great analog compressors/limiters. It is a good thing to record your vocals with just a slight bit of compression as you go into the hard drive. Never go overboard, simply control the peaks just a tiny bit. I know it seems insane to use a $2000 compressor and to only ever use a slight bit of it as I record but, it is about the color which this adds that a plugin just isn't going to be able to give to you. Best to err on the side of not adding enough compression this way as you can always dial up a little more with a plugin later. An inexpensive way around using a hardware ompressor to record vocals with is to get yourself an RNC, a REALLY NICE COMPRESSOR. They go for just under $200 and are actually quite usable.

Above everything else, stay positive, patient, and listen, listen, listen. Rushing a record kills a record, unless you want it to sound bad. Time is free, use it. Fight the tendency to be rash. Try anything that comes to mind. Who cares if it doesn't work...BUT, consider this, it just might work great! Just because you've recorded 100 tracks doesn't mean that you are obliged to use all of them. The mute button is your best friend somethines. When you mix, start by finding the song, and then begin to open other tracks up using the mute button. Add one thing at a time until it sounds good. If you are left with a bunch of unused tracks so what? Delete them. Better to have too many tracks than not enough tracks when you are mixing. You can always delete what you do not need.

One more tipo: Make the room in which you record "Creatively comfortable." You should be at ease when you're recording (lava lamps rock!).
"Digital? is that the thing where they take a good old sine wave and chop it into bits?"
---Rupert Neve

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