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Entries in vocal (11)
Our friends at Sontronics have launched a new vocal microphone, the Aria. We wil get a review copy soon and have James put it through its paces.
The new Sontronics ARIA is a valve condenser microphone with a fixed cardioid pattern, designed by Sontronics founder Trevor Coley specifically for getting the best from your vocals. They say:
The Sontronics ARIA will give you stunning results on every male or female vocal recording, thanks to its silky-smooth characteristics, its accurate response and Sontronics’ trademark smooth high-frequency roll-off. Housed inside the chromed grille is a large, 1.07-inch, edge-terminated capsule that captures all the detail and subtleties of any male or female vocal, while the hand-selected European 12AX7/ECC83 tube lends a character that you’d expect to find in a classic vintage valve mic costing many times more. For that extra level of control, the accompanying SPS-2 power supply unit boasts pad (0, -10dB) and filter (linear, 75Hz) switches as well as a tube-ready LED, letting you know when the mic is warmed up and at its best to record.
“I’ve been working on the concept of a vocal-specific valve mic for a long time,” explains designer Trevor Coley, “and the ARIA is the culmination of months of research and beta-testing, which I’ve been lucky enough to do with some incredibly talented musicians and producers. The result is a go-to microphone that really is a must-have for anyone serious about achieving the best, smoothest, warmest possible results from any vocal recording.Sontronics ARIA really will take your breath away!”
Denis Kilty continues this 3 part series on capturing a choir.
Capturing The Sound
Choirs can be physically arranged in a multitude of ways for recording, each way chosen to accurately reflect both he performance capability of the singers and the level of isolation required for mixing. The most standard way is SATB in two lines, Soprano and Alto at the front with tenor and bass lined behind. This particular set up is designed for whole takes, so due to the level of spill, what is recorded is what you get. It is also possible, if the choir is of a high enough standard, to mingle the singers to create a total vocal blend at source. This requires total independent knowledge of the music and a strong sense of place within the ensemble from each member, so reserve this set up for the best of ensembles. Ensembles can also be split according to gender, with tenors and basses on the left and sopranos and altos on the right. Often choirs record in a slight semi circle, with the lines of singers “honeycombing” (looking between the shoulders of the person in front fro projection clarity). This tightens the stereo image as the singers at the edge are closer to the stereo microphones.
To record this positioning, a number of techniques can be used. An XY stereo pair of cardioid condensers placed in front of the choir is a good place to begin. The XY configuration captures a decent Stereo image and the inherent crossover between microphones creates quite a concrete center image too. An expansion of this is to instead use two Figure Of 8 patterned condensers in the same format, also known as the Blumlein Pair. This technique captures the same focused stereo image but the bi-directionality of the microphones means that the stereo room ambience behind the microphones is also captured.
It’s that time of year and the tide of jingle riddled music graces the airwaves once again. Christmas is a season that celebrates largely religious music and the coming of the carol, and we can all expect and agree that the most prominent display of Christmas music is going to be through the medium of the voice.
Given the impending approach of Christmas, I thought it relevant to impart some simple tips and tricks for working with choirs and vocal ensembles in a production and recording capacity. Before we look at microphones in depth, it is pertinent to address pre-production due to the inevitable element of close interaction the producer or engineer will have with the ensemble being recorded.
Owners of some of the bundles from Avid may not realize that some of the software included (in particular cut-down versions) are made for Avid and then the responsibilty to update them is Avid’s. VocALign LE was one such product, made for DV Toolkit users, but a vital part of a lot of user workflows.
Avid have made no indication of plans to make or commission an AAX update, which would have left many users moving to Pro Tools 11 high and dry. Revoice Pro is currently AAX ready and all other versions will be ported in the near future. Any user buying a version will get a FREE upgrade to the AAX version when it ships.
Synchro Arts, have decided to make sure users of their products are not left without a version so are offering the following deal.
VocALign LE Upgrades
Synchro Arts are offering owners of the AVID/Digidesign VocALign LE licenses $100 (£65 or €78) off the prices of VocALign Project 3, VocALign PRO 4 or Revoice Pro.
- This offer is valid until the end of August 2013.
- The new Synchro Arts product iLok license will be delivered into the user’s iLok.com account which holds the VocALign LE license being upgraded.
- This upgrade can be purchases here
Good for Synchro Arts for helping users if migrating to Pro Tools 11.
SynchroArts have a reputation across the industry for creating the best vocal alignment tools - many people have depended on VocAlign for years and more recently Revoice Pro 2 is like VocAlign on steroids. At Messe it featured as part of the Alicia Keys remix session on the Pro Tools 11 demo.
Now Synchroarts have given us a copy of the software for one lucky winner.
Simply complete the form below - you will need to visit their new community site to find the answer to the question ‘When Did Billy Jay Stein First Use VocAlign?’.
It is available in all plug-in formats including AAX and we understand they are currently working on a PC version.
Often a bad vocal gets blamed on the performer and yet some of the best vocal performances have been ruined by bad technical issues with recording engineers getting a great performance down badly. Here are our 5 common mistakes made when recording vocals.
- Wrong microphone
It is said that a bad workman blames his tools, that may be true sometimes, but using the wrong microphone on a vocal can make life very hard. If you have little money for your home studio then you need to make sure you buy a microphones with vocals as one of the primary applications for the mic. If you have the good fortune to own a lot of microphones then make sure you put a selection up in front of the artist and listen to them before making your final selection. The right mic can often mean that the need for eq and compression is then left to a minimum.
- Level headed
Make sure you understand gain structures in recording, it’s fundamental stuff, but essential if you want to make great recordings. Too low and you’ll have more hiss than bacon frying, too high and you’ll have more clipping to deal with than a poodle parlour. In the ‘wonderful’ days of analogue pre-amps and tape were more forgiving when clipping occurred - not so with digital, get that wrong and it will sound like Indiana Jones is cracking his whip in the background. Which leads me to my next point…
- Coach The Singer
I’ve lost count at the amount of times I’ve seen engineers increase gain instead of asking the singer to move from across the room towards the mic. Your singer needs to be comfortable, yet at the same time be singing in the right place to capture the best possible performance. Forget trying the whole ‘testing 1,2,3’ rubbish with them, that will just remind them they are about to do something technical. Simply ask them to sing through the song a few times to get relaxed, and whilst they do this then you can sort out your gain and other settings… oh yes and record perhaps their best take.
- Treatment Hell
We are big proponents at Pro Tools Expert of getting stuff down to ‘tape’, rather than fixing in the mix. However, if you overcook the compression, EQ or yes, heaven forbid track with autotune on, then there’s no way to recover it later. If you want to get a certain sound when tracking then use splits on the mic and get a clean safety version of the vocal down too, just in case. It does no harm and can save a song later.
- Monitors, Monitors, Monitors
Even before a singer arrives you have work to do and that is make sure you have decent monitoring for them. A good pair of headphones (enclosed) should also be high on your shopping list. If you’ve ever wondered why seemingly great singers suddenly start going out of tune in a studio, it’s normally because they can’t hear either themselves, the track or both. Make sure your singer is comfortable and has what they need in their monitors, for some it takes two or three passes of the track until they have what they need.
Recording vocals can be scary even for the most seasoned professional, so make sure you are ready to get down their best takes. Any more tips?
In this video Russ shows some of the tricks used by producers to create the sound heard on a lot of pop and R&B vocals commonly found in the charts.
The problem is that this gives excessive bleed of the rest of the instruments though the vocal track - this video shows you a trick that helps to remove a lot of that bleed.
A very cool video showing how top dance producers get those cool vocal effects heard on many dance and R&B tracks.
Russ takes time to show you how to take some basic vocals and clean them and process them within your track. As usual the video is full of lots of cool tips and tricks for users.
Russ shows some more tips and tricks (plus a few moments when things don't quite go to plan) in this latest cool video made famous by share and now being used on tracks by Rap artists like T Pain on vocal production and effects. Even better he shows Mac users how to get the tuned effect for FREE!