This week's tips are about how you quick and easily can affect the performance of your vocalist in a positive way in just a few seconds. If your vocalist feels comfortable with his or her headphone mix, you probably don’t have to “fix” things later on with pitch correction tools.
Make The Singer Feel Comfortable
This is so important. You want to make sure that your artist feels comfortable. A confident person performs much better then someone that just want to go home instead of recording a kick ass vocal take. Try to remove the focus from the singer and the performance. Make the singer to feel that you are just a helping hand and not someone the person has to fear. If I want something specific when I am recording an artist I try to give the person just a couple of instructions at the time. The trick is that you just make the artist to do small improvements overtime without making them feeling worthless. A lost confidence is the last thing we want. If the artist repeatedly makes mistakes, just tell him or her that something went wrong with the sound and that's why you need a re-take. Sometimes I stop the recording immediately if I know that the take is useless and then I blame Pro Tools for freezing. It works all the time.
Choose The Right Headphones
In last week's article I also mentioned that open back is better for mixing and closed back headphones is better for tracking. But when recording vocals you need a sure instinct. A pair of closed back headphones can make the singer feel confined because it is an airtight seal around the ear. For someone that is used to sing live on stage or at home with a guitar this could be a problem. You will get less bleeding from the headphones with the closed back, but if the singer is not used to perform with these kind of equipment you probably have to struggle more to get a good vocal-performance. Many singers also take one headphone off to be able to hear themselves more naturally and this will cause bleeding. So you might consider giving them a pair of open back headphones.
A Good Headphone Mix
A good headphone mix is a key to a good performance. Remove things that you don’t need when you are tracking. It saves your computer's CPU and makes it easier for the singer to hear what he or she actually is doing. Try to remove instruments with complex sounds and rely more on acoustic instruments if it’s possible. Distorted guitars produces harmonics above the fundamental tone. If a lot of these frequencies sounds at the same time, they can have an affect on how difficult it is to zero in on the correct pitch. You can experiment with what mix allows the singer to match pitch but also sing with enough energy for the final mix.