Technical backstage: Recording vox

It’s not a didactic section (when needed I’ll link related pages on manufacturer site) but so as to explain my approach to recording.


Capture and recording at the best, vocals is a basic work for a sound engineer.

When you list a radio program or a song with a speaker/singer you must understand speech/lyrics and every nuance and dynamic of their voices. Here’s why when I record a singer I pay great attention to capture his perfomance at the best. But, check it out, it’s not just a matter of microphone tipology.

Sometimes vocals recording session become an album cover

Sometimes vocals recording session become an album cover

I draw up a list by five points.

1) Let him hair down

A good perfomance need a quiet environment in a comfortable feel with a warm half-light and with a presence of few people (better a trusted person or none) to realize a relaxed situation without any kind of embarassament. For me it’s important to create an empathy with the singer.

Generally, lead and back vocals need two hours to record. I consider some breaks to listen takes or simply to drink a cup of coffee.

My live room with a warm and diffuse half-light

My live room with a warm and diffuse half-light

2) Suitable acoustic environment

It’s basical working into a room with a flat and balanced response and with a small reverberation. The top is a room with variable acoustic (from absorber to diffusive).

My room is made with double side panels on the walls, one absorbent and one reflective. By this way I can change room response quickly. Generally, I use all panels with absorbent face to record vocals or half-share panels reverse when recording drums, strings or acoustic guitar.

I projected a quadratic diffuser panel, Acoustic Environment DRQ13, to balance my control room’s acoustic response and sometimes I use they on my live room.

Quadratic diffuser panel Acoustic Environment DRQ13 on my control room

Quadratic diffuser panel Acoustic Environment DRQ13 on my control room

3) Setting up a good level monitoring

Obviously monitoring is a main step.

I prefer create a customized mix for singer with a separate sub-master for pre-recorded accompaniment (musical base). I use my SPL MTC 2381 CUE Mix controls to balance vocals and sub-master.

SPL MTC 2381 (pic from web)

SPL MTC 2381 (pic from web)

My monitoring phones are Sennheiser HD 25 sp (closed with 75Ω impedance) or AKG K240 (semi-open with 600Ω impedance). The latter has a superior sound quality but it has a low sensibility and some interference troubles.

Once occasion a singer used my monitor speakers to listen base because he found a live perfomance feel.

Generally, I use a light, short reverb like large room.

4) How choosing the best way to record…

Drop verse and chorus one by one or at once?

I usually ask to the singer to perform two or three times at once to create a right feel and to facilitate his focus. After I record all verses at first and all chorus to follow meaning not to lose his feeling and to find a better perfomance.

I choose in real time better takes and edit they to listen an almost definitly compilation of session.

5) …and the better microphone for his perfomance

Be careful: I wrote “to record his perfomance” not just his voice.

I generally use a Neumann U87ai (I bought two of it) but I always check if the nuances and the sound are linked with the essence of the song.

I tried Cloud JRS-34, a beautiful ribbon microphone, to record a youth singer and to add a warm and mellow presence.

Sometimes I use Electrovoice RE-20, a typical dynamic broadcast microphone, which it’s perfect to record speech on intro or bridge to create a deep, in-face sound.

I use two matched microphones with different gain to record very wide dynamic session like growl or scream voice.

About explosive consonant or breath, obviously, I use pops filter to minimize them but, sometimes, I turn capsule by 90° and I switch the microphone polar pattern to omnidirectional. Air flux overtake microphone without noisy effect.

FAQ

– Do you add an equalizer or compressor during recording? No, I don’t

– Do you add automation on vocal track during mix? Yes, I do (if  needed)

– Can you record my song in your studio? Yes, with pleasure 😉  Contact me

If you got a question, please tell me 🙂

Cheers,

Lorenzo


Copyright © 2013-2014 by iuatwest. All rights Reserved.
This material has been copyrighted, feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and, provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name @ http://iuatwest.com and your readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance.

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Technical backstage: D’Anca minipassive EQ

It’s not a didactic section (when needed I’ll link related pages on manufacturer site) but so as to explain my approach to recording.


After my analog consolle D&R Dayner I want speak about a fine piece of gear, which you found a couple into my control room: D’Anca minipassive equalizer.

D'Anca minipassive EQ

D’Anca minipassive EQ

Michele D’Anca laboratory is in Milan and his products are handmade with great quality and attention.

Minipassive is a passive EQ like EQP-1 Pultec program equalizer with some added frequencies.

EQP-1 is originally made in 1951 by Ollie Summerland and Gene Shank (*) and it works with solid state electronics (EQ section) and three tubes (one to AC rectifier and two to amp section)(**).

The first time which I tried passive EQ it was the Waves PuigTec EQP-1A plug-in and I loved it because it adds a depth and tridimensional sound on my ITB mixes.

I like D’Anca minipassive much more than any similar plug-in because it adds more warmth and solid sound to instruments.

Generally I use it on drums stereo group to add a solid low frequency and a breezy high end and kick, snare and cymbals are grateful. Others tracks like bass, guitars and vocals have a good time with it.

I tested my D’Anca minipassive EQ with SpectraFoo Complete, to display how it operate.

Cheers,

Lorenzo

(*) history by Universal Audio website

(**) Pultec EQP-1 electronic


Disclaimer: I tested this gear with care, nevertheless this test is inevitably affected by my opinion and possible analyzer gear and software imprecisions.


Copyright © 2013-2014 by iuatwest. All rights Reserved.
This material has been copyrighted,  feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and, provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name @ http://iuatwest.com and your readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance.

What is IUATWEST?

Ok,

today I want explain what is In oUr ATtitude WE truST.

Related about many troubles in the current music market and where it’s mainly checking real better quality and price ratio. I started “In oUr ATtitude WE truST” promotional project with this blog where my work is gather together and available by video, audio and articles on several topics (like novelty gears previews or studio recording news) and in particulary to explain the ways I work, which equipment I use, how and why.

“In our attitude we trust” is a keywords to illustrate our searchkeeping to excellence.

I created the acronym IU AT WEST from the keywords to remember it easily.

IUATWEST project is made to propose you, in particulary to foreigner musicians, a whole package in which you can find my studio, my experience, accomodation and cultural opportunities such as clubs, theaters, museums and exhibitions in Milan (IT).

Check out my price list here

Cheers,

Lorenzo


Copyright © 2013-2014 by iuatwest. All rights Reserved.
This material has been copyrighted, feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and, provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name @ http://iuatwest.com and your readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance.

Technical backstage: Drums miking

It’s not a didactic section (when needed I’ll link related pages on manufacturer site) but so as to explain my approach to recording.


Hi,

today I speak about my solutions to recording drums.

There isn’t a one way to recording this complex instrument indeed I tried several microphones and spots to find the better acoustic sound for single drum or cymbal and the sum of all.

My overall approach is based to find a good sound in and of itself with bass drum and overhead (typical shooting for jazz drums). Other spots are used to add presence and more punch.

To analyze it bit by bit I refer to rock/blues standard drums.

Bass drum or kick

In my opinion is the most hard and controversial piece to take. Actually I use dynamic AKG D112 to take bass reso with a deep low-end and condenser AKG C414 B-ULS (omnidirectional pattern and routed by 90°) positioned inner kick drum and very closed to bass batter. The latter is very good to capture kick attack without too much interference by snare and toms.

Snare drum

Normally I take both snare drumheads. For the batter I use standard Shure SM57, it points to the center of the drumhead. On the snare side I prefer vintage Sennheiser MD409 placed far away snare wired. In that position I tried also Shure Sm57 and AKG C414 B-ULS but they have harsh sound.

Snare up and bottom mike

Snare up and bottom mike

When I record standard jazz I use one Shoeps CMC6/MK4 on batter drumhead.

Toms

I started with Sennheiser MD 421 on every toms (included floor tom) but later I preferred Shure SM57 for small tom (8″ or 10″). Sometimes I use Electrovoice RE20 on floor tom.  I position microphones very closed to drumhead near the edge.

Recently I tried with condenser Schoeps CMC6/MK4 (cardiod) and I was really impressed for they fine sound.

Often I take toms reso drumhead to take deep low ending and to use it on batter drumhead tracks gate sidechain. Also it’s useful to find a eighties drums sound.

Hi-Hat

The best choice is a condenser mic. Now I use a vintage AKG C451e (cardioid), angled by 45° at the edge of hihat top, because it sound very fine with little interference from snare. I worked also with Schoeps CMC6/MK4 and AKG C300 with CK91 capsule (cardioid).

View of Hi-Hat, Snare and Tom1 microphones

View of Hi-Hat, Snare and Tom1 microphones

Overhead

My best solution is a pair of Crown PCC-160 upside down attached on ceiling live room. They are in spaced stereo array and capture a wide and airy sound image of the drums without reflections interference.

Crown PCC160 (image from web)

Crown PCC160 (image from web)

Recently I add two Schoeps CMC6/MK4 which look cymbals bottom and near toms. They add presence on mid and mid-low frequency to cymbals and toms.

Shoeps CMC6/MK4 look cymbals bottom

Shoeps CMC6/MK4 look cymbals bottom


Microphones preamplifier

I wrote about they on this post.

I use Focusrite to handle drums microphones (kick, snare and toms) and Millenia to cymbals mike.

Typical sheet is this:

List Drums channels

List Drums channels

Total ten Focusrite and four Millenia channels.

To make A/D conversion I use Focusrite AD card installed on both ISA428.

During session I change acoustic response of the live room with some reflective wood panels.

See also:

Technical backstage: microphones that I chose

Technical backstage: microphones preamplifiers

Cheers,

Lorenzo


Copyright © 2013-2014 by iuatwest. All rights Reserved.
This material has been copyrighted, feel free to share it with others; it can be distributed via social media or pingbacks or added to websites; please do not change the original content and, provide appropriate credit by including the author’s name @ http://iuatwest.com and your readers shall not be charged by you under any circumstance.