Professional Sounding Song Techniques:
Achieving a professional and industry sound to your recorded songs is very important. Also knowing what type of mixes and techniques to use it key in having your tracks at billboard hit standards.
Vocal Mixing – The Insiders Techniques:
Obviously finding the correct microphone, EQ and compression settings are essential! Following the following tips will give your vocals an industry professional sound!
Microphone – The only way to go to get a close to industry sound is to use a high quality condenser microphone combined with a good pop shield / screen. Condensers really capture a vocals frequency spectrum and harmonics better than dynamic microphones. Generally you will want to use a cardioid polar pattern with a high pass filter enabled… This will remove any unwanted low end rumble that can come from the recording source!
Vocal EQ – Once you have the proper microphone positioning and techniques locked down, only a small amount of EQ should be needed. If you find you need to apply lots of EQ and editing on the vocals to achieve a better sound, then you should go back to the drawing board and get a better microphone position! Remember a microphone that might capture a certain singers voice perfectly, might give another singer a horrible sound! Know your equipment, know your artists and more importantly, be prepared! If you want an airy more throaty sound to the recording boosting a few decibels between 10 kHz and 13 kHz will definitely solve some problems. You may find that the vocals lack some clarity, boosting 1 – 4 decibels from 5 kHz to 8 kHz will help. All frequencies under 90 Hz should most definitely be high passed.
Compression – Here you want to give the vocals a more controlled and professional sound! Itʼs important to try and keep some of the natural dynamics in the singers performance. This will stop your song sounding computerized and over compressed. Always have a default setting of 5:1 to 8:1 on your vocal compression and tweak that accordingly! For most vocals a slightly faster attack and medium release time is a good starting block. When setting your threshold level, make sure to have it so only the loudest parts of the vocals recording are being compressed. Leave the rest unaffected. This will keep the natural dynamics mentioned earlier and control the vocals for a more industry and chart topping sound.
The Big 5:
When it comes to having a song recorded. Donʼt just do the final master and think thatʼs all your work done! Have more pride than that, and give your songs the mixes they deserve!
Main Master – This mix is the one which you will most probably use for the album / single. Itʼs usually what will appeal to the majority of the audience.
Dropped Vocals – This mix is exactly the same as the main master, but with the vocals dropped by about 1 – 2 decibels.
Raised Vocals – Same as the dropped vocals mix, only increasing the volume of the recording by 1 – 2 decibels. These mixes are important because you may find that sources in the industry will request this type of mix.
Live Performance – Same as the main master mix, only with no lead vocal. This is used for all live performances that your singer will do. Depending on the performance you may want to edit this mix and have the lead vocal on only the hook, or at the dance break, for example.
Instrumental – No vocals on this mix! This can be used for media promotion, this also allows you the flexibility to record different vocals at a later date on the instrumental mix.
Follow these tips to bring your mixes and producing ability closer to the industry standard. Stay
tuned for part 2 of this article: Background Vocals!