Vocal FX

Presence…“closeness”

I read a lot about mastering vocal tracks and most of the time reverb, at least a little, is recommended. I would like to go to the other end of the spectrum and master the vocal to sound not “out there”, but right here “in my face”. Is there an effect maximize presence or is that sound a complete lack of any fx? Or is it a result of mic placement and vocal technique?

thanx

cliff
:cool:

Think of the soundscape like painting a picture. Left and right are understood better then front and back, or dry and wet. A sound dripping with reverb will be accepted as further back in the distance. Drier sounds are more up front. As an example of really in-your-face dry mixing, check out Eagles records.

Thanks Tom…
So what you’re saying then is that totally without effects, or totally dry increases the “front” sound as opposed to the “back” sound resulting from reverb?
I suppose the vocalist’s mic technique (proximity to the mic) will also play a major part.
I will give it a shot. I am tiring of the reverb-ed sound, IMO it is too pop.

cliff
:cool:

I’ve found that vox with a strong, fat bottom end will stick out of the mix and sound very present. Think of the “punchy” sound of an SM58. Adding some grit (i.e. “distortion” and a lo-fi “telephone filter”) in parallel with the original track should make the vocal sound bigger the same way it works for guitars. A lot of compression will also put the track in your face… ???

Quote (g8torcliff @ Mar. 13 2006,11:09)
Thanks Tom…
So what you’re saying then is that totally without effects, or totally dry increases the “front” sound as opposed to the “back” sound resulting from reverb?
I suppose the vocalist’s mic technique (proximity to the mic) will also play a major part.
I will give it a shot. I am tiring of the reverb-ed sound, IMO it is too pop.

cliff
:cool:

Yes Cliff, that’s it. Dry = upfront in the soundscape and wet = further in the background. Careful panning right to left and front to back with verb helps to give each musical element its own place to “sit” in the mix. I always notice when a lead vocal (usually the loudest thing in a mix and psychoacoustically closer to you for that reason) is dripping wet ala Sun Records signature 50s slapback sound, which screams “background”.

A tastefully small amount of very small reverb space (think “smaller than a cupboard”) can add some feeling of closeness. The key word here is “small amount”…

Eyup!

You might like to try a technique recommended to me on this board when I was looking for a close, intimate sound.
Try placing the mic pointing away from you, into the corner of the room.
Stand facing the corner (like the bad boy you are :D ) and sing.
Adjust the mic to point to either wall, left or right, to taste.
Another trick is to cup your hands as if you are whispering into someone’s ear, but don’t get too close to the mic, this really accentuates the breath sound.

Steve

I would also suggest that close micing with a smaller diaphragm microphone may help. Large diaphragm microphnes typically have less proximity effect and pick-up more of the room ambience to begin with. Once you have ambience in the track it cannot really be removed. If you record in a “dead” room this is less important.

As mentioned by Ben, compression can also help to bring a vocal forward in the mix. It does this in part by making the low-level stuff (intake of breath, tails of phonemes, etc.) audible without having the loud stuff blow your ears off. A modest slope (4 or 5 to 1) can work well with the threshold set so that significant compression occurs (check your meters). The default timing is a good place to start. A faster release time might help a bit but there shouldn’t be a need to reduce it too much (I don’t think I would go below 150 ms but your ears should be the final judge).

A further comment about reverb, I like the N-track ambience 2 reverb setting used sparingly. I use it on an aux with the “dry” slider at -inf and the aux return at 0 dB. The send is usually at about -19dB (post fader) which I determined by increasing the reverb on the soloed track until it was just audible (as reverb) then backing off a little (you may want to back off more). At these levels it can warm the vocal without altering the perspective. I am not sure that these setting are optimum from a reverb dynamic range standpoint (and I am sure there are better reverbs etc.) but I am pretty satisfied with the results. Avoiding reverb may provide a somewhat “closer” sound but sometimes the vocal needs some help and a small amount of the right kind of reverb can do that without causing the vocal to recede in the mix.

Jim

you can make a vocal sound a whole lot bigger and present with a very short delay added to it - barely noticeable as an actual effect, but A/B it and you’ll see what I mean. Definitely compression too. You can use reverb less obviously too - a medium room sound, say 500-700ms decay time, not too much of it, can give the track a whole lot of presence, without actually sounding like its got a ton of verb on it. Make sure your verb is not accentuating high frequencies, these can make the verb more noticeable, and will possibly stand out even more at the end when you compress the entire mix. Put all this stuff together in the right proportions and you will have a big fat vocal track which doesn’t sound like Celine in a Cathedral.

Also, you can double track the vocal. You can experiment with putting the 2nd track at a lower level so it’s not really noticeable as a doubling thing, just an occasional taste of natural chorus and slurring. This can make the vocal more interesting without sounding like you’ve resorted to such an obvious trick (but hey, if it’s good enough for the beatles then it cant be too dirty of a trick).

The “bad boy” I am definitely won’t like “celine in a cathedral”.

It sounds like you all know what I am shooting for…I will havet to try these techniques.

cliff
:cool: