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View Full Version : recording/mixing techniques for MC's


cutn' heads
03-02-2011, 07:14 AM
lets build on this fellas. talk about what equipment you use to record, what your space is like and how you go about mixing your vocals.

i just started trying to be "serious" about this stuff back in july. so i still struggle with getting my vocals right. also, my room isnt treated and that leads to a lot of unwanted frequencies in the mix.

i use a shure sm7 as my primary mic. it's a dynamic mic, not great for recording vocals (i'd rather have a nice condenser) but it was recommended by some people i trust. i use pro-tools to record and mix. and as far as mixing, the one thing i do consistently is EQ my vocals down. mostly around the 1000-1500 frequencies. way down. and i can instantly get a much clearer, warmer, professional sound out of that. now, after that is where it gets tough. the subtleties are what takes years to master. so maybe some of you are at that point.

if you got some tips post em up...

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 11:51 AM
ya mixing is tough from start to finish.

i recently realized to that recording methods are equally as important to the mixing process. a lot of the times id stand to close to the mic and it would come out sounding muffled cause i was too close to the pop protector.

the area we got isnt treated, got concrete walls in a basement, but there is some foam shit around the top lol. def not professional. i think we got a Samson condenser mic, it works real dope. i seen a few pros using them in videos.

i dont know anyhting about protools, and i dont know much about the science behind mixing as far as frequencies and such. its mostly by ear for me. compressors helps to remove the unwanted spikes, cut out some of unwanted noise with the threshhold. i trying to venture in to a multiband compressor for better results but that will take a lot of time.

for a good base, work with a basic compressor, EQs and reverb with backing vocals (add the bulk of effects to the backing vocals). but Protools you can prolly get some dope VSTs that come with dope presets.

to me its all based on the ear. but to me it all starts with how you record

SHEEPISH LORD OF CHAOS
03-03-2011, 11:57 AM
i use a lot vocal compression to mix my voice down and sometimes still doesn't come out right but the varying filters mask allot of probelms been using adobe/cool edit for years

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 12:04 PM
^over compressing vocals isnt good either, instead of adding to the vocal quality it will actually start to distort the sound.

its important not to overmix the vocals, a lot of people use to much reverb when not nessecary, it can work for some tracks depending on the beat. mixing so your vocals can stand on there own without many additional effects can and will make your music much better

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 12:13 PM
ya mixing is tough from start to finish.

i recently realized to that recording methods are equally as important to the mixing process. a lot of the times id stand to close to the mic and it would come out sounding muffled cause i was too close to the pop protector.

the area we got isnt treated, got concrete walls in a basement, but there is some foam shit around the top lol. def not professional. i think we got a Samson condenser mic, it works real dope. i seen a few pros using them in videos.

i dont know anyhting about protools, and i dont know much about the science behind mixing as far as frequencies and such. its mostly by ear for me. compressors helps to remove the unwanted spikes, cut out some of unwanted noise with the threshhold. i trying to venture in to a multiband compressor for better results but that will take a lot of time.

for a good base, work with a basic compressor, EQs and reverb with backing vocals (add the bulk of effects to the backing vocals). but Protools you can prolly get some dope VSTs that come with dope presets.

to me its all based on the ear. but to me it all starts with how you record


i do it a bit different. after i record the vocal i make second copy of it on another track. i put EQ and comp. on the main vocal and pan it slightly to one side. the second vocal gets eq and reverb, and is usually panned further to the opposite side. then i do ad libs, usually, and give them some flavor with eq and maybe some reverb or air chorus.

this system works ok for me. sometimnes it doesnt though. really depends on what frequencies the track uses. at least thats what i think. i have no idea for sure... lol

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 12:20 PM
lol no doubt, i got no idea either. like i said a lot of it depends on the ear.

you also gotta work with the producer too, cause a lot of the cats i work with with make the beat "open" so vocals have centre pan, just the way the beat is made so that the best "spot" for vocals is in the middle of the sound spectrum. if that makes sense.

i also compress and EQ the main vocals, but try not to over do it. its gotta be subtle so it wont take away from the vocals themselves, just clear things up. i meant effects like reverb, echos, tremolo etc...

i dont think there is really one way to do this mixing thing lol. but i know there has to be a foundation.

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 12:29 PM
i took a class. a whole semester on this shit. the teacher just basically showed us what these tools were. i already was using them so i asked him to show me how they work and how to best apply them. he said you just have to find what works for you. i was like "fuck"

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 12:42 PM
lol

*cancels all registered summer classes*

the quality of the mic i found helped our vocals a lot. we were using a similar shure mic, but those have there own add reverb i read somewhere cause they are for live performances. they are still dope mics though, but for recording i would say upgrade to a condensor mic.

you can get some pretty cheap on ebay

this is the one we have the Samson

http://www.dv247.com/assets/products/28723_l.jpg

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 12:56 PM
no doubt. but the sm7b is a studio mic. the sm57's are live mics. the sm7 is what michael jackson recorded the thriller album with... it was like $350

http://yetimuzik.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/sure-sm7-microphone.jpg

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 01:01 PM
i need to build a booth. i researched it and you can build one for about $100. i just dont have space for it at the moment. my boy built one and it helps a ton...

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 01:06 PM
oh cool, i always just looked at Shure mics as live mics lol, never looked at their studio mics much.

that one you posted looks dope, is that what you got? cause your vocals always been soundin clean and clear. i always just felt they had a slight like radio effect, if that makes sense. its hard to describe sound with words haha

now i see why a lot of people pay for this shit to be done for them

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 01:17 PM
yeah, i have that. sometimes i do my vocals in that class studio, those are where they sound the best. i can get a decent sound at home, but not always. personally, i think everyone elses sound better, thats why i started the thread. i thought people would we have the magic tricks to this shit...

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 01:47 PM
i try to have a lower attack time and higher ratio/release time in my compressor helps keep the vocals bouncing but flow smoothly, you just gotta adjust by ear to your cadence and flow of the verse.

and i try not to over EQ things either, but again i never seen Protools interface or know where to even begin. i use Garageband lol but its best to master something then try and learn everything imo

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 01:58 PM
i barely understand compression. i know that it "squashes" the sound. but i only use to make my vocals louder with the gain, if i need to. it can also help to elimintae some room noise. the ratio i understand a little but the attack is beyond me right now. just cant seem to figure out what it does.

bronze, i bet if you brought your mids down you would notice a big difference. and your lows as well. theres nothing good in the low range for vocals. it's just bassy room noise. pull those 2 down and increase the volume. see what happens.

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 02:05 PM
as far as i know attack is how "fast" the compression squashes any unwanted spikes, which is set by the threshold. thats how i understand it, i usually have fast attack for more bouncy flows, that none stop type stuff and a slower attack for more methodical tracks

and thanks, imma try that and see what happens. i usually have the bass up more cause i dont got much in my voice lol but now that i have had this discussion it makes sense that it would just bring up room noise and muck up the vocals. thanks for the tip

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 02:24 PM
oh yeah, that was explained to me before. i just cant hear it. i turn that button and it sounds the same. im determined to figure this shit out though. i like making the crap sound tight.

H.Notik
03-03-2011, 02:26 PM
for those who rock with CE

::IMPORTANT:: Make sure yor beat don't start until 5 second's after you hit the record button
this is letting the microphone pick up everything because even if your wearing headphones the mic
picks up the beat and when it does that it interfers with the noise reduction and if u don't let
the mic pick up atleast five seconds of nothing and u try running a noise reduction your vocals
at the begining and some parts throughout will make you sound computerized.....

::IMPORTANT:: Spit like 1 1/2 feet away from the mic. it'll pick up what your saying i got a pop
filter and a windscreen on my mic but it adds that extra touch you get no pops on your p's etc.
it just gives nice clarity...if you don't spit 2 feet away from your mic start with step 4....But
i'll tell you it gives it a more professional sound.....

after this your ready to record after u spit your verse follow these steps.....

---------------------------------

1.) Make Sure your Eq's are set correct to find your eq's their in the multi-track view look
directly above where it say track 1 you'll see vol|eq| bus click on eq and insert this preset.

H +4.0
M -2.4
L -3.8 <for high pitch vocals like myself> +3.3 <for low pitch vocals>

---------------------------------

2.) Effects->Amplitude->Normalize

and just Normalize to 65%

---------------------------------

3.) Highlight those 5 seconds u didn't spit and the beat wasn't playing now go to:

Effects->Noise Reduction->Noise Reduction

Set the Noise Reduction Level to 97% and reduce by 40 dB then click "Get Profile From Selection."
After that is done, click "Close" and now highlight the whole waveform you are editing and go
again

Effects->Noise Reduction->Noise Reduction

and just click o.k

---------------------------------

4.) Edit->convert sample type

Select "Stereo 32 Bit"

---------------------------------

5.) Effects->Filters->parametric Equalizer

see http://www.angelfire.com/creep/salvdorchosen/studio.jpg to know how to set it up

THEN ADD PRESET

---------------------------------

6.) Effects->Noise Reduction->Click/Pop Eliminator."

Select "Constant Hiss and Crackle" THEN CLICK "Auto Find Levels"

---------------------------------

7.) Effects>Filters>Graphic Equalizer

see http://www.angelfire.com/creep/salvdorchosen/master.jpg to know how it's setup and remember
it doesn't show all the db's in the picture so here's how it goes....

1st bar: band 31 hz, 1.86 db
2nd bar: band 62.5 hz, gain 1.03db
3rd bar: band 125 hz, gain 1.45db
4th bar: band 250 hz, gain .62 db
5th bar: band 500 hz, gain .62 db
6th bar: band 1000 hz, gain .62 db
7th bar: band 2000 hz, gain 3.1 db
8th bar: band 4000 hz, gain 1.03 db
9th bar: band 8000 hz, gain 0 db
10th bar: band 16 Hz up, gain 2.28 db

THEN ADD PRESET

---------------------------------

8.) Effects->Amplitude->Pan Expand

Select "Master Width"

---------------------------------

9.) Effects->Amplitude->Dynamics Processing

Select "4:1,-24,Very Fast Attack" BUT DON"T CLICK O.K YET first click on the "TRADITIONAL" tab
then look to where it says threshold..underneath it you'll see -24 dB change that to -10 dB

THEN ADD PRESET

---------------------------------

10.) Effects->Amplitude->Dynamics Processing

Select "2:1,-20 Fast Drums"

---------------------------------


11.) Effects->Delay Effects->Reverb

choose "tight and close" and the first Horizontal bar on the top should say 700 ms change that to
230 ms

THEN ADD PRESET

---------------------------------

12.) Run silence on un-necassary parts to do this highlight the part you want to silence right
click and scroll down to silence...now afetr that just listen to your song and make sure your
feeling every aspect of it when you think it's complete now your ready to save....

---------------------------------

::NOTE::If you DON'T upload your Songs to the Internet and your satisfied with your song Just go
to File->Save Mixdown As...And then read below (Save Mix Down* this style for C.D Quality) and
if you do upload your songs read along....(the reason you want two copies of your song is one
song saved to c.d quality is for you to put on a c.d for your personal enjoyment and the second
song is to save as tape quality for internet enjoyment)



13.)you will want to mixdown the whole song when it's
done do this in the multitrack view all you do is highlight everything beat, vocals, etc.
then go to and empty track that doesn't have nothing in it right click on it then go to "Mix down
to track (BOUNCE)" then choose All Waves after it mixes it down right click on the mixdown you
just did then go to Loop Dupiclate and loop it just once then after that go to that loop and
right click on it then go to Convert To Unique Copy after that go to the box that has all your
files in it you should see "Mix Down*" "and also "Mix Down (2)*" those should be your song now
just got right click on "Mix Down*" and then choose to close file then it'll ask you if you want
to remove it from the multitrack click yes then it'll ask you if you want to save it click yes


------------------------(Save Mix Down* this style for C.D Quality)------------------------------

BEFORE YOU CLICK SAVE click the option button look at the mp3 pro logo above it should have a box
that say convert to Mono look on top of that you'll see to the right an arrow facing down click
on it and scroll down the list and choose 256kbps,44100 Hz,Stereo 5.5:1 (Add this preset to
***C.D Quality***) then click o.k and then after that save your song

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 02:31 PM
what is CE? some of those tips could be used with other situations...

THE MASON
03-03-2011, 02:34 PM
CE is Cool Edit i believe

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 02:38 PM
ah... damn, angelfire links... lol

H.Notik
03-03-2011, 02:41 PM
cool edit/acid pro

i typed up this tutorial alooong time ago.

you dont need the links there just for reference..

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 02:42 PM
ive seen it before...

H.Notik
03-03-2011, 02:45 PM
yea we threw it around on rapmusic.com...

it's a mix of my...phase one's and salvdor's techniques.

cutn' heads
03-03-2011, 02:49 PM
thats nice stuff. real thorough. now someone needs to write up one for pro tools recorded in an untreated room. then ill be good...

INF
03-03-2011, 05:56 PM
I'm fixing to get cool edit. big up to all yall posting up good tips.Im having a hard time sounding the right way.A really hard time. Im like the dopest song ever coming out of a broken alarm clock speaker.Thats what my sound is like and its not a good look. I want grit but not like that..


like that shit Bronze said bout not over compressing ... yeah.I'm just learning this shit.shit takes years....

Caper
03-04-2011, 04:32 AM
good techniques

blak.beats
08-23-2011, 03:46 PM
I agree with pretty much everything Bronze Feet said dealing with mixing. Mixing as a whole is an art in itself & to say (dealing with compressor parameters)ya I want a 2.1 ratio with a 20 ms attack & a 200 ms release just doesn't really fly as a like a set list of parameters. The best audio engineers in the world will say the same shit to you. It's all by ear but knowing what each of those parameters means helps you distinguish the problems alot faster making you job easier. I start with a an EQ & put a lo cut from anywhere from 40-80 Hz using 40 as a starting point to eliminate & unwanted noise like low rumble in the room & this helps to clear vocals up. Then I'll just go through the frequency range & notch out any unwanted frequncies that tend to be annoying to hear. To do this just tighten the Q (bandwidth) on one of the bands & bring the volume up all the way, then just literally sweep through the frequency ranges slowly (keyword slowly) till you hear something you don't like. So say you hear something at 500-750 hZ...just bring the band down (usually like 1-6 dB depending on how unnecessary this may be) nd widen the Q. I never boost any frequencies really. It's all about subtractive EQ work but BE CAREFUL. You can fuck a whole mix up just by overdoing it with the EQ. So do this wisely.

Next I usually compress the vocals to help bring the dynamic of the vocal to an average level so they are not to harsh. I can't even tell you a list of parameters cuz everyone's voice is different (same goes with on a different microphone, room, etc...it's ALWAYS different)

Next of the vocals seem dry & unreasonable I will use another EQ & boost some frequencies. Yet again don't overdo it. Just use the EQ with class for textural purposes.*

De-Essing = Bitch. Bastard.
I usually automate level changes for parts where those S's & sibilance really are audible. Another method to help, is to do the "notching" technique I explained above. This will help see where the sibilance is in your voice. Sweep through, & subtract. This you can drop to a point as long as you don't start to hear a slurrrr in your vox. Hence why I am straying away from using a *De-Esser because they aren't fully reliable & tend to take away from the vocals & make them unintelligible. Don't De-Ess if you don't need to!!

Reverb. Always use sends to send to any time based effect. Send it PRE-fader to if you can. This helps to send a copy of the signal making it seem more full than shallow. For the most part (as Bronze Feet said), people tend to overdo the whole reverb nonsense but with Hip-Hop, the vocalist is going at a faster rate compared to a rock/r&b singer where there are wider margins for a fuller sound to be necessary. I would say use a reverb very very very minimally.

Delays. Use your sends to use a delay on your vox. I would say delays in especially hip hop sound better on vox rather than reverbs. Not like an outstanding delay where it muddys up you vocals but give this delay time on your vox a shot.*
180-220 ms....don't sync the delay with the beat. Just use the BASIC delay manually so you can be precise in this scenario.*

Those are just the basics but honestly...as I said & I would say it a million times, there is NO SET STANDARD! Everyone mixes different. This was just a basis so you can try to work out what works best for you. Digg?

But as far as for the other things (mic, room, etc), it doesn't matter haha. I've used an SM57 in a basement & did the best I could with it & made it sound decent. You don't need fancy ass shit with technology these days. *Im not saying make a shitty recording, then fix it in the mix, but just do the best you can with any given scenario. The only thing I will say is preamps on vocals sound awesome (ISA-One is my personal preference).*

But ya that's just a quick basis on something that may or may not help you. I hope it did haha, but besides that if you have any more questions that I can answer I'd be more than happy to. Peace*

blak.beats
08-23-2011, 04:10 PM
As for like DAWs and stuff I use ProTools to record/mix & ableton live to produce. If you are using an MPC, then I recommend pro tools cuz the audio engine is unbeatable in my opinion, but I have seen some motherfuckers record some awesome stuff in GarageBand. Yet again, it's all personal preference & that comfortability to maneuver your way around each DAW quickly & efficiently is the main aspect of anything. Try some different stuff out & if your happy with sound your getting than stick to it cuz when you get someone in the lab & they say they want 4 vocal tracks (1 main, 1 double, 2 ad lib tracks panned slightly left & right for a distant fullness for the vocals), you gotta go in & get things done quickly & efficiently cuz you make yourself look better in the long run. Basic templates are good for stuff like this cuz you can set up different set ups for different scenarios so when you go into whatever program you may use you don't have to fumble around trying to get everything set, it's just one click away.*

Another thing I forgot to mention before is that when you already have your vocals recorded & are ready to mix take your doubles track and go through piece by piece & line the waveforms up with the main vocals. This helps keep a tight, strong vocal presence in your mix.

cutn' heads
08-25-2011, 09:47 PM
great contribution. thanks

BrokenWrists
12-02-2011, 01:59 AM
I'm using a RODE NT2-A Mic, with a filter in front. Before i record my vocals i practice how loud im going to be for the song and make sure my vocals dont go above 4 on the panel. Using a compressor/limiter helps a lot too. Mixing for my machine(an archiac Roland VS-1824) the vocals may seem loud in the head phones, but when recorded they come out lower than i heard them originally. So sometimes it's good to make the vocals a little louder than you think they should be. Reverb and delay are good FX for vocals. Also seperate the vocal tracks into 2 tracks. Make each track say, 8 right and the other 8 left. This is what i do, i keep learning. Im only 3 years deep with this old machine. Peace