Why You Should Use a Condenser Mic on Vocals

Last week I shared with you why you should use a dynamic mic on vocals. Today I want to give you three reasons to use a condenser mic.

Condenser microphones are, by far, the most common type of microphones to track lead vocals. While I do love a good dynamic on a vocal, sometimes the session calls for a condenser. I would say I use a condenser microphone on a lead vocal at least 70% of the time.

So you may be asking how do I decide when to use a condenser? Let me share with you three reasons. (more…)

3 Reasons to Use a Dynamic Mic on Vocals

In all the magazine ads and music videos, this one thing is a staple.

Whether it’s a documentary on your favorite band, a movie scene in a recording studio, or a full-page ad in Sweetwater‘s latest catalog, one common theme exists: vocalists use large-diaphragm condenser mics.

I’m not a big fan of the phrase “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Certainly we should learn from the experience of others, but doing something JUST because everyone else does it leads to a fairly boring experience.

Do I use a condenser mic on vocals? Sure…but not exclusively.

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How to Level Out Volume Differences in Vocal Takes

Here’s a question from Kevin:

Joe, Was curious if you have a suggestion on how to level out the volume differences between vocal takes when creating a comp track from multiple vocal takes. Any ideas? Kevin

Good question, Kevin. I’ve got a couple suggestions for you. (For those of you who don’t know what a “comp track” is, it’s simply the process of taking a bunch of different “takes” and combining the best parts into one final track.)

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Using Distortion on Vocals [Video]

Are you ever mixing a song, and the vocal just won’t cut through? You try to EQ out some lows or boost some highs. Nothing. You try to compress the daylights out of it. Still not cutting through enough. Try using distortion.

I’m not talking about distorted vocals. I’m talking about using distortion to help the vocals cut through. Check out this video, then leave a comment!

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpA_cy_1-9c

The Psychology of Recording

Last week my friend Kevin and his wife flew all the way out to Nashville from LA to record vocals for his album in my home studio. We had one week to track vocals for 13 songs.

Of course, we spent a lot of time just hanging out and showing them around Nashville, but 7 days was an ideal amount of time. It gave us plenty of time to focus intently on each song, and it also gave Kevin time to let his voice rest between sessions.

Many of us are using our home studios to record our own music, right? This has been especially true for me over the last few months, as I finished up recording my own album. But I’ve been itching to get some clients in here so I can take off my “artist hat” and put on ONLY my “producer/engineer” hat.

I like that hat. 🙂

After spending a week recording Kevin, I realized how important it is for us as engineers/producers to not forget the psychology behind the recording process. Music is a highly emotional event. When you’re recording a musician, you certainly need to focus on mic placement, gain structure, song arrangement, performance, etc., but a session can quickly go sour if you neglect the emotional side of the process.

Each musician is different, and if you don’t figure out how to create an environment he/she feels comfortable in, the rest of the process is going to be difficult. See Make the Singer Comfortable.

I know what you’re thinking….”Dang…Joe and Kevin must have had some big fights, eh?”

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Piracy, Distorted Vocals, and Compressor Attack Settings [HSC Podcast]

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Welcome to another podcast!! I didn’t get one up this week, due to some crazy misfortunes in my studio (I explain in the podcast.)

This podcast features two of my family members, my dad and my baby nephew. 🙂

Topics on this podcast:

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Subscribe to the HSC Podcast in iTunes.

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How to Remove Vocals from a Song [Video]

A few months ago, I was running a recording session for a corporate party for a bunch of folks from Boston. They wanted to record some country music (livin’ the Nashville dream).

So, I had to come up with a selection of country songs for them to sing to. This required me to figure out how to remove the lead vocals from these songs. Here’s how.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoTT1uuFwSg

Processing Vocals Part 5 – Compression

Ah, compression. It can be a great tool, and it can be easily overdone. However, I can’t imagine mixing a song without using compression on the lead vocal. It both tightens up the vocal and helps it fit into the mix.

If you’re not all that clear on what compression does and how it works, I’d recommend watching my Intro to Compression video first. It’s a pretty succinct overview of compression in general.

Alright, assuming you have a basic understanding of compression, let’s look at how it applies to vocals.

Determine what you’re goal is with compression.

Take some time to listen to the dry vocal in the mix. What is it lacking? What does it need? You know what compression can do, how can you use that to your benefit? Be patient. You need to have a plan before you start turning compressor knobs. Otherwise, you’ll end up knee-deep in compression that doesn’t make sense or even sound right.
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