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Thread: Background Vocals

  1. #1
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    Background Vocals

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    First I want to say hello. You have no idea how much this forum has helped me and I've been browsing on it for a few months without posting but now I have a question of my own.

    I finished recording all of my vocal tracks and individually I can get my lead vocals and background vocals to sound good in the mix, but together they sound too alike. They don't..sound like background vocals. I tried panning, but I'm just curious is there any specific like EQing you would use to separate such tracks from each other? (btw I'm using CEP2) Perhaps I just don't understand recording background vocal/harmony vocals well enough? (alt. rock music)

    Anything can help...or ...you can just tell me how dumb I am for not knowing this.

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    turn ya back ground vocals down a lil bit. leave ya main vocals at 0(don't pan). then ya back ground should be panned just a lil bit, have them a lil lower(depending on ya voice) u can also pt a flanger on em. just try some things and it will work.if u need anymore help just hit me up on my screen names or email.

    Holla

  4. #4
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    Try detuning the background a few cents +,-. Also a flanger or even a chorus effect should help and as King said lower the level.

    www.mixlineent.com

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    I agree with the forthrightly mentioned. Another way is to use a extremely light(barely wet) reverb(plate, tight room) this will add more depth to the secondary vocals by pulling them out of your face. Make sure to reduce the level a bit allowing the lead to bleed through with more amplitude. Subtlety is the key.

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    There are a thousand ways to do this but here are a few tips.

    1. If you want to double the vocal use the same distance and settings to just thicken.

    2. To get contrasting sounds from the same person for backgrounds, use different distances and off axis recording with multiple takes. Do some at 1, 2 and 3 feet distances left and right of the microphone and then mix them all together with your choice of effects. With a good singer and a bunch of takes mixed this way the one person can almost sound like a choir.

  7. #7
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    wow guys thanks for the replies. I know I'm gonna sound so annoying, but my band recorded like a few of our songs acoustic and we started recording like for real in our home studio where the quality came out like excellent surpisingly. Then we came to vocals, and I really have no idea what to do. If anyone can just give me a brief rundown of like who records what vocals and then where they are placed.

    Its mostly the choruses I have problems with. If anyone can help I would owe you forever. I design websites as a hobby so helping with mixing or whatever I can easily make you a site for your studio or project or whatever as compensation. Just anything. If these vocals dont come out well produced then we're gonna have to spend $5,000 of our own money at a studio and...we dont want to lol.

    Once again, thank you so much and if you can find the time to help out it would be most appreciated.

  8. #8
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    To answer your first question:

    Think of your mix as a 3 Dimensional space and not only as a 2D stereo plain. One of the most basic principles of psychoacoustics is that bright sounds ie. high frequencies (hit hats) sound closer where as dull or bass frequencies (kick drum, bass guitar) sound further away. Therefore, if you want to make your background vocals "take a step back" from the main vocals, you should try eqing some of the hi frequencies out of them. Also, as mentioned, reverb is a good effect to use because it tends to dull the hi frequencies of the sound it is applied to.

    second question:

    The first thing you have to consider when doing home vocal recordings is getting a descent condensor microphone. The best mic for the money is a Rode NT1A. The next consideration is sound proofing. Don't worry too much about this now, just make sure you are happy that the background noise level is as low as possible.
    "
    A few tips on recording vocals. All microphones experience what is known as "proximity effect." This means that the closer you are to the mic, the more bass frequencies will come through on the recording. Keep this in mind when doing a take.

    EQ- This is another topic that can't be explained in detail, but there are a few tricks I can share. The vocals fit usually between 100hz to 15khz but are strong between 1khz-5khz in the frequency spectrum. We all want nice clear high's on our vocals but find that when we boost the high-end we receive sibilance on our "SS's" and our " SH's" These sibilant frequencies are usually in the 6khz-11khz ranges. Try boosting 16-20Khz by about 4-8db and it will open your vocals up without increasing the sibilance. If sibilance is still there, you can boost closer to 20khz, or you can try finding the frequency and reduce it using a small Q by 3db or more. A deesser also can work in this situation if you have one at your disposal. To try to achieve this you can also use what is called subtractive Eq, which is instead of boosting the high end we subtract or remove frequencies in the low mid range. I find depending on the voice, a muddy type sound is there due to a boost in the 500-700hz range, be careful not to remove too much in this frequency range or else your vocal will sound light and will not sound full. If you must remove these frequencies more than 5-6db boost your the low end of the vocal at around 150hz-250hz to give the effect of bottom end on the vocal sound.

    One more trick I would like to bring to the table is the 2Khz mystery. When your mixing your track and having a difficult time placing the vocal. Try boosting 2khz on the vocal track by maybe 2db-3db at the absolute most!!! It will help if the vocal is getting lost in the mix. NOTE. If you boost it too much the vocal will sound like an AM radio.
    "

    hope this helps
    Paul Rez
    [img]http://www.humanizer.co.za/humanizer.gif[/img]
    www.humanizer.co.za

  9. #9
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    Thanks!! One last one (i know im annyoing you all) but about how many vocal tracks do you have going at one time?

  10. #10
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    I recently started a song with a female singer (thanks to those who gave feedback on my other post). This is how I went about recording her vocals:

    First (lead vocal), we did a series of takes to get the lead through the song. Once we had enough takes to play with we sat down and constructed a composite vocal (splicing the best phrases together). Then I bounced these down to one track, compressed, applied EQ (placed a high pass filter to cut lower freq under 100hz), applied slight reverb, and boosted at 15khz slightly to give some air.

    Next (background harmonies), we doubled certain parts twice and panned each to create a chorus effect. Then added harmonies the same way. Added more compression than I did on the lead, Eq'd the same as the lead except we cut at 5khz only a little bit to let the lead shine through. Added stereo reverb.

    Last (mixing the two), I first mixed just the lead with the instrumental until I was comfortable with how it blended. Then I played that back while slowly rising faders and adjusting pans on the backgrounds until everything just sounded beautiful.

    Then I bounced down to 2 tracks, panned, compressed, added a high frequency stimulator, normalized, and that was that.

    Click on my sig to hear a clip of it (She Cries (This Isn't Love))
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