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mimb

Volume, Compressor (?), and High Notes

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mimb    0

My current mic: Blue Snowball iCE

350-535113-894__1.jpg

It's a USB mic, btw.

So when I record I can't seem to get the volume of my voice and notes to kind of equalize. I'm not sure how to say it but like when I sing high notes or belt something it's obviously louder and sounds kind of distorted. Does it have anything to do w/ a compressor any kind of compressing? I remember watching this video on YouTube of a guy (and he didn't have a USB mic, he had like a normal mic w/ the plug-ins and stuff), and he was able to scream and his voice would not like pop or go above a certain volume.

If I were to sing this,

- how do I get my voice to equalize so it sounds controlled but yet you can still tell it's high.

I use Mixcraft along with my mic.

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Mike B    73

My current mic: Blue Snowball iCE

350-535113-894__1.jpg

It's a USB mic, btw.

So when I record I can't seem to get the volume of my voice and notes to kind of equalize. I'm not sure how to say it but like when I sing high notes or belt something it's obviously louder and sounds kind of distorted. Does it have anything to do w/ a compressor any kind of compressing? I remember watching this video on YouTube of a guy (and he didn't have a USB mic, he had like a normal mic w/ the plug-ins and stuff), and he was able to scream and his voice would not like pop or go above a certain volume.

If I were to sing this,

- how do I get my voice to equalize so it sounds controlled but yet you can still tell it's high.

I use Mixcraft along with my mic.

What level are you recording at? I don't know mixcraft, but assume you have some kind of level meter - you should be tracking in the -18dB to -12dB range. If you're in that range - i.e. never getting near the red zone on the meter and you're still getting distortion, then you are overdrving the mic, and should be backing off from it.

Once you have recorded (with no clipping/distortion), you automate the volume on the track to even out the ups and downs. Compression can be used after this, if you want that effect, but you shouldnt' use compression as the prime way to even off the volume changes as it won't sound very good.

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Bruce N    0

I use Mixcraft, lots of great tutorials for using mixcraft on youtube.

Doing vocals, get a external hardware compressor for your mic if you can, you'll save yourself a lot of time and grief in doing so.

A good example here.

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Oswlek    20

Mike is pretty much on. If you are clipping, it just means you are tracking at too high a volume. Record lower, normalize the volume up and then use a combination of compression and automation to even out the track. I personally am fine with compressing before automating the volume as long as the comp isn't crushing the track too much.

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Mike B    73

I use Mixcraft, lots of great tutorials for using mixcraft on youtube.

Doing vocals, get a external hardware compressor for your mic if you can, you'll save yourself a lot of time and grief in doing so.

A good example here.

If you're using a USB mic (like the OP), the only way to use an external compressor is to send the signal back out of the computer to it, then back in - he'd need an audio interface to that as 're-amping) or a regular mic. I don't recommend using an external compresoor on the way in unless you REALLY know what you're doing with it. Software compressors work fine, and by adding it after tracking, you're not stuck with a compressed track that may have had the dynamics taken out of it too much.

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HoboSage    76

I'm a firm believer in trying to get the best take before relying on trying to "fix it in the mix."If your vocal track is all over the place volume-wise, that's because you didn't sing the track with good vocal control and/or while being the appropriate distance from the mic consistently throughout the sing. Assuming you're recording vocals separately in your DAW, add some reverb to the vocal track if you want/need to so as you monitor your recording you'll have an idea how it might sound on playback with that f/x (you can always change that f/x later), and if you sang too softly or loudly during a particular part of the track, punch-in or dub another take while singing that passage better, and adjust where you are relative to the mic as you sing if you need to. Once you've recorded your best takes for the vocal track, f/x can be added to sweeten the sound and much smaller automated volume adjustments can be made to even things out a little more if needed. Chances are, you won't need to add much compression to the track after that, and you may not need to add any compression at all.

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Alistair S    47

I agree with those above, and especially with HoboSage regarding getting it right on the way in.

It sounds as if that distortion is happening because you are (at times) getting too loud for the mic. There are two ways to deal with this.

The first is to turn down the gain so that you are recording more quietly. To do this you will need to find the recording volume setting for your USB mic (maybe in the Windows Mixer?) and turn it down so that it never clips. Sing as loud as you are going to get and watch the meter. It must never hit zero. Normally, I'd suggest (as Mike did) having it peak at a MAXIMUM of -6dB but I believe that your mic operates at 16-bits, so you may have to allow a bit more.

Second, and possibly better, make sure you back off the mic during any louder passages - step back so you don't overload it. This mic technique is worth practicing in any case and will be needed if you play live. You should, as a singer be able to maintain a reasonably consistent volume with good mic technique - but it requires practice.

Once recorded, you may still find that there are differences in vocal volume in different parts of the song - and this may be OK and sound natural. If you crush all of the dynamics out of the vocal, it can sound unnatural - but that may also be OK, depending on what style you are looking for. If you don't want those dynamics, you still have choices.

As Mike says, you can automate volume. In other words, you can raise and lower volume as the vocal progresses using Mixcraft to edit or automate your vocal. If there are major volume differences, this is probably a good idea (to get everything in the same ballpark).

You can also use a compressor. A lot of vocals are compressed these days. How compressed you want them is a matter of taste (and genre).

But start with better mic technique. Back up when you go loud.

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DannyDep    0

Performance, Intensity and more Practice.

Not having a sample of your actual singing, it is difficult to tell how one might help you.

We all want to be able to sing like our favorite artists but sometimes we just don't have the hardware (vocal chords) to be able to sing some of those high notes.

Have you ever had any singing lessons? Certain techniques might be able to help you.

Assuming that none of the above is applicable, HoboSage gives some excellent advice.

Other than that, assuming it is a USB mic, I'm also assuming that you are hooking it up to your computer.

Are you using an Audio Interface or just using the computer's built-in audio device?

Having a proper AI might go a long way into solving your problems since the Analog/Digital converters are not very good in off the shelf computers.

Good luck.

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Mike B    73

Other than that, assuming it is a USB mic, I'm also assuming that you are hooking it up to your computer.

Are you using an Audio Interface or just using the computer's built-in audio device?

Having a proper AI might go a long way into solving your problems since the Analog/Digital converters are not very good in off the shelf computers.

Good luck.

Yeah, unfortunately, the OP has a USB mic, and you can't use those with audio interfaces - but they do take the place of the built-in soundcard on the audio in, at least.

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Mondo Art    0

Bear in mind as well the proximity effect. If you're really close to your mic and you back off a few inches, the difference in volume will be huge. If you start a few inches away from the mic, and back off a few inches more, the difference in volume will not be as much but still noticeable. Also being close to the mic produces more bass effect, and bass frequencies have more energy, and will overload your mic easier.

A pop filter is great for eliminating pops, but also for ensuring you're a good distance away from the mic.

An external compressor won't help your issue. With a USB mic, the signal is digitized right away, and if it clips, you're only going to compress the clipped signal, which still sound bad, just quieter. A compressor only helps if you can insert in in between the preamp and the digital convertor.

However, if you're recording in 24-bit, you can leave your peaks under -12dB or even -18dB, and you'll be fine. You shouldn't need an external compressor if you use proper mic technique and record with conservative levels.

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TC Perkins    7

Some good advice here.

To summarize:

1. Use a pop filter (if you dont want to buy you can use pantyhose and a coat hanger to make a homemade one)

2. Back off the microphone (I recommend 6" min. but you can experiment to find the sweet spot for your voice and mic)

3. Don't track too hot so turn the gain back if you are distorting. With 24-bit recording you don't need to maximize recording level by using a hardware compressor.

4. Learn to work the mic (head position and distance through your vocal range). This is another reason not to be too close to the mic when you record. If you are too close, small distance changes of normal movement can cause the vocals to sound like they are 'phasing' which is impossible to fix in the mix.

5. You are typically going to use a compressor when you mixdown for most styles so this will smooth out the performance and give you that nice modern sound. But it all starts with a good performance and tracking, so get this as good as you can and don't over-rely on the compressor to 'fix it in the mix'

Post a sample after you address some of these issues so we can hear!

Peace,

TC

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GPBrimer    5
On 5/2/2015 at 07:45, Alistair S said:

Second, and possibly better, make sure you back off the mic during any louder passages - step back so you don't overload it. This mic technique is worth practicing in any case and will be needed if you play live. You should, as a singer be able to maintain a reasonably consistent volume with good mic technique - but it requires practice.

 

I think this is likely the culprit when dealing with dynamic changes that result in overloading. If you are clipping the incoming signal then the only repair you can do is to start deleting audio, which is not what you want. Volume can always be increased in the mix for parts that are performed well but are a little quiet. As Alistair says - it takes practice. Getting to know the parts of your song that are going to require you to back off is a must. 

 

Compression should be used to control the dynamics of the attack and release on a particular "word" of the vocal, not to control the vocal volume entirely. Think of a compressor as something to control the outlying peaks.  

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