youll sometimes hear the term "conditioning" used amongst recording folk.
and this is appropo to lead vocs....(and lots of other types of traks also.). what does it mean. ??
to draw a parallel...u know how sometimes u use a "conditioner"
on your hair in the shower n u get this nice "sheen" to the hair ??
similar idea. you take the raw recorded sound of a trak and condition it with triks that
hopefully will make it sound better.
sometimes the style of music will dictate how much conditioning to do
to the trak. for example...mebe with underground or grunge type styles,
(done a few of those for a,
u might leave the trak pretty raw and full of emotion.
but other vocal styles might dictate conditioning of the
lead vocals.
once again..decisions...decisions.
what does the song call for ??
some of it is carefull application of eq together with
subtle sprinkles of fx. mebe some carefull use of compression.
mebe a custom plug in.
from what ive seen, a lot of it can be achieved by carefully editing
by hand the lead vocal tracks. for example putting a sheen on certain
letters like an "S" at the end of a word.
even going to extremes like eq'ing that one word with the "s" in it.
or mebe a depends on what is needed.
cos each trak is different.
this is very very detailed work. and can be done in ptw's audio edit window.
for example bring up the final lead vocal 1 31 in ptw's
audio edit window, and pay attention to every word and syllable.
if u notice the ptw 10 band eq extreme right fader is for the very hi end treble.
mebe try just a hint of a boost with then some mild compression n see where that gets you.
on lead vocs of this type...i will typically cut the extreme left eq fader
at the very low end cos lots of grunge lives down there.
some final vocs need more warmth, so mebe subtle boost of the bass area is needed.
once again there are no rules of course.
but try and gain some experience working with ptw's 10 band eq.
and running tests on a particular vocal.
mebe also try the para eq. then there are third party plug ins with 31 bands for example.
but i would say if your beginning, start off simple.
also the choice of lead vocal fx will affect things and how u choose to eq the fx.
choices and decisions. for example...on some types of vocals mebe
if the fx dialogue allow might want to cut out the low muddy end
of the fx....cos u want a hi eq fx sheen on the final vocs.

now lets talk about the "quality" of recorded vocals.
some big studios will have a hi end signal chain for everything
includeing final vocs. 2k mic into a 2k mic pre into
very expensive convertors costing prolly thousands.

just to show u i'm human....
my own biggest weakness is better ADA convertors.
but i have other family responsibilites, like a lot of people.
so they are out of my range. price wise.
but one alternative u might consider for final up front lead traks
like vocal finals etc is maybe renting a hi end signal chain.
and assessing whether you really hear much sound quality difference
over plugging your shure mic into a behringer mixer feeding a
audiophile sound card by maudio for example.
for example a great river mic preamp into say a hi end sound device like a lynx or whatever.
mebe also rent a hi end mic also.
if u do this will give u an inkling of how much your signal
chain is lacking or mebe not. for me with my crazy little songs,
and given its an mp3 world i didnt feel it was worth it.
once again u need to ask yourself will the normal consumer
notice much diff ?? mebe a hot audio engineer will.
but will a consumer ??
the way to really put yourself at ease, so u cease worrying about all the gear
u dont have for lead vocs is mebe run a blind test.
one vocal thru your normal set up and one thru the rented hi end signal
chain. if u do this ONCE in your life, u might just rest easier at night.
on the other hand if u notice a huge difference, u will know your weak spots.
and gradually over time save up for a nice signal chain.
ive done it both ways. done final vocs into a hi end signal chain ,
right thru to useing low end gear.
and , as i listen often to the songs ive done with hi end and low end ,
frankly its a tough choice. sometimes u just luck out with good vocs thru cheap gear
and often its the vocal performance itself that matters.
also...some people i talk to have an opposing viewpoint.
they tell me that now they have gone to ultra pure expensive signal chains,
they find everything is just TOO PURE. so they end up putting
some "dirt" back in say the vocals.
which is why there are quite a few plug ins around to do this.
frankly i think the REAL ANSWER is there is no perfect answer and never will be.
all i'm trying to do is lay out OPTIONS for you.
like renting a hi end signal chain and seeing whether its worth your while laying out huge buks in a rapidly changeing tek world.
they ARE lovely on lead vocs. but do u need it ??
only u can decide. but i WOULD at least once in your
life rent a hi end signal chain , cos worst case u might just sleep better at night.
the other reason is trickling down SO FAST,
that a LOT of what is termed "semi" pro gear is actually getting extremely good.
it HAS TO BE. otherwise it wouldnt sell.
renting will let u assess things objectively on final lead vocs without a super huge investment.
(more to come.)