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I'd like to become a better singer. I was once at a friends house who had a nice mic setup with a vocal mic and headphones, and had some standard vocal effects happening, and I was singing with that and it sure sounded good. But I've lost touch with him so never found out what it was.

Now I'm thinking about a similar setup where I'd need a mic, headphones and some kind of processor so the voice I'm hearing in my headphones sounds as good as it can be, so I'll want to keep singing for hours. Like training wheels., but for the voice.

Can anyone recommend a setup for this. Let's start with money is no object, and we can go down from there (g).


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Peter,

What equipment do you currently have? Do you have any microphones and mic pre-amps? For monitoring while recording, you really only need a few things, and lots of vocal processing is not one of those few things. Some EQ (to EQ out your 'head voice' as much as possible, a pair of headphones that you can independently turn off an ear (usually a simple pan control), and a Shure SM 58 is all you need to make great home recordings from an equipment standpoint. A little bit of reverb back in your monitor mix will help you to sing on-pitch (as does the head voice EQ reduction).

More important is an acoustic environment that doesn't have too much room reflections. I think you built a pretty nice acoustic space a couple years ago. Do you have a clothes closet in that space? If so, open the door to that, make sure it's got some clothes hanging in there, and put your mic in front of the clothes. This will usually do way better than the 'portable vocal booth' things that clip on mic stands.

The reason you want a headphone that you can pan, is to listen only through one, and then slip the dead one off and do the 'guide your voice from your mouth to your ear' trick that you see studio singers do. There's a reason for them doing that - it helps them to stay on pitch and not go flat. you want the one you slip off to be dead so that you don't pick up your monitor mix from the phone into the live mic.

-Scott

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Peter,

I can't add much to what Scott said. I have 4 things.

1.) A really good condenser mic with splatter shield, and

2. A clip on vocal booth for the mic stand that surrounds the mic. Scott's idea for a closet is better but I get by pretty good with the mic stand "Hood." It is critical to isolate the vocals so they don't go "out into the room."

3.) A good pre-amp for the mic.

4.) A good audio interface.

Some people bypass the pre-amp and plug the mic straight into the audio interface and use the phantom power there. (A condenser mic needs phantom power.) I choose to use the phantom power on the pre-amp and leave it turned off on the audio interface. The pre-amp lets me EQ stuff before it hits the audio interface and I like that.


Other than that I think Scott covered all the bases and he is correct. We all have slight nuances in the way we tackle this though.

* Though Scott has told you not to, and from a purist standpoint he is right, there is nothing to stop you from closing the door and secretly putting a Boss VE-20 Vocal processor in between the mic and the board. Just for fun. Heck, you only live once, and you do have a software company.

Live a little.

smile

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))) Boss VE-20 Vocal processor

Yes, that sounds good to me. For clarification, the setup I looking for is mainly for practice, not recording. So I'd be happy if it worked Ina living room for example. I appreciate these tips.


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Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
I'd like to become a better singer. I was once at a friends house who had a nice mic setup with a vocal mic and headphones, and had some standard vocal effects happening, and I was singing with that and it sure sounded good. But I've lost touch with him so never found out what it was.

Now I'm thinking about a similar setup where I'd need a mic, headphones and some kind of processor so the voice I'm hearing in my headphones sounds as good as it can be, so I'll want to keep singing for hours. Like training wheels., but for the voice.

Can anyone recommend a setup for this. Let's start with money is no object, and we can go down from there (g).


Peter,

I could get into specifics if you like, but here's the nitty gritty:

Favorite mic: Rode NT1000 Sounds as good as any top-end mic I've ever heard including the pricey Neumann. I have every mic Rode makes and I use the NT1000 99% of the time.

Favorite headphones: Sony MDR-7506 These cans are in every major studio on earth. I have at least four pair. I've paid more and got a lot less.

Favorite Vocal Processor: Since I don't record myself or my clients with effects; I only add some reverb to the headset mix. We add compression, and effects later. However, I do own a TC Helicon Voice Prism which is not made anymore. The current replacement model is the TC Helicon VoiceLive Rack which will do anything with a voice you can imagine.

Computer Audio Interface: We have numerous ones from TC Helicon, Mackie, Teac, Digi-Design, E-MU. They all work well. I don't necessarily have a preference here. There are TONS of audio interfaces out there. If you have a gear guy at your local music store. Talk it over with him. You probably don't need anything with more than two inputs and MIDI in and out. PreSonus makes a very functional one for about $100.

Whatever you do get gear that's quick to set up and easy to use. Otherwise you'll spend all your time "
"fiddling." grin

Oh yea, my guy at Sweetwater told me a long time ago "Don't skimp on audio cables. Get the good stuff." All of our audio and instrument cables are Monster Studio Pro gear. Never a problem.

Have fun. And post a song for us to critique. LOL cool
Bob

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Hi Peter. I would strongly recommend a good teacher. I used a professional Soprano in France via Skype for 30 Euros an hour a year or two back. I'm determined to start having lessons again, but I've been busy with BIAB and choir. I've started late and used teachers a lot. I can send you her details if you like. The important thing is to find a good one and that usually means a classical/successful singer.

Another piece of advice I would give is to sing without headphones if possible. Hard as it is to know that people might be listening! I find you tend to under sing with headphones.

Know your range, Baritone or Tenor, learn about breathing, posture etc.

I've added some of my personal notes after this snippet.

This is an interesting piece that my sister sent me translated from French. It's fairly technical, but this is what I mean by a professional teacher! (The Cantonese references are cos we both worked in Hong Kong!)

Nasals etc

"Marie Caroline mentioned that she had had trouble explaining nasals and tongue position etc to you so I thought I’d run through what I know she must have been trying to explain.

A useful technique for getting high notes is to hum the notes first and then sing them nasally. This means using the ng sound that we get in “singing” (occurring in the middle and at the end of the word) as the initial consonant. Since the air is escaping through the nose, while the vocal chords are vibrating, it is a voiced consonant (but not a stop like /b/ /g/ or /d/) and so you can hear your voice. Try singing the first two notes of “I know that my redeemer liveth” on just /ng/.

Once you can get this ok, you can then try starting on ng and then releasing the tongue so a vowel follows eg sing the Cantonese word “ngoh”. Following the ng, the vowel emerges well placed and the larynx remains low where it should be. Once you can sing the high notes starting with Ng, then it is far easier to sing them starting with other consonants such as la, ba, da, ma etc.
MC was trying to explain how you place your tongue to produce the ng sound. Basically, you are using the back part of the tongue raised and touching the soft palate (back part of the roof of the mouth) to block the airflow. (Whereas for da you are using the tip of your tongue against the alveolar ridge) . Then after temporarily blocking the air flow, you lower the back part of the tongue, and out comes a beautiful sound. You move NOTHING else in your mouth apart from the tongue.

The other thing I have worked on with MC is “focusing” on the point somewhere above the nose in the forehead where the pure sound resonates in order to “Fix” the position of the voice. This may not be a problem for you, but it is something I have trouble with. Once the voice is fixed in the right position it has a beautiful rich mellow sound which in French can be described as timbree – but you may well produce this effect naturally."


My Singing Practice Routine - which I have failed to follow whistle


1. Exhaling from the mouth and nose (Big Bear) x 5

Keep legs very firm and heavy. Try to keep the chest open. Don’t look down. Eyes forward. Move your arms and body around as you exhale

2. Relaxation exercises with tongue etc.

3. Sing phrase legato (C E D F E G F D C)

Move up from middle to top or range. Move down to bottom of range. (Keep legs very firm and heavy. Try to keep the chest open. Don’t look down. Eyes forward. Open jaw. Relax Face

4. Starting on G ‘a’ (puff, puff), ‘e’ (puff, puff), ‘i’ (puff, puff), ‘o’ (puff, puff), ‘u’ (puff, puff), G slur down to C and up to G (Blowing Candles – Diaphragm mover)

5. ‘a’ with tongue as far out as possible and pulling it back in after each sound. C, E, G, E, C. Move up a semitone at a time. Then repeat C, E, G, E, C with tongue back inside mouth but not moving.

Feel the diaphragm being pulled when tongue is extended. Do exercise slowly to be sure diaphragm is connected to the tongue.

6. With tongue out as far as possible and swinging from side to side C, D, E, F, G. Move up a semi-tone at a time. Repeat with tongue in but not moving.

Make sure the back of the tongue does not move by using diaphragm. A very subtle movement.

Working on Songs


1. Check timing and mark the beats on the sheet music
2. Write in breathing spots
3. Say words of song in correct rhythm.
4. Say words with lots of breathy air. Like a ghost
5. Sing tune with lip trill
6. Sing tune with vowels
Mark jumps with SOLFAGE. Sing song with SOLFAGE?
7. Check timing and beats
8. Check breathing is in correct spots
9. Think about vowels and consonants in words




Last edited by lambada; 11/29/16 06:28 PM.

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Peter -

“Money's no object”. OK.


http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/U87SetZ


http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/VoxBox


http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/RFSpace


http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HD280Pro




There are more exotic mics and pres, but with the U87 and the Manley, you could record anything, and they will make your voice sound great. You can, of course, put a cheaper (and still excelent) system together, but you did say money was no object.


Regards,

Bob

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Bob,
Thanks. Great links. The mics do look pricey, but top end.


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Lambada,
Thanks, lots of great tips in there
Peter


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Hi Peter,
For a vocal Prozessor a bit prizier than the Manley VOXBOX, have a look at the various TC-Helicon products. I for myself use a VoiceLive 3 when I Play guitar along with BandInABox an it's great fun to play an sing.
The harmonies can either be driven by the guitar, a built in rome-sense mic or an seperate audio Inpu.t

Last edited by Thomi; 12/01/16 02:08 AM.
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Peter, my advice to you is going to be very basic.

First, get a decent condenser mic. No need to by a $3000 Neuman, a nice Rode for around $400 will work and I've heard some amazingly good vocals recorded on $100 condenser mics. It's often said if you put a novice into a million dollar studio, you will get a novice sounding result. And if you give a pro an inexpensive bedroom rig studio, you will get a professional sounding result. It's not so much about the gear as it is knowing how to use that gear properly.

As far as vocal processors to "make your voice sound better".... no... generally, unless you have a good foundation in recording with a mic, they can really mess things up and make the learning process longer. People with processors tend to rely on the processor to "fix" the poorly recorded vocal and never really learn how to record an outstanding vocal track in the first place.

Just take the time to work on recording your voice. Technique for singing beats processors and a great voice every time. Observe the pro's and copy what they do. Mostly, they sing close to the mic. Even a condenser. Use a pop-filter placed about an inch from the mic, and get right up to the pop filter. As you sing low and soft, be in close. I often am touching the pop-filter. As you get louder, back out but don't go too far... a few inches is good. You don't want to lose the quality to the room and you don't want to overload the mic capsule.

Work on getting a nice, full, clean, dry sound. You can process later with FX plugs. Not much more than slight reverb and a touch of compression and possibly some EQ in the form of high pass is needed to make a vocal sound good. In a good DAW, you can be recording totally dry and hearing the sound in the headphones with reverb and EQ so it sounds "good" while you record. With vocal FX... LESS IS MORE.

Listen closely to the vocals of your favorite artist. Listen to the tone, the EQ, and the reverb levels. You'll find them all to be very subtle. You're mostly hearing a very natural sounding voice. That's what you want to try to imitate and replicate.

It's just a matter of learning how to make things work properly. Having a nice processor and a vocal booth and treated rooms are fine, but they won't matter if you don't have the basics under control and know how to get a good mic'd vocal into the DAW.

It's not magic, but it will probably take you some time if you're not yet recording vocals you are satisfied with. One of the biggest obstacles is getting used to the recorded sound of our own voices. The goal is to accept that you don't sound like your favorite artist, but it is totally possible to get the most out of the voice you have by learning how to properly record vocals. Experiment, and record, record, record. There's no substitute for pressing that record button and going for the best sound possible. You gotta do it a lot. One day, you'll hit the playback and it will hit you that you have found the formula. And once you get there, it will be a natural every time you record your voice or someone else's voice.

Hope this helps you a bit.


Last edited by Guitarhacker; 12/01/16 07:08 AM.

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Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
))) Boss VE-20 Vocal processor

Yes, that sounds good to me. For clarification, the setup I looking for is mainly for practice, not recording. So I'd be happy if it worked Ina living room for example. I appreciate these tips.





I missed this. In that case I would go with the Boss VE-20 and an SM58 through some Sennheiser phones. Should sound fantastic!


Regards,


Bob

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Sorry, just realised I didn't read the heading. A Shure 58 is a pretty good mic. Years ago I got a 57 and 58 together in a package deal. Condenser mics are great but you may well pick up a lot of background noise. Depends how good your sound proofing is. I have a valve condenser mic that I use all the time at home. I love it, but it picks up the kids, the TV etc etc. As for processor, you might want to look at TC Helicon. So many great vocal effects.... grin

Last edited by lambada; 12/01/16 03:30 PM.

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Keep us posted on how it goes and what you're doing to get it done.


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Originally Posted By: 90 dB
Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
))) Boss VE-20 Vocal processor

Yes, that sounds good to me. For clarification, the setup I looking for is mainly for practice, not recording. So I'd be happy if it worked Ina living room for example. I appreciate these tips.





I missed this. In that case I would go with the Boss VE-20 and an SM58 through some Sennheiser phones. Should sound fantastic!


Regards,


Bob


Plus Guitarhacker: "It's not magic, but it will probably take you some time if you're not yet recording vocals you are satisfied with."

Even if money's no object, you will likely be as satisfied with this setup as any. And the magic will happen sooner than later.

An unmentioned advantage of the VE-20 is it does not need an instrument feed to follow the vocals. You can set the key and you are ready to go. Some of the others do require an instrument feed.

The presets are configured by professionals and the effects in all but the least expensive models are studio grade. The VE-20 has excellent effects.


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I would tell you to go to a local music store and see if you do a recording demo of four takes of the same vocal passage using four different mics. Everyboady prefers a different type of mic, so I can't tell you wich mic to get. However, like some people said, don't spending a ton of money for a mic just because of the brabd name. Although I'm not a singer, I use an NT2a by Rode and I like it a lot for it's multi patteren capsule. I haven't tried it on vocals yet, but it works well on mandolin and steel pan. Please note that certian types of mics require special attention. Condenser mics need phantom power, ribbion mic are very senstive to dropping, noise blown into the mic, and tube mic need a special power supply. Now, if you want to kill two bird with a pre amp and an interface, go with the UAD Apolo Twin, as it always you to plug-in setting directly to the audio at the same time, so you can use a preamp pulgin and get a nice tone out of your mic.


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Just to clarify, the Voicelive series have the scale option that does not require a musical instrument to harmonize. You have the option of using midi, keyboard audio, guitar to harmonize from as well. It will also harmonize from an audio output, eg karaoke. Personally, I use a guitar to drive the harmonies and when setting stuff up, the scales. Of course any band member can be playing the keyboard or guitar.


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Originally Posted By: Islansoul
I would tell you to go to a local music store and see if you do a recording demo of four takes of the same vocal passage using four different mics. Everyboady prefers a different type of mic, so I can't tell you wich mic to get. However, like some people said, don't spending a ton of money for a mic just because of the brabd name. Although I'm not a singer, I use an NT2a by Rode and I like it a lot for it's multi patteren capsule. I haven't tried it on vocals yet, but it works well on mandolin and steel pan. Please note that certian types of mics require special attention. Condenser mics need phantom power, ribbion mic are very senstive to dropping, noise blown into the mic, and tube mic need a special power supply. Now, if you want to kill two bird with a pre amp and an interface, go with the UAD Apolo Twin, as it always you to plug-in setting directly to the audio at the same time, so you can use a preamp pulgin and get a nice tone out of your mic.


The local music stores around here are way to loud for test driving a mic let alone comparing 4. Buy one, carry it home and use it in your environment. Most good music stores have a 30 to 45 day no questions asked return. However.... I'd just get a decent one like the Rode NT2A or similar. People say this mic is good for that and the other one is good for that but in all honesty, for most home studio situations, a decent mic is going to do everything you need well. Would a Neuman give a warmer sound to a vocal track? Yeah it probably will, but you can always drop the 3 grand later on. For now, just get a good all around get you started mic. Besides, you can always get a nice tube preamp to warm things up for way less than one fifth the cost of a Neuman.

I agree on the Rode NT2A. I have one and use it on all my live mic work. Guitar cabinet, acoustic guitar and mandolin, and yes, especially vocals. It's a condenser so it needs phantom power but again, any good interface should provide that as well as nice clean preamps.

I'd never recommend a ribbon as a first mic. As you pointed out, they are just too sensitive to outside influences. Accidentally plug it in to some phantom power, drop it, let someone tap it during "CHECK 1 2 is this thing on?" or forget to use a pop filter and you can destroy it faster than burning the money with a match.

For a good interface if you don't already have one..... Focusrite makes some nice ones and have superbly clean preamps in them.

Last edited by Guitarhacker; 12/06/16 02:42 PM.

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We keep it simple.

- a book shelf with a, when needed, quilt draped over it for the singer to face.

- Rhodes NT1 condenser mic -48v phantom powered / spider mount / pop filter

- Focusrite Scarlett 212 USB interface (cheap and gets the job done)

- All our vocal processing is via Izotope's Nectar 2 which is an amazing suite of vocal effects and it has right out of the box excellent presets although Janice prefers to hear her vocal dry when recording.

We're Mac folks and our DAW is Logic Pro X.

And, truth be known, we have a couple of $100 MXL mics that sound for our purposes as good as the Rodes.

Quick to set up and take down.

Bud

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Here's a video on proper mic technique...from my studio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlNHrbyeCxE

Well, maybe not exactly.... I sing 45 degrees off axis ..."past the mic" rather than right into it. When going straight in, I use a pop filter on a stand, which you see later in the video.

I caught a ton of grief in another forum when I originally posted this video of me holding the Rode NT2A. Holding the mic was a spoof.


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The Newest RealBand 2024 Update is Here!

The newest RealBand 2024 Build 5 update is now available!

Download and install this to your RealBand 2024 for updated print options, streamlined loading and saving of .SGU & MGU (BB) files, and to add a number of program adjustments that address user-reported bugs and concerns.

This free update is available to all RealBand 2024 users. To learn more about this update and download it, head to www.pgmusic.com/support.realband.htm#20245

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