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Another wonderful piece from the Disc Maker's Blog, this time on recording vocals and the equipment/skills needed to make it work in the home studio environment.Creating a Great Composite Vocal Recording –
One of the themes through many of the articles on Echoes consider the practicalities of how to make the most of home recording, both the equipment needed and the techniques for getting the best results from your own efforts. This article will take a look at the techniques used to create composite lead vocal tracks, referred to as “comping” the lead vocal by studio engineers. After a brief overview of the technique, we’ll speak with veteran engineer Paul Klingberg, who has recorded vocals with a wide range of artists including Earth, Wind & Fire, Jonathan Butler, Loreena McKennitt, Cheap Trick, Brian McKnight, The Simpsons, James Ingram and many others.
In an ideal scenario, you or your lead vocalist would nail the perfect studio performance of you new song in one continuous take. After all, you belt out that new song every weekend at gigs and the audience responds enthusiastically each performance. However, once you put that vocal performance under the sonic microscope of the recording process, you’ll undoubtedly hear some elements of the lead vocal that could be improved. Maybe the phrasing is a bit rushed in one part, or a particularly long sustained note tends to lose pitch, or some other problem becomes apparent. Rather than singing the track over and over from top to bottom, doing a number of solid takes of the song on separate tracks, then listening to and selecting the best parts of each take will eventually result in what will become a composite lead vocal track. When done correctly, this technique will give the illusion of a single, seamless performance when placed into the final mix of the song. Often the artist will also use the separate takes to experiment by slightly modifying their level of intensity, vocal placement, rhythms, etc.
Before You Start Recording
Before we get to the nitty-gritty of how to best put together comped vocal tracks, it’s important to note that the choice of vocal mic, mic preamp and recording set up make a significant impact on the sound of your lead vocal tracks. As a general rule, large diaphragm condenser mics make excellent vocal mics, since they generally are more sensitive to the shadings and nuances that the human voice is capable of producing.
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