#11: 5 Essential Steps To A Pro Vocal Recording

#11: 5 Essential Steps To A Pro Vocal Recording

The vocal almost always is the most important part of a song.

But what is actually most important when it comes to vocal recording? Let's discuss and find out what to do if you want to capture that magical take.


Things you'll learn in this episode:

  • the importance of vibe and atmosphere and the impact it has on a performance
  • how to communicate well with a vocalist during a session
  • how to create a great headphone mix for a vocal recording session
  • which microphones to use for vocal recording
  • the importance of the room you're recording in
  • why you should develop basic editing and comping skills

...and much more

Vocal Recording Mic Recommendations Mentioned In This Episode:

Shure SM7B, Røde Procaster, Røde PodMic, Electrovoice RE20, Sennheiser MK4

People And Bands Mentioned In This Episode:

Rick Rubin, Anthony Kiedis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Lord-Alge, Chris Lord-Alge, Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, Lamb Of God, Metallica, Celine Dion

The Beautiful Greek Recording Studio Mentioned In This Episode:

Related Video:

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 011 - 5 Essential Steps To A Pro Vocal Recording

[00:00:00] Malcom: [00:00:00] Okay. Here we go, guys. I'm going to click phase as I'm talking. Test, test, test, test, test. Oh my God. It's a huge difference. 

Benedikt: [00:00:09] Does it make a difference? 

Malcom: [00:00:10] Oh yeah. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:00:13] Whoa. This is the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY stuff.

Hello and welcome. Cue the self recording band podcast. I am Benetech tine your host and I'm here with my friend and cohost Balcom Owen flood. How are you Malcolm? 

Malcom: [00:00:39] I'm good. Before we started recording this, I kicked over an entire arrow press full of coffee in the studio. But aside from that, things are really great.

I already mastered a song today and I'm just really stoked that people are still making music through this whole coronavirus situation. So yeah, things are great, man. How about yourself? 

Benedikt: [00:00:58] That sounds awesome, man. [00:01:00] I expect except the coffee 

Malcom: [00:01:02] capital. Tragic loss of coffee. 

Benedikt: [00:01:04] Yeah, but as you said, at least the studio now smells even better than before, and I'm just assuming that it's not good before.

I don't know. I've never 

Malcom: [00:01:13] been there in person, but 

Benedikt: [00:01:15] now there's, there's coffee on the floor. Uh, it's pretty, it's, it's, it's definitely not worse. So, um, for me, one, one thing happened that's really cool and that is, I have a mic stand in front of me and here in my home office because I didn't have that for the past couple of episodes.

And last time I had a ridiculous, like. Pile of tape rolls that were holding my microphone. And today I'm talking into a microphone that's mounted on a my extent. So 

Malcom: [00:01:41] that's like a professional masters or professional audio engineer for sure. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. 

Benedikt: [00:01:46] So I feel much more professional today and, um, yeah, things are good.

Um. Yeah, I mean, we are on this still in the same situations, and we've talked about that, but other, other than that, um, things are good. Uh, and I'm [00:02:00] excited to talk about today's topic because we've been covering drums and guitars and. Um, basic mindset stuff and a lot of like the drum programming stuff and all sorts of things.

But we haven't really touched on vocals yet. So today is the time to do that. And that's why we are talking about five essential steps to a pro vocal today. Now, Malcolm, you prepared this. Checklists basically. Oh, this, this list of things. Um, yeah, just, I, I would, I would say, just to start with, the first thing that comes to mind when you think about recording a pro vocal, what is the first thing you would make sure to get right?

Malcom: [00:02:44] Okay. The one thing that I think is overlooked very often, um, and also, uh, like my, I'm super guilty of this as well. Yeah. Like it's really easy to just get in the zone of like. Thinking about what sounds good in the song and stuff like that, and just, uh, essentially [00:03:00] totally neglect the actual situation that you're placing the singer in.

And, uh, there. Their comfort level and, and their emotional state, and pretty much everything about how they're doing and just think about what you're getting into your recording software. Um, so I think the first thing on the checklist is just overall atmosphere and vibe. 

Benedikt: [00:03:23] Oh yeah. 

Malcom: [00:03:25] Because that's going to affect everything else.

Uh, like, think about it. Anybody listening to this is probably, Billy played a show at some point and think about the. Mindset, going into those shows. If you're excited, you probably had fun. If you're, uh, like angry and pissed off at the rest of your band, probably wasn't the best gig. So, uh, there's just no denying that our emotional state and, um, and the vibe of the situation we're in, the atmosphere, uh, affects how we perform.

And I don't know if you've noticed, but vocals are the [00:04:00] most important part about, uh. Communication in music and how a singer is able to convey emotion into a song really plays a huge part in how people react to the song. A song that makes people feel something is a song that actually is successful and gets noticed 

Benedikt: [00:04:23] so much.

That's basically all that matters is like. Do the, does the song connect with whoever's listening to it and what, what, what does it create. What emotion does it create? What, how makes, how does it make the listen to feel? And there's the number one thing that communicates those things is the vocal. And if the vocalists, him or herself doesn't really feel it, it will never come across as authentic and pure and honest and everything.

And it will probably not connect as much. So yeah, absolutely. It's, and, and I also agree that it's overlooked because, especially in [00:05:00] DIY recording situations. People will use whatever room they have available and whatever the room looks, whatever the situation is, they will just use that. And they might not think about the difference it would make if they would have make it so that the singer would be a little more comfortable.

And I'm guilty of that as well. So much I have recorded vocalists and. Like cold, uncomfortable spaces with like, like, yeah, it's just no way you could do a really great performance and forget everything around you in those situations. So we've all done that, I guess, but it's, it's, it's, it's easy to improve, basically, but makes a huge difference.

Malcom: [00:05:37] Right. Yeah. Sometimes you have to, sometimes you have to make due with a really terrible situation, um, and, and just get it done. But there's normally something that can be done. Um, and, you know, so, you know, if to call the room, get them a blanket, you know, like, you know, like there's always some kind of step you can do to make it better.

And, um. 

[00:06:00] Benedikt: [00:06:00] And 

Malcom: [00:06:01] it always pays off. It really does. Uh, it'll make your job better. Uh, like the person running the computer, something that, you know, you might, uh, be in the self recording band podcast. You might be also running the computer as well as singing, but, so in that case, that's really tricky. But, uh, like my, my go to thing is, um.

Is like waiting on them with with water and tea being like, Oh, do you like, you want some tea? Do you like honey in it? Kind of thing. Just like getting that stuff taken care of and like, Oh yeah, I'd love some tea. That'd be great. Now they're, they're a little happy, like, Oh, water's coming. Like without them even asking.

Sometimes I'll try and send another band member in so they have to kind of serve them. That makes the singers happy to their egos being fed when the drummer comes in with a hot, warm cup of tea. And that, uh, the other thing I'm like always on is lighting because personally lighting really affects how I work.

Um, so, um, I like go through all the options and like do like it with the lights off you like a dim, do you want these [00:07:00] led strips on, uh, candles? You know, that kind of stuff is just like. Uh, sets a mood kind of thing. And lighting, I think really does affect, you know, there's a reason that romantic expensive restaurants have a candle at dinners going on because it does set a mood.

Um, and if you start like, the reason I always go and turn off the lights or, and experiment with those options rather than just asking them is because it makes them think about the mood. Now they have to actually consider what kind of mood they want to be in when they're singing this song. Um, and then, then they're going to tell you.

And that'll help you even go a little further with figuring out how to create the vibe that they need to to sing the song. 

Benedikt: [00:07:41] Absolutely. It's also making them feel that like taking the pressure away, uh, is also part of it. It's just they should feel like they, they are here because it's fun because they should enjoy it.

They are not here to work, quote unquote. So it is work and it is effort that you have to put into it, but it shouldn't not [00:08:00] feel like that. It should feel like something you would do, uh, because you love it in your free time. You know, it's something that you should, you want to enjoy. And, um. They have to trust you that, um.

That you don't, that you won't make fun of them. That it's okay. That if they make mistakes that, uh, that they can be comfortable, that they can try things without, um, having to be afraid or ashamed or anything they need to fully, to be able to fully relax. And all of that plays into that. And if that's, if it's a comfortable room that you just want to spend time in with a person that's easy and, um, and relaxed.

And if you have everything you need to, so you don't have to think about like same things like as you said, water or a blanket or the temperature in general or anything like that, then the only thing you have to do is, um, get in the mood and performance. Do the thing that you hear for everything else should be taken care of.

And you can do [00:09:00] that in a, in a jam space. It doesn't have to be a fancy facility or a studio. There are easy ways to do that. Lights are a big one, as you said, a couple of candles or, uh, led strips or indirect lighting instead of the, um, cold work light think, you know. Uh, there, there is simple things like that already make it so much better.

Or just cleaning up the room. Like, I know how most rehearsal rooms look at what those look like, and I know how ours looks and it's awful. But, uh, so, uh, even just cleaning the room, making it so that there's not chaos around the person who has to perform. Um. That is, that can also be a big one because that can be, if there are all sorts of distractions and you just feel the need, if it's your own jam space, especially if you just see all the things you should do and could do and could improve, um, it might distract you from your performance.

And, uh, so getting this done before the session and yeah. Being in a [00:10:00] room that you are comfortable being in, um, goes a long way and in a jam space, this can, these can be small things like cleaning up the room and doing all the work that that needs to be done before you can actually do, um, start the session.

So yeah, I totally agree that this, that this is a big one and it might sound weird to you, you might think, why should like, that's I, I get it that it's nicer, but it's not, it's not really affecting anything, but it is, I really, truly believe that. So. 

Malcom: [00:10:27] Yeah, there's, uh, there's been times where I've been like comping vocal takes and for people that don't know what coffee is, it's when you're comparing different cakes and choosing the best option.

Um, and I've got to say there's two takes and one is perfectly in tune and perfectly on time. And. But kind of just doesn't have the soul and the other one has all this emotion and is a little out of tune and a little off time, I'm going to choose that emotional take 100% of the time. Yeah, like no question asked.

It's always going to be that emotional take and sometimes the singer I'm working with will be like, Oh, [00:11:00] like I'm out of tune. I'm like, it doesn't matter. Like first off, I might be able to fix that and even if I can't, it's still better. It's still going to actually make somebody feel something. Um, so I mean, there's always like a varying degree of how far you're willing to go on that.

If it's really out of tune, then yeah, maybe hit it again. But, uh, the emotion trumps the technical accuracy 

Benedikt: [00:11:26] all the time. Every single time. That's, that's the case. Uh, I would always choose the better they, yeah. The take with more emotion and energy and everything in vibe over technically perfect. Take. For sure.

Yes, and also it's a weird thing that this is especially true for vocals. Everything that we've talked about now in this episode, because of course, it also helps if a guitarist or a drummer feels comfortable, but it's for some reason not, not the exact same thing. I just feel that the vocal is such a personal thing because [00:12:00] you are the instrument.

You are. Um, it's a part of you as a human. It's not an entire, not something external that you use and play, but it's, you like everything. You make the sound. It's your lyrics. It comes out of your mouth. You have to be proud of that. You have to make people feel a certain way with your body, with what comes out of that body and brain and everything.

And it's, I dunno, it's, it's just much more personal and intimate than any other instrument. And that's why. This first, um, bullet point on our list here is so important and it's, yeah, I don't think it's the same for every other instrument. It helps, but it's not the same as with the, well, with the vocal. 

Malcom: [00:12:37] No.

The the idea that a microphone is the instrument of a vocalist is a complete misconception. It is just a way of capturing them. The, the microphone is not their instrument. They are their instrument. So that's why it matters so much where a guitarist has to channel emotion through a guitar and the guitar is going to filter it and, and you're going to end up [00:13:00] with what the guitar outputs.

It's not that way with a vocalist. The microphone isn't going to change the emotion of the, of the vocalist. 

Benedikt: [00:13:07] Yep. Yeah. All right. So that's, don't have looked at. Um, make sure you, you, you spend a little time optimizing that and just ask the person who is, who should do the vocal. Like if you're unsure what to do, if you are a self recording band, you're probably recording yourself.

So you probably know a couple of things about your singer or you are the singer. Maybe you know what, what a she likes or he likes. And. If not, just ask and it's not about what you think is great or if you are the person recording that, or if you are not the vocalist, it's about what the vocalist thinks it's great or what he or she needs to perform well.

So just ask and make sure. That everything is comfortable for them. And 

Malcom: [00:13:49] yeah, there's a great story. I think it was Rick Ruben doing the red hot chili peppers and, uh, Anthony Kiedis, a singer event at chili peppers. They wrote it cables to his bedroom [00:14:00] so he could record from his bedroom. And they're like matching the recording method.

And, but it was just cause like he wanted them to be comfortable. You know, and I, that record did pretty darn good. I think it was Californication um, Zoe, it's just like insanely successful album. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:14:16] yeah. I'm sure that that's, that's, yeah. That's proof actually, that that's, yeah. This is happening. There's a studio in Greece, I think.

Yeah  we're on a Greek Island that is a pretty famous studio. Uh, that has Mike and I don't know about instrument, but definitely Michael lines in all the rooms. It's like a big facility with like with like a hotel, like a couple of bedrooms and lounges and bars and everything and a pool and everything and everywhere.

I think even at the pool, there are my clients just in case somebody feels comfortable wherever he or she is at, that they could just plug in a mic there and record it and send it to whoever the control room is. So. 

Malcom: [00:14:58] Oh, that's awesome. 

Benedikt: [00:14:59] It's just, [00:15:00] it's just matters. So, 

Malcom: [00:15:01] yeah, I mean, that sounds really nice.

Benedikt: [00:15:03] Yeah. You gotta look up the studio. That's such a dream. Uh, I got, I'm going to Google it and shoot you the link because it's amazing. 

Malcom: [00:15:10] Oh yeah. Let's throw it in the show notes as well as some people would love to see that. Yeah. Um, I think we should tie this into what was actually going to be number three on the list, but should probably be number two, um, is communication because it's so closely related to what we're talking about.


Benedikt: [00:15:25] Oh yeah. Great. Yeah. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:15:28] Cause it's, all of that stuff, um, will only be enhanced if there's good communication going on. Um, and that communication is going to help you kind of narrow in on what is possibly creating a barrier from them. Uh, really getting this vocal take emotionally dialed in. Um, and there's, there's a couple obvious things that are, again, just so commonly overlooked in that, again, I just know there's some people I've recorded that are gonna listen to this and be like, he didn't do any of this for me.

And it's like, I'm sorry. You're absolutely right. Sometimes I do and sometimes I just don't, I get too [00:16:00] focused on the wrong things. So, 

Benedikt: [00:16:01] yeah, we, I mean, we are essentially preaching to ourselves here often. Oh, it's episode. And that's, that's part of why I like doing this so much because I, I know some things are right or wrong to do.

But I don't follow my own rules every single time. And this podcast really helps me get better at that. So, 

Malcom: [00:16:19] yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. I'm sorry guys. I'll, I'll try better next time. Um, and you did great. Anyways, so, uh, the big one that I have done, and that makes a big difference is, uh, sitting down with the vocalist and then discussing what the song's actually about before, right before they record.

Um, and, and again, that's kind of like the how the light in like experiment with the mood by like adjusting the lighting, get some thinking about what mood they want to be in discussing the lyrics and discussing the meaning of the song and the emotion of the song with them. Gets them thinking about what song's actually about and get some actually feeling by them [00:17:00] bringing up with the songs, but they're going to actually start feeling that.

Um, so you're kind of moving them into this emotional spot where they're actually gonna like be in that mindset as they sing, um, where otherwise they might just be focusing on how they're breathing and how on tune they are kind of thing. And just remembering the lyrics, kind of reading them off a page rather than actually kind of coming from that spot that they were in when they wrote it.

Benedikt: [00:17:25] Yeah. Sure. Yeah. That's basically all you need to say about that. Just do it. It's 

Malcom: [00:17:32] like it just can't hurt, right? No, it can't hurt. Even if they were like, it's private, they're still thinking about it. You still accomplished your goal. Even if they don't tell you what it's about. They told these Stonewall you, you still did your job there.

Um, another one that I, I really like is asking the singer privately. Or that doesn't even have to be privately. But just asking them if you want a, if they want you to kick the rest of the band out of the [00:18:00] room while they record vocals, cause it's a like extremely vulnerable nerve wracking process for people to be on display in this little booth or not, maybe not even in a booth, in some settings.

You know, it might just be in the same room that everybody else's. Him and I would say that most people don't like that experience of just kind of being watched by everyone and critiqued under the microscope. So when I asked that, it's pretty common that people are like, Oh, that would be great. If you'll be the bad guy, you'll ask them to leave.

That sounds awesome. Um, and, and, you know, it's, it's just one less stress for them. Um, and they can again get into the moment a little bit more. Uh, it's, it's also just going to result in a better product, not having like. Four to five different people yelling different commands at them and just tearing them apart.

Each each take. It's just a more quick process of getting a vocal tract. They can always listen to it after. Of course, they're up there. They will listen to it after. But, uh, I think the less people in the room, while you're recording vocals is generally the best. [00:19:00] Oh, good. To have the best yield, the best results.

Benedikt: [00:19:03] I totally agree. And I even think you have to have a feeling for what the singer really wants, because sometimes they might say, Oh, it's okay, they can stay here, but actually they would love for people to leave, but they just might be afraid to say it or they think it's going to be okay, but it's still affecting them.

So I would even go as far as like communicating before the session to the whole band, that only people who are essential to the process should be there and everybody else is just not be there because, yeah. I don't, I don't think, I, I cannot think of a single situation where it would, it would be helpful to have anybody in the room while tracking vocals except for when that person is like the producer or co-producer or has, um, just a good vibe with the singer.

And sometimes there are people who need to be there because they can push the singer a bit. They just know how to talk to them. They have a great vibe and it just clicks when and [00:20:00] then you need those people in the room because they can do the producer job and you engineer then, um. And it just helped make the performance better.

But other than that, everybody else who cannot do such a thing is just, it's just not helping. I just can't think of a situation whether it ever was the case, because even the most disciplined person sitting on the couch watching the session will eventually open their mouth and say something about the performance and this can totally destroy the vibe of the session.

It just, it doesn't have to be something mean. They just, if they add. Some critique that they, that is totally okay and then not, not mean and everything. I mean, everything in that moment. It could be the worst thing you could do to that singer or the vocalists and yeah, it's just better to not have anybody voice his opinion.

Why while you track oval, it's, I think I told you that that's the case. I've never had a session whether that did, where this didn't happen. Whenever the rest of the band is in the room, somebody [00:21:00] has an opinion on. Something. It's just, it's always that way and it doesn't really help because now you can either tell that person to shut up or you can take the critique or the advice and then tell the singer to do something different that you would normally not have done if the person would not have been in the room.

Yeah. So it, it's just a weird, weird situation. And that does not mean that you cannot have opinions and ideas because it's, it's your band as well. But you should, you should listen to what was recorded, then gather feedback, get together, talk about it, and then do, um, and then implement changes or not. But it shouldn't be the first thing you do when you start recording a vocal.

You should leave. The singer alone for a bit, give them room to experiment to get into the groove of flow and record something before you start tearing it apart.  so yeah, it's always better to not be in the [00:22:00] room, I think, and then listen to the result and then talk about what could be better or what's great and give constructive feedback and everything, but not the, not the second the session begins and that will just happen when people are in the 

Malcom: [00:22:10] room.

It definitely will. And yeah, it's one really bad remark. Can just ruin it. Like the, the, the session's over. Um, you'll, you just won't get it.  there. There's going to be like, thinking about all the wrong things. Stressed out. People can sing when they're stressed out. Your body has to be relaxed. And I mean, I guess that's not always true, but the general consensus is that, uh, people perform better when they aren't stressed.

Benedikt: [00:22:38] Um. Yeah, of course. So that kind of is also connected to the next, um, thing here. That also falls under communication. Um, bullet point here, and that is, can the single handle, uh, the singer handled being present for editing, because that's basically the same thing. [00:23:00] Sometimes it's good to have like editing means, but if you don't know what that means, editing is, you record the vocal.

You come together a take, and then there's almost always, even with the best singers, there is some things you can do to even improve the performance. You can correct the intonation, you can correct the timing, you can change the feel a bit. You can move things around so that they sit better, uh, in the context of the song.

And just. It's, it's not mixing, it's not about the sound. It's just editing the performance so that it works perfectly and carries all the emotion and everything, and that it's almost always necessary to some degree, even with the best vocalists. This is just a necessary step. Um, and sometimes some people can't handle that, but others not so much because they, yeah, it can feel like as if someone would take the performance that you put a lot into and then.

Chop it like two, two pieces, tear [00:24:00] to tear it apart and then put it back together in a weird way. And you might feel as if your performance was not good enough, which is not the case. It's just a normal part of the process. And if you are the type of person that just can't handle that, or if your singer is the type of person that just can't handle that, um, you should talk about that and do the editing without the singer being present.

Or if somebody else does the editing, then he or she should do it without the singer in the room. Yeah, 

Malcom: [00:24:27] it almost always, people don't like the sound of their voice. I'm sure everybody here can vouch for that. It's good to hear your own voice. And they're like, who is that? They sound dumb, but I don't know what that phenomenon is about it.

It's just, it's a weird thing. Um, and singers are no exception. And so they hear them like, even like, uh, taking it back a step further. Camping can even be too much for some people. Just the simple act of choosing which, uh, take you on a use. Um, some [00:25:00] people dislike. That's like the worst thing in the world.

They just hear like four comps and then by the end of that fourth one or four takes of one part, and by the end of that fourth take, they just think that are all garbage and they should just go and redo it anyway. The whole song and you're like, Oh, slow down. Actually, one of those was really good and we've got the whole rest of the song.

That's probably good as well. You don't have to think about redoing the whole song kind of thing. So I would say the usual preferred approach for me is to do the comp. And the edit without them present and then bring them back in and be like, Hey, like, or at least the rough comp. And then just like, Hey, here is the comp I made.

Have a listen and if there's anything that you think we should go and repunch, let me know. And we'll look at that. And usually they're like, okay, well that was awesome. This part talk to me. And we go look at it and let me just look at another couple takes, find something there. No problem. They don't have to even re sing it.

They've got it kind of thing. It was just something. That we disagreed on for what we liked about it. Um, [00:26:00] but some people, I don't know. Betty, what are your thoughts on that? Cause some people seem to really thrive in the Campin they're like, they know exactly what they want. 

Benedikt: [00:26:09] Yeah, exactly. It's, the matters are, um, it depends on the person on the singer.

Some don't care or some just can't handle it. Others do care and they know the process. They are okay with it. They can't handle it. They even want to be part of it because they really know, okay, I want this word from this take and this word from this take and this sentence here and there. And, and for some people that really works and they, and it actually helps you because you're, you're faster than there are people who are, they are right.

They just know when it was the right take and when it wasn't. Some people have a feel for that and. Yeah. If that's your, if you have a signal who's like that, then you can do it together, but totally depends on the person. And, um, you said something interesting and I want to get back, I want to come back to that later in, uh, in our fifth bullet point.

But I was, I will just say now that [00:27:00] what you basically described is you would record with a vocalist, you would make them sing the whole song or parts of it without like telling them. Um, now we do this word or this sentence and this and we exchange that or that. You just basically let them perform, keep the flow going, and then when you think you have enough takes that when everybody thinks that that was a good performance.

You let them, you send them out of the room, you'd will do, or you do it on a different day or whatever. You will do the comp without them there and the editing without them there. And then they come back and then you listen to it and then you might swap out some things. Um, but essentially you won't do the co you say that it, it's, it could be better to not do any of the comping and editing.

While they are performing. And I agree, and that's one approach to it, like keeping the flow going. Just have them perform, not worrying about the comp, just recording, take overtake, overtake, or take saving. All of them, not deleting any of them. Maybe taking notes if you know that there was [00:28:00] a really good spot in one of the takes so you won't forget it later.

That's an important thing. If you do that approach, I think. Then you make notes so that you have the singer to sing the song five or 10 times. And when the sixth in the six, uh, take in that or that part, there was a really awesome spot. You what you want to, uh, you will want to make a note there so that you won't forget later.

And then the singer. Is not there when you put all that together and we'll combine the best parts of each take. That is one approach, and I like that, and it can work, and it's good for the singer because they only have to perform. There's no breaks for any technical stuff and there's no editing, no tedious stuff, but there's another a little more advanced way that I will.

Talk about later again, that I really like. It's not for everybody, but I prefer that actually, um, 

Malcom: [00:28:48] uh, this is going to say, stick around for the end for, and we'll get, we'll get to some advanced stuff. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. But if it got some advanced techniques, 

Benedikt: [00:28:57] yeah. But if, no, no matter what you choose to [00:29:00] do, Oh.

Um. Important is I think that you talk to the singer about the process and how will it and how it will go before sending them to in front of the microphone or into the booth or that recording room. So whatever you choose to do, whatever the approach is, talk about that and then stick to it so that there are no surprises, no unexpected breaks, no waiting without knowing when it's when you will be able to continue, because that can also really ruin the vibe of a session.

Um, because you know, you might just be into it and in the sewn in the flow, you just want to perform, but you have to wait forever because somebody is looking for a word here and to take there. And then there is some weird noise here and it just, just talk about the process. And if you, if you decide that you will just record performances and not worry about the company and the technical stuff, then just let it flow and do that and do all the stuff later.

And if you. If you say no, we want to do it part by part. We want to [00:30:00] listen to every take. We want to analyze everything also fine. Sorry. If you are the type of person who likes that approach, then talk about that first as well and then do it that way. As long as the singer knows what you're going to do.

That's I think is the most important thing. 

Malcom: [00:30:17] Yeah, definitely be up front with that kind of stuff. And like, I have my favorite ways of doing it, like you were kinda just describing there, but I change it depending on the singer. Um, you know, some people, I'll let them sing the whole song front to the front to finish, um, and like, just get them to sing it like three or four times.

And then I'll make a comment from that. Sometimes. Usually I'll break it up into small sections, but it does depend on the type of song. Um, the singer. And how, how they want to do it is also important if they have experience and, and like are going for a certain thing. But, uh, you know, like a really heartfelt dynamic song.

I'm going to try giving it a shot, letting them do the whole thing front to finish, because they're just going to get locked into that emotion and [00:31:00] it's going to show that they started at the beginning and got to the end. You know, you'll, you'll get something out of that. Um. And it'll be harder. It will be less accurate probably in the end, but it'll have something else.

And that, that is up to whoever is, uh, producing the project to make that decision on how you're going to capture that singer. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:31:22] for sure. 

Malcom: [00:31:23] Um, and then going back to explaining the process to them, um, a lot of, like a new vocalist. Walked into that room and stares at the microphone, and they're like, okay, like, do I just sing it once and we're done?

Like, they have no idea what it takes. So it's up to you to explain it to them. Um, like, and, and really be clear. Like, okay, so we're gonna. Break it down. We're going to sing the first sentence like eight times. You know, like don't worry, like just keep doing it and like, cause it can be really frustrating or they might think that they're, the only reason they're doing it again is because they suck.

You know? And that's just not true. It's just like, Oh, you just wanted like an alternate take [00:32:00] or you just wanted a layer. You know, if you're trying to grab doubles of stuff, they might just think that they can't nail it. But in fact they're doing good and you're just not letting them know. So be extra clear about what's happening.

Benedikt: [00:32:11] Sure, and I think it's a weird situation a little bit here because we are talking to you as if you were the engineer and record other people. But many of you might be the singer, like you might be a singer yourself, or you might be the one recording yourself on your own, or you might be the one recording.

Um, you might be the vocalist, but somebody else will record you in all those cases. I think it's important to say that. As weird as it sounds, you have to allow yourself to do all those things as well. So you have to, even if you're on your own, you have to allow yourself to make mistakes. You have to allow yourself to, um, like you have to come up with a way that you like.

[00:33:00] Working. Um, so when you record yourself, you also have to decide, do I want to do whole, takes up the whole song? Do I want to do parts? Um, you don't want to because sometimes without even anybody else being present, you, you might freak out after a couple of takes because you think you're just not good enough or it takes you too long or you can, some people can be really hard on themselves and so you have to, you have to be.

Kind with yourself here as well. If you are the person recording yourself or if you, and if you are not, if somebody else in your band records you and you just listen to this episode, you should may be tell them about those things and be open and communicate what you would like and how you would like to approach it because they might not be experienced.

They might not have listened to this episode or to any other resources on that topic. So you might need to tell them. How you want to do it. And, um, you might, um, yeah, after communicate approaches and ideas for, for that. And yeah, it's, it's, it's a little [00:34:00] different than, than the, as if we were talking to engineers, recording other bands.

I think there are all sorts of situations here and, and I know the feeling because I've recorded myself a couple of times for my band without anybody else in the room. And. There was no pressure and nobody telling me that I, and nobody telling mean things or doing anything that would prevent me from performing well, but I was kind of heart and mean to myself because I had, I just wanted to get it done and I wanted to be good.

And once I realized that it took me a little longer than I expected, I kind of felt I was disappointed of myself and I. So there was no one to lift me up. And I kind of talked myself into this, the situation where I thought, I'm, what am I doing here? I'm not even a vocalist. I thought somebody else should sing in this band.

And it can get dangerous if you are alone because nobody's there to talk you out of that and to to like save the day there and safe the situation there. So just be, be kind to yourself and allow for [00:35:00] breaks and allow for mistakes and talk to yourself about how you want to approach it. 

Malcom: [00:35:07] Yeah, I think, uh, like for myself, I've, I don't do much singing, but I've definitely had some times where I've done the same thing.

I record myself as like a backing vocal on a song or something with no one else in the room. And I'm miserable through those experiences. And, uh, there was like one time, somewhere deep on the internet, there's a song that I sang lead on that I'll never reveal. Uh, and uh, I got, I thankfully had somebody else engineer that session.

And kind of produce the vocal O to me. And that was a way better result in a way, better time for me. And I don't think that's going to be true for everyone. Um, I think as the singer, you've got to decide, uh, if you have what it takes to be the person that gets the vocal out of yourself, they produce yourself, or when you should make the call to bring in a friend or a band mate to, uh.

Sit down and run the computer for you so you can just [00:36:00] focus on, on vocal or, or somebody that knows what you're capable of and can produce that, that quality out of you. 

Benedikt: [00:36:07] Yeah, sure. Absolutely. 

Malcom: [00:36:09] And also, one more thing that you mentioned in there. Uh, you mentioned that maybe the singer or the other band member hadn't listened to this episode.

And if you're in a band and you're listening to this, share it with your band mates, even if they're not going to be engineering, they were talking about stuff that helps musicians as well. The more they understand. Uh, th 

Benedikt: [00:36:26] the better. Awesome. Alright. Yeah, do that. Let's move on them. So to get back to our list here, so we had a performance vibe.

Atmosphere, uh, everything like that. Then we had communication as our second point here, and before we move on to the other three, I wanna make sure we don't forget the warm up because we didn't talk about that in the first bullet point. 

Malcom: [00:36:51] Right? 

Benedikt: [00:36:51] Um, just without going super deep here, there are great resources on the internet about that.

There are, there are whole courses on warm-up [00:37:00] techniques, vocal techniques, and you should. You should at least Google that. Watch some YouTube videos, learn about that and just do something because warmup is so important and too many people don't do it or don't do it properly. And then they not only do your risk, um, like ruining your voice before the session and compromising the result you're going to get.

But you might actually, um. Really cause harm or permanent damage. You might, you can, absolutely. Especially with the heavier, louder music, you can really damage your voice, your vocals forever. Um, and without even realizing. And so I wouldn't take, I wouldn't take this too lightly. I would take this seriously.

I would do some research here. I would do, I would find some basic warmup techniques. Um, not only will your recording be better, but you will, um, prevent injuries basically, and permanent damage. 

Malcom: [00:37:59] Yes. [00:38:00] Yeah. I'm kind of embarrassed that we didn't mention that sooner. Warm up is so, so, so important. For some reason, so many singers don't want to do it, or they just won't unless you tell them to.

Um, and it's essential and you should also do it for every gig. Um, 

Benedikt: [00:38:15] yeah. And maintenance afterwards as well. Uh, there are things you can do to prevent damage after the gig is done because whenever you, especially when lives gig situations, but also after a long recording session, um, you, you, you probably.

Damaged something, at least for now. Like it's repairable, but it's, for now, you, you, you just put stress on your vocal chords and everything. And, um, so, and there are ways to recover faster and to prevent permanent damage. I know a lot of people who breathe steam after a long recording session or, um, uh, live gigs.

So I know. Especially in the hardcore metal world where people scream a lot and it's really tough for the vocal chords and everything. I know people who wouldn't talk a single [00:39:00] word after this, after a session or after a gig, they would just sit there in the backstage and breathe steam and they have a little like travel, um, um, like a kettle.

Well, you can heat it water, like a small thing that, that they would see sits there in the backstage, plug it in and just breathe steam for an hour without talking to anybody. Uh, and then they go to bed and that's it. So there are some people disciplined like that because they know that people pay everyday to hear them sing.

So they want to preserve their voice and be able to perform and do their best every single day. And the long recording session. It's the same thing even, and especially if you've booked a couple of, or not booked, but if you like blocked or booked yourself in in your rehearsal room a couple of days for vocals, you don't want to ruin everything on the first day.

So if you know you have to sing again tomorrow and then they after that, you want to make sure you don't do too long. You want to make sure you drink enough water. You want to make sure you warm up. And you want to make sure you do [00:40:00] something after the session to make sure you can perform again tomorrow.

And too many people don't really do that. And then every day the voice is a little worse than the day before. And that's not a good thing. 

Malcom: [00:40:12] No, no. And a, another news flash. Booze and no sleep and partying are really bad for vocals, extremely bad for vocals. So, and yeah, end gigs are bad for vocals. So like if the band is playing the night before, uh, your vocal session, just move the session.

You're not going to get a good vocal the next day. Um, cause they're going to be up all night. Play in and screaming and, and probably party it. It's like the trifecta of bad vocal performances coming that, that next day. Um, they need to be like, uh, for me, I think sleep is huge. I think sleep is like probably one of the most important things for a of a good vocal session.

The next day they needed to be well rested, 

Benedikt: [00:40:55] um, and 

Malcom: [00:40:56] coffee and alcohol and stuff just dehydrates people and they, they'll burn [00:41:00] out quicker. Um, and yeah, so rest and just wellbeing is worth communicating in advance as well. And scheduling for, 

Benedikt: [00:41:09] yes. And like. The funny thing is that the most simple, basic things are the most effective here, at least in my experience.

There are all kinds of like esoteric things and beliefs and people. There are special teas. People use special, even even like pills or thing, you can do things you can chew on or whatever. There's all sorts of stuff and all sorts of things you can use, but to me, the most effective things are sleep. Drink enough water, like non sparkling water during the session.

Just keep, keep it like, um, prevent your vocal chords, chords from drying out, uh, humidity in the room. Like if your room is really, really dry, you might want to have, um, the like a humidifier or something in the room. Uh, so water, humidity, sleep. Um. And [00:42:00] warm up. And that's, if you take care of those things, that's basically, that's, that's, that's almost all you need.

Like everything else. You're primed. Yeah. Like, that's it. And people always debate about this drink or that drink. I would just say skip really cold drinks, stip, anything that's like with even things like coffee. Um. Anything with like the acidity, I think it's the word right, that like, that's aggressive on your, on your body, on your vocal chords, anything like that.

Just skip that. Use water, just drink plain water. Um, not too cold. Drink plenty of it. Um, sleep and warm up. That's all you need to do. Really 

Malcom: [00:42:41] are episode over. 

Benedikt: [00:42:43] Alright, so, and another than that, the warmup. As I said, just look up, um, experts on that topic. There are a couple of courses and really great people out there, and you might find, we will find all sorts of techniques and stuff there.

So just know that it's important to do that. 

Malcom: [00:42:57] You don't need to know a lot, you just need to know a few, [00:43:00] and that'll be a good start anyways. 

Benedikt: [00:43:02] Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So then the next on our list here is the headphone mix. 

Malcom: [00:43:10] So this, uh, is, yeah. Now, like the first kind of technical aspect, um, as far as engineering goes, and that is just, um, what the singer is actually hearing through their headphones while they are performing.

Um, and if anybody's played a show and had a bad monitor mix. Chances are you were a little grumpy afterwards and the singer's screaming that he can't hear himself. That can happen in the studio too, and you really don't want it to. Uh, and there, there was like a quote in a Pakistan heard with Tom Lord LGN if anybody doesn't know who Tom is, uh.

It's him. TLA and CLA are these two mixers that are like the most famous mixers in the world, essentially, uh, there that are so good and, and so famous. But, uh, he was talking about getting his start into recording and how his brother CLA told them that every time you click play, [00:44:00] every time you click play, it should sound like a mix, like a finished mix.

You should always wow the people on the couch every time you click play, which is really a lot harder said than done. But that is like an absolute rule. For when they throw on the headphones for the first time to hear what they're going to be singing to. It has to sound bang, and they have to be stoked.

Make that happen every time. And it's really easy. Um, or maybe not easy, but there's, uh, the most surefire way to do that is just put on those cans before they get a chance to and build a mix for them. Um, and then at least, you know what they're going to be hearing. They're going to ask what changes and, and ask for more of their vocals or whatever.

Um, but start by dialing in a mix personally for 

Benedikt: [00:44:45] them. Absolutely. Um, yeah, before the session do that. And. Like, yeah, there's the mix. And you're totally right with the CLA and, or TLA quote. Um, I think that's, that would be awesome if you could do that any every single time. It's [00:45:00] harder than the Seth and done, but it's, it's true.

It's, it should be. It's a good approach for many reasons, because it always challenges you and, uh, you. Yeah. The, the more it sounds like a record, the better the decisions are going to be that you'd be, that you make. So that's also a nice side effect of that approach. But other than the actual. Um, mix. I think basic stuff like, just like the latency is so important on, on headphones.

Like the mix has to be awesome, of course. So as soon as they put the headphones on and you hit play, they should be wild. That's super important because then they have fun and then they will enjoy performing to the, to the mix, to the song. Um, but simple, basic things you should be absolutely sure. Um, that those are taken care of, like the latency, which is the delay between, um, like when, when you record something, the signal, the analog signal gets converted to digital.

It gets, it goes through the computer, it gets converted to analog again and then [00:46:00] goes to your headphone. And there is, um, the computer takes some time to do that. And there's a little delay between the moment you say something and the moment you hear it on your headphones. And if that delay is too long.

If that latency is too long, you will hear it and it will sound annoying. It will sound like an audible obvious delay, and even if it's not really obvious as a delay, it can cause cancellations. It can cause phase cancellations with your own voice. So it's also always a good idea to just hit the face button on your microphone channel if you have one or the face button in the doll or whatever you're monitoring through.

And just see and ask the vocalist, the singer, what sounds better, like inverted or not. And then of course, this just one signal. So there is no, um, it doesn't have to be in phase with anything else, but the singer hears himself through the bones, uh, in the, the, the head and everything. And [00:47:00] that the signal that you are hearing when you're singing.

It's mixed with what you're hearing in the headphones, and there could be cancellations and sometimes hitting the face button change the whole situation for a vocalist when I did a session. So it's always worth trying that and making sure that the latency is not audible or annoying at all, 

Malcom: [00:47:21] that that phase on the headphone.

So that, yeah, you just blew my mind. It was great. 

Benedikt: [00:47:27] You always try that. It's, it's so funny what difference they can make. I tried it myself. I know it's, I've never, I've never thought about that, but like you just sometimes when a singer, I F I found this out when the person in the recording room was just always telling me to turn up his vocals.

And they were, I thought like,  it must be hurting already. It was so, so damn loud to check the phones before that. And like we were already clipping, I put a limiter on his monitoring bus and everything and I just cranked it and still. He said he couldn't really hear it or not really under, like it was [00:48:00] sounding weird.

For some reason he could not properly hear it. And then I just tried to, um, in the polarity and boom, there it was. And it was freaking loud. And it was just because it was there, but it was not, not really there because it was kind of a canceling with what he heard through his head. That's how I found 

Malcom: [00:48:20] out.

It makes it makes total sense. Okay, here we go, guys. I'm going to click phase as I'm talking. Test, test, test, test, test. Oh my God. It's a huge difference. 

Benedikt: [00:48:29] Does it make a difference? 

Malcom: [00:48:30] Oh yeah. Yeah. Holy cow. Whoa. Yeah. Oh my God. 

Benedikt: [00:48:36] Absolutely. 

Malcom: [00:48:37] So that'll not sound different to you guys. Probably know, but to me it sure did.

Holy, Holy cow. Okay. That's really cool. 

Benedikt: [00:48:45] Exactly. So I would always, I would always try that and see what sounds best and um, because you know, you don't know until you try. So yeah, that's, that's one thing. And the latency, of course, the latency is the most obvious thing here. I think. Um, 

Malcom: [00:48:58] yes. Yeah. So actually I want [00:49:00] to touch on that real quick because people have trouble, um, kind of understanding what difference that makes when it's close enough.

You know. Uh, or when it's kind of close anyways, but what the, the, I've heard this described to me and I thought it was just nailed it. The more latency you have when you're singing with headphones on, it seems like your vocal actually isn't in you anymore. It's sitting just in front of your face or something.

And the lower you get that latency, the more it moves back and feels attached directly to your mouth and vocal chords. Um, so instead of like singing this weird, it's kinda creates like this, you're singing into a vacuum kind of thing, and you're. You're hearing your voice instead of creating it and you deal with that latency and that goes away and it, it's just like a huge obstacle removed.

Um, the, they're now part of what they're hearing rather than trying to like match to it. It's, it's a weird, weird feeling, but it really makes a big 

Benedikt: [00:49:55] difference. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And [00:50:00] basically what you're saying here is that it has not, it doesn't have to be an obvious delay, just the way. Yeah. As you said, the way it feels is different.

If it's a couple of milliseconds, more or less, so yeah. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:50:14] Make it as good as you can. X, that's all there is doing. 

Benedikt: [00:50:17] Exactly. And then there's a couple of tricks you can do. So the phase things one, then the, the level obviously has to be, uh, so that the mic, let's start again. The mix is important. The background mix, the instrumental mix is really important because it has to be fun to sing to.

It has to sound great. Uh, and you will want to make the singer a stoke to perform to that. So that's, that's the first thing. Then the second thing is latency. And. They should be able to hear themselves properly basically. And then. As soon as you have that, your like 70% there. But what then, um, comes is you want to make the singer [00:51:00] feel like a star.

That's what I imagine you want. You want to make her sound really amazing on the headphones. You want to add some if you can, depending on the gear you're using. You might be able to put a cue or compression or reverb or delay or anything on their monitor channel without recording that stuff. Some HeartWare lets you do that.

Some interfaces have built in the facts that you can just route to the headphone without recording it, or you can set up a send in the door to the headphone. Um, so it's separate from the, from what you're actually recording, but find out a way to do that because. Does. That makes a huge difference because people are, especially if you are not a pro musician who's used to this, those situations all the time, you are used to what records sound like.

And when you make a record, you want to sound like those records. And if you start singing and it, it sounds like that, it's fun and it's like that's what you hope it will. It would be right. And, but if you hear that, that great sounding mix [00:52:00] there and you're stoked, and then you start singing and it's just dry and thin and boring and it doesn't really sound like a record.

It's not that much fun. And it's, uh, yeah. Depending on how, how you can handle that. Yeah. It can be hard. So yeah, make sure that the, the, the vocal mix actually sounds amazing to not only the instrumental. 

Malcom: [00:52:20] Yeah, I heard it said, as it's called, adding confidence. The more from like reverb and delay and stuff you add on there is just like, they get more and more.

They're like, Oh man, I sound good. And it just like helps them perform. Right. Um, it's kinda like, you know, if you're playing like a rock guitar riff, you probably want a distorted guitar sound. To be what you're hearing as you play it, you know, and that's probably gonna help you play that kind of rock style.

Um, so it's the same with vocals. Um, you just want to support what they're doing and make it sound kind of finished. Um, that's also going to help the other people in the room kind of understand the vision of what's being translated as well. [00:53:00] Um, like going back to that quote, make it sound like a mix.

Every time you could click a like play that's going to help it. Thank you. Okay. Okay. This vocal is kind of sitting in the mix now that we've added this processing, and you might change it all later, but it's going to help you make decisions on what's actually a good fit for that, that performance. 

Benedikt: [00:53:20] Yeah, absolutely.

You might find things that you just did because it was funny or it made the singer feel good, but it might actually work well in the mix that you want to make a note then and use it later, or send a note to your mixer and tell them, Hey, we used, when we were tracking, we, uh, listen to this. We, we dialed in this call, delay or reverb here, and we really liked that.

Could you maybe replicate that or do that something similar in the mix? 

Malcom: [00:53:45] Yeah. So yeah, you can even print it and send it to him and like, it's entirely common. I would say most of the time I end up keeping the delays I dial in while tracking vocals. Um, I normally build a delay effects [00:54:00] chain that get, makes it into the final mix.

Before I've even finished tracking vocals, I'm just tweaking as we go. And it's like figuring out the timing that works with the song and then I'm like, Oh yeah, that's the delay I'm going to be using. It's done. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:54:11] sure. Same year, same year. So it's a little more advanced than you have to to play with that, but you really can't do any harm here.

Like just experiment with that as long as you record it to separate track or just use it for monitoring in the beginning. Nothing you can wrong or you can do wrong here. Just experiment with that and whenever you come up with something that you really like. Um, just record it to a separate channel, send it to the mixer, and maybe it gets, it gets used, or if not, they can at least do something similar that works better in the mix.


Malcom: [00:54:41] example, for instance. 

Benedikt: [00:54:42] Yeah. Okay. So, and then I said there are a couple little tricks here, uh, with the headphone mix, and that is, you can kind of, so if you're two people recording, if you're not recording yourself, but if you're two people, you can do some. Move some things they can influence the [00:55:00] performance.

So for example, sometimes I want vocalists to really do all they can to put all they have into a certain part and really sing with energy sing alouds in powerful, like to the point where the voice almost breaks that there's this fine line where the some voices sound really, really amazing just before they don't sound amazing anymore.

Like just before that, that point where it breaks and. Some people are just not confident enough or are they, for some reason they, they, they just do not give it all in, in some situations where I want them to, and one thing you can do is just gradually lower their voice and their headphone mix without telling them because they will want to hear them properly and they will sing louder sometimes if you do that.

So if you want someone to sing really loud, you don't want to be, to have the vocals too loud on the headphones because then it sounds weird and they assume they are louder than they are. If they hear their voice really loud in the headphones compared to the mix, they assume they are [00:56:00] too loud or they are not.

It doesn't feel right anymore. So if they are a little buried, they. Might want to sing louder and put more energy into it. That's the same phenomenon when you play live and you have shitty monitoring. Most singers blow their voices because they think they have to sing really loud because they just can't hear themselves.

And that's what you want in those situations that they really fight with their monitoring. And that's can sound awesome in those cases. So, and the other way around as well, if you think, if you want someone to sing really. Emotional, quiet, intimate, and really, um, you want them to calm down a bit to, to, to put not as much energy into it, make sure they hear every single detail, every breath, everything so that they can really sing quietly and with all the emotion and everything without fearing that it won't be audible or anything like that.

Malcom: [00:56:51] Totally. Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes people just try too hard as well. There is like, okay, I'm in the studio, I need the belt. And you're like, okay, that's, you're going to blow your voice out. Let's give you a little [00:57:00] bit more and get you to, yeah. So that is a, I mean, everybody's experienced that. You've all talked to your buddy and in school or wherever you are, and, uh, he's got his earbuds in and he just yells back at you.

If you're like in the library, you're like, okay. That was funny. It's the same thing. Uh, that's what's happening here. The, what they're hearing affects how they. Project. Um, and it's kind of advanced level stuff though. You have to understand your dog and your headphone system really well because like, if you try and do that and then you end up taking out like all of their vocals, they're going to notice, and this is something that they're not meant to notice.

Um, if they think there's that you're screwing with their headphone mix, it's not a good thing that's, there has to be trust between you and the singer. And if you're like, Oh, can I get more vocals? And you're actually turning it down and they find out it's bad. 

Benedikt: [00:57:48] Yeah. Or, or. You can be, you can try to do totally be open about it and say, okay, so I'm going to turn down your vocals a little bit and just sing in the way that you can [00:58:00] hear what you're doing.

And if you don't hear it, you're not saying it loud enough, you know? So just challenge them a little bit and tell them what you're doing. That can also work. So yeah, or, or tell them, I am going to turn up your vocal really loud now on them so that you hear every single detail. You don't have to be afraid that anything is lost.

Just sing quietly. Sing with. Emotion. Um, whatever you want to do, be open about it and just tell them what happens. If you're doing stream things, that's totally fine. 

Malcom: [00:58:28] So we should, uh, actually talk about microphones. Maybe. 

Benedikt: [00:58:32] I remember you saying you basically have two mics that you use all the time and one of them gets the chop down usually.

Malcom: [00:58:39] Yes. Um, I, I do believe that I, I believe that, like as long as the mic is not a piece of garbage, you're probably going to be able to get a good vocal. Um, and I think there's a lot of stuff like, like all the stuff we've talked about before, this plays a bigger role, um, to me than the microphone. Uh, and also where that singer is [00:59:00] singing plays a bigger role as well.

Like the sound of the room, um, makes a bigger difference than the microphone in a lot of situations for vocals. Um, I had to do a, uh, a session over the internet just last week because of this whole lockdown thing. I was, so I was like, kind of Skyped into them getting the stream of the audio and they were recording on their own side and they started off in a little hallway and they thought, okay, like the smaller the space, the better.

So they're in a hallway and they sent it to me and I was like, okay, let's definitely audition so much different spaces because that sounds wretched. So I got him the record. Uh, I'd taken like this other. Closet and then also just right in the middle of like the bedroom that they were in where they're like, the little makeshift studio was.

Um, and that bedroom sounded insanely better than both other options. Um, there was just like, are residents builds ups in the hallway and stuff like that, uh, ambient noises in the other room kind of thing. So. Just changing, like doing the one part of the song three times in three different [01:00:00] spaces, not spending too much time, just moving the mic, singing, moving the mic, singing kind of thing.

And I just listened to him real quickly and was like, okay, that one's way better. We're going to do it there, even though it's less convenient. And now he's in the same room as the computer and stuff like that. And they have to like turn off the monitors when he sings his tough way that's convenient for them.

But what did I care? I was on the internet, not even there, but it, uh, it made a huge difference. So actually I think. Location and then my choice, and I'm downplaying my choice, but it does make a big difference. And if I spent a bunch of money on more microphones, I might end up swapping up the mic more often, but I just don't want people to obsess over it.

You know, like the Mike is probably not the reason. The vocal isn't sounding how you want 

Benedikt: [01:00:46] probably. Yes. Uh, I totally agree with everything you said here. Usually it's also a matter of. For me. To me, it's mostly a matter of do I want to use a condenser or do I want to use a dynamic mic, and [01:01:00] I'm very rarely, I choose between two or three condensers then or something, but usually one, one good sounding condenser, Mike, or a dynamic Mike, we'll do the chop.

That's basically all I'm deciding and maybe I'll try if that's something super vibey or where I like something special, I might try. Something unconventional or a ribbon Mike or whatever like, but for any normal situation, um, one of the two will do. And to be honest, if you find one great Mike, that that's just not too extreme, that's just not too colored.

You can capture a good vocal performance like it's, I would be careful. I always tell people that they should make bold decisions and not play it safe, but in case. But in the case of vocal mics, it's kind of the opposite for me. I like, like all around. Mikes that are not too colored. They might sound boring on their own, but you can shape them really well with your cue.

They don't [01:02:00] sound harsh too quickly. You can add top band without making them super annoying. So with vocal mikes, I kind of like boring Mike's or not too bright. Mike's I, I kind of don't like. The very hyped, um, type of microphones because they can sound amazing if they work, but they can sound completely annoying if they don't work and they can ruin everything.

And it can be so hard to mix, if to choose a, choose a wrong microphone. So in that case, that's one of the rare situations where I'm on the safe side and I would just choose either something like S SM seven or something, um, that a dynamic mic. That just takes the cue really well and it's not just civil end in anything and everything or some of those great podcast mikes that are out there these days.

There are the road, different road podcast mikes that they have. They all work really great. There is the  that's really great. It's all dynamic mikes that were really amazing. They all are not too bright, not too hyped. Um, but [01:03:00] still sound, um, I dunno, detailed enough and. Yeah, 

Malcom: [01:03:06] yeah. Yeah. I'm a, I was going to say like, if you had to choose one Mike, one all around Mike to suggest to people, are you willing to do that?

Would you have one in mind? 

Benedikt: [01:03:16] Um,

Malcom: [01:03:20] what do you think? Should we have, should we not do 

Benedikt: [01:03:21] this? I can't, I can't do that. I mean, that's personal preference of course. But yeah, there is one that I really like there, so I will, I will say too. One is the category that I just mentioned, all the dynamic mix, basically all the large diaphragm dynamic mikes, not condenser mics, so SM seven all the podcasts.

My, it's basically everything you would use for a broadcast podcast, radio, whatever, Mike, dynamic mikes, those will work. So the , the already 20. The road, podcast, Mike's, everything like that. So that, I would say that is one category. Just pick one of those and they probably work one all around condenser [01:04:00] mic that I can recommend is the Sennheiser MK for, I don't know if you know that, but that one's, that one is.

That's just never sounding annoying. That's detailed. That's always sounding expensive and high end, but without, it's not too hyped. It's not too scooped. It's not missing anything. It's not too expensive. It works great on percussion, acoustic guitars, vocals, room mikes. You can put it in front of a bass drum.

It takes levels. Well, you can add the can put it in front of a guitar amp, like, yeah, that's, that's just, that's a really great overall, Mike, that I can recommend. Yeah. 

Malcom: [01:04:37] Cool. Cool. I was going to say, uh. The Shure SM seven and I was going to like, just stop it there and not even go into condenser because the reason I was having issues with the sound of those different vocals that I did with that band over the internet is because it was a condenser microphone, and the room plays a much larger role in the sound of the vocal.

Uh, when it is a condenser microphone, when it's the [01:05:00] dynamic, it pretty much removes that from the equation. Not entirely, but to quite a large extent. And, and if you're recording your own band in your a DIY studio, chances are room acoustics haven't really made it to your priority list yet. Um, and we're gonna make it get there, but we haven't yet.

So that's coming out in a future episode. Um, but a dynamic microphone is going to really ensure that you're not getting a, a bad vocal just because your room's not there yet. You haven't built a, uh, treated room to sing in. Um, so like, like Benny said, um, if you go with any of those broadcast style like the road podcaster or Shure SM seven, you're gonna definitely be able to get a good vocal.

Benedikt: [01:05:39] Yeah. Uh, one good example is actually right now I'm sitting in a small, completely untreated office. That sounds completely terrible. It's not built for as, it's, it's an office at home. I don't do mixed work in here with loudspeakers or anything, but I'm talking into a dynamic mic in this room that completely untreated, you will still hear a little reverb, a little room, but [01:06:00] if I had a condenser Mike right now, this would sound horrible.

I would never be able to record a podcast with a condenser mic and some distance between the Mike and myself. I have to talk into a dynamic mic and basically eat the Mike to, uh, get the room out of the recording. And it works with a dynamic mic. It's usable. You can do that. And that's the same, that's what Malcolm describes here.

So in most situations, when your room is not the area, a dynamic will be much better for you for that reason alone. Yeah. 

Malcom: [01:06:27] Totally. I just don't believe all the hype that you need a UAT, seven $4,000 mic. You just don't, there's so many hugely famous records made with dynamic mix. Um, you'll be fine 

Benedikt: [01:06:39] if they are, if the ASAM seven is good enough for Michael Jackson's thriller or the foo fighters or whoever, or metallic or whoever used that, AMA, God, it's probably good enough for your record.

So. Yeah, 

Malcom: [01:06:52] totally. So that said, if you have the options, uh, so say like, I'll often, I'll do productions with rented [01:07:00] studios, so we'll go to a big studio and do a band, and, uh, there's a, my clocker there. I might spend extra time finding the right mic. Then, you know, I'll, I'll make my educated guesses. I never go through more than two or three.

Um, but I'll set up to right away my, or maybe I'll just set up one and be like, I'm pretty sure this is the one for you, cause I am experienced with these mikes. I know what your voice sounds like and I know what I think. I made me force, I'll choose the expensive Mike say. And if it doesn't sound kind of perfect.

Because I have these other options. I might go and grab a different one to see if the S's sounded a little different on this guys, the singer's sibilance or whatever kind of thing, but we're talking like I'm now making the 5% differences kind of thing by choosing a different mic. And it's because I have the time, the budget, and the Mike locker.

If I didn't have those things, I would've just gone with the first mic. Yeah. And it would have been great. 

Benedikt: [01:07:51] Absolutely. Absolutely. The only, and that's the last thing I want to say here, the only situation where this first can be a real problem, and [01:08:00] it can, is if you're using a really over-hyped microphone, and especially in the budget category of condenser microphones, it's very dangerous.

And that's why this tip with the . Dynamic is so valuable because if you decide against the dynamic be secures, you think you have, like the only professional thing is a large diaphragm condenser because you see that in all the pictures and you think that you need to have that, but you can really buy a good one.

So you end up buying 200 300 or even cheaper condenser microphone. You could end up choosing one and it's very, it's not too unlikely that that that happens. You could choose one. That is way overhyped. That sounds bright and exciting when you first hear it, but it's actually pretty hard to deal with in the Mexican sound harsh.

It can add weird siblings and everything, and there is a couple of notorious mikes in that category that can really make it hard to make the vocal Sitwell and mix. And I would always prefer a good dynamic, Mike over any of those cheap condenser mics. [01:09:00] So yeah, that's, that's really the interesting. So yeah.

Malcom: [01:09:04] Absolutely agreed to that. 

Benedikt: [01:09:06] Okay. Then, um, Oh yeah, go on. What, well, what do you want to say? 

Malcom: [01:09:09] I think we're, I think we're both moving on to the next, the next thing. And it's, it's more, it's how you use it, that that really counts. It's all about how you use it. Um, so especially with condensers, actually, uh, I think the angle of the mic, how close they are to the mic, um, those things will make a bigger tonal difference than a different mix sometimes.

Benedikt: [01:09:28] Um. 

Malcom: [01:09:30] I mean, that's kind of a bold statement, but it does matter. Um, and just you have to be willing to experiment a little bit about that and learn your mic because different mics have different responses depending on how they're addressed. Um, and then. Experiment, learn and coach the person in front of the mic.

Um, so I always determine a distance that sounds good with their voice, and then sometimes I'll Mark it with tape, or we'll just figure out like a hand distance from the pop filter. [01:10:00] Uh, stuff like that, just to keep it consistent. And. And kind of lock in a tone, because if they start by singing really close to the mic and it's all Basey, and then by the end of it, they're really far away.

Like, you know, you're going to have a really hard time mixing 

Benedikt: [01:10:14] that. Absolutely. Yeah. Great tip here. Uh, I never really did that. I never really communicated distance, whether they should I listen to it. Then when they leave the sweet spot, I just tell them. But it's actually a good idea to measure it, sort of and, and say, okay, keep it within that range or something like that.


Malcom: [01:10:35] yeah, my starting point, uh, with a condenser mic, phones is like the hang loose symbol. I don't know if anybody knows what that is. It's like the surfer. Shake, man, that sounded dumb.

Anyways, you probably know what I mean. Um, and uh, but I get them to like, from the like capsule of the microphone to their, to their lip is kind of the spacing and that's probably not [01:11:00] a safe thing with coronavirus touching your lip. Uh, but, uh, like that about that is kind of my starting point. And then I might say, get a little closer, get a little further back, and then.

From there that was okay, I can reset to that. If they have to go to the washroom or whatever, if they can just kind of get roughly back in place pretty easily. 

Benedikt: [01:11:17] Okay. So I just want to say that, um, I want to go through the differences that, that actually, that positioning actually makes. And I, I, you can kind of break that down into.

Several categories, so the closer you get as my comstat, the more base you have. That's called the  proximity effect. The further away you are, the less space you're going to have. On the other hand, the closer you are, the more direct and intimate and upfront it will sound and the less you will have, the less room information you will have in the, in the recording.

The further away you get, the more important the room becomes. It can sound more balanced, but you will get more of the  facility depending on your room sound, there's a little [01:12:00] trade off and you will find a half the sweet spot. You will need to find the sweet spot there. Um, you probably the sweet spot in most untreated rooms is probably a little closer than it would be in a great room.

So you might have to compensate for that proximity effect a bit because if you go too far away from the mic, the room will not allow for that. So that's, that's one thing. And the other thing is, um. Plosives and sibilance. Those are things that are really important when you track a vocal. And if you are really close to a vocal mic and you don't pay attention to that, and you will probably hear that and that this, these episodes, by the way, there are pops every now and again here because we are really close to our microphones.

And sometimes you get this sound, I don't know if that was one, but sometimes you hear that plosive uh, thing and um. And you wouldn't want that in a vocal recording of a song. So also a tradeoff between different, uh, distance [01:13:00] and, uh, and avoiding those, those plosives, but still being close enough and direct enough.

And. And there are certain things you can do too, in addition to the distance to avoid those things. There is pop filters. You've all seen them probably those round most of most of the time. Most of the time they are like round disks in front of the mic with mash or they made of metal. Sometimes different materials that you put between you and the microphone.

They diffuse the air coming out of your mouth into the microphone and they prevent the air from hitting the capsule directly and causing this, this weird noise. Um, there is a little trick that I like to use that can work for both plosives and siblings sometimes, which is you can use a pen or pencil or something like that and attach it to the front of the Mike with a rubber band around the mic in front of the capsule and singing to that because that will split the air flow up and like move it away from the.

[01:14:00] Capsule while still sounding pretty transparent, so that can work for some vocalists that are really hard to deal with. And then there's the angle that you can use you. There is difference between seeing directly into the mic. And like pointing the mic slightly away from your mouth in one direction because then also the air doesn't hit the diaphragm directly and yeah, and I would experiment with those things.

There's no right or wrong. You're totally depends on the voice. Just know that it makes a difference. Find the right angle, find the right distance, have a listen for plosives and sibilance like SS and all the consonants sounds and find the right spot. The tradeoff between. Direct upfront sound and your room and the balance and everything, and somewhere there's a sweet spot for you and it's different for all sorts of people.

Malcom: [01:14:51] Yeah, totally. Um, there, there's also like my technique, which is, uh, like we won't get too far into that, and it is sometimes depending on [01:15:00] like the vocalist you're working with, uh, and your experience if you're the singer, it's not even worth considering this, but sometimes if it's like a, a P sound and they can just angle off for that start of that word, even they just like, we'll move off center and sing the beginning of the P away from the microphone.

And that's enough to just like. Dodge the air. Uh, also, dynamics can be played with a lot by aiming and moving. You know, a big, huge yell can back off the mic sometimes without too much of a tone change and keeping the gain in a better spot. Um, so there's all these kinds of like little moves, like if you watch a really trained singer performing, like watch a, I don't know.

Who's the Titanic singer? Lady. Uh, 

Benedikt: [01:15:43] Indiana. 

Malcom: [01:15:45] Yeah. 

Benedikt: [01:15:47] Even Canadian. You have to know that. 

Malcom: [01:15:51] Oh, well, our most successful artists aren't always our pride. Looking at you beats, 

Benedikt: [01:15:59] you can probably tell me [01:16:00] every single hockey player or whatever, whatever. 

Malcom: [01:16:04] Uh, no, I'm just joking. There's, there's a lot of great Canadian artists that are killing it and it is cool.

But, uh, anyways, I, I, I haven't even seen one of her things, so I don't even know. But she is so experienced, has been doing it for so long, but I bet if you looked up a video of her singing into a condenser microphone, she's probably all over the place. But it's probably entirely intentional. . It's Mike technique.

People learn that stuff, and if somebody at that level definitely knows what they're doing with that microphone. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [01:16:31] sure. Absolutely. Yeah. That's basically all there is to the positioning thing, I think, because it's really depending on the, on the voice. So, um, little recap. We had performance vibe, communication, headphone mix.

Mike choice positioning signal chain. Yeah. Was kind of, that was also on our list. I, I don't know, but it's basically, it's, what do we mean with Mike traces the whole thing before your computer, but in most cases, this will be the [01:17:00] Mike a cable and interface and then your computer. You can have external preamps, you can have compressors, accuse whatever in there, but.

Essentially, if you have to rely on any of those things to get a great vocal sound, I would. There's something else wrong, I guess. So if your room works, if you have a great singer, if you have a decent mic, and if you position it correctly, it should. Not so sound like total trash. And um, yeah, it's, it's certainly fun to have those hardware things in the integrate chain, but you have to know what you're doing because you cannot undo it.

And, um, unless you are going for something weird, creative, um, then you should have pretty high end components there, unfortunately, to make it worthwhile. So. I dunno, that's probably not the situation for many DIY bands, but if you have great gear or if you want to do something weird with guitar pedals or whatever you have available, and then throw it in the [01:18:00] chain there and recorded of course.

So. But just know that everything in between, the stuff that's in between your mic and your computer is not the most important stuff. 

Malcom: [01:18:10] Yeah, totally. I, I track with a compressor 99% of the time, but if I didn't have one, I would still track the vocals. So it's not going to stop me. 

Benedikt: [01:18:19] Exactly. And then the last part, last bullet point here, and we can keep that short, is because we've already talked about it a little bit, is comping and cleanup.

And that's what I was talking about where I said I would come back to that. Because you can completely outsource that. Of course, they don't have to do that. If you don't want to deal with that, it's a little technical. Not everybody can do it, so you can just record it. Um, and don't do any editing, but what I think or what we think you should be able to do is basic comping and cleaning up your tracks.

So yes, putting all the takes together to create one final take and then cleaning that up to get rid of all the extra space between vocal parts, all the [01:19:00] noise that's not supposed to be there. Trim the ends and the beginnings. Uh, it was basic stuff like that without touching the actual vocal performance, you should be able to do that.

And what I would even be better is, and that's the approach that I was talking about earlier in this episode today. What would even be better, in my opinion, is to be able to do comping and basic cleanup fast, intuitively and on the fly while you are recording without the singer even noticing. That's a little advanced and it takes practice, but there's a huge benefit in it if you learn that because, um, you can avoid any entire step almost.

And instead of taking notes of everything that happens, uh, if you are just fast in your door, and if you can just edit on the fly and, uh, remove stuff and move stuff around and build a comp while the singer's tracking. Um, and there is no way around practicing that. And it will take a while. But if you can do that, and if you can take a few days to really [01:20:00] practice certain moves and get, get to know all the shortcuts and everything, it's so cool because when the single Leafs.

The recording room or your old, just when you, when, when they are done tracking and they want to listen back to the performance, you can already have the comp dinner basically if you're good at that. And, um, yeah, it's not, it's not as complicated as it sounds. It's advanced, but it's not impossible to do.

And you don't have to do it perfectly. But yeah, it's just much faster and more fun than having to go through 43 takes and then remembering which were where the, you know, which part was the best in which take and everything, and you will probably miss something in your notes and then you have to go search for it and you, you're not sure if that really was the take or not.

So, yeah, I, I'm a huge believer in fast comping on the fly and also getting rid of stuff that you already know you will never needed [01:21:00] it with. Some things you never know. Some things you might want to keep just because you're not sure, but like any real obvious mistakes or noise or anything that should not be there, just get rid of it right away.

This one, one more thing that you don't have to go through later. Uh, so yeah. What, what do you think about that? Is that too advanced or I, I just believe 


Malcom: [01:21:23] no, no, I think, I think people will get value out of this because it took me a long time to figure out how to record a vocal session, how to run a vocal session.

I should say. I knew how to record vocals, but I wasn't getting the results I wanted and they were taking forever. You know, we'd like, we'd spend all day working on a song and be like, okay, well some of it turned out okay. We'll just come back another day and try and do the same song. Which. It did. That should not be the case.

Nobody gets better at singing after eight hours if it's not done well before that if there's definitely something at play, and it might be how you're running the session. And for me, it totally was, I just didn't [01:22:00] have an organized way of checking all the boxes and, and seeing the song, um, develop in front of me and, and, and get finished.

So. Developing a system for this, and you will go through multiple ones as you go and deal with different singers and different projects and your own tastes change. Uh, it is super important, but it's just most important that you actually have a system for getting it done. Um, so for myself, you kind of figured it out just from talking earlier.

Anybody, I kind of do the same as you, but also all the other stuff. So I'll, I'll, I've got a piece of paper in front of me and I've got like V one V two V three before, and that's like first line, one verse line two verse line three, verse nine four. And then course. Uh, verse, you know, I just plot it, the whole song structure like that for each kind of line.

And depending on how the vocal phrases or lines laid out, those numbers might mean different things. But essentially it's chunks of the song and I make notes of what I liked, [01:23:00] only what I like, not what I didn't like, because I don't want to know about what I didn't like. That's not relevant. Um, as I go, but I also grab anything that's like a hole, like a hole in one, like a.

Nailed, take, uh, instantly slide that onto a comp track. So I have a track sitting there waiting for audio to be pulled onto. 

Benedikt: [01:23:17] So 

Malcom: [01:23:17] by the end of a song or a, a few takes, I kind of have most of the parts on my comp track. Um, not all of them, but sometimes all of them. And it also, the reason I have kind of both these setups, like the comment as I go and the notes is because some parts.

Or some singers might need to go about a different way. So like I mentioned earlier, I might let them sing the whole song, and in that case, I can't really COMPAS I go because I can't grab audio that is being recorded. So if they're sitting in the whole song start to finish, I'm just making notes. And then I might start copying as I give them like a couple minutes to rest after that take before we start the next one.

But as soon as they're ready to go, I'm going to click [01:24:00] record and I might have more confident to do kind of thing, but I am competing as much as possible ahead of time because then I can look at that track and be like, okay, I know that we've got all of these parts, but there's a hole here and a hole here, and I've got to focus on those instead of getting into this thing.

The course again, when I already have it, like I know I have it. It's right there. I can see it. I just get them to sing the part that is missing and then you just get done way quicker. You have something to show them if they want to hear it. 

Benedikt: [01:24:26] Um, yeah. 

Malcom: [01:24:27] Yeah. So that, that's, that's kinda how I go about it. 

Benedikt: [01:24:29] Yeah, totally.

And it depends on the software you're using as well, because in Cubase, it's much easier to do that. His approach was apparently because, uh, I don't need a separate contract or anything. I just recorded one take over the others all in one track, and he creates the automatically creates a folder and I can.

Like just Mark a certain piece of the way forum and that will be the comp. And then I Mark another word and that will be in the comp. And I don't have like the comp gets done automatically. I can Mark. I 

Malcom: [01:24:57] think I can do that too. I just like having a [01:25:00] different track. I have like a tracking track and a comp track and it's a personal choice because people, yeah, sorry, I should've said playlist 

Benedikt: [01:25:05] cause that's how most people would do it.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So there's different ways to do that. As you said, what matters is. Um, remember the best parts. Remember the, the stuff that needs to go away or get rid of it immediately. Um, learn how to do basic comping and editing and cleaning. Uh, so that you AE not deliver a massive tracks to the mixing engineer, and B, you've can feel confident that you actually record it a final take, because if you don't know how to do those things, there's always this uncertainty that you assume you have recorded enough, but you're not quite sure.

And if you, if there's one part where it's actually not cool in any of the takes you, you're screwed there. So yeah, at some point you need the final take. So the faster you are there and the, the more intuitively you can do it, the better I think because also. Getting back to a certain spot of the song later can be [01:26:00] very hard because the singer is not in the same mood anymore.

It's not the same vibe. It's totally different. And then you have to replicate whatever was there before if you want to punch in there. So if you can do it right away and just be sure, okay, we got that part. We have a take here. Let's move on to the next thing. That's, that's just a good thing cause you can commit to stuff and you just know it's there.

So, yeah. 

Malcom: [01:26:21] Do you, uh, do you prefer to do it part by part, getting them to sing like the verse four times or whatever before you move on? Or how do you like to do 

Benedikt: [01:26:28] that? Totally depends on the singer and me. I personally like it if singers can handle that. I like it because I just want to get one. I want to focus on one thing I even create.

Sometimes I create a loop and let them sing over and over again without communication in between. Because it gets better and better and better at it than some. Then eventually they will hit a point where it doesn't get better any more, and then I'll stop. Um, so yeah, I, I prefer to do that, but some people don't want to do that or the, the, but most people can do part by part.

At least [01:27:00] what I will do is I will have them sing the song. Start to finish once or twice, maybe three times, just to get into the, to get to know the song, the vibe, everything. And I always tell them, that's also a little thing here. Um, now that I say it publicly, it probably won't work for your band anymore, but I do it and everybody does that.

I tell the singer like, okay, let's do the sound check. I will dial in tone. You can warm up, you can get used to the song. Uh, it's not about like getting the perfect take yet. It's not about like, it's this only soundcheck. So, and they will sing and try stuff. And I will of course record that because sometimes that's the best take, 

Malcom: [01:27:35] but they just don't know.

Benedikt: [01:27:37] But always do it. Always record everything. Even the sound shake. We caught it the first tape because they might, because of the fact that they don't think it's serious, um, they might do things they cannot do again, and you want to capture that. And sometimes that's magic. So. 

Malcom: [01:27:54] Yeah, yeah. When you hit that moment and you're copying and you realize you don't have that one spot, if you go and check that [01:28:00] warm take, it's there.

I swear it's always on that warmup. 

Benedikt: [01:28:02] Exactly. 

Malcom: [01:28:03] So I would do that. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [01:28:05] exactly. So I would do that. I would, I would record the warmup Drake take, I would have them sing the whole song two or three times to get comfortable. And then I would start and then we would ask if they are comfortable focusing on single parts now.

And then I would go through the song. I would do the stuff that's, um. And I would do it in order. I would have. I'm a system. I know the song before we start, and then I know, and I would talk to the singer, which parts are most demanding, which parts are easier to sing. And then I will figure out an order of things that make sense.

Because you don't want to blow your voice with the first thing you recorded, then you cannot record anything else anymore. So if I know there is a. Really intense scream part that has the potential to ruin the everything else afterwards. I will do that. Uh, this is the very last thing I will do. So yeah, things like that is also to, are also to keep in mind.

[01:29:00] And then I go through that in order. And, um, and also if I know there are parts in there that are really hard to reach, like really high notes where I know I don't have many takes to two, we don't have many takes to accomplish that. Uh, I will do that after the warmup, but pretty early because chances are that after a couple of takes, they just cannot sing that anymore.

That's really smart. So yeah, I do it like that and that's, that's it. That alone is reason enough for me to do it in parts and not the whole song. Yeah. 

Malcom: [01:29:31] And remember, like we said earlier. That, uh, the singer is going to like assume that because you're asking them to do it again, it's because they're not doing it right.

So you have to like constantly be reassuring them that they're doing everything right. They just have to do it a couple more times just so you like, cause like just because they didn't get it how you want, it doesn't mean that it's technically wrong. It's just that you know that like they just got to try and do the same thing again, not try and do something different.

Just try and do the same thing again and it might be better. I'm so constantly reassuring them. [01:30:00] I almost never let them sing the same part more than like three times before I move on. So say we're doing like the first line of the verse, they do it three times and we still don't have it. I'll probably make a note of which one I thought was best, but just move on.

Just move on and you can come back to it. Just don't get stuck cause if they get stuck. They just think it's gone. Like they're, they're hyper focused on why they can't sing this one line. And it's always the first line. By the way, the first line always sucks. You have to come back to the first line. Yeah.

Like every time. Uh, and then you just got to build momentum and start banging it off. And, and it's weird because that momentum actually happens, and I don't know why. But you just like, okay, we don't get that, but we're not going to tell them, or it's going to be, okay, great, let's move on, and we get the next line, and then we're like, okay, move on.

Maybe they still don't have that, but then they start getting it and you actually do start getting it quicker and quicker and they get used to hitting it after the first couple of tries and then you just do your comp circle back. I always got to patch up a couple spots. Do you mind singing the first line again?

And then they just like, they're warmed up, they're good. They hit [01:31:00] it off. 

Benedikt: [01:31:00] Yeah, absolutely. All right. That kinda sums it up and kind of gets back to the first comfort level. Um, but the point here, because it just is the most important thing that in combination with the communication, so yeah, that's it basically.

Performance. Yeah. I 

Malcom: [01:31:18] feel like there's tons of stuff in there. It's, it's a deep episode. 

Benedikt: [01:31:21] Oh, yeah, absolutely. Um, but I, I truly believe that if you get these five things right. Um, nothing's going to stop you. You, you have a great vocal. They're like, give always assuming that the song and the lyrics work in our grade.

That's, that's obviously gonna need to be the case. But if you have a great song and a great singer and you follow these five things, so again, performance vibe, warming up, atmosphere, that's the first category here. Then the communication that's also affecting the performance. The headphone mix is also affecting the performance, and then Mike, choice [01:32:00] positioning, signal chain room, the whole setup.

Basically that's number four and five. The comping and cleanup. Those five things are what you need. And, um, yeah, it's a lot, but at the same time, it's pretty simple. It's only one microphone. It's not like making a whole drum kit or anything. Um, it's more emotional. It's deeper. It's complicated, more complicated instrument, but it's a simpler thing to record on the technical side.

So, yeah. Um. I hope that was helpful. And, uh, feel free to ask us any questions if we said something that's confusing or that you didn't quite get because it was really a lot. Um, but as I said, most of it is simpler than it sounds and we are happy to answer any questions. And, um. Help you with your personal situation here and no matter what, just let us know what you're struggling with when you record vocals and we'll be happy to help.

[01:33:00] Then let's wrap it up. Uh, this one of the thing I want to tell you about that, that's a video on the SEF recording band website. If you go to the set of recording band.com/vocal recording. Um, there is a blog post and a video where I'm showing actually some of those things that we, um, we've been talking about today and you might find that helpful.

And it's an additional resource that I want to tell you about. It's, it's free. It's now, you don't know email address required or anything. Just go to this F recording band.com/vocal recording. And as always, there is the 10 step guide to successful DIY recording that you can download on my website. So if you go to the set of recording band.com, uh, right on the home page there, you can't miss it.

There's this free download, this 10 step guide that you can download. And today we talked about five steps to a pro vocal. This guide has 10 steps that walk you through the whole production process. [01:34:00] Basically. So if you're interested in that, if you want to learn more, go download that. Uh, and yeah, that's it for today, I guess.

Muck, right. 

Malcom: [01:34:09] Yeah. That's great. Thanks for listening guys. 

Benedikt: [01:34:11] Thank you. Bye. .

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