[linux-audio-user] How to get good vocal sound

studio-64 fsmith at walescomputers.co.uk
Thu Dec 8 10:37:17 EST 2005

Burkhard Woelfel wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> On Tuesday 06 December 2005 14:35, Dave Phillips wrote:
>>Bill Allen wrote:
>>>I've been struggling with a technique problem. How do you get your
>>>vocals to sound good? I know that you can't make a silk purse from a
>>>sow's ear, but you can make the best of what you've got.
>>Hi Bill:
>>You also have to remember that you don't hear yourself the way others
>>hear you. I'm not especially fond of my voice, but I know how to hit the
>>right notes and other people seem to like it.
>>The *sound* of a voice can be effective enough as a carrier of
>>personality. Bob Dylan is often used as an example of a not-so-beautiful
>>voice that's perfectly suited to his material. And it's worth mentioning
>>that Dylan does know how to sing (check out Girl From The North Country).
> I'd let somebody else sing first, experiment and learn with his or her voice. 
> After a bit of training the feeling of embarrassment wrt my own voice 
> wouldn't be so much of a distraction. 
> BTW, a few weeks ago a friend of mine told me that he really liked a 
> particular song of mine. The voice, he told me, didn't sound like mine at 
> all. Isn't that strange, I was really happy about that. 
> Oh, the miracles of human perception.

Strange, this is exactly what happened to me
when I sang on my two tracks, thing is, it doesnt sound like me to me!!


> - - Burkhard
>>>What combination of plugins and settings do you use to get the best
>>>sound from vocals particularly in Ardour?
>>As you say, there are many to choose from. I like Tim Goetze's Versatile
>>Plate Reverb, it's easy to control and has some sweet spots that
>>complement my voice nicely. I also often use the SC4 compressor
>>(pre-fade) and the TAP Scaling Limiter (post-fade) on the master track.
>>As general advice: Pick an effect, preferably one with only a few
>>controls, and learn what each control does to the sound. In the case of
>>reverbs, think about the ambience you want to create and make your
>>initial settings accordingly. Yes, you'll have to experiment, but IMO
>>that's the best way to learn about these things.
>>>I know that this is one of those subjective questions for which the
>>>best answer is try it out yourself and find what sounds best, but
>>>there are so many plugins (an embarassment of riches), each of which
>>>has many settings, that a brute force search of all the combinations
>>>would take forever - not to mention that after a while, my poor ears
>>>become exhausted with the effort and refuse to hear differences
>>>anymore. So what I'm really looking for is good starting points to
>>>work from.
>>It's easy to be overwhelmed: LADSPA, DSSI, VST/VSTi, all provide that
>>embarassment of riches. But I figure that the pros don't have the time
>>to learn everything about everything, so I don't expect it from myself.
>>I think you should plan carefully: think about what sort of sound you
>>want to project, think about its characteristics, then start working
>>towards it with a minimum number of effects. A little 'verb and some
>>judicious compression go a long way towards making a good basic sound, I
>>find that for my purposes I use little else. Maybe someday I'll find a
>>use for chorus and delays, but they'll probably get used on instruments,
>>not on my voice.
>>A few random tips: Stand when you sing. Use a pop filter (I should
>>follow my own advice). Breathe deeply, you can always erase the noise.
>>Don't raise your chin when you try to reach notes on the high end of
>>your range, it tightens the vocal mechanism and works against your
>>attempt. Relax, you won't sing (or play) well with excess tension.
>>Consider your input chain, i.e., decent microphones, preamp if
>>necessary, good hot signal, etc. Don't record with effects in, you'll
>>fool yourself and it will be harder to fix (I like that Ardour forces
>>that behaviour). Key your music to complement your available range.
>>WRT planning: Do you want to recreate the sound of a small group playing
>>in a bar ? Or a big band performing in a concert hall ? A rock band
>>playing an auditorium ? A jazz quartet in your living room ? Each of
>>these scenarios has some salient characteristics that you should try to
>>describe and understand in relation to your selected effects. Try
>>analyzing the vocal sound on some of your favorite recordings in the
>>same manner.
>>Yes, you have to study up on some terminology, but you don't have to
>>become a DSP engineer. That's what we have Steve Harris here for anyway.
>>;-)  And don't worry about understanding everything right away. It's
>>enough to know what a compressor does, the rest you'll learn by fiddling
>>with settings and *listening* to the results. For instance, I use the
>>SC4 compressor but I'm still sort of blank about exactly what the knee
>>radius does. Always more to learn. :)
>>>One combination that I like is GVerb to get depth and L/C/R Delay to
>>>get width. Even with those two getting the settings right takes time.
>>>For comunication, I've included a jack rack with some settings I've
>>>found that work OK. I would love your critiques and suggestions for
>>>other setups.
>>GVerb is more complex than I'd advise for a start, but it is a fine
>>effect and definitely worth learning. Have you tried Freeverb or any of
>>the other 'verbs from the LADSPA collection ? The TAP reverb is also
>>superfine (with presets!), but again  I'd suggest something even simpler.
>>If you really have problems with intonation and pitch acuity you can
>>always try fixing it in the mix with a pitch shifter plugin and Ardour's
>>automation control, but that's getting elaborate. You can also try that
>>infamous vocal "fixer" from Antares, but I don't know if it will run
>>under any of the current support systems for VST under Linux. It costs
>>$$ though, and frankly at that point I'd suggest singing lessons.
>>You can also use Ardour's excellent editing tools to correct small (and
>>not so small?) errors in timing. A bit tedious, but worth the effort.
>>I listen a lot to the music made by other members of this list. I love
>>the sound of Pete Bessman's F4, I'd like to know how he got it. I'm also
>>fond of The Girls, their material is great and their singing is perfect
>>for it. I like the overall sound they achieve, though it's quite
>>different from my aims. And I'd commit heinous and unconscionable acts
>>just to be able to play and sound like Steve Doonan. Lots to be learned
>>from the folks using the same software (more or less). So many different
>>genres are represented at http://lam.fugal.net, it's a terrific
>>resource: if you like a particular piece, you can just write to the
>>composer and ask how s/he did it.
>>Well, there's my contribution to the thread. HTH. :)
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