How to save your ass !!     Vocal recording tricks...

   This tip / trick comes from a guy I worked with at CBS Records
He used it when he recorded a most famous female singer whom I can't mention (which is a whole other story...)


 
So the rumor about Miss 'XX' we'll call her is that she's demanding to say the least.
       She's also one of the great pop singers ever.
Not talkin' gold, but many many times platinum... millions and millions,
My buddy knew this, and when he was assigned to record her in New York,
he knew he had to do it perfectly so that when she sang it well
there would be no chance of a poor recording causing her to redo her vocal.
 
SO he's pretty smart:
He sets up the mic and Preamp then...
does a test recording with someone else singing into the mic.
then he MULTS the output signal of the Mic Preamp, and feeds the following:
 
1:  one goes directly to the Tape Recorder on a track that's aligned correctly
2:  another goes to a track which he has reduced the record level by 3 db
3:  another multed output goes to yet another track, this time set 6 db lower than normal in record
4:  yet another mult goes to a compressor, set at a very light compression ratio, then this
        is fed to yet another track on the tape machine...
5:  the last mult goes to another compressor set at a moderate compression ratio,
        and this goes to it's own track as well.
 
Thus my buddy has 5 different tracks of the same signal...
a couple with different levels of compression, 3 with different levels of recording
so if she hits a powerful note he won't go into tape distortion (so long as the mic pre is set right!)
 
 
The point here is that you can, and SHOULD, do sort of the same thing when you finally are
working with a great singer, famous or not.
    Or one not so good who might be able to sing it right only one time.
 
By having different levels at the recorder, one of those levels will be the best one
to use, and you're covered if your singer blasts into the mic.
Use a couple different compressors, set at different compression ratios, and likely
one of those will be a good recording and something the singer will like.
 
 You can easily erase all the tracks you decide on not using.

 
As for my buddy...
He did the above and when Miss 'XX' walked into the Control room after the very first take, and asked for a playback,
he was flustered and chose the track with just a little compression, played that back, and the story he told me
was that Miss 'XX' looked him in the face, said 'no one puts compression on my voice when I record... ever.
You're fired... leave. Leave now!'
 
He didn't get a chance to say, "hey, wait, I've got 3 uncompressed tracks of your vocal on tape -
let me play you one of those!"     He was shown the door and had to leave the session.
 
That's stress.   In an instant, without listening to the tape before hand, he had to
do a playback for a demanding client, and he just choose the compressed track because he
knew there would be no distortion on it..... and thus made the fatal decision.

 
But... he did the right thing, there were a couple tracks with perfectly wonderful sounding vocals on it
without any compression.... but he didn't get the chance to play those back....
He's still a famous engineer - with maybe 30 or 40 Gold or Platinum records on his living room wall.

And he's used this trick on almost every major recording he's done...

And yes, you've heard his work on the radio and likely even have a CD or 2 he's recorded!
 

 

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