SP1. Vocal Recording and Processing.
- 1x AKG C414 with Pop shield.
To record the vocals, I set up a stand in the vocal booth of the recording studio with one AKG 414 mic, facing towards me, set to the cardiod polar pattern. I then positioned a pop shield or pop guard between me and the mic which stops any peaks in the audio caused by the forced expulsion of air made by the mouth when pronouncing certain words or syllables, creating a popping sound (therefore the need for a ‘Pop’ shield). Below is a screen shot of the mic set-up used to record the vocals.
The mic was then patched through to the control room via the wall-box in the vocal booth and bought in on a single mono audio track in the Pro Tools mixer to allow me to begin recording. Here is a screenshot of a small clip of the vocal track in the arrange window of Pro Tools.
Once the vocal track was recorded, I could then proceed by adding HPF and compression as well as sending the vocals down a Bus to trigger the Side Chained Compression on the guitar tracks.
No.1 – High Pass Filtering.
Again, with regards to the use of HPF on the vocal track, I have used the 7-band EQ plugin in Pro Tools and have placed the low frequency cutoff at around 120 Hz. This removes any and all sub-bass and bottom end frequencies whilst leaving in most of the mid-low frequency range so as not to make the vocals sound too high-end. Below is a screenshot of the HPF settings used on my vocal track.
No.2 – Compression.
As well as keeping to the compression guidelines for drums, bass and guitars, I have decided to use another set of guidelines for the compression of my vocals. These are used to control the varied dynamics in my vocal track. Below is a list of my compression settings as well as a screenshot of the compression settings within the plugin itself.
- ATTACK = Fastest Possible.
- RELEASE = Lowest Possible/Auto.
- THRESHOLD = -3/-8dB
- RATIO = 4:1/12:1.
- KNEE = Soft.
No.3 – Side-chaining.
Finally, to allow room for the vocals to “breathe” in the mix, I have sent the track to a Bus so that it triggers the second compression plugin on the loudest instrument tracks, i.e. guitars and snare drum. This causes these signals to duck below the vocals thus preventing any clashing between the audio tracks. This technique is often used in, and originated from, dance music tracks in order to duck most, if not all, instrument and audio tracks below the kick so as to make it the loudest and most prominent track in the mix. Side-chaining can even be implemented when the triggering audio is muted. To demonstrate this I have uploaded a clip from a track called Slip off the 2008 dance music album, Random Album Title, by producer Joel.T Zimmerman a.k.a Deadmau5 which hears the synth audio ducking below a muted kick drum.
Once the vocal signal has been sent down the bus (shown in this screenshot to the right) I next had to make it so that the signal triggered the side-chained compression on the guitars. This was done by selecting a key input on the compressor, choosing the vocal bus as the key input, and then checking the ‘Key’ symbol to the right of the plugin. Once this process has been completed, I then adjusted the compression ratio, release and attack to get the smoothest, most natural ducking effect possible and then used the threshold to set the amount of dB that the guitars ducked when triggered. This process was also completed for the snare drum (although not demonstrated in this post). Below is a screen shot of the compression plugin on the guitar track that controls the side-chaining.