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Vocal recording volume is all over the place - Any tips to correct? or should vocals be re-recorded?


tango_tango
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I'm currently learning to mix & realized all the vocal recording comps are completely different volume levels. When doing multiple takes, each singing style has a different volume when recorded. So, sometimes even in one verse/line (from punch takes) certain words/parts are suddenly much louder than others.

When the track's volume is all over the place, should the vocal takes be re-recorded, or is there an easy way to edit individual takes within a region? 

 

Additional questions to help avoid this vocal recording mistake in the future: 

  • Mic distance: While recording, should distance to mic be measured? If so, any tips for maintaining equal distance each take? 
  • Recording volume consistency: Is there a trick for recording vocals at the same level each time? During recordings, can the volume indicator's size be increased (to be seen from a distance)? 
  • Resources request: Please share any additional advice on this topic. Or share some favorite YouTube videos, Udemy courses, or books on vocal recording for music producers. Would love to learn more perspectives & recording techniques/tips from experienced producers. It would also be really helpful to just watch others throughout the entire vocal recording process! 

 

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3 hours ago, tango_tango said:

I'm currently learning to mix & realized all the vocal recording comps are completely different volume levels.

This suggests you should learn to record properly, then you'll realize that mixing gets infinitely easier.

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each singing style has a different volume when recorded.

Good observation. You are in control of the mic input gain knob during recording. Use it to counter this.

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sometimes even in one verse/line (from punch takes) certain words/parts are suddenly much louder than others.

This points to an inexperienced recording engineer or singer, or both, and can be remedied with practice and with careful directing, respectively.

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When the track's volume is all over the place, should the vocal takes be re-recorded

Totally depends. Is it well sung (apart from the level jumps) ? Does it carry the emotion that was intended and then some ? Did the producer approve the take ? If yes, then this is what you will be working with, and requesting a re-recording will possibly cost you the job, certainly if it was you who did the recording.

But if both producer and artist are unhappy with the deliverance, and suggest a retake, you obviously won't be refusing this.

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is there an easy way to edit individual takes within a region? 

Absolutely. Use Region Gain, as Wonshu suggested:

comp.thumb.gif.b3a733a30a73b4ffb0385e4821937769.gif

 

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While recording, should distance to mic be measured?

Using a tape measure for this is advised only if you must assure that the talent will never put a foot in your studio again. This is terrifying. In the recording session, gently direct the artist to where you want them to stand and watch them staying there. Put a mark on the floor if that helps. This is your responsibility as a vocal recordist.

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Is there a trick for recording vocals at the same level each time?

Keep an eye on the input meter and adjust the recording gain accordingly. During the take if necessary. For this you need to learn the dynamics of the song/verse/phrase/word, and performing an inaudible gain ride, on possibly two or three mics at the same time, is part of the craft of being a recording engineer.

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can the volume indicator's size be increased (to be seen from a distance)? 

Put a Level Meter plugin in the first slot of the recording channel, this can be scaled up very large. But a vocalist may or may not care about this display. It may even ruin their performance by making them too conscious of (for them) unimportant or distracting things.

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Please share any additional advice on this topic.

My advice would be to stop watching youtube videos and get cracking on actually recording. Only practice will make you better at this.

Edited by fuzzfilth
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I'll add that controlling the volume of the vocalist begins with the performance. A good vocalist who is recording their voice should learn proper mic technique, and learn how to back off of, or lean into, the mic appropriately for the performance. For particularly loud bits, a vocalist will often back away from the mic temporarily (or direct the voice off-axis) and you might need a bit of back and forth to get the appropriate amount of this for your recording, performance, and mic setup.

Good mic technique also includes control of plosives (hard consonants like p/b/t etc) where necessary.

In the old days, when recording, you got good at gain riding on the way in because we all had to be careful of maximising dynamic range, but in these fortunate times this is far less of a problem. However, it's still common to record through a hardware front end with a small amount of compression to help on the way in, though it's not necessary.

So, gain control really begins in the recording process, and the more you do, the better you'll get at recognising the problems, and preparing for them to mitigate them.

And then there are all the various ways of controlling volume post-recording, many of which have been outlined above.

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  • 6 months later...

Some really good advice here, albeit also some tough love. One thing that can perhaps be added is that not only mic distance and mic technique on the singers' part, but also what kind of mic you are using, makes a difference, and potentially what settings you use on the mic, if available. For example, dynamic mics like the Shure SM58 and the Shure SM7B are quite sensitive to the distance from the singer, while condenser mics are less sensitive to distance. Moreover, some condenser mics allow for changing the polar pattern, which might also have an impact on the differences in level that you describe. You don't mention what kind of Mic you are using, so it is hard for me to tell, but this might be something to look into. 

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