Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
fpoir

Recording vocals with decent loudness and without clipping?

Recommended Posts

I use Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen with an AKG C 535 EB. Even with 12db+ headroom the vocals clip.

Suggestions appreciated.

Edited by fpoir

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Byron Dickens said:

Turn the input down?

Then the vocal goes too soft to mix. I mean, I could mix everything really at a very low level and then normalize it, and I'll use that method if I have no other option, but I can't believe that's my only way to avoid the clipping.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's really no advantage to absolutely belting the signal in a DAW because the noise floor will be too low to care about in practice. On tape, we used to have to try to get the most out of everything going in to end up with a clean recording.

I'd recommend what was said - turn everything down, then boost it all at the end if it's too quiet for you... or simply turn your volume up. Don't normalize, that's a destructive process. Use volume or gain adjustments or automation envelopes.

Don't forget that most commercial music is mastered too, so what people give the mastering engineer is likely as quiet as you're hearing, and it gets boosted up by the engineer. If anything, giving a hot mix to a mastering engineer is a bit of a bad idea because they want some headroom to work with.

If the vocal you're trying to record is super dynamic, other that suggesting working on both vocal and mic technique (move in closer for the quiet parts, move away for the belts), running a hardware limiter after the mic and preamp but before your soundcard input is a solution. Something like a Empirical Labs Distressor is a common choice here.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2022 at 3:29 AM, Lord Tim said:

There's really no advantage to absolutely belting the signal in a DAW because the noise floor will be too low to care about in practice. On tape, we used to have to try to get the most out of everything going in to end up with a clean recording.

I'd recommend what was said - turn everything down, then boost it all at the end if it's too quiet for you... or simply turn your volume up. Don't normalize, that's a destructive process. Use volume or gain adjustments or automation envelopes.

Don't forget that most commercial music is mastered too, so what people give the mastering engineer is likely as quiet as you're hearing, and it gets boosted up by the engineer. If anything, giving a hot mix to a mastering engineer is a bit of a bad idea because they want some headroom to work with.

If the vocal you're trying to record is super dynamic, other that suggesting working on both vocal and mic technique (move in closer for the quiet parts, move away for the belts), running a hardware limiter after the mic and preamp but before your soundcard input is a solution. Something like a Empirical Labs Distressor is a common choice here.

Thanks. Makes sense.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a handheld condenser,  it performs more like a dynamic stage microphone but with better, wider sound capture. Great choice if you want to record vocals in a space that is not soundproofed or acoustically treated because like dynamic stage mic's it's off axis sound rejection is pretty good. I do the same thing with a Shure SM86 or using a fethead with a dynamic mic. I get a much better recording of acoustic guitar and vocals than using a "studio" condenser. With the condenser, I just get appalling room reverb and 101 noises in the background.

It sounds like you might be getting spiking from being too close to the microphone. The closer you get to the microphone the more variance you will get in the signal from hot to soft, which can result in spiking which presents as clipping.

I don't know what your shock mount and pop filter solution is with that mic but sorting that out can also help. You can use a shock mount with handheld mic's if you need to. I use the type they sell on ebay for pencil mics, handheld mics will also slide into it, they are cheap and work as they should.

Shockmount.jpg.802b7cf6a50e3c678f08bf86f6122b26.jpg

Next thing is with the pop filter setup, as it is a handheld mic, the tendency is to sit on top of it with one of those thick pop filters on top of it, but you can treat it like a recording mic and put a clip on circular filter before it.

I have different set ups for different dynamic mic's, see what sounds best. You probably want to be 2 or 3 inches away for vocal takes or if you have good mic technique and excellent monitoring capabilities, with headphones, you can sit on the mic more, depending if your a belter or more intimate singer. But generally, as you move back, the waveform will flatten more meaning less spikes (providing you can hear yourself in headphones).

The other thing is to have some sort of compression applied to the signal before it hits the DAW. This can make a big difference both in balancing the recorded signal and also in how you hear your vocal through headphones. How you can do this with the scarlett, I don't know. I use a Steinberg UR44 which allows me to do it.

 

pop filter.jpg

Edited by Tezza
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, most of the information you will find on the internet about recording vocals is from the perspective of engineers, studio owners or non vocalists. They will say things like use a studio condenser microphone and compression is not that important in a 24 bit recording environment etc. This might be true but is very often not practical or desirable from a vocalists perspective.

If you don't have a decent "studio" to record in, you will get better results from dynamic/condenser handheld microphones rather than an expensive studio condenser.

For moving vocal recording to a more professional level, to create a great sounding environment for the vocalist, access to an excellent monitoring solution that has options for compression/reverb/eq is essential, not optional. Also, being able to balance volumes between your vocals and the recorded music is essential.

It's worth spending some time to set it up. If you can use shockmount, pop filter, mic distance, mic technique and audio interface input volume to prevent clipping on the audio interface, then there may be options in Cakewalk for setting up compression, reverb and eq for your headphones. I can do this in Cubase but I forget how to do it in Cakewalk so someone else might be able to help out there. I think you just set up an FX or AUX with the input from the main vocal track and then put the effects on the FX/AUX track and run it back out to your headphones either mixed in with the main vocal or without any main vocal.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Tezza

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2022 at 2:29 AM, Lord Tim said:

Don't normalize, that's a destructive process.

Is it destructive in Cakewalk only or in other DAWs too?

Reaper for example has this normalize waveforms feature that works great, but if it's really destructive I may have to quite using that.

And when you say destructive, you mean it messes up the quality of your audio?

Edited by Kal Elle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, I mean it's undoable, so if you change your mind later, too bad - you're stuck with it. This is the same in any DAW.

The important thing to remember about normalising is it works on the loudest peak, rather than the apparent loudness of the track, so let's say you have 5 different vocal clips on  track and you run normalise on them,  one of those clips might have a big plosive "P" sound at the start of a word that's 20dB louder than anything else on the track . It'll take that as your loudest thing and only turn that clip up as far as it can without that "P" clipping. The actual clip itself could sound dramatically quieter than all of the others and make your mixing life hell later.

This is why I recommend :

A: getting it right (or better) at the source first - but being a little careful that if you use hardware compression or limiting going in that you understand that'll be baked in to the sound that's recorded, so either love the sound of it or just use limiting to catch any rogue peaks,

or 

B: turn down the volume of everything else in the project so you can hear your vocal track and turn your monitors up, and know that once it's mixed it may be quieter until it's mastered,

or 

😄 turn up the gain slider or volume slider on each vocal track to make it louder - that'll turn everything on that track up by a specific amount, regardless of any loud clip sections, and then use dynamics plugins (compressor, etc) on the track to even out the levels. That'll make everything sound apparently louder and will likely be something that you'd want to use on the vocal track anyway.

... Also, don't type C : on here like I just did above or it'll turn your point into a smiley face that's hard to delete 😒

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is where a hardware compressor/limiter helps.  I generally record thru a RND Portico II channel.  The compressor gets fast.  Not 1176 fast but enough to damp vocal pushes.  A gentle slope afterwards.  That works to firm up most signals but not so much that there is nothing to work on in the box.  An 1176 will still be able to light switch on/off the envelope or the slow changes wrought by an optical limiter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...