recording a lyricist (spoken word / rhymes)

AEON

dipthong mong
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hey all,

i want to record some lyrics but have absolutely no experience or training :Smile3:

a friend of ours here in notts writes amazing freeform poetry. it's intense, emotional, political, personal and unique and, idealistically optimistic as this may sound, i genuinely think it's important that the world gets a chance to hear it! if nothing else i'd like to get a semi-decent demo together so he can promote himself.

some of his stuff is going to be most powerful when it's left well alone; just his delivery and the words. some of it i'd like to experiment with, probably some gritty industrial breaksy stuff, to put it in a different context. i'm ok with the mechanics of writing backing tracks and stuff but obviously need to get the best possible source to work with, especially for the unaccompanied recordings.

going to a studio is one possibility - and there are good ones in notts - but i certainly can't spare the cash right now. however i am thinking about hiring a good mic and doing it at home.

i have a good soundcard (m-audio omnistudio usb) which has good pre-amps (or so i'm told! :Wink3:). i'm guessing ableton will work fine for recording but i could do it in audacity or whatever if needs be. i don't have a decent mic - but i can hire a Shure SM-58 for a day for £10.

quietening my studio space will be the biggest hurdle as far as i can see... but what else do i need to think about? any advice muchly appreciated!

thanks

:Smile3:
 

JPsychodelicacy

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If you're using a dynamic mic like an SM58, you don't need to worry too much about making your recording space overly quiet, but if you want the best dynamic range (presumably you will if the reading contains lots of drama/quiet->loud), then I recommend hiring a condensor mic for the day. What mics are available from your hire place?

To get the best response, I recommend making sure you use balanced (xlr) connectors, and set your pre-amp gain to the loudest possible setting before you can hear pre-amp noise (a slight hiss - listen carefully for it). Get your friend to speak into the mic as loud as he's going to go, and set the sound card input in the M-audio mixer on the computer so it isn't clipping (in the red), then get him to talk as quietly as hes going to and make sure you're still picking up a good signal on the VU meter.

This way you get the best possible dynamic range because you're not using compression yet. As he's recording, watch those input meters like a hawk, because if it clips, you'll have to stop and do another take (agree between you form which point - it's not necessary to do it all again because you'll be chopping and changing parts around).

If you get time (and you've got plenty of disk space!) get him to do more than one take of the reading, varying it slightly... this will mean you've got plenty of material to pick and choose from when it comes to assembling it into a track.

I reckon 24-bit/48kHz is probably the format you want to go to if you can (you can always downsample it later if you need to).

Hope this helps, and I'm not just talking a load of old cobblers!

J.
 

Faction

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J talks sense. As for processing the final take I can recommend using Antares Mic Modeller as the first element in the chain; with my housemate's (extremely budget) Oktava condenser mic, quite often vocals need no other insert processing.

As far as the recording itself goes, with a little care and planning it's possible to get excellent results even with a noisy computer in an awkward-sounding room. Try recording the vocals with the guy facing into a corner of the room, on which you have hung a duvet. This will help reduce the effect of the room on the recording, as the duvet will soak up the sound and prevent the vocals from bouncing around the room. Also, make sure you record a few seconds of 'silence' with things set up as they will be during the takes; this will provide a noise-print which can be used to remove unwanted noises from the recording, eg. computer noise and any other constant background sounds.
 

AEON

dipthong mong
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big thanks as always - great info.

sorry i've been so long in replying, i didn't realise the board was back!

If you're using a dynamic mic like an SM58, you don't need to worry too much about making your recording space overly quiet, but if you want the best dynamic range (presumably you will if the reading contains lots of drama/quiet->loud), then I recommend hiring a condensor mic for the day. What mics are available from your hire place?

the places i've found which do individual backhire near me don't offer any condensors... but i'm going to look into borrowing one from a friend or maybe buying one (i will want to record acoustic instruments like violin / guitar in the future), as they seem reasonable at the middle-range level.

better to get it right than spend money twice!

To get the best response, I recommend making sure you use balanced (xlr) connectors, and set your pre-amp gain to the loudest possible setting before you can hear pre-amp noise (a slight hiss - listen carefully for it). Get your friend to speak into the mic as loud as he's going to go, and set the sound card input in the M-audio mixer on the computer so it isn't clipping (in the red), then get him to talk as quietly as hes going to and make sure you're still picking up a good signal on the VU meter.

thanks. for a condensor mic i should use phantom power yeah? does that affect the pre-amp noise?

If you get time (and you've got plenty of disk space!) get him to do more than one take of the reading, varying it slightly... this will mean you've got plenty of material to pick and choose from when it comes to assembling it into a track.

absolutely - along with pre-agreeing a time to go back to should the recording fuckup, i think this will really save time in the long run.

thanks J :Smile3:

J talks sense. As for processing the final take I can recommend using Antares Mic Modeller as the first element in the chain; with my housemate's (extremely budget) Oktava condenser mic, quite often vocals need no other insert processing.

As far as the recording itself goes, with a little care and planning it's possible to get excellent results even with a noisy computer in an awkward-sounding room. Try recording the vocals with the guy facing into a corner of the room, on which you have hung a duvet. This will help reduce the effect of the room on the recording, as the duvet will soak up the sound and prevent the vocals from bouncing around the room. Also, make sure you record a few seconds of 'silence' with things set up as they will be during the takes; this will provide a noise-print which can be used to remove unwanted noises from the recording, eg. computer noise and any other constant background sounds.

thanks again - i would never have thought of taking a noise print for reference. my PC is fairly quiet but it's not studio quiet, and i'm thinking about moving it to the bedroom and recording in the studio - the two rooms are really close so i won't have to use special cables or anything.

cheers guys exactly the kind of advice i was looking for. i will post the results one day :Smile3:
 

arghhh

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right, well im kinda a similar kind of vocalist to the person aeon described,

personally when i record vocals, i would prefer a good condenser mic, with pop-shield, usually u will need phantom power for most mics, altho u can get those that have a 9v battery inside instead.

if you cant get a good condenser mic, you can get by on the shure sm58, ive recorded vocals using one of these, and if you work hard you can get decent to good results.

again a pop shield is very important, as is the person delivering the vocals being concious of space between them the mic, the shield, keeping head as still as poss to keep levels consistent etc...

as for post-processing, using reverb can work very well, as can doubling up the vocals, and putting one slightly behind the other, you can do lots of cool stuff.

checkout some of the stuff ive done www.soundclick.com/thesymmetry especially the one called 'you you you'
 
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