Old 08-23-2016, 10:09 AM   #1
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Default Recording Vocals (several questions)

Hello my fellow audio junkies,

I have been getting more and more acquainted with Reaper by reading the user guide, FX guide and most importantly just sitting down and messing with the program. I absolutely love it. I have been sucessfully recording pretty decent sounding guitar tracks and making some cool MIDI drum beats to accompany them but I faced an issue recently whilst trying to record vocals.

When I recorded my vocals through a Sure AXS dynamic mic and my Presonus audiobox USB, I think I had the level down to -10dB. The recorded vocals were very faint and "dry". Just simply adding ReaVerb and setting the wet level to the line (dbl click) the vocals stood out much more but still weren't great.

My questions are:

Whats a good level to record vocals at? -10dB 0dB etc?

How do you take your "dry" vocals and make them sound good? (I know this is broad but some ideas would be helpful)

Thanks in advance

Eric K
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Old 08-23-2016, 11:27 AM   #2
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Your 3 main tools are EQ, compression, and reverb.

I'm not familiar with your mic but since it's a dynamic you might want to boost the highs to bring out the "sparkle". And, it's common practice to filter-out the lows (maybe below 100Hz) to reduce any low frequency noise (which you may not hear, but it doesn't help the mix). And, then make any other EQ adjustments that make it "sound better". There's no secret formula, it has to be done by ear.

Compression (and limiting) can make your vocals "stand out" by bringing-up the overall loudness. Again, there are no secret formulas (although some people may have a standard starting-point), there are lots of settings to play with and lots of different compressor plug-ins.

Reverb also has lots of settings, and it depends on what you're looking for. Sometimes you don't want the reverb to be noticed but you want to "add something". In that case, you can increase the reverb until you hear it, and then back it off. You can find the place where you're not really hearing reverb but "something's missing" when you remove it.

Or, you can go for the full cathedral/concert hall effect. If you want the listener to hear/notice the reverb it's usually best to apply the same reverb to all of the vocals & instruments so they sound like they were recorded in the same room.

Whats a good level to record vocals at? -10dB 0dB etc?
The most important thing is - DON'T CLIP! Your ADC (and DAC) is limited to 0dB and if your peaks are hitting 0dB you are probably clipping.

Pros typically record at -12 to -18dB.* If you've got a cheap-noisy soundcard you generally want to record hotter to overcome the background noise (and limited resolution), but that shouldn't be an issue with your Presonus interface.

* Of course, nothing is released at that level... Final-released recordings are usually normalized for 0dB (or near 0dB peaks.

Last edited by DVDdoug; 08-23-2016 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:15 AM   #3
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Default You're on the Good Way!!!

Hi EricK425!!

My advice(s).

First, U got a good soundcard. Ur mic is sufficient to record good vocals too. Just to tell U I record a lot of vocal track with a SM58-like mic made by Thomann at 38€ (the t.bone M85 Beta) the name looks like the original one via a Presonus 22VSL Audiobox USB....
So U know that U have to check the reverb of the room itself and apply some "correction" to get it right, not necessarely eliminate the reverb but U got to make some test to get the sound right...
But U got to consider 3 extra points, very important :
- the distance between the singer's mouth and the mic;
- the "energy" you give depending on the song;
- U got to sing the song right, the more right you can do. Right on time and in tune. Actually, when U sing the same song "acapella", it has to be good then. Even if U got a 1000€ mic will not get Ur singing better I can tell U!!
After all this, U got to process the dynamic IF the track need to and the Eq according to the others instruments or to give a certain colour to the whole thing...

So tell us how do U feel about that!!!
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Old 12-07-2019, 11:38 AM   #4
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Default Recording Vocals /Playback??

My mic is a MXL 990. My interface shows it is receiving sufficient vocal level when I speak/sing into the mic. On my vocal track which is armed, the EQ shows to be receiving at about 12db sounds really good through the monitors. When I press record all is well everything showing its receiving everything well. ON THE PLAYBACK, barely can hear my vocals and I have the volume at mid range. The EQ shows I'm barely registering at around 54db. What the crap? Much help needed thanks.

I figured this out no reply needed.

Last edited by Goldtop75; 12-14-2019 at 04:34 PM.
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