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Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues

Phil Edwards 21 Nov 11 - 06:55 PM
Johnny J 22 Nov 11 - 07:39 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 22 Nov 11 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,matt milton 22 Nov 11 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,matt milton 22 Nov 11 - 12:02 PM
Phil Edwards 22 Nov 11 - 12:37 PM
johncharles 22 Nov 11 - 01:18 PM
GUEST 22 Nov 11 - 02:25 PM
Phil Edwards 22 Nov 11 - 05:51 PM
Roger the Skiffler 23 Nov 11 - 05:19 AM
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Subject: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Nov 11 - 06:55 PM

I've been doing a lot of home recording lately for Fifty-Two Folk Songs. I'm becoming dissatisfied with the way the recordings come out, particularly my voice. The best way I could put it is that the sound spectrum doesn't seem to have any extremes: no treble highlights, no sharply resonant bass end. If I sing in a room with lots of sound-absorbing materials, it sounds muddy and dull, as if I'm singing in a cardboard box; if I sing surrounded by hard surfaces, it sounds muddy and boomy, as if I'm singing in a bucket.

(I'm exaggerating, of course - it doesn't sound that bad. But it doesn't sound anywhere near as good as I'd like.)

Is this a problem anyone else has come across when making home recordings? If so, what did you do about it?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 07:39 AM

Remember this little ditty?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DPqfcN9eSY


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 09:57 AM

Without clicking on the link (what with being at work), I would guess that you've identified the reason why I used that line for the thread title (instead of e.g. Tech: Frequency Loss).

Anyone got any ideas on this one? For comparison, I really became dissatisfied with the sound I've been getting when I played a few tracks on Andy Turner's A Folk Song A Week (a very fine site, btw; do check out his Spencer). The bass! The treble! That's exactly how my voice doesn't come out.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 11:08 AM

The best recording environment is a big room with a tall ceiling. That way a voice or instrument is nowhere near any walls, but (if the room's big enough or a fortuitous shape) you still have a bit of natural reverb.

If you don't have a big room with a tall ceiling, try standing just outside that hard-surface room, rather than in it. Or even a couple of paces away from the doorway.
1. How close is the mic to your mouth? Simplest way to cut down on room sound is to have the mic as close to your face as possible.

This will in turn throw up other problems, like plosive pops (from letter "P"s and "Bs" in your singing) and sibilance (aka "eshyness" from letter "S" and "T" sounds). Buy an anti-pop filter. You can also counter this by positioning your Zoom above your mouth (rather than directly in front of it). Put a pair of headphones on and move the Zoom around your face, tilting it etc until you find a spot where it produces a minimal amount of pops or harsh sibilance. But you need it to be as close as practically possible.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 12:02 PM

For what it's worth, listening to those links to Andy's songs, "Spencer" is really well recorded (sounds to me like either in a studio or at least by someone experienced who knows what they are doing).

But "Shooting Goschens Cocks Up" (oo-er) doesn't sound nearly as high-fidelity - not very different to your recordings sound-quality-wise.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 12:37 PM

I don't know - to my ear "Goschen's cocks" has much more clarity on the top and bottom ends than I'm getting. But thanks!

The point about having the mike as close as possible to my mouth is fascinating. I've generally been singing from a couple of feet away, and when I sing louder I tend to move back even further - trying not to deafen the microphone, I think!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: johncharles
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 01:18 PM

Book a couple of hours with a professional studio/sound recordists, and see how it comes out.
You sound to be struggling in the higher ranges perhaps different keys might help.
john


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 02:25 PM

"The point about having the mike as close as possible to my mouth is fascinating. I've generally been singing from a couple of feet away, and when I sing louder I tend to move back even further - trying not to deafen the microphone, I think!"

well you'd need to set your record levels very low. Ideally singing so close that you're practically eating the mic is inadvisable, but if you really don't like the room sounds you're getting, I can't really think of anything else.

You can buy something called a Reflection Filter. They're not cheap though. Oh, equally you can try slinging a duvet over the door - that'll absorb some of the frequencies. Try one take singing with your back to said duvet-covered door; try another singing facing it. Just try lots of different positions, basically.

I don't think your recordings sound particularly boxy. Are you using Audacity or anything? Because if you're using any software that has any kind of EQ function, then adding a small boost of EQ around the 2-3000Hz mark, and another around the 9-10000Hz mark will help clarity a lot.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Nov 11 - 05:51 PM

The Zoom H2 I'm using has three settings for mic gain, Low, Medium and High. (The H4n has a dial.) On High I need to hold it at arm's length to be sure not to get any clipping; on Low I can practically gargle with it, and still need to amplify the sound I get. Medium gain with the Zoom held about six inches from my face seems to be the best combination.

Thanks for the EQ tips - I'll definitely try that.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Singing In A Bucket Blues
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 05:19 AM

Well, Amos said my singing with the washboard sounded like I was singing in a trashcan (Or did he say my singing belonged in a trash can...?)

RtS


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