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Thread: Help me diagnose vocal sibilance / distortion

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    Help me diagnose vocal sibilance / distortion

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    Hi all,

    I did some tracking of a vocalist the other night. She sounded great and the levels were all fine, but listening closer to the tracks I'm hearing some noise that I can't seem to identify. It's not quite sibilance, it's like a lower distorted sound. On the attached sample, you can hear this noise most clearly on the very first syllable of "September". There are similar instances across all the takes, but the noise does not occur on every "s" sound. Experimenting with various de-essers doesn't do anything. For what it's worth, the noise in question is not really audible in the context of the full mix with the band, but it's still driving me nuts!

    Here is the recording setup:

    MXL V67GS condenser mic in standard setting
    Vocalist about 6 inches away, with standard fabric POP filter halfway between singer and mic
    Top quality braided XLR cables
    Mic cable plugged directly into ART tube pre-amp providing phantom power, no additional enhancements added.
    Pre-amp plugged into TASCAM 2488 digital multitracker. Low cut on the mixers input EQ, otherwise no additional processing.
    Recorded at 24/44.1 before conversion to mp3 posted here.

    Thank you for listening and helping me get to the bottom of this!


    Vocal diagnostic sample.mp3

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    distortion is probably coming from the ART unit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GONZO-X View Post
    distortion is probably coming from the ART unit.
    That was my first thought, but it doesn't really sound like that type of distortion. There are many louder sustained notes elsewhere that are crystal clear.
    I also spent about an hour recording my own voice through the same set up to try and replicate the distortion, but I couldn't, although I am not a singer.

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    What about the room the vocals are recorded in... in my experience, some of those cheaper condensers get a distorted whistling sound in the 9-12khz area, and I've had some that sound just like this. I didn't realize it until it was time to mix, and something was throwing me off to where I thought I needed to just de-ess, but the freq was higher, like I said, around 12khz mainly.

    Was it a smaller, enclosed area? If so, can you try it in a more open area? I know "enclosed" and "open" are general terms, but for example I was having those issues in walk-in closet. As soon as I took the mic into the main part of the room, those sounds disappeared. I have a new mic altogether now and those issues don't exist, even back in the walk-in.
    "No healthy person waits in line with a slew of geriatrics on a Sunday morning for pancakes" - RFR https://soundcloud.com/andrushkiwt

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    I know things are different with a stand-alone recorder, but at what level are you tracking? That seems real loud for an unprocessed track.
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    I hear crackling all throughout the first four syllables. Like a low level version of some clothes coming out of a dryer - sparkly/crackly.
    Failure - - the path of least persistence
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrushkiwt View Post
    What about the room the vocals are recorded in... in my experience, some of those cheaper condensers get a distorted whistling sound in the 9-12khz area, and I've had some that sound just like this. I didn't realize it until it was time to mix, and something was throwing me off to where I thought I needed to just de-ess, but the freq was higher, like I said, around 12khz mainly.

    Was it a smaller, enclosed area? If so, can you try it in a more open area? I know "enclosed" and "open" are general terms, but for example I was having those issues in walk-in closet. As soon as I took the mic into the main part of the room, those sounds disappeared. I have a new mic altogether now and those issues don't exist, even back in the walk-in.
    Thanks for the suggestion, we recorded in a large living room with high ceilings, so I don't think that's the problem. Unless she's too close to the mic, but I really don't think that's it either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjbphotos View Post
    I know things are different with a stand-alone recorder, but at what level are you tracking? That seems real loud for an unprocessed track.
    I raised the volume of the sample for ease of listening. I recorded the vocals with the VU meter on the pre amp hitting just under 0 db at the peaks, and then left about 3 db of headroom when the signal went to the Tascam. Thing is, the peaks do not distort at all. She hits loud, sustained notes that are 10 or 12 db louder than this sample and they are crystal clear.

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    It could be an idiosyncrasy of the vocalist - especially since you have not been able to recreate it.

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