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Thread: Sibilance "s" issue and proper db level when recording vocals

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toastedgoat View Post
    You need headroom. turn the tracks down till your getting about 10db of headroom before 0db. Or get some kind of meters VU or others. and set your tracks up to around -18db RMS, with no more than -6db peaks. Sibilance. keep the mic up above the mouth area pointing toward the lower nose/upper lip. You can also try this, get a pencil, take a rubber band and put the pencil on center of the mic screen.so it's in the center of the diaphragm, use the rubber band to hold it in place (old trick to kill overly sibilant vocals while tracking).
    That is the first time I heard of the pencil/band application. Does the pencil somehow distort the "s" waves into something else less annoying?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    I'm going to suggest something else. How does your voice sound rapping on stage - into an SM58 or something? Also - you could also try something as a guide to the problem. Use your 2020 - not a very sibilance prone in my experience - and record your voice from 3 feet away, with enough gain to get decent level. It's going to sound a bit thin - with the bass tailing off. However, you're not interested in the low end - just the high end. See if you can hear the problem sound with the distant technique. If you cannot - then it's a closeness issue, and could be physical, not electronic. One of my regular clients has a small gap between her two front teeth, and when she sings, a jet of air seems to fire right at the mic. To record her, the mic has to be at her forehead height, firing downwards - a very strange position, but none of the pop shields or foam filters can stop the usual positions being quite horrid. Years ago, I had another client who had a strange nasal sound - and again, we discovered so much of his voice actually came out of his nose that the narrow nasal passages did something similar. A mix of position and EQ cured that one - BUT - he never liked his voice, but weirdly, what he disliked in the recordings was what we hear all the time. I guess the nose sound never got back to his ears.

    Have you considered that your voice is just one of those very difficult ones to record? Your sibilant recordings - what do your friends think? Do they sound a problem to them? I'm just wondering if you are suffering from trumpeter syndrome? They never like the sound people record because they have never, ever stood facing their own trumpet and have no idea what it sounds like.

    On levels. I'm afraid that I'm ancient, and have never shifted my analogue reel to reel way of working which was never EVER to go into the red, unless I made a mistake. In analogue, mistakes were rarely fatal. They are in digits! I simply adjust the gain knob until the loudest signal doesn't go into the red. If I'm in doubt, I just turn the knob anticlockwise a bit and don't worry. I still make mistakes.
    I have yet to rap on stage. I have three main voices, my normal rap voice with a bit of nasal,.. a strong news anchor voice with less of a nasal effect, and a sleazy voice that makes me sound more youthful and cartoonish like I am up to no good. The sleazy voice is my favorite because it is very unique, if I were to compare it to someone well known, I would pick Lil Wayne during his close-up calmer vocals. I only have experience with the two mic's within my initial hardware list. I am very glad to hear that the 2020 is not sibilance prone. at a distance of three feet, the "s" sibilance is gone or no longer an issue. It is a closeness issue, but sadly, the 14 inch distance that my friends prefer, does not do much to remove my "s" sibilance. I believe it is physical in nature. However, my teeth do not have a gap, so it must be directly related to my tongue and the roof of my mouth. """the mic has to be at her forehead height, firing downwards""", by downwards, do you mean the mic is hanging down from above, instead of being mounted on a stand? My nose is not abnormally large, but my nasal passages appear to create a long nose effect. My nasal effect is more noticeable to myself as I rap, and less noticeable during playback. I believe my voice is difficult to record compared to my friends. My friends think that a deesser will deal with the "s" sibilance enough, but I would prefer to kill it close to the source to remove the need to edit each "s" individually or hopefully to remove the need for a deesser. I am effected by trumpeter syndrome in a way because the "S" sibilance is exaggerating the "s" more than anyone would notice if I were talking to them in person. It must be the air passing through my mouth that allows a mic to amplify the "s" sibilance to the point of annoyance. The strange aspect is that, even with my head turned 45 degrees from the mic, the "s" sibilance is still noticeable, so the "s" sibilance must be of a more omnidirectional nature instead of a linear stream of air.

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    I think that there will be a position that works best - by reducing the unwanted sounds and emphasising the wanted ones. What I meant by the pointing down positioning was that for the singer I was working with - the mic was on it's normal stand, but the grill was just above her eyebrow line, aiming virtually downwards, aiming at her chest. See singing went forward through the mic's capture zone. This does give a thinner sound than in front, but not much, and was easily EQ's to sound fine. Her 'sss' stream not landing on the mic in any way. You could do the same from the side but then you need to not turn your he'd which is tricky. Why not put the headphones on, hold the mic at arms length and wave it around till you find the magic position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    Why not put the headphones on, hold the mic at arms length and wave it around till you find the magic position.
    My lord, why didn't I think of that, I often do not see the simple ways of going about things. I will do it until I find a sweet spot and update you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    Here's how I'd tackle this:
    1. Just use the AT2020 with a pop filter a couple inches in front of the mic and the reflexion screen behind it (optional).
    2. Plug the mic into the Behringer interface, and connect that to the computer.
    3. Create a new project in whichever DAW you are most familiar with.
    4. Add the beat/backing track, but mute it for now.
    5. Stand so you are 6-8" in front of the microphone and begin to sing at the level you want to record at.
    6. Set the GAIN on the interface so it is not clipping and the peak level you see in the DAW for your voice is about -10dBFS.
    7. Now, unmute the backing track, and using "clip gain" or whatever you are used to (perhaps a gain plugin), reduce the beat track level so when you sing along you hear it and your voice.
    8. NOW, record your track along with the backing track playing.
    9. Mix them together, using EQ, compression (watch compression because of your noted "S" problems), etc. on your track (backing track is already mixed and super-compressed).
    10. Watch the level on the Master bus/stereo out. It should be well below 0dBFS, peaks in the -6 to -8dBFS range, perhaps.
    11. Add a limiter to the master bus, and set it to add gain and limit so the mix will peak around -1dBFS. You can play the mix and watch it usually, so it's only adding enough gain to push the peaks a bit over the -1dBFS setting.
    12. Bounce it down and listen/share here for comments.


    P.S. You should be monitoring with headphones while recording, and the main point is to lower the beat track level to your vocal, and record at that level. Don't make your vocal match the beat track's mastered/0dB level!
    I reached step 8 using Audacity. I attached an image of my work that includes a red arrow at the bottom left. The arrow is pointing at the -1.0 to 1.0 range window. I do not know what this window is called, or why it only ranges from -1 to 1. Seems to me that it should have a broader range like the top right playback level has so the user can easily see if wave peaks are not above -6db, without the need to play the track and watch the playback/master level. The forum rules stated that this is not the area to ask if someones voice is good or not, so I fear having this thread deleted if I upload the short .mp3 clips of my voice. Would that be ok to do? Thank you so much for the step by step layout. Yourself and everyone else assisting me will get acknowledgement when we become well known.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails audacity-810-png  
    Last edited by 810; 02-02-2019 at 12:46. Reason: Forgot image

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    Mic

    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    I think that there will be a position that works best - by reducing the unwanted sounds and emphasising the wanted ones. What I meant by the pointing down positioning was that for the singer I was working with - the mic was on it's normal stand, but the grill was just above her eyebrow line, aiming virtually downwards, aiming at her chest. See singing went forward through the mic's capture zone. This does give a thinner sound than in front, but not much, and was easily EQ's to sound fine. Her 'sss' stream not landing on the mic in any way. You could do the same from the side but then you need to not turn your he'd which is tricky. Why not put the headphones on, hold the mic at arms length and wave it around till you find the magic position.
    I attached an image of my mike in the configuration that I believe you explained, did I get it correctmic-jpg?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 810 View Post
    I reached step 8 using Audacity. I attached an image of my work that includes a red arrow at the bottom left. The arrow is pointing at the -1.0 to 1.0 range window. I do not know what this window is called, or why it only ranges from -1 to 1. Seems to me that it should have a broader range like the top right playback level has so the user can easily see if wave peaks are not above -6db, without the need to play the track and watch the playback/master level. .....
    Audacity Waveform Help Page
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Quote Originally Posted by 810 View Post
    That is the first time I heard of the pencil/band application. Does the pencil somehow distort the "s" waves into something else less annoying?
    I'm not sure what the science is. I just know I've seen it used (I'm old lol) and it worked. I also tried it myself when the only vocal mic I had was a very bright mic (my vocals don't do well with bright mics). Take your mic and try it see if it helps.
    Some big name recording engineers have use the pencil thing. I think it originally started out as a way to save ribbon mics from getting destroyed by singers, with extra hard xplosives. They found it also can help with the sibilance too. I saw something some years back about,Michael Wagener using it with the vocalist from King's X on a LDC mic.
    Last edited by Toastedgoat; 02-02-2019 at 23:03.

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    RE: position. No that's 90 degrees wrong! Your mic is a side fire mic, it picks up sideways on the face with the audio technica label. Move the mic so it is horizontal, try with the opposite end to the xlr nearly on your forehead with the brand name on the bottom.

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    This link outlines and shows pictures of some of the things suggested here. Sometimes the same thing explained in a different way (including pictures) can help you better understand the technical aspects of things.

    [BLOG] Death To Sibilance: A Simple Guide To De-Essing Vocals
    Music ~ the International Language

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