Recording Bass/Baritone Vocals

Michael Ward

New member
I'm just about ready to begin tracking vocals for a song I'm recording. The song is a fairly mid range male vocal (Bb below low C to Bb below middle C, so about an octave).

Being a bass, I'd like to bring out a lot of the full bodied bass-ness of the vocals, but not sure about recording close to get proximity effect for fear of ending up with something muddy. It still needs to cut through, even though it's not in the tenor range.

1. Any tips for the recording stage? I'm not talking about specific gear, but recording technique.

2. How about mixing and particularly EQ?

3. Because we always listen to a finished mix when we hear other peoples music, it's hard to work backwards and imagine how the recording sounded dry. Is there a rule of thumb or a few checkpoints to know if what I'm recording dry is good enough to not cause problems at mixing stage? In essence, a dry recording is not going to sound like a finished product, so how do I know when it's "Good Enough"?
 

Dave Holmes

New member
I'd avoid a recording with proximity effect on a bassy vocal myself and would probably go in fairly hard on the compression and fairly light on the reverb (unless you want 'boom')...
My rule of thumb on EQing is to do as little as possible and 'if possible' to avoid boosting altogether and make cuts only. But it really depends on what's in and going on in the track.

Bear in mind though that most of the male voices I use on tracks are rapping as opposed to singing - still, for a squeaky MC I might go for proximity effect but for an already bassy voice I'd avoid.
 

mixsit

Well-known member
Another rule of thumb might be - Set your initial mic distance and placement for your best guess for a 'neutral' and appropriate tone balance capture. How intimate is it supposed to sound as well - sometimes in conflict with low end weight ?
Test it in the mix.
It it's sounding 'off (to muddy/basey, to thin what have you) rerecord if you can and improve it with placement.
And/or make your eq adjustments.

'Eq, initially (but we get better at it), can be tough to judge what 'appropriate balance means sometimes- out side of a mix that's pretty well sorted out around it. Thus often, that doesn't happen 'till the singer's gone.
You're looking at the general low end weight' or extension - HP filtering and/or low shelves typically there, then perhaps narrower tweaks for trouble spots.

It's not 'recording a bass/baritone', it's 'recording a vocal'. :)
 

Michael Ward

New member
Thanks guys good tips. I'll apply this when I record myself.

MixSit: I like your linked project: Ray Catfish Copeland. Good clear mix. I can hear everything with good EQ balance.

Actually that leads me on to Question 3:
Would you be willing/able to share a short clip of one of the lead vocal tracks dry? Perhaps 'Maggie's Farm' or another one sung in the lower range?

I'd like to listen to the noise, recording clarity etc... at the point before any effects are applied, for reference when recording myself. (I don't know if this would be a problem for the band?)

Also, any other comments on Question3 anyone?
 

mixsit

Well-known member
Here you go.
The vocal is an RE-20 > Chameleon 7602- probably a click of HP filter (50?) on the pre. I don't hear the re-20's 'crinkle top on the raw file and may have been using the foam boot on the mic...

There's not a lot going on eq wise in the vocal on this one.
In the full mix there's an 18dB per oct HP at 85 and 2dB bump at 7k (Q1), then a bit of UAD 33609 - limiter only in the slow attack mode.

1st track voc solo w/ the two verbs at first, then raw and dry.
2nd is dry w/eq and limiter
Then full mix snippet.

View attachment Maggie's w-o fx.mp3

View attachment Maggie's w-eq and limiter.mp3

View attachment Maggie's full mix .mp3

The verbs are UAD EMT250 (warm), and an Aether small bright plate (both under one second.
 

Bob Ross

Your god hates me
It's not 'recording a bass/baritone', it's 'recording a vocal'. :)

Would you record a subcontrabass saxophone the same way you would record a sopranino saxophone? Hopefully only in some extremely generalized fashion; pretending the register and tessitura of an instrument aren't important to capturing them accurately is a path fraught with peril.
 

mixsit

Well-known member
Would you record a subcontrabass saxophone the same way you would record a sopranino saxophone? Hopefully only in some extremely generalized fashion; pretending the register and tessitura of an instrument aren't important to capturing them accurately is a path fraught with peril.
I think you skipped the most of it, then missed the point of my little jest', being -
"It's 'recording" The considerations are rather universal. I.e...
Set your initial mic distance and placement for your best guess for a 'neutral' and appropriate tone balance capture. How intimate is it supposed to sound as well - sometimes in conflict with low end weight ?
Test it in the mix. ..etc
 
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