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  #1  
Old 03-01-2005, 07:00 AM
toofly4asoundguy toofly4asoundguy is offline
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Default stacking vocals

I was wondering how you guys prefer to stack vocals. I typically like to have all parts except the bass singer lay another stack pass. But sometimes I do get some pretty good results by just stacking the harmonies and no melody part. I hope you know what i am talking about, this is directed more for the guys who record quartets and mixed groups and such. And do you prefer having them just huddle around the mic, or record each part seperately for the stack pass. Tried them both, and just wanted to get another opinion. Maybe there is another way that might work better that i dont know yet. Thanks
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2005, 07:31 AM
millicent frndly millicent frndly is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

Hopefully, I'm understanding the question, I don't know if you're talking about acapella groups or not... my band does alot of 3 part harmonies. Usually when I record vocals, the lead (me) gets 2 tracks stacked as closely as possible. (usually I'll record the first track trying to keep the pitch as on as my voice will let me, then mute that track and try to sing it exactly the same as the first take... ) Once done, I go back and listen to both together and fix any odd notes, rhythms or whatever. Then I basically do the same for the other 2 vocalists... Once done the song determines whether or not I use the stacks in the actual mix, but I always record them... Sometimes I'll use it only on the backgrounds, sometimes it's on all... sometimes I don't even use the stacks. It just depends on what sounds best.

If you're recording an acapella group, I would still say, let each guy have his own track/mic... it makes it more mixable in the end... otherwise you're stuck with however close to the mic they were all standing. If they're better singing together... use 4 or however many mics and have them all in the same room, singing at the same time but into different mics. You'll get a little bleed (more depending on how you set up the mics) but it still won't be as bad as everyone singing into the same microphone. (different peoples voices will need different EQ... better to keep them separate, in my humble opinion.)

Good luck and I hope that helps a little..

chris
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  #3  
Old 03-01-2005, 07:48 AM
doylemusic doylemusic is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

If you are speaking of barbershop quartet style, I'd say if the group is good and well rehearsed go with one mic. That's how they used to do it back in the day and many of those recordings sound good. I've been in a minimalist mode lately, sometimes I think we throw up too many mics....just becasue we can! So I'd say try to get one mic to work maybe two at most. If the group is not so "talented" I'd track them all on their own mic, or track seperately.

If you are talking about a band scenario with instruments, etc... I'd track them on their own mic. I have tracked multiple background vocals on one mic with good success, it's all about positioning. Good luck.
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  #4  
Old 03-01-2005, 08:37 AM
asa asa is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

I usually take two different approaches. If the group is intended to be a 4 part harmony or more of that quartet/barbershop feel, I typically take Doylemusic's approach and use one mic, very seldom do I stack at all, though sometimes I track the lead vocal part seperately in this scenario.

For times when trying to add fullness or harmonies to a single voice part, by layering the voice, I usually track a seperate take or two and keep the vocal phrasing as closely as possible, taking into account the correct pitch if we are making a harmony. Another trick that can be interesting is to record the lead part, then record a backing part, now duplicate the backing part to another track. Pan one duplicate hard left, the other hard right and turn them down in the mix some. Now start to nudge one of the backing tracks with a very small nudge value, 1msec is what I use. You probably wont have to nudge much to notice the difference, this can be used to create a wide stereo backing harmony, but will also introduce phase issues, but can sound great in certain scenarios, when done correctly.

my 2 cents.
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Old 03-01-2005, 09:16 AM
madrock madrock is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

Quote:
Usually when I record vocals, the lead (me) gets 2 tracks stacked as closely as possible. (usually I'll record the first track trying to keep the pitch as on as my voice will let me, then mute that track and try to sing it exactly the same as the first take... ) Once done, I go back and listen to both together and fix any odd notes, rhythms or whatever. Then I basically do the same for the other 2 vocalists... Once done the song determines whether or not I use the stacks in the actual mix, but I always record them...
why bother? the song is already there, right? so you should be able to determine in which parts a double will and won't work, hence forth saving time and your voice!

to answer the original question, it really does depend on the type of music it is. often doubled harmonies can be useful to add texture and width to certain parts.

if it's acapella (or just something that needs to be live) and everyone's up for it, a single mic or stereo pair is your best bet.
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Old 03-01-2005, 09:42 AM
cruisemates cruisemates is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

I was at my engineering apex in the 80s, and the style then (listen to Steely Dan, Aja, etc) with background vocals was so consistent everyone knew how you would be working before you even got to the studio.

Lead vocals - usually single pass, sometimes (rarley) doubled. They are doubled far more often these days.

But B/G vocals always went like this. Get three singers and assign them different harmonic parts. Put up 1 mic. Put two tracks in record ( L & R ). Record a section (chorus 1 for example), roll back, take one track out of record, and re-record the second track. The first pass through, everyone hears the voices in the center (sum of L & R), second pass through you hear the split double track.

And that was always a very rich sound. There was another thread here where someone was discussing some producer who multi-tracks his one voice 36 times (or something), and I came to the conclusion that was necessary because the sonority of his voice was so similar on every track it took that many passes to achieve fullness. There is a fuller blend when you combine different voices. That being said though, they should be either three females or three males. It was unusual (but not unheard of) to blend sexes on the same track.

Also, once the singers had their parts, I would usually do all the similar parts of a song back to back. If they knew the chorus, I would record the all the choruses first. Then we would pick up the verses. If any single section of a chorus (for example) was very difficult, we would do just that part in the song back to back while everyone had their pitches in mind. Fortunately, I worked with a lot of professional singers in Hollywood & Studio City who could read music and sing very well.

For Barbershop, though, it would be one-pass "live" but I would put everyone in the the same room, but on separate mics. If I had a square room, I would put each singer in a corner looking towards the center. That way they could hear each other, but the cardioid mics gave max seperation.
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  #7  
Old 03-01-2005, 09:44 AM
millicent frndly millicent frndly is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

Madrock wrote:

why bother? the song is already there, right? so you should be able to determine in which parts a double will and won't work, hence forth saving time and your voice!

Because I'm a big fan of having options and until I have everything tracked I don't really know what I'm doing w/ my mix. I'm no pro, I'm a home recordist so I just do what feels right and get as much on tape as I want... then go weed crap out. It's not a waste and it saves me from having to go back and add something later. make sense? (I'm not saying my way is correct.. it's just the method I use.) Besides... my voice is strong like bull..
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  #8  
Old 03-01-2005, 10:17 AM
doylemusic doylemusic is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

Quote:

And that was always a very rich sound. There was another thread here where someone was discussing some producer who multi-tracks his one voice 36 times (or something), and I came to the conclusion that was necessary because the sonority of his voice was so similar on every track it took that many passes to achieve fullness. There is a fuller blend when you combine different voices.
Definetly agreed, the same can be said for horn players too (probably gtrs for that matter). Every instrumentalist has their own voice. So even doubling yourself doesn't necessary get you a wider sound unless you do some things to alter it (pan, detune, delay/time-displace).

Quote:

That being said though, they should be either three females or three males. It was unusual (but not unheard of) to blend sexes on the same track.
I believe you were speaking more of what was common practice as opposed to your beliefes? But I tend to disagree with this, again, it's all about placment. I've heard it done with good results. Sometimes less is more and easier. I'm trying to get away from the "I have 32 tracks and am not afraid to use them" attitude. I got more compliments on a drum mix I did for someone a few weeks ago, using 4 mics, then when I mic'ed up everything. That said, there are times when you need to multi mic.....key word "need" to.
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  #9  
Old 03-01-2005, 01:55 PM
toofly4asoundguy toofly4asoundguy is offline
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Default Re: stacking vocals

the way my gospel quartet did it in a proffessional studio was sang all the lead parts, example... melody first, then the rest of the harmonies and all of those were done induvidually, then the triad would go in and huddle around one mic and lay down 2 stack passes to make it fuller. Then the bass singer would come and lay down all the low stuff..(gerk he had it so easy). thanx for your input.
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