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  #1  
Old 03-01-2023, 11:10 AM
HRose HRose is offline
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Default Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

I am hearing some rough edges on the vocals for my new album. Can't figure out the source. Happy to pay for an experienced pro audio engineer to listen and help out. Style is Trop Rock. Think "It's Five O'clock Somewhere," "Some Beach," or "Two Pina Coladas." Music tracks sound fine to me, but there is some edge or distortion on the vocal. Varies by song. Vocal is not clipping. Recorded at -10 db or more. But, I am a self taught home studio "engineer." Not the best, I know, but I've done OK in the past. Have learned a lot from doing over the years.

Songs are mixed in Pro Tools Studio. Some vocals recorded at professional Las Vegas studio. Some recorded in my home studio. Music produced in Reason 12 (MIDI plus acoustic guitar). Vocals recorded in Pro Tools. Plugins are from AVID, iZotope & Waves. Mastered in WaveLab 9.5. Running iOS Ventura 13.1 on iMac. Scarlet 18i20. Neumann TLM103 with portable vocal booth.

This is a serious effort. I have had millions of video views in the past few years on social media. I need to release a solid quality album for streaming and download sales.

I could really use an assist or a referral to someone who can help me straighten this out.

Much Thanks!
HRose
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2023, 12:10 PM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

Hmm, some basic troubleshooting is in order:
#1-disable all plugins(hold SHIFT while opening a session) and listen(maybe its a plugin causing the problem)
#2-describe the entire vocal chain(mic>preamp>interface...anything else in the chain?). I see what you have, but what about the Las Vegas studio?
#3-how loud is the singer(could it be the voice is over-driving the mic)?
#4-is it ALL vocals, or only those done on your home setup?
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Old 03-01-2023, 04:32 PM
HRose HRose is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

Thanks so much for the follow up on my issue. Looks like I need to double check some things to answer your questions. I’ll dig deeper and respond tomorrow. I have 13 songs mixed and mastered. So, it will take some checking.

Thanks!
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Old 03-01-2023, 09:35 PM
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

Something else to consider is the "loudness" of the overall mix on the master bus. Audio Engineering Society recommends -14 LUFS as the upper limit for music as an "integrated LUFS" value. They also specifically recommend hitting that -14 with Peak dB in fact not as close to zero as possible. They specifically refer to reducing the possibility of distortion (what I personally hear you possibly describing). They even openly suggest keeping peaks of program material below -9 dBFS as then if YouTube or Spotify does loudness normalization you won't get the "loudness penalty" in your dynamic range.

If you're at -14 LUFS integrated, and your peaks are not -10 to -8 dBFS, but instead -3 to -0.5, the thing you might be doing is hurting speakers with the transients and getting intermittent distortion with the hot signal.
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Old 03-02-2023, 07:54 AM
HRose HRose is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

Thanks so much for the info. I do think it is distortion. Possibly from making the mix too "hot." It's puzzling. Does sound like the speakers sometimes. But my speakers are very good. Blue Sky SAT 6.5 with 12 in subwoofer. I usually use the EBU R-128 standard for loudness. This is a process setting in WaveLab. I will check the output levels more carefully and see what it shows. It's odd that everything sounded pretty good two weeks ago before I processed all the mixes through WaveLab. I might have missed something there like a lingering plugin. It's hard to wear all the hats all the time!

Thank You!

HRose
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  #6  
Old 03-02-2023, 09:10 AM
HRose HRose is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

To albee1952: 1. Issues exist with vocals done at home studio and Vegas studio. 2. I bypassed all plugins. Mixed bag. "AIR" plugin might be part of the issue. It seems to add an edge to the vocals. 3. Singer is me. Baritone to Bass voice. Some phrasing does cause peaks (already normalized for mix, though). Probably need compression to level it out a bit. 4. Vocal chain at Vegas studio different than home studio. They put EQ, Compression and AIR on the vocal. I bypassed them for work at home. Added my own. Didn't like the way my voice sounded with their adjustments. Took away the natural sound of my voice. Recording at home I just used the mic into Pro Tools Studio via Scarlet 18i20. Then added plugins and adjustments. May have to remix all of the tunes. Yikes!
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Old 03-02-2023, 09:17 AM
HRose HRose is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

I adjusted the studio monitor settings. I had turned them down recently after having a speaker repaired. Took monitor levels up to 0 db. Now I am driving less gain through the DAW. Sounds much better. May have been part of the issue. Your comment on volume levels made me think of it. Still, there are issues. Looks like I need to remix all the tunes at lower levels. Yea! What fun to do everything over.
Thanks!!
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  #8  
Old 03-02-2023, 04:30 PM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

More thoughts:
1-making mistakes is part of the learning process so don't be too tough on yourself(lessons learned the hard way are learned well)
2-Normalizing does not eliminate clipping once its recorded that way(it just turns things down or up and I almost never normalize)
3-You never mentioned session settings(either on your rig or on the Vegas rig) so consider; ALWAYS make your sessions 24 bit(no matter what sample rate) for increased headroom. My preference is to work at 24 bit/48K(for several reasons we don't need to delve into right now).
4-Assuming you have a Master track(and you should use one), you should never allow it to clip(hit red) and if you need to bring it down more than a few db, I would lower the entire mix(personal preference). In fact, I insert a TRIM plugin(defaulting to -8) on every AUDIO and INSTRUMENT track(in the last slot) in all my mixing sessions. This will lower the entire mix while keeping the overall balance the same(assuming AUX tracks are fed by post-fade sends)
5-If you record "as hot as possible", drop this bad(and old) habit. This made sense in the days of analog and tape recording to achieve the best signal to noise on tape. With digital, this "problem" doesn't exist. Just hitting the yellow is hot enough
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2023, 05:58 AM
HRose HRose is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

Thanks so much for the advice. I think I know how to fix this now. There was no clipping during recording. Settings were 24/48. Music tracks are already mixed. Just adding in the vocals. I normalized them, though. Should lower the music tracks to match the vocals instead of raising the vocals I guess. This is the first time I have recorded vocals at - 10+ db. So they sounded too low compared to the music tracks. Pretty good quality with editing, tuning, etc. Hope this works. I’m so close at this point. Thank You!!!
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  #10  
Old 03-03-2023, 08:06 AM
HRose HRose is offline
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Default Re: Need Pro Audio Consult on Vocal Issue

UPDATE. I started over with the title cut. 24/48 session. No normalization. Working at low db levels. Using AVID plugins. And........Success! Thank You! Must be great to have all this knowledge and experience. It's such a jungle to me. But, thanks to your advice, I think I can pull this off!
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