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Recording a classical singer

posted on #1
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Had a classical singer in the studio the other day, thought it was a good idea to let her sing the Gospel.
Well…she blew my condenser away..so the recording was pretty useless because the distortion.
I tried to let her sing about 1 meter (and more!)Of the mike, but the reflection from the walls and ceiling spoiled the party.
I didn’t want to use a compressor or a limiter for I was looking for a pure natural recording.
Classical singers are trained to sing without a mike in relative big concert rooms and I couldn’t persuade her to sing softer because she said it would change the color of her voice.
Anyone has experience with recording classical singers in a home studio (I know it is no issue in a commercial recording studio with their perfect acoustics.
posted on #2
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I used a mixer where I can trim down the mic... but for sure you know how to use a mic if you record a singer because most singers don't come back if the recording fails... :)

I had never recorded vocals without very, very low compression at the highest dBs and of course I used a limiter which is never engaged if I trimmed right.

A trained studio singer handles the distance to the mic. The engineer turns down the fader where needed. :)
posted on #3
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It was for me, as for her an unusual recording session.
I kept asking for a rough edge in her voice and she hardly understood what that meant, so she forced her voice at times and it got out of pitch here and there, but she is willing and wants to do the session over again.
Maybe then I place a dynamic mic aside the condenser, dynamics can handle more pressure then condensers, track them both and mix them into one, fading the dynamic in and condenser out, where the signal gets distorted or let a side chain compressor do the job for me.
posted on #4
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Hey John!
I am still a bit surprised about the problems you are describing.
Of course, condensers are a lot more "touchy" than any other mics, but still - condensers are used for recording drums just as well, so saying a condenser mic was not capable of handling a professional opera singers volume seems a bit strange to me.
Knowing that you are no inexperienced user of microphones, I am surprised about your troubles there. I do assume you have turned down the gain for that microphone all the way, and are still having too much signal coming in, causing the distortion?!
A common solution to me would be to push the "-20dB" button on my mixing console, which lowers the signal accordingly before it reaches the preamp. This would indeed feel weird when using a microphone, it might do the trick tho (assuming your console has something like that).
All I can say is - I really dont believe its the construction of the microphone that is incapable of handling the vocals, it has to be the preamp.
Still, the dynamic-mic option is absolutely OK. I'm not sure if mixing both will really help, but you can try that as well.

Most importantly, try to make her feel comfortable singing - if you can't achieve that, the result will not be good regardless of all technical efforts :)
I believe the best engineers were also good psychologists when it comes to making artists feel good ...
Edited by Dick on January 05 2015 11:13
"Sorry - had to do it!" - Les Claypool

yes, you are looking at the administrators signature.
posted on #5
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I want to tell a little story about a recording session. (badly translated)
Me: "We now make the soundcheck. Please sing very loudly now! As loud as you can"
She sings and I adjust the trim and the fader.
Me: "You can sing louder. Please sing louder! As loud as you can! "
She sings and I adjust the trim a bit.

Now the songs start. She starts singing. Everything is DARK RED. :-)

I let her sing, turning the fader down after the first bar and re-adjusting the preamp-gain on the 2nd take. Moral: "Know your chicks!" :-)
posted on #6
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@ the Nickboy:.......women... ahh........! LOL
This is a classic :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2Rhh_4GZmU
As for the singer ,I don't know what went wrong, I’m always working on different projects at the same time,maby I overlooked something, fact is ,the signal came in my Daw at a very low level, no peaks that got out of the lane.
I found the Rode NT 1000 most suitable for her voice though it has no attenuator pad switch.
well.....best thing to do is to start from point zero the next time.
Still the mic..., I only use condensers as overheads on drums and occasionally on a snare, and only on the bottom, never on a bass drum and let this now be more or less be the equivalent of the pressure she produced :)
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