Vocal Overdubs

 

Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

 

Lesson Info

Vocal Overdubs

I think it time for vocals. Alright, here we go, would you get your singer please? Yeah, are we gonna do other guitar, the ending guitar solo again? I don't think so, I think we're good. Alright, sweet. Alright, I think the energy just comes up naturally without extra stuff. There she is, ready to rock. Alright, let's go talk about vocals. Okay. Come on it. Movin' in! Alright. Okay. Alrighty. We're gonna talk about these two vocal mics, we don't know which one to choose, they're both fabulous. Here, step up to this, this is a little tall for you, I'm gonna lower it a little bit. This one here. This one like this, here we go. This thing will have to go with it. It will have to come off and go... Alright, that's good, that's good. There we go. Beauty. How about there, yeah? I'm trying to see if it's a little, this might work. Okay, step over here. Let's see what the height on this one is while he's wrestling with that. This is still a little tall. I ...

like to have the singer not have to strain at all. I want your chin to be down when you're singing. I'm into that. So that's gonna be better. Is it a little bit lower? Let's go a little bit lower, make sure we don't have to rearrange to much. There we go. Alright, here's your headphones. Awesome. We're going to listen to both of these and see what we've got going and pick one of these two mics. This is a, tell us about this Scott, what is this number again? That is a Sony C37A, so it's just like the C37P but it's a tube microphone instead. C37... A. A. Alright. Sweet. Okay. And that should be... And the other one, tell us about this other one which is a-- This is a Neumann M269, so it's basically just like a U67 but with a AC701 tube in it. So it's different tube, same capsule, same volume. Sound's fabulous, doesn't it? (laughter) I don't know. Okay. It's a vocal mic. Sounds great. I think I prefer the tubes in this one... (laughter) No, it's actually gonna be great. So, let's start with this one. Okay. And we'll do a little listening, and then we're gonna repatch and then we're gonna listen to that one. So, starting with the Neumann. Alright. And we'll start in that first verse. Alright, I gotta prepare some vocal tracks now. What's that? Why is that there? What is that? That may be me. Was that you? But I may have... I may have duplicated a track instead of... Okay, I'm going to delete that because I do not know what that is. Uh-oh. Just hide it. (sighing) Alright. Oh boy. I am going to just-- It looks like a duplicate of one of these. It does, but we're gonna-- So I would just hide-- Sort that out later, we'll sort that out in the mix. Okay, awesome. Actually I'm gonna leave it in the session because I'll forget about it. And I'm gonna create some new tracks. The vocal channel will be input 23. Okay. And then whatever outputs you want on the board, they should respond accordingly. And we can probably nuke the click track on the board, so if you need to use channel 32 as an output we can get rid of that click track over there. I don't think she's gonna need it. Okay, let me prepare these inputs. 23... And let's see, so. I'm gonna write this out here, here's our guitar overdubs, and then this was the Black and Decker. I got 1, 2, 3 and that click track which I think we can get rid of. Alright, so I'm gonna just start with 1, 2, 3 for vocals. So that is 29. Output 29 is our first one. We're just doing a little rearrangements here so don't mind us, we'll be right there. We can't actually hear you yet. Output 29, right? We're starting at 29, yes. Alright. I really like to continue to communicate with the singer who's out in the room or anyone who's out in the room behind the glass, it's really nice to keep contact with them, to let them know what's going on. Especially if we can't hear them and they can't hear us. Well hopefully, they're hearing us. Okay, here we go. Can you hear me? Hello? Is she getting? She should hear you. She's got headphones on. Hey, you got us in there? Nope, okay. Scott's gonna take care of that. I can't hear you. Oh, it's 'cause she grabbed her headphones, not the other, the guitar headphones. Wrong headphones? Yeah. What's going on? Yeah I left only her headphones plugged in. Oh okay. We can switch it out but I just, I unplugged all the other headphones so we didn't have any bleed in the room. Hold on, that's gotta go. Yep, you got it? Alright. Alright and there you go, that should be enough slack. Give me some slack. Now you should hear it. Alright, oh yeah. Much better. Scott? Yes? Are we going through our vocal chain now? We are. Alright, fantastic, it sounds great already, I can tell this is gonna be good. Now that's the Neumann. That is the Neumann. Alright. Can you give me a little sample of your vocal in that verse? Your sexy, sexy vocal? Oh. (chuckling) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona Arizona ♪ Oh, that is silky! ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ (Sylvia and Scott talking) ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story? ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ Alright. ♪ She pushed me up on her motoguzzi ♪ Whew! ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ Alright, we need some more of this juice here. (vocalist humming) ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ Beautiful, now how loud are you gonna get? Oh, I'm probably gonna do some screaming. Seriously? (humming) Come on! Give me some loud, give me some loud! Yeah, yeah, yeah (laughing) ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ Okay. Get loud! What? Loud! Louder? You want it loud? Loud, loud! Oh yeah, I guess I do have another part in that. (laughing) Alright, come on! ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ Oh shit... ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ ♪ No, no, no... ♪ ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ Alright, I like it. That's some good stuff, give me that sexy first verse again. Okay. ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona Arizona ♪ Alright, I think we're ready. Cool. Okay, we're gonna record one verse with this mic and then they're gonna swap over to the other mic. Pull up some lyrics. Say what? Do you need a music stand for lyrics or anything? Oh no no, I'm good. Okay no when you are singing I'd like you to think of a couple things. I want you to smile, because when you smile it makes your voice bright, it's like adding an EQ to your voice without plugging any equipment in. It really will make your voice brighter, so smile, I wanna see the teeth. And I want you to also really put yourself in Sedona, Arizona and this place where you are, you meet the speed queen. And really tell the story, because there is a story to tell here. Okay? Do it. And, we're gonna just do a little sample right now, here we go. (upbeat rock music) ♪ Met her at a bar in Sedona Arizona ♪ ♪ Took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story? ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her motoguzzi yeah! ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they called-- ♪ Ah-ha, boy those guitars just came blazing in, didn't they? (laughing) Whitney's guitar, I can hear that clear. Whoo-hoo! (laughter) Alright, that was coming along really good. So let's swap mics. You wanna swap mics? I want to listen to that other microphone, but I do like the sound of this mic. Yeah. I'd like to do a little EQ, if we're gonna use this mic I'll do a little EQ to brighten it up. Would you do the swap on that right now? Yeah, you want to make sure it's not in input? Okay, hang on, I will take it out of record, and you should be good. I can't hear you for a second. Should be good now. Alright, so we're gonna... And it looks like the gain is about the same. Let me kick that up. Great. Cool, EQ's out. Alright. A little more gain here. Hang on, don't touch please. Okay, get loud for me please. (vocalist singing) Now... So that's the top one-- So this is the one, right here. And that's all the way up? Yep. Okay. And the same chain, still the LE2A through the 1176. Great. ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen! ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ Alright, I'm making a decision right now. I already know that the Neumann is our mic. Okay. So let's just go right back. Let's go back to that first mic again. Yep. I think it just adds, there's more full body on the Neumann. The Sony's nice but it's a little too... Brash on the top. So, we'll just go with the Neumann. And we're gonna go back with what we had. I'd like to listen to your voice a little more just singing on your own in the verse because I'm gonna add some EQ now. So go ahead. ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story? ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ I'm just adding a little... ♪ Red lipstick ♪ ♪ And high waisted pants ♪ Adding a little upper mid and a little brightness on the top to give it more presence. I think it's gonna be better now. Thank you. Alright, let me get situated here, and we'll just start running through the whole song. Let's do a take from beginning to end. Okay. I'm gonna start you in the same place. Sounds good. Here we go. (upbeat rock music) ♪ Met her at a bar in Sedona Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story? ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her motoguzzi yeah! ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ Her pitch is excellent, it's really good, right? ♪ I knew right then that I finally found her ♪ ♪ Climbed on the back and wrapped my legs around her ♪ ♪ I felt so fine, I felt so free ♪ ♪ I was looking for her, she was looking for me ♪ ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen! ♪ (electric guitar solo) ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ (electric guitar) So we could end right now? Great. Alright, you know what the second chorus I thought you were rushing through that and I'm wondering if we shouldn't have the click running in there at a low level just so you know where you're at? Okay. It's not in the print.... Oh, man. Lesson learned. Always print your click. Yeah. Never mind about the click, you'll be fine. (laughter) Yeah. Of course, alright, we're gonna get that second chorus, and let's see, I want to make sure we're in the right spot, 'cause I think you're just rushing it a little bit. Alright? So it's right after the solo. Alright, we're gonna save that, okay, here we go. And... Here we go. Are you there? Yep. Great, here we go. (electric guitar solo) ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ Bap bap bap bap. I wonder if there shouldn't be a... I know sometimes she does it different ways. It seems like it's matching up a little differently, maybe it should be "What's your name?" Mm-hmm, yeah I can-- And not that, "What's your na-a-ame?" You want to try that? I'll try that, yeah, I can hear the kick come in earlier than, yeah. Yeah, earlier than usual, it's kind of off. Yeah, okay. Here we go. I'm going to, I'm gonna save that, saving everything all the time. (electric guitar) ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ Seemed to be better. I don't feel like it has as much umf to it. Alright, I'm moving her... Well let's try another and just go all out with it. Just whatever feels good. Okay. Alright, here we go. (electric guitar solo) ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ That seemed to be the best. That was good-- We love it, we love it! Alright, let's see. I think we wanna double the choruses, alright? Okay. So let me do a quick edit with what you've just done. Alright. A quick comp, and then we'll do a pair of doubles. Okay. Okay, hang tight. Alright so it was this take that I really liked that, and I'm just gonna copy that into our full take, bing bang bong. (clicking) Uh-huh, and I think we've got our master comp finished, and I'm gonna label it as lead vocal comp. Great. Now... Let's see, we're gonna do some overdubs now. We're gonna do a pair of overdubs in the choruses. I'm gonna create some new playlists on the existing tracks that I have for vocals here, and we'll just use those. And this will be really good. Quick. (clicking) I'm gonna double... I'm gonna figure out, okay, we're in the right spot. Here we are, we're parked really close to the chorus, first chorus, and just double what you've already done. Okay? Okay. Now the outputs are going to be 30 and 31. Hang on a sec while I just change this. So I'm gonna have these coming back on two separate... I think she should be getting-- Tracks. She's getting all of those in her headphones equally right now. Good. So she'll hear the doubles too. Great, I'm gonna turn down your lead vocal so that you can really hear... Or no, is her? You will have to pull it out of her headphones a little bit too. So the headphones are in pre, right? Yeah, they're pre, yes. Let's take it out of pre actually. Okay, there you go. Great. They're post on her vocals right now. Okay. Everything else is pre except for her vocals. Okay great, so here we go. As soon as you know where you're at just join in, just start singing along. ♪ She said I might go fast but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ Oh, the last part. I ferked that up. (laughter) Alright, let's do the whole thing one more time. I'll save that on a playlist just in case. Just as a backup. Just as a backup, here we go. ♪ She said I might go fast but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ Was that alright? Better. Alright, okay. Alright let's triple it now. Oh, triplets. Big fam. Whew, here we go. (electric guitar) Oh, whoops. Hang on, operator error. I need to change that over to that, okay, and turn that on, okay, here we go. ♪ She said I might go fast but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ Great, excellent. So just to explain what I've just done, is I'm having her sing the choruses again and again and I'm using those as doubles but I'm not letting her listen to her original track. I find that a lot of times it's just faster and easier if you don't have to match what you've done before, don't worry, it will work out. (laughing) I like it. I'm sure that you could actually match it very well, but it's just easier to do it this way for now. Let's go straight to the next chorus, we'll do the same thing and then we'll be done. Hang on a second, we're going back to this double track here. And like you did before, as soon as you know where you're at, Jump on it? Jump on in. Alrighty. ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ Whew, sexy! Was that alright? Yeah, I think I do like a harder... Speed... Alright, we'll listen to the, let's listen to the end of the original just to see what you did on the end of that one. I think I did a little different. Hang on. (song recording) Yeah, you did the hard queen on that. That was like a Q-W-E. Qw-ay-n! Qw-ay-n! (chuckling) So how about if I just punch you in on that last speed queen? Okay. Okay? Sing along when you know where you're at. Nope, not that one, here that one. Here we go. ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ There you go. Yeah! That was easy enough. Alright, we're gonna do the triple now. Triplet. Here we go. This will be the whole chorus one more time. Okie doke. The second chorus, here we go. ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ ♪ I met a girl they called the speed queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the speed queen ♪ It's a beautiful, beautiful thing! (chuckling) Alright, we got one more, and this is after the solo. One more little bit, let's listen to the original just to make sure we know what you did. Okay. (song recording) ♪ Name! ♪ Okay. Alright, alright, here we go. Okay. Alrighty. Easy enough, here we go. (rock music) (laughter) Zoned out. Alright, now that you know where you're at, here we go. ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ Eh, okay, I think that's gonna work. Let's triple it. Here we go, I'm getting a new track. Bing, bang, and we're rolling. ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey, what's your name? ♪ Beautiful! Come on in. Alright. I think we have... Alright, alright, alright. I think we have it. I think we've got a great lead, we've got some doubles, and I think we're ready to move on to some other things. (laughing) I have to say that the next segment is going to be very interesting because we're going to have some fun in the next segment. So we'll take a break and we'll come back, and some unexpected things will be happening. Awesome, can we do some questions before we go to break? Yes! We're okay with that? Uh-huh. DO you ever use a reflection filter on the vocals? On the vocal mics? Reflection filter, let me think of what that is, is it like a thing that goes behind? No, but what I do is a work in an open space as much as possible, so I might actually do vocals right here in the control room with the singer right next to me so there's no reflection. I don't like to work in small rooms for vocals because you do hear that. If I was to work in a small room I would use a reflection filter, yes. Awesome. Uh-huh. Can you go over the compression and EQ settings for the vocals again? What do you look for to dial that in and why? Alright, generally I'll use a tube mic for this style of vocal, however, we had a SM58 set up just in case. I am really happy with the Neumann sound and I think it was appropriate for this, but if the singer needs to bend into the vocal I might have a hand-held, and I think that's really important to allow your singer to be really comfortable with their own performance. So we didn't need that this time. So the vocal mic is going into two compressors. First it's going into the Neve 1073 Mic Pre EQ. It's a simple EQ and I add a little bit of upper mid range to kind of poke the vocal forward, through, a little bit of high. And I find it's just, it will come through really nicely. Then I have the LA2A compressor and then the 1176, the LA2A is tubey and soft and it... Is that in compressor limit mode? Somebody asked about the LA2. It is in compress mode, yes. Okay. And... Yeah and so it's just kind of soft and it brings up some of the quiet parts. What I want to do is be able to have the singer feel comfortable with whatever vocal level they're working at and not have the ride the vocal. So I'm letting the big tube compressor do a lot of that riding of the quiet stuff up. And then the, if there's any super loud stuff then that gets clamped down with the second, the 1176. Okay. And that's fast, and it will bring down the wild stuff, you know? I like to let the singer just kinda do what they do and I don't wanna tell them, "No, no, no, "back off when you get to the loud part," or you know, lean in. I like them to just not think about technique, I want them to think about the song and performance and the lyrics and what the song is about. So that's kind of my strategy. Cool, maybe one more question and then we'll go to break? Okay. Sylvia you rock. Do you use high-pass filters in the recording stage or wait 'til mixing? On what instruments or sounds? Any specific unusual EQ you do in tracking that you'd like to mention? Oh, well we're using high-pass filters in this recording because the crazy guitar recording that we just did had kind of a big rumbly hum underneath it, so we used a high-pass to get rid of that. And yes, that was in the tracking, I'm not gonna save that for mixing. Other places that I'll use a high-pass filter, it will be in vocals, I'll use it with the cymbals, overheads, high hat, that kind of stuff. And then I'll touch it up in Pro Tools with high-pass filters there too. But yes, I like to use high-pass filter, and thank you very much. (laughter)

Class Description


Over the last 30+ years, Sylvia Massy has built a career as one of the gutsiest and most innovative recording engineers and producers. She has worked with legends like Prince and Johnny Cash, and won awards for her work with bands like Tool, System of a Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will get a peek inside the recording process of one of rock’s legendary engineers. 

While she is a proficient master of vintage gear, Sylvia stresses that great records come not from having the right gear, but from capturing great performances. Join Sylvia as she records a song in the studio with Seattle alt-rock band Thunderpussy, and learn how to work with an artist to capture that magical take in your own work.

Pulling from her years of experience and sharing stories from her newly published book Recording UnHinged, Sylvia will show you:

  • How to get interesting and vibrant drum sounds, using the room and the drummer to your advantage
  • Capturing great sounding guitars at the source, without editing and reamping
  • Pushing vocalists to deliver their best vocal takes 
  • Mixing both in the box and through a console using outboard gear

Sylvia is also known as a prolific educator, speaking and teaching at some of the best recording schools around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s most celebrated A-list producers. 


Reviews

Jimmy Foot
 

This Studio Pass episode with Sylvia Massey covers a lot of ground. From fundamentals like correct mic placement and phase to experimentation with amps, cell phone delay and a few extra parts, Sylvia makes it fun! I have been lucky enough in my career to work with a number of great engineers and producers. I haven't had the opportunity to work with her, but Sylvia is certainly in that category, and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be a lucky person. This broadcast is the next best thing. Great job there at Avast Studio and fantastic camera work! And as for Thunderpussy; you guys rock!

Marc Felish
 

Wow, that was such a blast. Thanks so much Sylvia and everyone else for making this such a fun experience. I picked up so many new ideas that I can't wait to try out! Sylvia is such a creative producer, it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall watching everything. Loved it!!

Marcus Soares
 

Awesome! A great opportunity to pick into the creative mind of one of the greatest and get that kind of knowledge that you can't acquire otherwise. Highly recommended!