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Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Lesson 14 of 26

Tracking Vocals

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

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Lesson Info

14. Tracking Vocals


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:06:20
4 Songwriting Q&A Duration:26:32
5 Tracking and Comping Drums Duration:27:24
6 Editing Drums Duration:16:25
7 Drums Q&A Duration:31:15
8 Micing an Amplifier Duration:25:09
9 Rhythm Guitar Tones Duration:18:52
10 Tracking Rhythm Guitars Duration:34:13
11 Tracking Bass Guitar Duration:23:34
12 Bass Q&A Duration:21:45
13 General Q&A Duration:16:30
  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Tracking Vocals Duration:18:27
3 Vocal Mixing on Galaktikon Duration:24:37
4 Vocals Q&A Duration:17:50
5 Mix Prep Duration:34:45
6 Mixing in Logic Pro Duration:42:03
7 Mixing Blazing Star Part I Duration:27:14
10 Mixing Blazing Star Part 2 Duration:19:34
11 Mixing Blazing Star with EQ Duration:30:09
12 Final Q&A Duration:24:12
13 Closing Thoughts Duration:11:22

Lesson Info

Tracking Vocals

Today we're here to talk about something that's very important to music the vocal a lot of people don't listen to music and it's got some kind of a human voice on it and uh knowing that we put voices on a lot of our music that we recorded together, we're working myself so we're going to play some music from a very vocal heavy album that I did called galactic on that came out in between uh, death album two and three um and it's very it's a record that I wanted to I like very melodic music and with death clock the vocal is gonna roll death metal vocal and I don't really get to put any melody inside of that vocal but I wanted to do a whole project for the kind of songs that I thought were little too melodic for death clock and so I got together with all rick and we recorded the drums with jean hogan and the base with brian valor and then I took all the sessions if you were watching yesterday you see the whole trajectory of how we start with an idea record the guitars record the the base a...

nd all that stuff and now we get to the part where the vocals in this case I took all the vocals home and with always help I set up a good microphone set up a way to record vocals and and ah and then started hacking away at it when I say hacking away I really mean hacking away it's really hard to do vocals by herself it's a really miserable process I'll say I'd say even worse than rhythm guitars locals it's hard yes if it was easy everybody would be doing it and the people who are doing it who don't think it's hard well there's a lot of bad vocals out there you know? I mean the internet is full of them right? But it is and I think the hardest part of vocals is well for a vocalist this too do something that look that is that is a very, very hard and taxing thing to do would make it look easy, right? Especially live because it is it's a full body intense thing I'm very much very tired you only have a very limited time that you are like a one hundred percent right and it makes sense and uh he like people get guys in that say I could do vocal straight hours a day is like, I'm sure you can, but you're only really good for like an hour, right? You know we're like that the top stuff is coming out on or you'll need to take breaks on didn't do again, but when you take breaks you have to re warm up and all that stuff but all right, it is it's. Not easy, it's. Not not it's. Not easy for anyone. Yeah, you know, I mean, but they make it look easy because they're professionals. Well, your job I equated to gets are playing to where if I have a new piece of guitar playing that I have written that may not fit under my fingers perfectly, I'm gonna have to learn howto get it under my fingers and with vocals, it's the same thing. Every time you do a new vocal thing, you have to retrain your voice to do that thing, and you're not necessarily comfortable. You're still learning this song. Plus at the same time, I'm riding the melodies as I'm in the place on experimenting with weird nonsense language, which I think a lot of people do to where they just start belting out syllables and weird things and just have it, and then it's embarrassing for anyone else to hear. But normally I'm by myself at that point. The other thing is about the human voices that, yes, it is a you have to be kind of engaged from your toes all the way to the top of your head because the voices, the way that I look at the voices it's like a big, flesh coded slide whistle. And it's really hard to get if you've ever tried to make a slight whistle, play a melody on a slide all it's like a trombone and it's really hard to zero in on those places and I learned a lot about vocals and I got a little bit better after the galactic contracted, where I hadn't really song seriously on a record before I belt it out percussion I've used the voices of percussion instrument, which is what death clock is, but this is a really good a great way to learn how to do vocals is to record yourself doing vocals and do stuff that's you know I have stuff that's at the top of my rings and I try to go try to exceed it I could maybe do it on one note, belt it out and then and then it's really interesting to try to take this stuff and try to get it up on his feet live to because that will teach you a lot about phrasing and and wind breathing when not none this record I didn't necessarily take that in the consideration, but that's how I heard the melodies and that's how I wanted to hear the melodies and if I'm gonna do it live I have to have six focus with me which we did one time so so anyway that's the philosophy of singing and technique we'll probably go over as we assess we'll probably hit a lot of stuff and if you guys have questions about that we'll answer those later on to but but just about setting up a microphone and getting stuff ready what's your what's your take on that well, the big question I get a lot of times is what's the perfect microphone leaving there for one thing there isn't really a perfect microphone because everybody's voice is different right? So if you have the luxury to take time and find like the perfect microphone for that singer like if you have a microphone locker full of microphones thin by all means we'll have added on go for it and find that microphone but don't do it at a time when the singer's ready to like lay down amazing local takes right you know s o my trick that I do when I recorded full band usually you know we we do basic tracks and guitar overdubs and basically it ups and all that's a process is a several day week long process or you know several weeks would have you in order for the singer not to get cold and lose his voice from touring or preproduction whenever I have him come in every day and laid down a couple of tracks on different microphones just rough vocals just for him to get his keep its jobs stay warm stay limber and that way I can test out two or three microphones each day and compare which ones work for him which ones don't and by the time we actually already to record vocals we have it all way have it all worked out now tio to get a little bit more specific which with kind of the idea of what is the right microphone for the right voice it's almost like everyone has a different tambor of voice some of its nasal e some of its bases some of it's somewhere in the middle and sometimes that microphone grabs certain frequencies a little bit better is that what you're talking about? Yeah microphone yeah they like they have a frequent respondent frequency response of a microphone a can either compliment or not compliment act with the vocal the sound of the voice like leg with any instrument you know so if you do have the time and the luxury to find that in a perfect microphone for that situation it's not a perfect microphone periods of perfect microphone for that situation then by all means try it out on dh find it um because it will make your recording that much better. Yes but yes if you have somebody with an idea that needs to be put down and you have a singer it's ready to go and he's going toe put down the perfectly or like the most amazing vocal takes right now the microphone that is set up where the singer is right now, that's the perfect microphone time because it's, really, when a singer wants to saying everything stops and you start saying, you know yes, it's, like you've got to do that, I wanted it a few rules of recording that makes sense. One of the thing I think, that keeps coming up with a working myself as we talk about all this equipment from the the universal audio preempts and the compressors to the marshall amps to the les paul, too, the boss pedal thing to everything else that's on that desk is that it's really hard? I noticed before answering into this world of professional music it's really hard for us musicians or us recording people to get our hands on this stuff and the mess around with it, and to get our hands on different microphones and mess around with it on lee when I started kind of having a career in this business that I get to mess around with the marshal plexi versus jason, I'm one hundred versus a bogner sheaf of versus you know, a box, a c thirty and hear all the tonal differences here. The differences between these old kind of payoff pickups versus seymour duncan's versus, like, like now, I swap out pickups, and I get different companies sending me really cool pickups and and I get to hear the different tonal qualities, we don't always get to do that stuff, because our only chance to really do that is what it gets our center and it's noisy, because people are playing eruption all the time, so we have to make our way through that, and we don't get a clear understanding of how everything sounds, but microphones, if you are lucky enough to have your own studio, you know, it is, I wish they were like a swap out program at guitar center or sam ash, where you could just try a different microphone every week. Maybe there is somebody you can use a lot of places, have the like, by the microphone and check it out or any gear, and if you don't like it's, we're doing that stuff, it weakens some some face time with it, because that will help you understand what you love about certain, like friends. Now, for example, I have some really cool to microphones at home. I've got okay collection of microphones and, ah, different producer j russ, and he does a lot of the anthrax stuff said, you've got to check out this one, microphones to see one studio condenser from whatever I know what the company is, but it says c one studio condenser microphone and he says this may really work with your voice for some reason, I don't know why he said that maybe it's because he has it at his place, but I like this one likely from what I heard from this and I use it on this record is that I have a nasal e sounding voice you can hear me as I speak that it's kind of like it's higher in my knows skull cavity area, and when I sing, I can hear a lot more of that and gets a little, well, really sounding and this what this microphone does? Is it actually it carves the cue a little bit? It takes a little bit of the top nasal equality my voice out and makes it sound a little bit more velvety, little bit smoother sounding and that's that's. The reason I gravitate towards that microphone and plus it's there and it's set up, but when I go to a cleaner, more crisp sounding microphone and I think I have a two microphone that that is that it's, it's too much frequency, it's too much of the top and that I don't want to hear and I know I'm going be asking you to carve that away, sure, but going straight from that into my sixty one, seventy six and we'll get into the the pri's and all that stuff but going into that that's the sound I want to hear when I without any ikea with any effects without anything that's sounding microphone to see one studio concert so that's one of my things and I'm sure you've got a favorite microphone that you I like to go to first yeah I mean you always have like a like your favorites that you want to try first because that seems to war for you a lot of times but if it doesn't work for you you know change it out on an experiment to go back to like the microphone trials that I do with bands umm sometimes you stumble upon things that you would have never thought would happen because that happened with with static x at some point and with wayne may rest in peace uh he you know, he wanted to do these vocal trials every day just to keep his voice is always going on and we ran out of microphones after a while so we started way ran out of uh plausible vocal microphones until you know it's just I was just plugging these other things that we usually do not use on vocals for whatever reason right? And we stumbled upon one that it's no the compliment in his voice so well that it was really fascinating and we just stuck with it do you remember what that was? I think it was a kohl's ribbon mike but it's really like, which is intended mostly for way used mostly on rooms. It's the thing that looks like admit almost and, uh, ok, you know, we it's a dark sounding mike, but wayne at that time had had really of a scratchy thing on top of this voice, and it just attenuated that really nicely right? And yeah, yeah, so it's it's not always the, uh that would that's not a cheap mike, but it's not always like the black ship obvious, expensive vocal like that you need to have, um especially not for singers that don't play guitar don't play any instruments that hold their microphones live on and that's when, uh, the body as the vocalist really becomes apparent because you put your body into a position to hit these notes, like for instance, like, maybe the guy goes really compresses a whole body to reach these super high notes, whereas a micro like, you know, this does a thing like this, you can't do that when the microphone is up here, and so he can saying comfortable ism so you've got to take that in consideration when I might be going. A performer is used to holding his own microphone and the actual position of your body and the holding of the microphone is part of the instrument then you've got to consider that in recording. So what do you do? You have somebody hold a microphone, you you just use a hand held microphone because that is part of what needs to happen to that body to sing the way these things now that I know there's another part, I'm sorry. I don't know. You gonna say something? Uh conversely, it's the other way around somebody who, like, plays guitar while they sing, uh, they might need to actually have to guitar strapped on to get there singing done right? They are distinctly remember a guy who I was very excited about doing his vocals. We set it up real nice. We found we went through the trial of getting the perfect microphone, everything was awesome and he was ready to his vocals and he couldn't hit a note and I was like, he was he just basically is borderline crying on we really tried everything he tried also, we'll go into that a little bit later, when we tried everything and and that band was metallica, the one thing that was different was that he was not playing guitar while he was singing. He was the guitarist that's saying a singing really good talk that we set up the marshal cab, we put his guitar on a plate, the song while you're saying it perfect yeah, as soon as he stopped, he was all times dumbo needs the magic feather in order to fly, but he could fly the whole time he really could so that's that's an interesting thing so but I mean that's that's an interesting we haven't talked about that at all, which I think is an important thing and it kind of goes into it's we can go back into this, but you can go a little crazy and lets you do a little scared when you see the red recording light and that's something you have to find your way around and you as a producer have to talk a guy into talk him off the ledge talking about it before me because this is not a natural I mean, until you become a studio at which is something that you and I have become over the years you ah you're not at home in the studio you'd have to you're still kind of finding your way and you have he feels comfortable on the stage or in your bedroom as you have to be that comfortable in the studio. Another thing I noticed that you do I don't do it as much, but I've seen other people do it I know you do it is you sometimes put the person in the isolation booth and sometimes you bring them into the studio and you sing in the studio with a hand held with the fifty seven whatever it is, with what quiet studio monitors and the person's belting it out and sing along in the room, yeah, again, it speaks to comfort on debt and communication and, uh, just overall approach, we're not talking a lot of bleed into the microphone at that point, you know, I mean, that's, that's always the big fears, like bleed into the microphone and speakers, but you know, some of these headphones are open and they bleed into the microphone as well. And, you know, it's it's at the end of the day, it's a lot easier to fix a bad sound than it is to fix a bad performance to get to a point, obviously, if you if you've really fallen off the cliff for the bad sound like you're kind of stuck with it, but but there will probably be a little bit of bleed and headphones there always is. You know, I noticed my stuff from the first death element recorded all the vocals in my apartment in los angeles, and I had hardwood floors and you could hear my dog walking in the background, as I'm were, because I'm doing nathan explosion's voice you can hear if you isolate tracks, you can hear my dogs, little fingernails, tap dancing around just going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, you know, and you know that I was fortunate enough to hear, uh, michael jackson's vocal soloed. Yes, there's, a documentary that showed that go ahead and he's got to hear clapping and everything is his theory on this is, you know, it's, a big general in track, but, yeah, you never hear that stuff. Or just it adds. It kind of adds to the excitement of the track, somehow or another because there's, actually a purse and singing there, as opposed to this really sterile environment that isn't really not musical, right, it's, true, it's, true, it's, that's. A good point. You want to kind of. You want to make it, not stare, really wanna make it feel comfortable in front.

Class Description

Adult Swim's Metalocalypse is a cheeky parody of metal culture — featuring the shenanigans of a cartoon band called Dethklok. In Toontrack Presents: Studio Pass, you'll get a closer look at the creative process behind this mesmerizing metal powerhouse-turned-TV-series.

Brendon Small is the creator and primary musician driving Dethklok’s music, including its four full-length albums. In this installment of Studio Pass, Brendon and producer Ulrich Wild (Pantera, White Zombie, Slipknot, Deftones) will show how they compose, engineer, and mix the music of Metalocalypse – explaining the recording techniques used for Dethklok’s drums, bass, guitars, vocals and effects.

The music behind the hilarious spectacle that is Metalocalypse is no joke. Join Brendon and Ulrich for Studio Pass and learn about the unique creative process behind the music of Dethklok.


John Thaxton

I love Brendon. He has always treated fans super well. There's so much wisdom to be gained from listening to him about workflow and music in general. Great class!

Aaron Thurtell

Being someone new and looking into recording songs, I found this class very informative and in a way essential, the idea of recording seemed over whelming and I had no idea where to start, being a fan of Brendon small and Ulrich Wilds work on Dethklok and Galaktikon I found it very enjoyable and must for any fans of Brendon small looking into how he goes about making a record