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Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Lesson 15 of 26

Vocal Compression While Tracking

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

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Lesson Info

15. Vocal Compression While Tracking


  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

Vocal Compression While Tracking

So you've got a microphone here you've got a compressor let's talk about that yeah, you know, every recording chain is really quite simple it's always the same thing you need something to capture whatever it is you're recording the microphone and that needs to be amplified to go through a pre empt and the next trick is an e q and a compressor and that's really all there is to it um with vocals I e I like to not e q too much if it all right uh because I don't want o like like harm that the vocal change that is when you have any que the guitar really need not much I mean, sometimes I do so be a little bit yeah yeah we went through the the focus right thing but for the most part you want to capture the sound of the night something that we didn't you know that I think we don't always talk about with the guitar amp is that the amp is going to sound like that maybe a little broader may be a little darker but that's the characteristic of the amps so when we played that plexi yesterday if you ...

go back and watch way plugged in this very old style amp and turn it really loud and made it sound pretty pretty good I thought it sounded great sound like it's it's a great amp and that's why it sounds good so but the base is going to sound like the base for the most part you want pretty much the flat signal and for the most part with a guitar you can probably if there's a if there's an offensive thing if you want to get some creamy or you can sound that way but you're not changing the tone alley too much it's the sound of the end yeah unless you start plugging in pedals are you know like all the effects wear stuff like that's something we didn't talk about that much yesterday but I think I'd like to reserve ah hunk of time to talk about guitars and pedals and all that stuff and other things we bring into the studio later on today so if you have questions about that, I'm interested in answering this because I'd like to cover as much guitar stuff because I think about that stuff very much sure, but so microphone into pre op I'm gonna walk over here and look at this place and see what we have and you know it's easy for us to say uh, you know, just use for gear that you have if all the gear that you have is great or you know is known to be great, yes, but I don't know how much bad equipment is available anymore out there, you know, it's all like really good to a certain level it's not necessarily amazingly amazing but it was it's really not horrible you know? So you can't let that get in your way, right? Eh? So what we have here uh is this little memory six tens gonna tubes in it? It's a wonderful unit has gotta preempt that has got a compressor I like we're not using this section of this balkan president we had the compressor not today, so we have a bypassed because my favorites for vocals are and uh eleven twenty six and a double compress into an l a to a the reason is the voice is kind of temperamental every voice is different so you got it dial it in according to the singer that you have but the idea is for the first compressor to get the main peaks like any kind of anything that kind of shoots out of the voice it's kind of like way too loud on dial that down a little bit this, you know, just just to hone it in right and then for the next compressor and there could be other compresses didn't have to be these two for the next compressor to just smooth out everything a little bit s o if they do different jobs it's not, uh they're set differently on dh the idea also is to not have one compressor work too hard because that can easily turn into, um you know just over compression and like a weird pumping thing and yeah you know so you wantto one of them's more leveling out and the other one's more like dominating like sudden peaks right ok so that's what we that's what we have set up um depending on your microphone this is ah condenser microphone it's a very nice little the microphone um it's a blue it's a blue uh it's a bluebird actually and in full disclosure I use those I have those and I'm friends with the guys that blue um the uh doesn't really matter which mike it is but if it's a condenser mike you gotta put on the uh phantom power and start can you explain what that means to havana barbers and uh they're dynamic mike's they don't need phantom power and phantom power is a voltage that makes them like operational because they have electronics inside them and so this is basically you could put a battery and they're technically if you were the ones that don't need fence and power plug in somewhere well are they don't or they don't need it they just don't need that just don't need power I looked in mike's before I've had someone power it's like a tomb I sure sure sure that's a that's a that's a tube which is also condenser microphone runs off a tube look and that needs extra power the phantom power is not enough to teo supply um basically it's just it's just an easier way to save batteries I mean technically speaking and some some microphones do operate on batteries if, uh if you find some of those you know but just to go from the signal chain again so you've got microphone into the pre empt and you have to make sure you have your phantom power on if it's a condenser mike right? If it's ah if it's a dynamic or to mike, you won't have to because two dynamic donated the two has supplier it's on power and you go I go from from the pre empt into the first compressor in the second compressor and then into into the box and do you always do it? Two compressor thing when you have pretty much yeah, I don't set him very, very aggressively I just want to control the peak, so don't get any overs um and like if you over compress and you sing loudly, the vocal kind of goes away in the headphones on and singers don't like that at all right? So it's there's ah again there's a comfort level of like, you know the voices, that dynamic instrument and if you can't hear it while you're singing, then you know you've got a problem? Yes, you must hear yourself we'll get into that stuff later act, but I remember I as I was building my own studio, I think I asked your recommendation of what's what would be the ultimate thing I should get if I were to build my own studio? Um, and I think you recommended it was a universal audio books very much like this very similar. This is different. Compression setting. Yeah. It's. A different press. It was a pre empt on the side in a compressor on this side. So it's, the universal audio sixty one, seventy six. And I use it for the base for the voice that you pretty much keep it on a flat setting. Almost always, unless you've got a quiet instrument that I have to, like. Cranked up really before, but but I said it and leave it on it's. Actually, this section in this compressor, right? If this if this section was this compressor, right, that's the difference here? Yeah. And so ultimately it. Once everything is said, if you have quieter sections or you do quite a vocals, you just turn up the preamble and to the point where you compressors operate again like the way you had set him. And so this is really the only knob you'll have to end up touching because you know when you do whisper tracks you you want to get all that right? I think all the gravel and the locals of the area whispered my pigeon exactly you do want to crank that stuff and so but you have to be careful that you don't feed back in the headphones and hurt your ears of you know I wouldn't do this right um there's a pad on these premiums usually and was the pad doing I'm not just a tin you aids uh like if you have like too much level coming from the microphone for to preempt the stores you didn't have to turn it down and that's like an extra quick way to just turn everything just looking just like a good image like a dimmer go yeah okay um then you have filters you can roll out some high end or some low end like a high pass away you think's it's a good thing to do uh sometimes it tells you a frequency it is sometimes it doesn't this one says low and high so you know you khun it's kind of like a mini q if you will and uh that's about it for a premium section and then we go from the pre empt into the first compressor andi kind of set it up already for brendan uh for the like the input or are thresholds depending on what compressor you have? Uh kind of determines how much compression you will get, you know, or where it starts to kick in. So you have to experience with that a little bit. You know, I I experiment with plug ins for a long time, like two to one with this, too, that I don't necessarily know what any of those numbers really mean. But I can hear that something compresses morsel, compresses less, something flattened, stuff out. Sometimes it compresses a little bit, releases a little bit, you know, there's ah, you know, there's a tax and releases which are pretty obvious, really, how quickly does it kick in when it finds that peak, like, does it go immediately, tries to hammer down or lets it pass and starts compressing right afterwards, depending on your instrument or you gonna vote voice or whatever. You you want to set it like differently, but it's kind of hard to give, like, really guidelines of what that is, especially since the numbers three over here doesn't really relate to anything that, like it relates on a different compressor, you know, he's dealing with my guitar pedals sometimes where, you know, between me and our guitar tech, just take a silver sharpie and just put of mark where I like the thing turned and leave it there for the most part come back to it if I want to if I really feel experimental but I don't like messing around stuff too much I don't want to sit there cool it's put everything back to zero and start usually something is an award for the most part it's going to be the microphone in the personality of the singers on then all this stuff is going to be you know, with if you're looking for crazy sounds, you have to you know yes weighs like experiment and then you just plug in everything under the sun and you just like, come out two days later and wonder what happened to you that that's the those are fun times but that's not that's, not how you get things done, right? You know, like that's that's a different view that once in your life when you're like, ok, I never do that um so so what we're going to do, I think is ah, we're waiting on some level. I need some sound out of this thing I'm not going to do any singing right now because it is early because it's early nobody really here that really, but then what we're gonna do is we're going to take the galactic on song that we're talking about and we're going tio listen, the vocals directional isn't actual music and see how vocals work with a song and then we're gonna listen to the arranging of the vocals and we're going to listen to the okay, I can hear this in the room now, so you will probably be getting some levels over here, but I'm going, we're gonna listen. The vocal criticism arranging elrich was talking earlier about whisper tracks and what is the whisper track? It is basically whispering on doubling in track with a whisper and that's in arranging technique through vocals doubling vocals is something that that works sometimes stripling vocals, but I kind of stop it doubling because it's hard enough to match pitch with my flesh slide whistle that is my voice it's very tricky, you know? And you also have to be in, you know, when you are singing like arc was saying, when you're seeing you do have to kind of be in shape because the throat is a muscle and you're actually holding your holding your throat up, you're holding this pitch up and down you actually have to have muscles that are in good shape for that, so this is more of ah, if I were just like, ah loudly, you can see that it's sticking around the same place on the readout on the pro tools hello and I don't know if I'm to get much louder than that in in the in the in the booth you know when recording but do you have the delay yeah that's um the other thing is effects for when you do vocals like you write various people have various demands or preferences um like if you like to hear riverboat delay while you like on your voice by all means put that on um don't record it you're using answered and and you know you'll have yourself a much maybe a needs your time hearing yourself yes that's cool that's a very shy I consider myself the luckiest man uh so anyway you'll hear on echo on my voice when it's up but that is an important thing is you want to be comfortable like yesterday when I was recording my early guitar tracks I put on some delay just cause I don't want them to sound so naked and sound like that some fun and also you want tio is dry as everything's going to be when you record you want a little life in it because eventually you're going to be in the mixing part which we're gonna get too soon enough today you're going to start putting the fun effects on the things that give it life a little bit of space a little bit of girth and all that so in this case there's a little bit delay and reverb if you want it reliever sometimes distortion you know some guys really like that there's another thing that through tune track they have a thing called easy mix that I use all the time and I end up using a final printing of metal eclipse tv the songs but it's easy mix and it's is very quick um it's this very you can just dial in you can just type in vocal on the bunch of vocal presets come up and I'm sure you'll talk about that more pre presets versus ah constructing your own sound your own unique sounds and they go hello hello hello can they hear that digging in that you know that I'm not sure how so maybe this sounds interesting maybe it doesn't we can't hear if this sounds cooler stupid anyway so so easy mix here's easy mixed to which I have to upload another thing about I know about my pro tools rig is that I'm in like pro tools not the most recent version of pro tools I don't upgrade my pro tools I don't upgrade any of my plan plug ins because I don't want to deal with that stuff because it works thing you're opening a can of worms and really when you need to get things done that we don't want to deal with that because like I'm very slow to upgrade myself again I'm gonna do it I'm still running on ancient software almost just point because it's working for me ongoing can't you take the chance of having downtime even for a day or two to like wait for new plug ins because so and so hasn't updated their thing and to work with the new this and let somebody else figure it out and then when everything smooth when they when they moved to the next version of upgrade to the little to the previous one right anyway I agree I don't like to upgrade but this easy mix to hear you can see on if you move the cursor around teo you can you can actually go to like if you go to the first category drums, guitars, keyboards locals said me so like your soup that be cool one one that was much delaney aske yeah so so you'll see like what else if you're really trying to get a very quick mixed together or try to get something that you could hear while you're recording I will use this sometimes just to get a flavor of tone something that's specific as opposed to just a dry vocal but at this the end of the day you do have to listen to dr oakland see if you're in tune see if your ah in time you have to kind of figure out that stuff out so the other thing I wanted to talk about one of the most important things is being able to hear yourself in the studio you know these are pretty good um headphones here the sun visors I think I may have something like this, but I was with a I was using I think, for galactic ana had a really crappy pair again, it's just they're there, they work and I'm going to use him, but I had a crappy pair of just very mid rangy speakers landed like a half thing where you see people do this and like, you know, where they have won, then they're coming, they're here and they're trying to hear the tone of the song we're singing to you, so they have a key center and they're also kind of cupping their ears so sound is they can hear this actual tone of their own voice and isolate them between the hemispheres of the brain somehow and I had a really difficult time in my booth in my room until I upgraded my headphones to have a little bit more kind of high fidelity a little bit better cleaner, low and cleaner, high end and better tone so it's going to make your singing a lot better it's going to make your pitch matching a lot better if you get a good pair of headphones? No, do you have a headphone recommendation? Um there's a couple of different ones the used of sony headphones that studio standards and seventy five of six is was that those work well that's what I have because I probably asked you yeah so that's the story well for a lot of people um was about one hundred backs, right? Yeah, they're they're not terribly expensive but they were pretty well they're little they're little high nd and the, uh you know actually blew just came out with the whole new approach to headphones that those mof eyes um that sound a lot more um linear they're less hyped, you know? Good on dh they sound really nice and you can really hear what's going on and they take some getting used to but they're extremely comfortable there almost like a like a weird spacing lian contraption, right? They looked really cool whatever I had before it was almost the equivalent to like old enos tens the mid rangy kind of light show all your mistakes studio monitors but I couldn't I couldn't hear and it was just it was a high man and I couldn't hear a good warm medium no town but it's ah it change my singing maybe it really did my my ability to hear myself to hear the track and to hear my voice in relation to the track changed my performance a great deal and I had to do less pitch correcting and or I also added to that I probably got a little bit better with my technique is I continued seeing um and another thing for singing I watch all the youtube, how twos on on breath control on singing on, getting pitch on, trying to warm up properly and all that stuff. And then I talked to singers often I talked to meddle singers often, too, about how to not destroy your voice when screaming when belting out the guttural kind of death metal stuff, too, and I've learned a lot about that we'll get into that if you guys have questions later on, but that's just stuff that I learned on the road talking other metal singers that we would tour with, and how do you preserve your voice? How do you do this? How you do that, but in the studio, all bets are off your kind of you're trying not to blow your voice out in the first tape, but at some point you're trying to give it your best take when you can and you may have a few in you, and you may not be able to do that much more of that. So you gotta do all the clean vocals earlier and do your screaming stuff later on this, and I'm learning to go learn to pace yourself exactly, pace yourself and then and then a lot of microphone techniques in the studio for closer breath, you're kind of sounds. I realized I don't have to get that wow to sing some things and then some in this song that we're going to hear there are some screaming belt out glover federal thinks it's a very, very close might quiet things too that we're going to hear in one section, so we're going to show you a lot of that stuff, I think unless we have anything else to talk about as far as the technique of miking and and and hearing yourself and all that stuff yeah, I mean, just when I reiterate that it's just so important to make the singer comfortable it really listening environment, absolutely that's that's just such a huge things that take the time to make a good rough mix or headphone mix on def, that has to be different from what you're listening to and in the control room you know it's very important to just like, come up with the good rough head phil makes and build on that as as the singer requests and it might be a very strange thing to listen to for you, but if it works for him for her to get the best vocals done, then that's the that's what you do it's it's always at the end of the day it's always what do I have to do to get the best performance out of whoever is playing yeah, we know what when you play live, um, the mixes, everything, your your monitor mix so we're on in ears with death clock when we play life that's really important for jean hogan because he's got a click track that's running a gigantic like movie theater size production of the animation that has to be completely sync up with what we're doing because we cut the music to a certain tempo and we're going to play it that exact tempos so every down be coincides with a cut, so if we have strobing their double cakes and worst telling story and we've got to be completely on beat and the end result ends up being something very interesting and there's a good synergy between band and visual because we play with us else lcd screen, this huge thing and so gene's got to hear himself perfectly his he's just got a he has a click track and maybe a couple of like we have, like a couple keyboard stings that happened on the front of house that play out that air pre recorded that we play along with two, so I know as a singer as a guitarist, I have to hear my guitar very well, I have to hear certain part of the song if I'm singing and playing guitar at the same time, I could get a little bit lost it for if we have, like a lot of the thrashing, upbeat, snare kind of stuff aiken get completely turned around and warped, so I have the I feed me the click track to at that point and then I need to hear a little bit of mike anneelise guitar for harmonizing and bending and just so we're we have a very smooth, you know, completely together bend and then I need to hear a little bit of brian bellows based tone so I can match pitch to because if you're going in a certain place um if I am saying is if we're doing the doom star requiem stuff lie which way did recently? So you know that as a musician that is the most important thing is being able to hear certain things it's not the most musical mix all the time it's kind of ridiculous if you isolated like each of our isolated tracks were just ridiculous. Brian beller listens to his base and it sounds like a tinny, plucky thing, but he needs to hear that top in and then attack to make sure he's in sync with everything we have doing. So so take the time always as a as a musician that if you do have a monitor, check if you're lucky enough to do a line, not just a line check with a modern schiff always take the time to get your stuff together because that will that's the difference between a great performance and a comfortable for months. And you don't know where one is. You know that that happens. You get turned around and everyone's shrugging than you train records on in the most embarrassing thing, the world, it's also kind of funny.

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