The vocal sound, of course, is an entirely different animal, as there is no virtual anything about it. It’s me. However, I have been exploring ways to get the sound of me where I want it.
First up is my voice itself. It can be harsh sometimes, with lots of volume jumps. But it is what it is. I’ve lost some range over the last decade, but not too much (and I suspect that I could get it back if I really got into singing again regularly). That’s a whole different topic though, one that I may explore. In any case, I don’t really do a lot of warming up, I’ll just sing a song 4, 5, 6 times and then pick the best one. Usually, the 3rd or 4th take will be the best. I love to find little one-off variations that make the performance interesting. I like to drink something between takes, usually water mixed with lemon juice, maybe coffee. When I perform live, I usually drink alcohol, which is probably not a great idea, but it has benefits as well.
I am currently recording my voice with a Mojave Audio MA-200 microphone. It’s got a bright, present sound that I really like. I don’t EQ it except for rolling off frequencies below 150hz. I just use Logic’s channel EQ for this – it has a graphic frequency analyzer that makes it easy to set the roll off frequency.
The vocal signal then goes through a number of effects. First is the Waves CLA-76 “Blacky”. I hit the signal pretty hard with this, shooting for -10 on the peaks. Ratio 4:1. Then, I run this into a limiter – either the Waves CLA-2A or a PSP Vintage Warmer, just to catch stray peaks.
From there, the signal hits a SoundToys plugin called the Decapitator. It smashes the sound even further and simulates overdriving analog devices. Very cool.
Then, a little SoundToys EchoBoy, which is the best echo plug I have found.
The overall effect sounds natural, but gets some added character and aggression from the plugs.
One irony of computer based recording, is that I’ve spent a good amount of money on plug-ins that simulate analog recording (I’ll go into more detail about them in the future). But, I find the advantages of computer recording to be tremendous, and being able to manipulate the sounds in so many ways is really just mind-blowing. And, with some of these recently released plug-ins, analog sound can be injected in. Is it authentic? I suppose not. But it sounds pretty damn good to me.