1. #1
    wardrobe malfunction investigator "Mock Chicken" joke?...could be American.
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    Default How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    So I've recorded this female vocal and it's pretty good having spent six hours coaching a decent performance. But in places the vocal seems to take on a certain shrillness which kind of bores into the back of my brain. A bit like the sound a small child makes when they drop their ice cream. Now, I know I can use EQ and automation to flick in and out some EQ changes but that isn't working and I just can't seem to find the offending frequencies by sweeping the EQ. Have any of you ever had this problem? If so, how did you solve it?
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    When I saw the thread title the first thing that came to mind was, "how to deal with shrillness in a female vocal? Why, move in to your own apartment, of course!"

    But seriously, how about adding in a harmonized part underneath those parts, while you duck the 500hz and 1k out of the main line? I bet you started your sweep too high. You need to kill the fundamental, not upper frequencies.
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    What mic are you using? Many inexpensive condensers have a problem with resonance that exacerbates shrillness at certain frequencies.
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    What John said, and also shrillness is sometimes exacerbated by placing the mic too close to the singer, which most people usually do IMHO.
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    What mic are you using? Many inexpensive condensers have a problem with resonance that exacerbates shrillness at certain frequencies.
    This.

    It really comes down to using the right mic. The SM-7 has been a life saver on some of these, as has the M-88.

    I also like the Brainworx Dynamic EQ for dealing with such problems in situ.


    otek
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    wardrobe malfunction investigator "Mock Chicken" joke?...could be American.
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. Proximity to the mic hadn't occurred to me so this is very useful to know. In the end I spliced in replacement lines from elsewhere in the song and this was sufficient to get rid of the couple of lines that were shrill. I'm learning a lot from this forum. Thanks
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    The main rule of thumb would be to never make the fix more distracting than the problem.

    otek
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    the 'right' answer, or best answer, is of course to not RECORD it in a way that leads to the harshness.

    as others have said, that probably has a lot to do with mic choice and subtle distortion on those sections as much as just simple EQ, which is why trying to automate EQ (or for that matter 'dynamic' EQs) only works up to a point.

    having said that, and accepting it's not going to be a perfect fix, I've had great success with the Frindle Dynamic Spectrum Mapper

    You can actually sample the spectral balance of the section you like and apply it to the whole.
    Again, not perfect, but it can help a lot.

    http://www.proaudiodsp.com/products/dsm/
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    One other thing I just thought of that hasn't been mentioned yet but certainly should have - How hot is the track recorded? Recording with a digital rig the level should be right around -18dBfs. If it's too hot the transients may very well be exceeding 0dBfs (which may or may not be apparent on the metering), which will sound really harsh.
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    One other thing I just thought of that hasn't been mentioned yet but certainly should have - How hot is the track recorded? Recording with a digital rig the level should be right around -18dBfs. If it's too hot the transients may very well be exceeding 0dBfs (which may or may not be apparent on the metering), which will sound really harsh.
    Good point. And even if it's not clipping at the converter, improper gain staging can sometimes lead to pretty shrill-sounding distortion elsewhere along the way.
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    as others have said, that probably has a lot to do with mic choice and subtle distortion on those sections as much as just simple EQ, which is why trying to automate EQ (or for that matter 'dynamic' EQs) only works up to a point.
    For the record, I hope no one took me to imply that I would use Dynamic EQ as a crutch for shitty recording practices.

    But I get a fair share of "mail order" mix jobs, in which case, the shrillness may already be a fact I have to deal with somehow.

    I'm no expert at the technical side of things, but it seems to me that many sub-par condensers will "ring" if excited in the right frequency band, whether it's mechanical ringing in the capsule or transformer, or some kind of phase distortion.

    Tangential question for Weedy, out of curiosity:

    When you record Cyndi, what do you typically use in terms of mic/recording chain (I am guessing console preamp, but then what)? I would guess her to be very loud acoustically, although I might be mistaken.


    otek
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    I almost always use a big valve condenser.
    A u47 or a Brauner Vma or a Gefell um900

    and I usually use my original API 525 compressor.

    If it is a real screamer song I might switch to an 87 or 47fet.


    But I don't mind a little 'pleasant' distortion. As long as it IS 'pleasant'

    Time After Time definitely has a touch of distortion in the chorus that just was there no matter what. You can actually hear it in her voice in the room but it's exagerated a bit by the mic.
    that was a 47fet.
    But I rememeber Shelly Yakus ringing me afer the record came out asking 'how'd you get that chorus sound that's ALMOST like distortion?"
    'it IS DISTORTION' I said.

    I often have to treat choruses completely differently from verses with her.
    In the mix, but sometimes even in the recording.
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    I often have to treat choruses completely differently from verses with her.
    In the mix, but sometimes even in the recording.
    Because of the dynamics?

    I listened to Time After Time and I could indeed hear the mic being pushed hard at times, although to me it never comes off as overt distortion - it seems almost like a quality of her voice, which like you said, gets exaggerated by the mic. One of my all-time fave songs by her is Hat Full Of Stars, which I also revisited, and I occasionally hear it there, too - even in some places where she doesn't appear to be singing all that loudly.


    otek
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    Because of the dynamics?
    Ys,
    Time was recorded in sections because i had to have the preamp up a good amount to get the super soft verses, and then all the way down (and maybe with the desk pad in!) for the choruses

    after a few tries, I gave up on trying to get it right in real time and we recorded it in sections
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    Thanks, Weedy! I REALLY love that song, it's nice to know how it was recorded.
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    I found a couple different ways one is the right mic I prefer the u87 and I have some good luck with the shrillness by adding a very soft underlying back up also the nail by a designs and I've used the la2a. Sometimes both of them .

    Hope that helps
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    I prefer the u87 and I have some good luck with the shrillness by adding a very soft underlying back up
    This makes no sense.

    You have a shrill vocal...either in front of the mic, or on tape/disc...

    and you address the problem with that vocal by adding another vocal?

    Seems to me you'd then have two vocals...with one of them still shrill.

    Or am I missing something?

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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    Something else to consider: could it be reflections in the room? I've had similar issues which turned out to be mic placement in the room; you'd be surprised what occasional early reflections can do to a track (and I'm not just talking about vocals, although heavy vocal compression can make the problem considerably more apparent).
    I'm probably talking shit.

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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    Well I see your point but placing the singer closer to the mic not having them sing as loud on the second vocal it's worked . Technically not sure why maybe it was a way to just blend them together . The shrillness in vocals usually occurs when the singer is out of there range so not pushing them as hard seems to help
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    Default Re: How do I deal with occasional shrillness in a female vocal?

    ...shrillness in vocals usually occurs when the singer is out of there range so not pushing them as hard seems to help
    I don't think that's necessarily true.

    some people just have that quality to their voices

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