Vocal Health Basics – How to Properly Care for Your Voice | DiscMakers

Vocal health is often taken for granted, but problems can stop you dead in your tracks, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.

It seems that hardly a month goes by where a top singer isn’t forced to interrupt a tour, take a break, or undergo a medical procedure due to problems with their voice. Vocal health is often taken for granted, but once problems develop, they can stop a singer dead in his or her tracks, and in some cases require surgery and a lengthy post-surgery period of rest and recovery.

While we don’t normally think of singers as world-class athletes, some medical professionals are making the case that the demands put on one’s voice when singing one to three hours a night is as intense as those made by an Olympic marathon runner on his body. Additional factors such as nutrition, smoking, drug use, noisy environments, and proper voice training (or the lack of it) all play a role in a singer’s ability to hit the stage night after night and perform at their best.

Like many health-related issues, prevention is much easier and less expensive than having to undergo surgery, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.

Superstars Losing Their Voices
In 2011, three major recording artists dropped out of circulation due to vocal health issues. Each developed a slightly different voice problem that required rest and eventually surgery.

Adele's vocal health issuesArguably the most valuable voice in pop music, that of the talented British pop singer Adele, was silenced when she was required to cancel seventeen US dates mid-tour and have laser surgery due to the condition of her vocal cords. Her condition is just one example of a high profile artist facing problems maintaining their vocal mechanism. Adele’s condition, reported in the press as two hemorrhages of the vocal cords (the terms vocal cords and vocal folds are often used interchangeably), was likely exacerbated by the stresses of touring.

Steven Tyler's vocal health issuesSuch hemorrhages are often the result of phonotrauma, the physical stresses caused by vocalizing, upon the tiny blood vessels of the vocal fold. Loud singing or pushing the voice when it is tired or if one is ill may predispose a singer to such vocal hemorrhages. The latest news reports suggest that as Adele’s recovery progresses, she will start back very slowly taking what she has described as some “very basic voice lessons.” She will likely take the first half of the year off from performing to help ensure a full and complete return of her famous voice. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler was reported to have struggled with the same condition in 2006, requiring a similar surgical procedure as Adele. Noted voice expert, Dr. Steven M. Zeitels, a Harvard Medical School doctor who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, treated both artists.

Keith Urban's vocal health issuesCountry icon Keith Urban also underwent surgery in November 2011 to remove a vocal polyp, a lump that may develop near the midpoint of a singer’s vocal cord. (According to the glossary found at voicemedicine.com, a polyp is a specific and clearly demarcated mass – the word polyp means “lump” and does not imply a cancer or pre-cancerous lesion). The midpoint location of such a polyp suggests that it too may be the result of phonotrauma. Urban was ordered to take three months off from singing as his recovery was monitored by a team of health professionals.

Singer/songwriter John Mayer was another major artist to recently face vocal health problems. In October 2010, his manager announced that after a series of extended rest periods, Mayer’s voice was not improving and he decided to have surgery. Mayer’s condition was described as a granuloma, a benign growth that results from irritation or trauma to the vocal fold. It’s often found at the back of the vocal fold, over a part of cartilage called the vocal process, which lies just underneath the membrane covering the larynx. As with Adele and Keith Urban, Mayer stopped work on his album, taking the advice of his doctors to not resume singing until his voice has fully recovered from the trauma and surgery.

While it may seem like there’s an epidemic of vocal health issues affecting the music industry, there are various common-sense factors that play into the increase in high-profile artists addressing these challenges.

First, awareness and treatment options have increased dramatically since the 1990s. Dr. Zeitels was quoted in the New York Times as stating that the use of fiber optic cameras to scan performer’s vocal cords for abnormalities and miniscule injuries has become more common over the past fifteen to twenty years. At the same time, vocalists have become more aware of the possible long term consequences of letting small problems go untreated and now consult more readily with health professionals.

Another factor is that, since recorded music sales often represent a smaller part of an artist’s overall revenue stream, touring schedules have become more extensive. To further maximize touring profits, concerts are often scheduled back-to-back on consecutive nights, placing greater stress on the vocal instrument, which can benefit from having a day or two rest between performances whenever possible.

Paul Stanley's vocal health issuesTo prove the point, Paul Stanley, front man for the legendary rock band Kiss, had vocal surgery to tweak blood vessels in his vocal cords. Commenting on his forty years of touring in which the band’s shows were packed as tightly together as possible to maximize profits, he offered that “the nature of rock singing is a strain on the voice, and when you compound that with [the number of shows we play], you’re not giving yourself enough time to recuperate and the problem is compounded. I was finding myself working harder and harder to do what was once effortless, and having passed through puberty, I was surprised to hear my voice cracking.”

How to Properly Care for Your Voice
While there is no doubt that singing in front of a rock band requires practice and stamina, vocalists who sing for hours at a time with no amplification, over a full orchestra in a packed house holding 4,000 people, place even greater demands on their voices. Enter the opera singer and those who train them, such as Dr. Lynelle Wiens, Professor of Voice at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA.

Dr. Wiens is a former faculty member at the Symposium on the Care of the Professional Voice in Philadelphia, and at the Pacific Voice Conference in San Francisco. She was also a recipient of the prestigious “Van L. Lawrence Fellowship” that is awarded jointly by the Voice Foundation and National Association of Teachers of Singing in order to foster interdisciplinary education among laryngologists, voice scientists, singing teachers, and speech pathologists. Dr. Wiens has taught aspiring classical singers for more than thirty-three years and offers a number of simple, common sense tips that can help any singer to reduce the risks to their voice.

Like any other musical instrument, the voice needs proper care in order to be ready when called upon to perform. Wiens counseled, “In order to function properly, the voice needs to be well lubricated. The effects of alcohol, cigarette smoke, marijuana, and other drugs cause dryness of the vocal instrument and can lead to vocal fold edema and inflammation.”

Wiens advises that “It’s essential to drink lots of water before, during, and after performances. It’s also very important to get plenty of rest and exercise and eat properly between performances. To the extent that is possible, try to avoid noisy places where you will have to shout to be heard.” For example, trying to be heard above the sound levels backstage during an opening act or in a typical van traveling for hours on the freeway come to mind as situations that might lead to further strain on one’s voice.

Dr. Wiens cautions that “throat clearing, yelling or screaming, singing too loudly for an extended period of time, singing a song that is pitched too high or too low, or putting too much pressure on your voice, all increase the strain on it. If it hurts, you’re doing something wrong. Listen to what your voice is telling you.”

Over-singing on stage, especially when the monitor situation is not optimal, is another potential cause of vocal strain. Especially for musicians on tour, Wiens counsels, “You have to prioritize what you absolutely need your voice for and then make the best decisions to protect it.” So if you are out on tour and have been nursing a sore throat, maybe the band’s guitar player can give the interview and appear at the local record store for autographs while you stay back at the hotel to rest your voice for that night’s show. Wiens added, “Taking care of your body and learning to manage your physical and emotional stress are also key factors in maintaining good vocal health. Perhaps the best preventive care is good training. Finding a good coach is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Dr. Wiens advises that a singer should seek a professional if they have a concern about their own vocal health. “If there is a sudden change in your voice from what is normal, or if you experience persistent hoarseness and/or vocal fatigue for more than two weeks, I would suggest you see an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor) who is experienced in caring for singers. Be sure to ask for a strobovideolaryngoscopic examination in order to get the most thorough assessment of the health of your voice.”

If there has been damage, a singer should ideally be treated by a team of professionals that may include an ENT doctor, a voice teacher/vocal coach that can help a singer avoid any techniques that may exacerbate problems, and if appropriate, a speech pathologist who can assist with proper rehabilitation of the voice.

“The voice is a delicate mechanism,” Wiens concludes, “so it makes sense to take preventive measures in order to help ensure a long and productive singing career.”

Keith Hatschek is a regular contributor to Disc Makers Echoes blog and directs the Music Management Program at University of the Pacific. He’s also written two music industry books, How to Get a Job in the Music Industry and The Golden Moment: Recording Secrets from the Pros.

Read more: Vocal Health Basics, How to Properly Care for Your Voice – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2012/01/vocal-health-basics/#ixzz31hHDQbcQ

Loudspeaker Sensitivity: What’s A Watt Anyway? | ProSound News

Shedding some light on the sensitivity specification and how it may translate to the real world performance of a loudspeaker system…
psw study hallThe specification of a loudspeaker’s sensitivity is probably one of the most common, yet perhaps one of the most misunderstood.

It’s common to see the magnitude response of a loudspeaker system reduced to a single number as a sensitivity rating. This is perhaps at the heart of the confusion.

One would think that this metric should give some indication as to how loud a particular loudspeaker will be when reproducing a signal. One may also think that two loudspeakers with the same sensitivity rating will be equally loud when reproducing the same signal. Each of these assertions is only partially true.

A loudspeaker’s sensitivity can give an indication of its output level but only for a signal with a specific bandwidth and spectral content.

Similarly, two loudspeakers with the same sensitivity may not output the same SPL when excited by the same signal if the frequency response limits of the two loudspeakers are different. Let’s look at the underlying cause of each of these effects, bandwidth, and the role it plays, and also look at why sensitivity may no longer need to be referenced to a watt.

According to the standard IEC60268-5, a loudspeaker’s sensitivity is determined by measuring its output when driven by a band limited pink noise signal with a Vrms equal to the square root of the loudspeaker’s rated impedance and referencing this SPL to a distance of 1 meter.

The bandwidth of the pink noise is limited as a function of the effective frequency range of the DUT (Device Under Test). This is done to ensure that the test signal is confined to a portion of the frequency spectrum in which the DUT has appreciable output.

If a particular loudspeaker isn’t capable of reproducing signals below 150 Hz it does no good to excite it with such signals other than to generate heat. The same holds true if the loudspeaker can’t reproduce signals above some high frequency limit.

A high-resolution transfer function measurement of the DUT can also produce an identical sensitivity rating when the average magnitude is calculated on a log frequency basis. As an example, let’s look at Figure 1. Here we see the on-axis response of a loudspeaker. Its sensitivity rating is shown as the straight line.

Figure 1: Magnitude response and single number sensitivity rating of loudspeaker system A. (click to enlarge)

The length of this line coincides with the upper and lower frequency limits of the pink noise used to measure the sensitivity rating.

The spectral content of this noise signal is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A from Figure 1. (click to enlarge)

If a signal with different spectral content, but the same broadband level were used to drive this loudspeaker, would it result in the same SPL as the sensitivity?

It’s impossible to determine this without knowing both the spectral content of the signal and the response of the loudspeaker. (Note that 20 Hz to 20 kHz, or in the case of Figure 1, 110 Hz-8.3 kHz, does not specify the response of a loudspeaker. A graph of the response curve really needs to be known.)

With knowledge of these, we can certainly make an estimate to answer this question.

The spectral content of three different signals is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A in Figure 1 (red), speech (grey), and speech-shaped noise with approximately the same spectral content as the speech (blue). (click to enlarge)

One is the band- limited pink noise signal used to determine the sensitivity of the loudspeaker. The others are speech and a shaped noise signal having approximately the same spectral content as the speech. This speech-shaped noise is used instead of speech as its RMS level is more consistent as a function of time than actual speech.

Thus, it will be easier to determine the SPL output by the DUT with this signal. All three signals have approximately the same broadband RMS level. From approximately 200-800 Hz the speech-shaped noise signal has greater level than the pink noise signal.

Above and below this frequency region the pink noise signal has much greater level than the speech-shaped noise signal.

Comparing this to the response of the loudspeaker in Figure 1 we see that the loudspeaker has limited output below 150 Hz. The greatest output in the response of the loudspeaker occurs in the 300 Hz-3 kHz region.

If the speech-shaped noise signal were used to drive the loudspeaker with the same broadband level as the noise we could reasonably expect the broadband SPL to be greater than when driven with the pink noise signal.

This is exactly what happens.

The sensitivity of the loudspeaker is 97.1 dB. When driven with the speech-shaped noise the SPL is 98.1 dB, an increase of 1.0 dB.

This results from the higher level of the speech-shaped signal in the frequency region where the loudspeaker has higher output capability compared to the rest of its pass band.

Conversely, if the low-frequency band-limited pink noise shown in Figure 4 were used to drive the loudspeaker it is reasonable to expect that the SPL would be less than when driven by the noise signal.

This results from the low-frequency pink noise signal having a higher level in the frequency region where the loudspeaker has lower output capability.

The SPL produced by the low-frequency pink noise is 94.9 dB, a decrease of 2.2 dB.

Figure 4: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A in Figure 1 (red) and of low frequency band limited pink noise (green). (click to enlarge)

Now let’s compare two different loudspeakers.Figure 5 shows loudspeaker A compared to loudspeaker B. Notice that they both have the same sensitivity, 97.1 dB.

Loudspeaker B, however, has greater low frequency and high frequency extension than loudspeaker A.

Figure 5: Magnitude response and single number sensitivity rating of loudspeaker system A (red) and loudspeaker B (black). (click to enlarge)

Because of this the bandwidth of the pink noise used to determine the sensitivity of loudspeaker B is greater than the bandwidth of the noise used for loudspeaker A (Figure 6).

As a result, the mid-band level of the noise for loudspeaker B is slightly less than that of the noise used for loudspeaker A. It’s a bit difficult to see but upon careful observation the black trace can be seen to be an average of 0.5 dB below the red trace from approximately 100 Hz-10 kHz.

Figure 6: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A (red), loudspeaker B (black), and broadband pink noise (green). (click to enlarge)

This is due to the greater bandwidth of the signal used for loudspeaker B (black trace). Remember that the broadband levels of both these signals are identical.

So what happens when each of these loudspeakers is driven by the broadband pink noise signal (20 Hz-20 kHz) also shown in Figure 6? As each of the loudspeakers used in this example are markedly not flat in their mid-band response there may be some tonal, and potentially measurably, differences in the SPL.

Hopefully, the reader can put these issues aside for the moment. All other things being equal, the loudspeaker with the greater effective frequency range (low- and high-frequency extension) should have greater SPL output.

Loudspeaker B should have slightly greater output when driven by this broadband pink noise signal. In fact, loudspeaker B measured 0.8 dB greater than loudspeaker A, 97.0 dB compared to 96.2 dB.

From these examples one should be able to see that the SPL generated by a loudspeaker is a function of both the loudspeaker’s transfer function and the spectrum of the signal being reproduced.

Several acoustical room modeling programs take this into account when calculating the SPL produced over an intended audience area. They may allow for the selection of pink noise, some sort of speech spectrum, or a user-defined spectrum.

This should aid the sound system designer, while still at the drawing board stage, to better understand the potential SPL capabilities of the sound system with the typical program material the system is likely to be reproducing.

The other item I mentioned at the beginning of this article was referencing sensitivity measurements to one watt being dissipated by the DUT. There are several reasons why I think that this is not beneficial with modern sound systems.

First, it is somewhat cumbersome to determine how much voltage is required across a particular DUT such that the input current drawn from the driving source yields 1 watt. This can be done using dual channel FFT measurement systems and an appropriate current monitor or probe.

But would this give us useful information for the design and/or specification of loudspeakers or sound systems?

We can simplify this measurement procedure so that we don’t concern ourselves with the dissipation of a real watt by the DUT. Instead we apply a voltage across the DUT that would dissipate one watt in a pure resistance having the value of the rated impedance of the DUT.

This certainly is easier, but again, does this give us useful information for the design and/or specification of loudspeakers or sound systems? Perhaps. My thought is that more useful comparative information would be gained by applying the same voltage across the DUT regardless of its impedance.

The majority of amplifiers used in sound systems today are of a constant voltage type. That is to say, their output voltage remains constant independent of the load placed on them. Of course, the load must be within the specified operational limits for a given amplifier.

The salient point is that for a given drive voltage, a lower impedance loudspeaker will have greater SPL output than a higher impedance loudspeaker; all other items being equal.

Shouldn’t this be reflected in the sensitivity specification of the loudspeaker? Why then would one want to use a 2.0 Vrms signal to drive a 4-ohm loudspeaker and a 2.83 Vrms signal to drive an 8-ohm loudspeaker to determine their respective sensitivities?

Think about it this way; let’s connect two virtually identical loudspeakers to an A/B selector switch driven by the same amplifier.

The only difference between these loudspeakers is that one is half the impedance (rated at 4 ohms) than the other (rated at 8 ohms).

When switching between these two loudspeakers the output voltage of the amplifier does not change, however, the current drawn from the amplifier does. This results in the loudspeaker with the lower rated impedance producing greater SPL.

Measuring and specifying sensitivity with the same voltage, regardless of the impedance of the DUT, would accurately reveal the SPL differences that occur.

From these examples, I hope that it’s clear that the input signal and the magnitude (frequency) response of a loudspeaker will determine the SPL generated, not just the sensitivity rating of the loudspeaker.

It’s much better to have knowledge of the loudspeaker’s response in the form of a graph than a single sensitivity number. The latter may be derived from the former.

Charlie Hughes has worked at Peavey Electronics and Altec Lansing, and currently heads up Excelsior Audio Design & Services, a consultation, design and measurement services company based near Charlotte, NC. He’s also a member of the AES, ASA, CEA and NSCA.

Does This Mislead The Artist? | Bryan Farrish

This is an email sent to me by a reputable radio promoter.  I think it has some hyperbole but also some good points.  Worth a read.  We can discuss in the comments.  – JLT

By Bryan Farrish

Below is an email sent out by a large online music site about college station WKRB:

“Rotation on Terrestrial and Online Station Reaching 1.5 Million” 

It’s our opinion that emails like this are the reason that musicians get misled. After trying any and all such opportunities, and selling zero, the artist ends up thinking that the music must not be good. But is that the case? 

The first thing to know about broadcasting is that more than 99% of the listeners are live (real-time, tuned in while it’s happening), and less than 1% of the listeners are “delayed” (listening later). KROQ in Los Angeles (largest alternative station in the world), for example, has about 30,000 people listening at this moment, but not enough “online listeners” to even show up in the ratings at all. And WLTW in New York is the largest station of any format, and has 100,000 people listening at this moment, but not enough “online listeners” to show up in the ratings either. And these stations are promoted by billboards, stadium concerts by Arctic Monkeys and Katy Perry, TV stations, Leno and Letterman, massive advertising, etc. 

But somehow, college station WKRB in Brooklyn (New York) is supposed to have FIFTEEN times more listeners than WLTW, and THIRTY FIVE times more listeners than KROQ, even though WKRB has no billboards, no concerts, no TV stations, no ad budget at all (it’s non-commercial), and get this… only 10 watts:

http://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/finder?call=wkrb&x=-526&y=-283&sr=Y&s=C

Well, college radio is great for some things (like music opinions, and referrals to gigs), but reaching listeners is not one of them. Check the New York ratings, by Nielsen, here:

Use the drop-down box on this link:
https://tlr.arbitron.com/tlr/public/market.do?method=loadAllMarket 

Select New York (where WKRB is) and click GO.

Notice how WKRB is not listed; this is because it has NO LISTENERS. The top station, WLTW, has only 100,000 listeners. There are NO online stations listed at all. Matter of fact, if you select any other city, you’ll see there are NO online stations, because none have enough listeners to even rank a 0.1 which is the bottom.

Matter of fact #2, if WKRB really did have 1.5 million listeners, it would be worth 15 times as much money as WLTW; well, WLTW is worth about $500,000,000 (five hundred million) dollars if you want to buy it. 

Matter of fact #3, every 10,000 listeners results in a music sale (album or single) for an indie, so one “spin” on WKRB would result in 150 sales, and ten spins would be 1500 sales. Yet somehow, spins on WKRB don’t result in any sales at all that we have heard of.

So, are artists being misled by online statistics such as this?


————————————————————
Bryan Farrish Promotion is an independent promotion company
handling airplay promotion and booking promotion
310-998-8305 www.radio-media.com airplay@radio-media.com
————————————————————

Why social media sites aren’t always the best places to hold a contest | DiscMakers

Chris Bolton

Champions Cup Icon Band ContestHolding a contest online is a great way to engage your audience and make new fans. But, I think a lot of artists go about it the wrong way. A lot of contests happen exclusively on social media, and this is a missed opportunity. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use social media to promote your contest—you should—but you want to make sure that ‘the act’ of actually signing up for your contest happens on your website. You need to lure your friends and fans from the seductive world of social media and get them to visit your artist website. Why? Well, let me tell you . . .

 

On your website, you can capture emails instead of likes
You’ve seen the stats. With Facebook’s constant algorithm updates, only a tiny fraction of your Facebook fans actually see your posts. Facebook has become a pay-to-play game. So how do you connect with your fans without paying Facebook your hard-earned dough? Simple: get your fans signed up to your email list and you can chat with them anytime you like—for free. Next time you hold a contest, ask your fans to sign up to your email list and leave a comment on your blog to enter. Forget about getting people to like your Facebook post or Facebook page to enter; an email address is worth far more.

 

Asking more of your fans means deeper engagement

A ‘tweet,’ ‘like,’ or ‘comment’ on a social media site takes almost no time and thought. Fact is, you want people to actually think about what you are doing. You want them to listen to your music and show up at your next concert. So asking for a little more time is OK. In exchange for this attention you might have to give away something better than a cassette recording of your last practice. And That’s OK. Sweeten the prize. You’ll be rewarded for it. Throw in a date with your bass player, a bottle of champagne, or a song on your next album named after the winner.

Traffic on your website is the best kind of traffic

Where do you want your fans to hang out? Mark Zuckerberg’s website or your own? Seems obvious right? It’s always better to have fans on your website where they can buy stuff and communicate with you directly. So don’t bother directing people to a social media site to find out about your contest. Instead, direct them from social media websites to your own. Not only that, in addition to entering your contest, some people will probably spend some time checking out your concert calendar, your blog, your videos, and whatever else you have on your site.

On your website, you’re the center of attention

Social media websites are attention deficit playgrounds. Thousands of things are always going on at once. I’m surprised people manage to concentrate long enough to comment on a post or hold a conversation. On your website (assuming you haven’t plastered your website with ads) there is only one thing for visitors to pay attention to: YOU. You’re in the driver’s seat and you don’t have to worry about competing with advertisers and Upworthy posts. On your website, your fans can read about your contest, focus on the rules, and signup without being distracted by alerts, ads, and messages.

So for your next online contest, whether you’re giving away a t-shirt or a date with your bass player, make it happen on your site and reap the rewards.

In The Studio: Six Nuances You Feel, Not Hear | ProSound News

Identifying the “little things” that really add up over the course of a mix…
recordingHave you ever believed that there’s just something badass engineers do that the rest of the world isn’t privy to? Are you disappointed when everyone on forums seems to agree that engineers are just using really good judgment and generally using basic processing?

Well, don’t get your hopes up too much. 95 percent of a great mix stems from great decision making and the use of basic processing that everyone has access to. But, that last 5 percent does contain a bit of secret sauce. Secret awesome sauce. Every seasoned engineer will have their own recipe. I certainly have mine.

I want to share some personal techniques. These are little things I do that really add up over the course of a mix. Each one of these techniques are based around one idea: you don’t really hear it when it’s there, but you miss it when it’s gone.

By building these subtle effects into my mix I create something that elevates the overall sound without dramatically changing it — which is often a desirable goal when mixing. They also amount to some of the things which just seem to separate a finished mix from a rough mix in that way that’s hard to put a finger on.

1. Fast decaying reverbs

One of my principal approaches to mixing is to create depth and polish.

Often times I may want something to have a 3D image and “glossed” tone, but I don’t necessarily want to hear an audible reverb or delay.

Tucking very short reverbs into generally dry sounds very quietly can add just a bit of depth and hi-fi-ness to the source sound. I’m constantly experimenting with algorithms, timing, and various other settings and I recommend you do the same.

The only generality here is that I tend to lean a bit more toward early reflections with medium diffusion (when diffusion settings are an option). There’s also a few presets in the delay plugin by FabFilter called “Timeless” that I like for this purpose.

You don’t need a lot of this stuff. I’m turning my returns down as low as -15 to -20 dB below the source sound. Just enough so you miss it when it’s gone!

2. Subtle distortion or saturation

A touch of distortion can really make a sound pop in a mix. If it doesn’t sound “distorted” but brings a bit of harmonic energy into the fold I’m usually into the idea.

Not to sound like a FabFilter commercial here, but I like to experiment with Saturn because it gives me very fine control over the specifics and degree of the distortion.

3. Micro panning

Finding movement is paramount to a successful mix. A tiny degree of panning, almost too little to hear unless you solo the source, can go a long way in this regard.

This is a go-to move for sequenced hi-hats (I’ll tend to pan quickly). And very useful for background pads/noises as well (a slightly slower pan is usually good for the sustainy sounds). Delay returns are also a great place to play with moving pan positions.

4. Subtle volume rides at section changes

Volume automation is not just good for evening things out — it can also be great for creating contrast. Next time you’re going from the verse of a song to the chorus try a few of these little techniques.

Bump the chorus up on your submix/master fader channel by 1 dB. Bump the very first moment of the chorus up 1 dB above that, and quickly return it back down. Find a sustaining element right before the chorus and start pulling it up a bit in level creating a subtle crescendo movement.

Even the vocal reverb/delay return can be good to bump right at that transition point.

5. EQ/compression/distortion on reverb and delay returns

I have a cool video tutorial on this but felt that it was worth mentioning here.

Reverb/delay returns are elements in the mix just like anything else. Coloring the ambience in a slightly unique way can help create tonal complexity and augment the sense of depth.

6. Removal of unwanted sounds

A great deal of what you’re hearing in a great mix is what you’re not hearing.

The removal of bleed and mouth noises, the reduction of breathes, the taming of plosives and sibilance. All of these excess sounds add up to one things: distraction.

Not to say breath noises don’t have their place — but you’re the master of the playback so be decisive about what you don’t want, what you do want and how much.

Ultimately we as engineers are doing our best to get the music through the speakers in the most captivating way possible. Sometimes that’s about the big picture. But it’s also about all the little things, the subtle decisions we make, that amount to something bigger than the sum of its parts. That’s why I may do things that the average listener probably won’t consciously hear.
Matthew Weiss engineers from his private facility in Philadelphia, PA. A list of clients and credits are available at Weiss-Sound.com. To get a taste of The Maio Collection, the debut drum library from Matthew, check out The Maio Sampler Pack by entering your email here and pressing “Download.”

 

Vocal warm ups for singing to connect breath, vibration, and resonance | DiscMakers

Daniel Ebbers, voice instructor at the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, shares insights and vocal exercises in our video series for vocalists

You wouldn’t see a top athlete compete without going through a comprehensive set of warm up activities, and if you are a vocalist, you need to do the same kind of preparation every time you sing. Professor Daniel Ebbers has been training singers for more than twenty years, and in the following vocal warm ups for singing videos he explains the benefits of warming up and takes us through a series of vocal exercises.

Vocal Exercises video #1: “Why Warm Up”

Loosening up your vocal instrument allows you to “take the pulse” of your voice, and connecting the three main parts of your instrument will allow you to produce your best sound and help ensure you are ready to perform at your peak the next time you head to a gig, recording session, or rehearsal.

 

Vocal Exercises video #2: “The Basics”

In Video #2, “The Basics,” Daniel takes his student Ricky though a series of basic warm up vocal exercises to loosen his instrument. Focusing on your breath and connecting the three elements of your instrument (breath, vibration, and voice resonance) will prepare you to sing your best.

 

 

Professor Daniel Ebbers is a classically trained singer and voice instructor on the faculty at the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA and was a major contributor to Disc Makers’ The Vocalist’s Guide to Recording, Rehearsing and PerformingIn addition to his teaching, he performs regularly in both concert and operatic settings throughout the U.S.

Keith Hatschek is a regular contributor to Disc Makers Echoes blog and directs the Music Management Program at University of the Pacific. He’s also written two music industry books, How to Get a Job in the Music Industry and The Golden Moment: Recording Secrets from the Pros.

 

Read more: Vocal Warm Ups For Singing | Vocal Exercises | Voice Resonance – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/04/vocal-exercises-warm-ups-for-singing/#ixzz30KBd6J6s

PRODUCTION – REPAIRING PITCH-SHIFT ARTIFACTS | EM

By Michael Cooper

 
Fig. 1. The equalizer plug-in in ozone 5 advanced applies matching EQ to a pitch-shifted vocal. Note the severe EQ (the off-the-scale red line in the top section of the GUI) needed to correct comb filtering and roll-offs caused by pitch shifting.


 

 CELEMONY MELODYNE is an incredibly useful plug-in for arranging background vocals. Working with a copy of the lead vocal, you simply drag each melody note lower or higher in Melodyne’s GUI to hear how the resulting pitch will sound as a harmony part in combination with the original lead vocal track. In this way, you can compose contrapuntal (non-parallel) harmonies and immediately hear them without singing or recording a single note. Pitch-shift intervals greater than a third will typically incur ugly processing artifacts—muddiness and a pinched, phasey sound—but who cares? After all, these are just throwaway tracks used to test your arrangement.

Or not. My dark secret: I’ll often use Melodyne-generated BVs—alone or in combination with real singers—in my final mixes. The impeccably tight phrasing and familial diction cloned from the lead vocal track are often impossible for real performers to trump. The proviso is I have to make those raggedy pitch-shifted tracks sound smooth enough to use.

In this article, I’ll share tips for diminishing the injury caused by large-interval pitch-shifting. There’s no miracle cure. But using these pointers, you can expect to recover roughly 25% of the original audio fidelity— good enough that, blended with the lead vocal and mixed into a fairly dense ensemble recording, nobody will be able to tell the BVs were not sung by live performers. Our first-aid treatment begins with restoring clarity.

Remove Masking Distortion Bounce each harmony part (with pitch-shifting applied) to a separate track so you can process it independently. Instantiate a broad-spectrum noise-removal plug-in on the track. The goal here isn’t so much to remove hiss as it is to sponge out any distortion artifacts having characteristics similar to noise. iZotope Denoiser, part of the company’s superb RX2 plug-in bundle, works great for this purpose. That said, the improvement in clarity will be subtle, as there will remain yet another type of poison to bleed out.

Fill in the Gaps One of the most toxic side effects of pitch-shifting tracks is deep comb filtering. One way to add back missing frequencies in the spectral notches is to process the rendered track with a harmonic exciter. I like to use the component Exciter plug-in in iZotope Ozone 5 Advanced for this application, inserted after Denoiser. (The exciter module in the all-in-one Ozone 5 plugin works equally well for this application.) Exciter’s multiband processing allows me to add harmonics to only the midrange band, where the damage to pitch-shifted vocals is typically most apparent. Exciting the track fills in the spectral gaps a bit, resulting in a sound that’s a bit fuller and more natural.

Match the EQ The Matching EQ mode in Ozone 5 Advanced’s Equalizer plug-in—or the equalizer module for the integrated Ozone 5— can be used to reverse comb filtering and other timbral damage to a pitch-shifted track. The crux is to use Matching EQ to reproduce the lead vocal’s native spectrum in its pitch-shifted spin-off. Instantiate Equalizer on the lead vocal track. In the Snapshots tab, capture the spectrum for one phrase of the vocal. Click on the Save Set button in the plug-in. Open another instance of Equalizer on the pitch-shifted track, and click on the Load button in the Snapshots tab. Choose the lead vocal’s spectral snapshot as the reference, and apply it to the pitch-shifted track in Matching EQ mode. Adjust the Amount and Smooth sliders for the most pleasing timbre; for tracks shifted down in pitch, I find respective settings of 50 and 0.3 work well. You’ll get the best results if you capture the unique spectrum for each vocal phrase in turn and apply matching EQ line by line.

If your equalizer plug-in can’t execute matching EQ but provides a spectrogram, you can manually fashion an inverse EQ curve to reverse comb filtering. In your DAW, loop a short phrase in the pitch-shifted vocal track. Looking at the peaks and notches in your equalizer’s spectrogram as the phrase plays back, fashion a set of bell-curve filters that will together create an inverse EQ curve to flatten the response. While you’re at it, correct any low- and high-frequency roll-offs to taste with EQ, too.

The peaks and notches will change from one vocal phrase to the next, so you’ll have to work in very short sections and readjust your filter parameters as you work on each phrase in turn. Once you’re satisfied the EQ is sounding as good as you can make it for the current vocal phrase, render all processing (de-noising, harmonic excitation, and EQ). The result will sound far from perfect in isolation, but significantly better than the original pitch-shifted track.

Use All Three Tools Used alone, any one of the processing techniques I’ve detailed will yield only subtle effect. Used together, however, they can make a significant improvement in the fidelity of pitch-shifted vocals. But don’t stop there. Double one or more of the pitch-shifted vocal parts with live-performance overdubs, and the composite effect can sound truly amazing.

Michael Cooper is the owner of Michael Cooper Recording in Sisters, Oregon (www.myspace.com/michaelcooperrecording), and a contributing editor for Mix magazine.

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