Simultaneously recording acoustic guitar and vocals

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Simultaneously recording acoustic guitar and vocals

Postby drshann » Mon Jan 24, 2005 12:45 pm

What is the acoustics-related thinking around simultaneously recording vocals and acoustic guitar?

From the research I’ve done to date, vocals are best recorded in a dead room, and acoustic guitar is best recorded in a live room.

***NB: My recording room must also serve as my mixing environment – so my acoustic solution(s) should probably be movable e.g. partition panels, rugs etc.***

I hope you can help. I have done a fair amount of research but have found nothing definitive, so, please point me to any links of use, or pass on your own experience and know-how.

Acoustics is my key area of uselessness (!), but mic’ing advice would also be welcome (I’ve been told close mic’ing can help).

The relevant info is as follows:

- Style:
My style is folk-blues finger picking (very little boomy strumming but still a fair amount of dynamic range), and the vocals (tenor) are generally very closely intertwined with the guitar i.e. I would lose a lot of the character and feel of both if I recorded them separately.
I generally play sitting down, but could stand up (I’ve been told this can help the separation).

- Guitars:
L’arivee OMV-60 (Sitka Spruce top, Rosewood Back & Sides)
Takamine EAN15C (Cedar top, Rosewood Back & Sides)
1960s Epiphone (don’t know the model or wood but is a very warm sounding guitar)

- Mics (I’ll be alternating / experimenting with the below mics):
Guitar mic 1: Pair of Neumann KM184s
Guitar mic 2: Pair of Royer 121 ribbons.

Vocal mic 1: Neumann U87ai
Vocal mic 2: BLUE Kiwi
Vocal mic 3: AT 4060

Room mic: Whichever vocal mics I’m not using at the time

- Pres:
Acoustic guitar and room: John Hardy M1

Vocal: Focusrite Liquid Channel

- Recorder:
PC with Cubase SX and LynxTWO cards.

- Room:
Measurements are L: 10.25 feet x W: 8.25 feet x H: 8.45 feet
A fair amount (30%) of the space is taken by my desk and rack etc.

We are moving soon though, so I’m hoping to get a bigger environment.
In the meantime I will perform DIY as advised.

Thanks all.

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Postby DP » Mon Jan 24, 2005 3:11 pm

           My experience with your scenario tells me this; Without a doubt, both the overall sound of the track and the ability to edit will be greatly improved if you can learn to play and sing the track seperately. I realize this may not be the easiest solution opr the one you want to hear, but it's the truth. The next best thing would be to learn the track so well that there would be little variation between takes ( besides the inflections or differences that you WANT ). So that any manipulation of sound is totally seperated from the performance ( ie: if an edit is needed in the middle of the song somewhere, the overall sound doesn't change for the duration of the edit )
            The reason I've laid out the above is that everytime I've recorded in this way, it is ALWAYS the abilities of the performer( ie: poor rhythm/phrasing, moving around in relation to the microphones, intonation etc...)  that limit the success of the track.
             So, all this being said, you've got fine equipment, and if you close ( 1-3' for the guitar 4-6" for the vocal ) mic, your room shouldn't be too much of a problem. If the room is or seems to be a major problem try some broadband absorbers in the corners first, and then add to taste. If you MUST record the vocals and guitar simultaneously you've got to be able to nail it solid from begining to end . Good Luck
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Postby David French » Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:39 pm

When I saw the similar post here, I couldn't figure out why it was posted in an acoustics forum.  I still can't.  Sounds like general recording engineering to me.
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Postby Howler » Tue Jan 25, 2005 12:55 am

This has to do with both recording AND acoustics. The idea of recording a vocal in a "dead" room is not always correct. In fact, I HATE recording vox in a dead room. A great sounding acoustic room, in my opinion, is always the besy route to go when recording vocals.  Tiny rooms lead to tiny sound. Then you have to manipulate the track to make it sound like it was done in a big room. Duh.  Look at some of the videos of great singers singing great tracks. You don't see them in dead cubicles. They're out in the big room.  The big sound on their vocals makes it very easy to get a big sound in the mix.

Cutting guitar and vox simul is fine if the performer can pull it off. Sometimes that's the only way a singer can get a feel.  Aretha sang her best when she was playing the piano, and her vocals went down in the same room as the piano. For example, "Respect" was done "live" with her playing on the rhythm track, singing the vocal which went on the album. Came out fine. You could hear some of the piano on her vocal track when it was soloed, but IT DIDN'T MATTER.

Simply put: if the tracks can be done separately without losing "feel", then well and good, but separation is not as important as feel. I would certainly have a separate mic on the vox, and another mic (or mics) on the guitar, so volumes can be affected, but  separation is wayyyy over emphasized in today's recording studios.

Another example which kills sessions is making a young rock band record using headphones and heavily isolating the instruments. If I have a band in with inexperienced musicians who can play their songs all the way through with a great performance, I just take away their headphones, set them up in the main room with some gobos to isolate some of the bleed, and cut them "live". This takes all the pressure off the band, and lets them play just like they do in their rehearsal room.  How many times have you heard a band complain that they don't sound like they usually do when you isolate their instruments. They're not stupid. They can hear the difference.

In the old world of 2" tape, which costs a lot of money, it was imperative to save the tape, so we went to rhythm tracks with massive overdubs. But today, with huge hard drives, we can record as many "takes" as we please, just saving every take, and cutting as many takes of the track as we please. It takes no more time to record the song 10-15 times as it does to take 4-5 passes on the rhythm track, then make 10 passes cutting overdubs. If the band can get the track done as a live cut, it always feels better, and the bleed means absolutely NOTHING. In fact, it allows the bass and guitars to resonate the drums and cymbals, leading to a much more ambient track, needing much less effects in mix.

Now, if the band isn;t good enough to get through the track, or there's just one clunky player, then you gotta isolate that player or he'll ruin every take.

This isn't theory. This is experience in doing it both ways on many tracks and bands.
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Postby DP » Tue Jan 25, 2005 3:25 pm

Hi Stephen,
                    I'm not sure if  you're agreeing with me or disagreeing...( different parts of the thread seem to do both ) so I guess
I should clarify by saying I was trying to say  pretty much what you said , albeit not so in depth. :D
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Postby Howler » Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:54 am

Ahh.. DP.. I'm not disagreeing with anything fer shure... just stating my puny opinions.    :D

I like live cuts and mixes. I like bass amps making the cymbals wash, just like they do in rehearsal, on stage, and in rowdy bars.  :lol:  Of course, I don't like extreme separation either. I think it makes a record sound sort of fake.
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Re: Simultaneously recording acoustic guitar and vocals

Postby Boutter » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:55 am

Audiomicro has a collection of sounds effect tracks. You can buy sound effects using a Pay Per Download then download original files any time. Audiomicro is very popular for music and It’s not free but very well priced and then you are free to use the music forever.

edit: we fixed your link - the management

Re: Simultaneously recording acoustic guitar and vocals

Postby Rod Gervais » Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:43 pm

I have never (and would never) design a dead vocal booth............ I do not agree that vocals should be recorded in dead rooms.

Tony B. (Power Station) recorded hundreds of gold and platinum records in the "A" room - with some of the hottest acts around- and those rooms are anything but dead.......

Figure 1.4.tif
Power Station Iso-Booth
(1.29 MiB) Not downloaded yet

As to the other part of the question - I am not a recording engineer - so I won't comment..........

If you view life with the knowledge that there are no problems, only opportunities, you will find the load to be a lot lighter then it might be otherwise......... this is my personal philosophy
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Re: Simultaneously recording acoustic guitar and vocals

Postby Scott R. Foster » Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:17 pm

zombie thread - by link dropper
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