Tic Tacs aren’t just for bad breath. Got a singer with dry mouth… and all that water isn’t doing anything… It’s like a drought in California. Never ending.… Here’s a trick from Forbsey at the vocal mechanics…. Orange tic tacs. Pop one baby.. It make the juices start to flow…. Here’s is a John Lenon trick. Singer having trouble getting air out of his gut… not breathing right.. maybe some studio nerves… …. Try having the singer lie down…Right in the booth… sing those lines. Then have the singer get up and belt it out in front of the mic, It might take a couple of tries. Still not getting it. Record them on their back. Help that singer feel comfortable. I once brought a couch into a booth and had the singer lounge around to get lazy feel. Here’s a happy tip. Ask the singer to smile during a whole take. It can help with tone… vocal placement and pitch. Remember- you’re in that moment when a hit song is being sung… there’s nothing like it. Make it count.
ESSES suck… They’re all over the place on your vocals… They have to be audible to understand a vocal… but if you don’t control the sibilance, it can be distracting. A de-esser is a frequency dependent compressor- it only wordk on a certain frequency range… Understanding how to use one it an essential element of the mix process. First …know where they occur… male esses around 4.5k and above.. women 5.5k and above. There are lots of de-essers out there… and it’s easy to dial them in quickly. Now set the threshold just like on any compressor.. Determine when the deesser starts kicking in by adjusting while looping a section of audio... lower the threshold until it starts fixing the SSES, and preventing your from wincing while listening. Be CAREFUL… if you can hear the compressor working hard, you’ve gone too far. Don’t make the singer have a lisp… keep it sounding natural. Watch your meters too- take off a few DB, but it’s more important to listen. Some De-essers allow you to listen just to the affected signal to hear what you’re taking away. The de-esser should be last on your insert chain… always after any EQ boost because EQ affects how hard the De-esser has to work. On most de-essers you can choose the maximum amount of reduction, just like on a gate. Just like with other compressors, don’t kill your signal all at once…try stages of moderate de-essing… always on your source vocal track…. And then on your background vocal subgroups if you need more control. Mastering engineers use them too- and they’ll thank you for controlling SSES during the mix so they don’t have to work so hard. Now go slap on a DESSER for a SSSSSSSuper SSSSSLICK MIX.
Tracking Acoustic Guitar? Lot’s of ways to do it.
Start with mono. Use a large diaphragm condenser or ribbon mic 1 foot away from the guitar pointed at the 12th fret or below. Boom.
Next- Let’s go stereo with an XY technique. Put two identical large diaphragm condenser mics 90 degrees from each other pointed at the 12th fret or lower. How wide do you want the stereo image? The further away the mics are from the source, the wider the image. Careful.... don’t go too far- the image will wash together with the room reflections.
Let's go Einstein with the mid-side technique. Take 2 condenser mics that have pattern selectors. Put them in the exact same spot one on top of the other. Set the first to cardiod pointed right at the sound source. Set the second to a figure 8 pattern and turn it 90 degrees so it records the sound on both sides. Record both. Here’s the trick. Make a copy of the figure 8 mic track and invert the phase… so you wind up with 3 tracks to mix. Pan the original figure 8 mic hard left, and pan the phase-inverted track hard right. Salt all three tracks to taste when you mix. And like Dave Jerden says, “The result is just gigantic”.
Six skinny little strings against one good engineer is no contest. Now go punch in that guitar.