Continuing our best selling series on the Fundamental production techniques for dance producers comes Fundamental: Vocals.
We don't all have access to specialised vocal booths with top flight studio equipment so what's the point of creating a vocal tutorial around them? For F5, we left our studios and went out into the field to show how, with some prior knowledge and a modest budget, its perfectly possible to capture hit vocals in a dance hall or even a small bedroom.
Running close to 6 hours of video we begin with an introduction to electronics and microphone technology where we examine the different styles of microphone alongside the different pick-up patterns and discuss which is commonly best to choose for any given situation. We then move on to cover pre-amps, pop filters, mic placement, sound cancellation, cats cradles, baffles and the use of reflexion filters.
Using numerous audio examples, we supply examples from a couple of different microphones and the difference both reflexion filters and baffles can make to a vocal recording. We also provide an audio comparison of the cheaper solid-state vs the infamous Focusrite ISA unit.
With the technology covered, we then move onto a track produced for the tutorial and examine the principle and theory behind lyrical content. We discuss ideas on how to produce lyrical melodies, rhyming and rhythmical patterns and also look at the most popular method for writing lyrics.
Finally, using some modest equipment we go on location to record two session singers; one in their home bedroom and another in a dance hall environment. We show how to position the microphone, pop filters, baffles, and reflexion filters based on the room to receive the best vocal response. With these vocals recorded we then return to the studio and show how to tune, edit, effect and process them into our example track to produce the finished article.
Fundamental 5 also includes complete plans in PDF format for constructing the same baffle system we use in the tutorial.
Note: for this tutorial, you should already have a basic understanding of musical scales, as discussed in Fundamental: Music Theory, Bass.
An introduction to the tutorial
Session 01: Basic Electronics: 20 minutes
To properly understand the technology behind microphones and pre-amps, it requires a firm grounding in electronic theory. In this first session, we discuss current, amps, resistance and DC.
Session 02: Basic Electronics 2: 20 minutes
For the second session, we continue discussing electronics and discuss the principles behind AC inductance, reactance and impedance.
Session 03: Microphone Technology: 30 minutes
Here we discuss the different types of microphones including Dynamic, Ribbon, Back Electret, Piezo and Capacitor.
Session 04: Polar Patterns: 20 minutes
Here we examine the different polar patterns exhibited by different microphones and how this can affect the frequency response.
Session 05: Pre-Amps: 35 minutes
In this session, we look at the technology behind pre-amps and examine the difference between solid state, valve and transformer-coupled pre-amps along with some of the specifications and what they really mean to you when recording.
Session 06: Pre-Amps 2: 20 minutes
We conclude our look at pre-amps by examining the importance of impedance between microphones and pre-amps.
Session 07:Room Acoustics: 45 minutes
Here, we take a look at how room acoustics can affect a recording and examine the uses or reflexion filters, baffles and "Gobo’s".
Session 08: Lyrical Melodies and Vocals: 30 minutes
Using an example track, we examine how to compose lyrical melodies and a way to approach writing the lyrics.
Session 09: Recording Vocals: 30 minutes
For this session, we discuss the set-up for recording vocalists and proceed to record two session vocalists in completely opposing acoustic spaces for our example track.
Session 10: Editing & Production of Vocals: 40 minutes
With the vocals recorded, we return to the studio and show how to work with vocals to sit them into a mix properly.
Session 11: Vocal Processing: 30 minutes
For the final session we examine some creative techniques for creating harmony for chorus and verses.