In this video, Fab Dupont demonstrates how to record the great Julian Peterson with only one microphone. Thing is, Julian does not only sing, he can also play the guitar at the same time. This tutorial will show you how to deal with the placement of the mic in order to obtain proper balance between guitar and vocals. Not that easy.
This video also explores the influence of the acoustic environment, as well as the choice of the microphone pattern on the quality of the recording. Should one use gobos? How does one avoid classic tonal issues with the vocals ? What difference does an omni-directionnal pattern make on the shape of the final sound? These questions and many more are answered in detail in this 23 minute condensed crash course on minimalism in micing.
Once logged in, you will be able to click on those chapter titles and jump around in the video.
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:55 - Setup #1
- 02:42 - Setup #2
- 05:32 - Setup #3
- 08:51 - Setup #4
- 11:18 - Setup #5
- 13:04 - Setup #6
- 15:03 - Recordings Comparison
- 20:07 - Come on Down Music Video
Good morning children! Today, we're going to talk about recording Julian Peterson, with one microphone.
Techniques discussed in this video will also work if you do not have Julian Peterson, but I promise you're gonna wish you had Julian Peterson after this video.
The whole point is to find a good balance between the vocal and the guitar, and that's hard to do, you have one microphone and two sources.
So we're gonna experiment with placement, environment, and maybe patterns on the microphone to figure out how to make it happen. Here we go! While Daniel is in the Control Room patching, and adjusting gain on the 2108 Universal Audio preamp we're gonna be using for this exercise, I will be in here setting up the Lauten Audio Clarion microphone, a very affordable, yet lovely microphone that I'm gonna use on Julian.
I'm gonna throw it somewhere that I think makes sense.
Let's see if it works.
Alright, so I'm gonna put the microphone where my gut tells me it should go, which is usually in front of the singer.
I'm putting it about half a meter away from the singer, which is about a couple of feet if you're into that kind of stuff.
For the height, I would aim for somewhere in between the guitar and the vocal to try and have a balance between the two of them.
I don't know if this is gonna sound good, we're gonna figure it out, and then we'll adjust. Here we go! Ok! So that didn't sound bad, but didn't sound great either.
I would like it to be more immersive, I would like it to be like if I was really close to the singer.
This sounds more like a documentary, or an older recording from the 50s or 60s where they put a microphone far away, and they got kind of like a distance recording.
I wanna be in the action, very close.
So it would make a lot of sense that if I wanted to sound closer, I would move the microphone, well... closer! Let's try that! Here we go! It's not that complicated, I'm just gonna move it.
Still try to adjust the balance.
Maybe I'll move it up a little bit, and angle it down a little bit, so that I can have the presence, but still have some guitar.
Let's try this, like this.
That's cool! So now, I'm about...
25 centimeters, or 2.5 elbows, if you're into that system, and I angled it down, because if I left it straight, we'd have a lot of vocals, and not a lot of guitar.
Angling it down should bring more guitar into the picture.
At least, that's the theory, let's see how it sounds! So that pretty much did what we wanted it to do, it's a lot closer to the singer, a lot more immersive, a lot less room, almost no room left.
Some problems appear though, you probably noticed that the guitar is overpowered by the vocal now, and also that the vocal has a wierder sound, it's not as natural, it's got lots of "KK!" and T's, and S's.
The reason for that is there's no more air in between the singer and the microphone.
Air is a great compressor, it's natural compression, it slows things down.
If you have less air, especially without a pop filter, if you have less air, everything that's percussive is gonna be enhanced by the microphone and make that sound, then you'll have to fix it in the mix, so I don't really dig that.
How do you feel about the microphone being here, Julian? Well, definitely it affects my performance, especially when I have cans on. I can hear my voice pretty loudly, so it affects the way I breathe and sing, and so it definitely is a factor.
Ok! We don't want that. So I'm gonna change the position of the microphone to somewhere maybe less intuitive, but that may work, you never know! Here we go! So I'm gonna put it to the side here, and aim it at Julian.
I'm gonna make it maybe a little lower, and straighten it out.
The point here is that I'm no longer straight into his line.
I'm gonna ask Julian to sing straight, not sing to the microphone.
Some singers have a hard time with that, but most get used to it rapidly.
If you do this, you're gonna get presence.
You're not gonna get the direct blow of air, so you're not gonna get as many S's or T's, and you're gonna get more of a balance between the two of them, by changing where you put it here.
So I'm gonna try this.
Let's see how it goes. Yeah! I like that.
Great! I think this is a good example of the difference that a couple of inches can make.
Some people might think that maybe there's not enough guitar, and too much vocal, and they're probably right! And I don't care, because I really like the tone of the vocal.
It's very present, and it's very natural, it doesn't sound recorded, it sounds like exactly what I'm hearing in the room.
And that, for me, is great! So, in the spirit of having a balance between the two of them, did we completely succeed? It's good enough for me, but I'm really, really happy with the vocal sound.
If you wanna try moving the microphone to get a little more guitar, you can, but what I'd like to do right now is leave everything in place, and take advantage of the fact that our back wall is really a gobo.
To summarize, if you put your microphone far away, you get the benefit of the air compression, and also the fact that the sound has the time to dissipate.
So what the microphone gets is more of an ensemble, and more of a mix of the two sources.
But you get a lot of room, and you don't get a lot of bottom, or a lot of presence.
So it's a compromise.
If you move closer, you get the presence, but you start getting problems: S's, T's, dynamic jump-out stuff, and also it's really hard to balance between the two instruments.
If you move it to the side and angle it, you're able to alleviate some of the S's and T's problems, and the dynamic problems, you'll also have more leeway as far as the angle, to be able to get more guitar, or less guitar.
That's all, of course, provided that your singer remembers to sing forward.
If they don't, just slap'em! What I'd like to do now is take those gobos and move them out of the way.
I'm not gonna do it, I'm too lazy, somebody's gonna do it, but the point here is to show you the difference it makes.
We're gonna keep the singer and the microphone exactly in the same position.
We're just gonna change the room around that, and see the difference it makes.
That's interesting. A lot more subtle, but very interesting, and maybe a little bit confusing.
That's what we're here for. Do I confuse you? No. Yes? No? No! If you payed attention, moving the gobos away changed the sound of the bottom of the vocal, and the guitar.
They actually became a little leaner, maybe more like what I'm hearing in the room, less recorded if you will.
Do I like that? It's a question of taste.
As a purist, I like something that sounds like it hasn't been recorded.
In this particular case, I kind of dug the slightly warmer tone.
It's really a question of your choice.
In summary, if I record Julian in a big room, with a microphone up close, I get an opened sound, but then I get balance problems, because of the proximity of the microphone.
If I record him in a slightly smaller room by using gobos for example, I can move the microphone back a little bit, but there's a compromise.
I can't move too far back, otherwise I'm starting to get to hear the sound of the room, and I lose some of the presence.
So, to push that experiment further, I'd like to record Julian in a really small room, and that's why we're gonna put him in the aquarium behind me.
So I'm gonna try and put the microphone in sensibly the same position as it was in out there, vis-à-vis Julian, making sure that...
I'm sort of matching it.
Alright! That sounds about right.
Don't forget to not sing in the microphone, but in front of you, if you don't wanna get slapped.
Cool! I like this, because the smaller room emphasizes the guitar.
Smaller rooms tend to emphasize the low frequencies.
Since Julian's voice is quite high, it's the guitar that's getting the benefit, and the voice is pretty much the same. Maybe a little more confined, a little denser, from the small environment, but not that bad.
So I like that, it's a good balance.
It's giving me ideas.
Since the reflections of the guitar in the room are making the guitar louder into the mix, how about we switch the microphone to Omni, and see what it does? An Omni microphone will pick up the entire room, as opposed to just what's in front of it.
Right now, we're in Cardio, we're gonna switch to Omni.
Julian, would you be kind enough to switch to Omni please? It's the one that's with a circle.
- Sure! - Thank you! Julian, you're ready? - Yes sir! - One more time! Ok! I like this, because the Omni microphone actually brings up more of the reflections of the guitar in the room, and it sounds good, and it makes more of a balance between the vocal and the guitar, without ruining the vocal sound.
I think it's the best recording we've had today.
So what I think we should do is go back to the Puremix Control Room and compare everything to make sure that I'm right.
This concludes your portion of our program today, Julian.
Thank you very much! Thanks for having me! - Thank you Daniel. - You're welcome! Here we go! Back in the studio, let's listen to what we just did, and compare.
First, we put the microphone far away from the singer.
We got a good balance, but then we heard the room.
If you have a good room, that may be good.
If you like that sound, that may be good. It sounded like this.
Now, if you don't like the sound of your room, or if you don't want that distance vibe, then you move closer. So we did this.
Obviously much closer, but we're starting to get problems like "Come Into", and also, check this out...
"Stuck inside, stuck inside" really peaky and annoying.
For comparison, far away it sounds like this.
You don't have that energy sticking out, but you're far away.
So that's why we tried the side trick.
The side trick lets you keep the presence, the proximity effect, but alleviate some of the S's and T's, and P's, and problems like that.
Also it keeps a nice balance for the guitar. Check it out! Smooth.
As opposed to...
It's definitely more aggressive when up close in the middle.
The thing that's interesting is once you have the side trick, and you kind of like the balance and the overall tone of the thing, you can play with the placement in the room to change the amount of guitar versus vocal in your balance.
The thing that's fun is that if you compare the sound of the vocal with the side trick, with gobos, with no gobos, and even in the booth, check it out, it's pretty much the same sound.
It's a little darker in the booth, but overall, it's the same smoothness, and it's the same sound.
But check out the guitar differences. This is the side with gobos.
Side, no gobos.
The guitar just went far away.
It's the same preamp, at the same level, we didn't change anything.
All we did is move the gobos.
So the reflections are changing the amount of guitar in the microphone, versus the vocal.
Even more so in the booth. Check it out.
As opposed to this, outside, with gobos.
Completely different sound.
Think of it this way...
Once you have a microphone position you know and like, move your singer around in the room, or even switch rooms, to adjust the balance between guitar and vocal in the microphone, using the reflections from the environment to tweak.
Once you like that, you might wanna try Omni, because Omni is an interesting animal.
You may or may not like it, but it's very smooth. Check it out.
More open, clearly.
It's a very particular tone.
Check this out.
This is the part with the S's.
As a reminder, in Cardio...
Pretty crazy, right? Omni...
This is the same position, in the same room, in the same microphone.
All we did is go "Click!" And the Omni is much smoother.
So you wanna try that as much as you can.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
The problem of course is you hear more of the booth, more of the room.
That's a question of choice, it's your taste.
If you ask me which take is best, I don't know! I know there's one I don't like for sure, it's the middle close one.
That one I will have to de-ess and EQ, and compress, and torture into a recording if I had to make this a record.
The other ones... are all a question of taste.
What would I do with them for mixing, if you wanna call 1-track laydown mixing? I would probably put a tiny bit of reverb, and a little bit of limiting, so that it can be loud enough to compete with the new Britney Spears record...
which I'm sure it can! As a treat, we're gonna play you the whole song as a music video, because we love the song and we thought you might like too.
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For more music by Julian Peterson, please check out his website
Fab Dupont is a Grammy winning NYC based record producer, mixing/mastering engineer and co-founder of pureMix.net.
Fab has been playing, writing, producing and mixing music both live and in studios all over the world. He's worked in cities like Paris, Boston, Brussels, Stockholm, London and New York just to name a few.
He has his own studio called FLUX Studios in the East Village of New York City.
Fab has been nominated for Grammys 6 times, including two Latin Grammys and has received many other accolades around the world, including Victoires de la Musique, South African Music awards, Pan African Music Awards and US independent music awards.
Toots And The Maytals
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