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It's not about the plug-ins, it's about the recording

I got this question from a reader that I thought was interesting:

I am a baritone singer with a dynamic voice. I do some mimicking of singers of the olden days and record my voice with karaoke tracks and send these through WhatsApp or emails. I never use auto-tuning it very honestly with some eq and reverb.

In a live orchestra the response is good but the response from the people whom I send my recorded tracks is not that good.

Should I use these plugins. Don’t you think this is a short-cut and come in as a barrier in enhancing my original skills.



Can you catch what the problem is?

I’ve got a few thoughts, maybe we’ll agree:

1. From Live Orchestra to Karaoke?

Unless the backing tracks that he’s singing on top of are incredibly well done it will never sound as good as it would live. Since I haven’t heard a sample I have to assume they are probably lacking in quality compared to professional orchestra musicians that are playing in a big concert hall.

My advice would be to try to actually record that live and skip the backing tracks altogether. If he can get himself an on-location rig and an engineer to help you out he’ll impress more people than trying to make his voice fit on top of pre-recorded karaoke tracks.

2. It’s More About the Source than the Plug-ins

Speaking of making your voice fit, he’ll need to both mix the backing track as well as the voice. But more importantly, he’ll have to record the voice well enough to begin with.

Being honest with EQ and reverb is great but he’ll also need to honestly capture his voice with a decent microphone that captures the sound of the “singers of olden days.”

3. Learn the Skills and You Won’t Need Short Cuts

It always seems to come down to this, and I’m sure you dear reader will agree.

Yeah sure, shortcuts are great to have but the thing about short cuts is that once you know the skills needed to record decent tracks, whether that’s baritone vocals or a full orchestra, you won’t need any short cuts because the right way is just as simple for you.

You should definitely use plug-ins to enhance your voice after you’ve recorded it (that’s what mixing’s all about after all), but it needs to be well recorded from the start.

It doesn’t seem like he needs auto-tune if he’s a professional singer that records with an orchestra, but spending some time learning how to record his baritone voice might be the only barrier he needs to overcome.

The only shortcut I would hazard to recommend for getting simple and effective methods to record is to check out Recording & Mixing Strategies.

It teaches you everything you need to know about getting a great sound at the source:

Image by: Edd Sowden

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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