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The voice is the musical instrument that we better know: since the dawn of humanity is with us; sake of survival have taught not only to humans but at least the majority of mammals and cetaceans to recognize and draw conclusions from the “voice” belonging to or less their group, flock or tribe, sex and age, perhaps more precisely the same sight and the equal of smell. This premise is necessary to clarify immediately that the voice, despite its extension is not exceptional, it should be treated with special attention reserved, not least because it is the only instrument capable of giving meaning to the notes played.

The first basic element for a splendid recording of the voice, is obviously a beautiful voice.
Just like any other musical instrument skills natural refined by the study are the first crucial step towards a true professional result.
Unlike other instruments, recording voices, can take place in a small and very dry acoustic, known as Vocal Booth, a reverb will be added just in listening through the headphones to help the interpreter in implementing its part, without it being recorded: it is unwise to record voice with the reverb because it will make too complex to make cuts and editing thereafter. Get ready to affect several times the same tracks, to have more material to choose from.
If the singer is accustomed to undermine one of the two speakers of headphones from one ear to listen direct its vocal sound, find a way to mute the channel correspondent on the headspeaker free, in order to avoid an unpleasant return to the microphone. Make comfortable in temperature and humidity the recording room, this will benefit the naturalness of performance and ask the singer not to move too much and to avoid making noises of any kind, if not in moments of not singing, can return useful to place on the soft carpet area below feet. In order to avoid the unpleasant effects of the phenomenon Comb Filter, free of any reflecting surface near the area of recording.

Although there are good general purposes microphones, is almost always preferable to choose a specific model for voice.
The polar characteristics of a microphone declare its sensitivity within a radius of 360 degrees. A directional microphone is more appropriate stage for its sensibility to the sounds coming from a different angle than the front, and in most situations little noise, on the contrary a capsule microphone omni-directional need almost a perfect or totally dry acoustic of the recording room: this because of the predisposition of omni-directional microphone to capture over the subject of registration also the total return of reverberation environment. Ultimately, the most typical, versatile and best suited, thus appears to be that of microphone polar pattern to cardiode, for the fact that his attention is mainly focused towards coming from the direction in which it pointed but with a rather wide angle, And almost nothing from what comes from the opposite direction, thereby reducing cancellations and resonances return especially from the wall opposite the vocalist.

In cases where it is difficult or too costly to reduce the typical resonances of the room, can come in help the Reflexion Filter of the SE Electronics, that is a curved acoustic shield that positioned behind the microphone, so that the envelope it inside, isolating the spread of the voice towards the environment and its reverbered return. Accessories imperative then is the filter-pop, usually, to a limited extent, already entered in microphones for stage employ, it should be purchased separately if not already included; the purpose of this mechanical filter is mainly to prevent the involuntary breath of some consonants, usually “b” and “p”, go to press on the diaphragm generating sub frequencies with consequent distortions in the same frequencies as voice, may also be useful to impose the necessary distance between the mouth and microphone, usually around 1 foot (approx 20/30 cm).

As a transducer each microphone also has its own timbre that can matching well or not with a voice or musical style, rather than with others. The obvious choice is made by a condenser microphone with large diaphragm: this type of microphone can come to capture very soft details and maintain transparency and sound fidelity absolutely better than other kind of mikes.

Clearly, a great studio, should have a large number of microphones of various kinds, so in order to verify, along with singer, the most suited to your style and timbre. We recommend that you test Neumann U87 and TLM49 and a AKG C414 B-XLII, which are the models chosen by most recording studios. This is obviously excellent microphones with a price not always accessible, in the last years, however, these myths of sound, were joined by models with a cheaper price, surprisingly able to deliver a very good sound, such as Rode NT2-A or Audio Technica AT3060. The choice of microphone, we repeat, it’s still very personal, because it must match your personal voice: indeed there are many artists who prefer even in the studio dynamic microphones, which for their characteristics of strength and “accuracy” are usually relegated to use on stage, like the famous Shure SM58.

The treatment of the voice includes many precise treatments in dynamic and in timbre, including some cuts targeted to eliminate any disturbances, and of course the appropriate quantities of reverb and delay for the musical genre. Going in order of inclusion in the audio chain the first thing to do is to put a high-pass filter, roughly around 200 Hz, the purpose of this intervention is to alleviate the effect proximity and cut away any possible disturbances of low frequency produced by a thousand possible factors, it is essential that the filter is positioned first in the chain of processors / plug-in and before each any other to avoid such as a wrong action on the part of the following, for example: the compressor. The compressor is the one tool that allows you to control the dynamic evolution of a performance, so as to make it more homogenous and maintain the level always intelligible every single step. Set the ratio at around from 4:1 to 8:1 and a compression factor that does not exceed the 8dB sporadically. It remains difficult to give more precise indications as the approach depends on the level at which you are working, if you have any preset available, use it, could be a good starting point for work without heavy up with errors. In queue to compressor can enter the equalizer, which is an unreplaceable instrument to correct or further customize the timbre, incredibly harmful if used improperly: it is important to limit the use of equalizer so as not to threaten to exasperate certain frequencies and make too aggressive sound. At this point we are ready to connect in the send/return bar the effects of reverb and delay as requested from the genre and style of interpretation. As an extra, if needed, we could add a correcting intonation plug-in: the most popular software include the Auto-Tune Evo of Antares and the Melodyne of Celemony.

For situations live microphones must have structurally different characteristics such as heavy duty capabilities, insensitivity towards sounds coming from back and far, handing isolated and provided with a pop-filter, despite the models used are undoubtedly the Shure, as SM 58 and Beta 58 but also SM 57 and Beta 57, the Sennheiser models or AKG found a large fans among the various performers, in any case follow the same rule applies to studio mikes: choose the microphone that sound better with your voice and musical style.

– Alex for Strumenti & Musica magazine –

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