RECORDING: Headphone use when tracking vocals + an important thing to read.
The other week, when I was tracking vocals for some of my new songs, I had some sort of an epiphany…. headphone placement, on my ears…. allow me to explain.
When you track vocals, you obviously are hearing the instrumental music in your headphones, and you’re more than likely hearing your live vocal mix, over top of the music… often, people prefer the instrumental music be about 15% quieter than their live vocal sound/mix.
What I’ve found, is that there are a few things that can be done, to get better takes:
1. Take one ear off. The actual sound of hearing yourself singing, without hearing it in headphones) is a beautiful thing. I find that my singing pitch is more stable than if I just had both ear cups on my head. You can see this demonstrated in my cover of Green Day’s “2000 Light Years Away”, in both the lead vocal, and the harmony vocal clips. I remember when I did this three years ago, I did only two vocal takes, live… the first, was with both ears. Didn’t work. I was off in places. Then I took the ear off, and I nailed the takes.
2. On the other hand, you can take the ear cup “half” off your ear…. which I think is a nice blend of clearly hearing the instrumental, your vocal mix, and your actual voice in the room…. which I think is helpful, too.
I do this, very slightly, in this Jon Auer (Posies) cover, from June 2014, with my piano student, Tyler Green:
3. Experiment with different placements of the cup over oneear (it doesn’t matter if it’s the right or left)…. you’ll be amazed at how well (or how badly) you can hear yourself, and the balance of the music. Don’t just assume you always have to have both ear cups on your head.
4. Leave both ears on, and have your instrumental mix at a reasonable volume…. but CRANK your vocal mix… this is also insanely effective, in maintaining good pitch (at least for me, depending on the singing style/range I’m using).
And hey, I would greatly appreciate if you took the time
to read this important thing, from my other blog, Underrated Music. Thanks!