Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Rookie Singer in the Studio

Have you ever worked with a singer who was experienced on stage, but inexperienced in the studio? Even if they're reasonably talented as singers (and if they aren't, well, it's going to be a long session for you anyway :), there are sometimes some challenges that occur.

One problem that sometimes arises is rookie singers not knowing what to do with their hands. After years on stage, some singers are so used to holding a mic that they feel uncomfortable with empty hands as they stand in front of your nice large diaphragm condenser or tube vocal mic. You sure don't want them handling that for multiple reasons, but you don't want them distracted thinking about the problem either. Solution? Grab a old SM 57 or SM 58, or any handheld stage mic, and let them hold it as a dummy mic while they sing. They get something to hang on to, and you get a singer with one less thing to worry about.

Another issue you may run into with a singer new to studio work is if they try to sing too directly up into your mic. Again, this is a holdover from the normal live behavior of "eating" the mic. If you're not already using a pop shield, this is definitely the time to bring it out. If you are using one, but the singer is still getting too close to the mic, simply swing the pop shield further from the mic so that if the singer eats anything, it will be the shield and not the mic. Related to this, remember that if the mic face is just higher than the plane of the singer's breath (usually about nose height), but still angled down toward the singer's mouth, you will have less breath blast or proximity issues to worry about while still maintaining excellent positioning in the mic's pattern.

Oh, and if that singer can't hold pitch, grit your teeth and plan on utilizing your pitch correction plug-in :)


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