Home Recording/Music Bleed

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Question
Hello,

I have a question about Home recording. My family has been recording for about 10 years in our home and have hired someone to come out and record us everytime. It has worked well except one thing. There are 8 of us singing at once and we use music tracks that we have to have playing through small speakers while we are recording so we can sing along with it. We dont have the option to use headphones since there are so many of use singing. The music obviously bleeds throug the mics but we also mix the track directly so that we can get a good music recording as well. I am trying to figure out how we can as mushc as possible minimize the music bleed through without useing headphones. We have to be able to here the music so we can sing to it but we dont want it bleeding through the misc too much. Is there anything that we can do to minimize the bleed through? THank you

Answer
Hello Jeff-

Thank you for your question. Since you are committed to recording like you are "on stage", there are certain aspects of the process which you have to accept, and others you have to try and minimize. The biggest problem with bleed is "PHASING". This is when a copy of the audio is recorded inadvertently and then blends with the original audio and possibly creates an unwanted or unpleasing effect. This is most commonly found in drum recordings, where you may have upwards of 12-16 microphones on the drum kit, and everything is in every mic, and then you have a difficult time in mixing trying to minimize damage. Phasing tends to take away from the audio, where the point of a multi-mic setup is to add to the audio.

The reason I explain this is because in your situation, you are going to get "track" in your vocal recordings.  If you do any "overdubs", you will get "track" in those recordings too, and those will blend together and cause phasing, which may hurt your vocal that lives on the same track.

The best situation is of course HEADPHONES, as you suggested, like the Nady HPA-8 for $120 at Guitar Center http://www.nady.com/hpa8.html. This plus household headphones or EarBuds would drastically improve the recording, an be rather inexpensive.

If this is still not an option, you should know that U2's Bono does not record his vocals in a Vocal Booth or with Headphones. Grammies / #1 songs....

What Bono does, is use a DYNAMIC Microphone with a very small pickup pattern made for live stage use. He is commonly known for using the Shure Sm57, which is the studio version of the Shure Beta 58... the most common handheld mic. When asked why? He says it is 1. Because he wants the fans to to hear the same sound on stage as in the studio, and 2. Because he doesn't like to be "in a box"... he is inpired by the feeling of being on stage, so he tries to get that in the studio.

You can Google Pictures of him in the Studio doing this. He sets up 2 stage monitors, and his Sm57 and he just doesn't worry about bleed. He just sings his heart out.

The Microphone rejects sound coming in from the sides, and only accepts sound coming in from the front. It was designed this way to maximize the source audio for stage and reject bleed.  If you set up an expensive Large Diaphragm Condenser "Studio mic", you are going to have a HUGE pickup area and get lots of bleed.

These are the sacrifices you have to make when recording. Other ways to reduce bleed will be to treat your area acoustically when recording.

The best way to do this is to put up something heavy like a large quilt, and hang it BEHIND the singer's backs. This will stop unwanted noise from bouncing off the rear wall and into the Microphone. You can do this behind the Microphone as well... however this is less necessary on a Dynamic mic than it is on a Large Diaphragm condenser.



If you still are having trouble, there are other methods of recording that may help. If you only have 1 set of headphones, try this. Record as standard to get your "group" or "gang Vocals" like a Choir.

Then, go back and have each member record their part again as an OverDub against the original Gang Vocal. Then mute the Gang Vocal, and blend the new 8 parts isolated and you will have a "Hyper Realistic" Recording. It will sound larger. This is a techinque I use very often and we call them "Scratch Recordings" because they are necessary to get the band moving in the process, but we will "scratch" them and record over later on.

I hope this helps-
Best of luck to you and yours.

Doc

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