Blue Eyes Cry: Lead Vocals

Ise Hingano and Blue Eyes Cry have had an excellent few days in the studio, culminating in the completion of all lead vocals. I thought I'd share the complete signal path and techniques incorporated to capture this talented vocalist.

Microphone was an EB version of the classic AKG 414; hyper-cardioid, -10dB Pad and HPF @ 75Hz. Pop-shield is the one I usually slip over my Peluso P12, which presented with an earth-loop no matter what power source I tried - will have Ross Giles look at this. Still the 414 has a similar timbre given that earlier models actually had the C12 capsule. Hence my choice.

Pre-amp was the sublime AWA console, with a couple of small EQ tweaks. Again the all important HPF engaged (70Hz). I took a little while to get the gain structure just right, allowing the vocalist to hit some fairly serious SPL yet remaining clean and defined with no distortion. The AWA pre's remind me of Neve 1073 in their thick mid tones; especially good for female vocalists in accentuating the body of their sound.

• The vocals were the only aspect of the tracking printed with dynamics, essentially due to the patch-bay's current configuration at Coloursound - this will be half-normalled shortly to allow full inserts across all channels. The work around was to send the vocal channel to a group, group out to compressor/limiter then into a line input of another channel, which feeds direct out into ProTools. For this task I chose my absolute favourite of Mat Robin's outboard dynamics, the Quad Eight CL22. This solid-state heavy weight from the classic 1970's consoles has been racked up by Rob Squire at Proharmonic in Adelaide (who also prepped my Harrison 3232 channel strips) and is just perfect for vocals. Fast, warm and invisible. They sort of remind me of a cleaner 1176 or EL Distressor with less distortion characteristics. The CL22 ensures the vocal remains clean and present even during gain reduction; I love it. Try finding one; they're like the proverbial hen's teeth. (PS. I'll buy it off you if you do find one!)

• The final point I want to make is the positioning of the microphone. Far too often I hear an accentuated "nasal" tone, especially in female voices. This is generally caused by avoiding the upper chest resonance, which provides us with "body" but also the "power." Note I have the top of the AKG in line with the nose of the vocalist, slightly angled upwards. This captures more of the rich body tones, not just the nasal resonance. I prefer this richer tone for vocals and also allows for the slight boosting of their "formant" frequency (Ise's is at approx 1.4kHz).

So, now on to editing, a few Backing Vocals, rhythm guitar adds then mixing. Stay tuned ...