Making A Good Singer Great With Recording Technology

Oct 23, 2014 by

Have you ever heard a singer at a live concert perform an “unplugged” version of a song and wondered why he or she sounded less polished than on the CD you have played a hundred times? It could be that the entertainer was having an off day, or maybe he or she recently came down with a cold, but in all likelihood, you were simply hearing a vocalist’s natural voice for the first time. When making a recording, many singers have their music edited by sound engineers who can fix minor mistakes with technology. Here are several ways that a singer’s performance can be cleaned up for a recorded track.

Volume Adjustments

Some singers have beautiful voices that just aren’t very loud. Usually at a concert this is fixed by turning up the microphone or turning down electronic instruments. In a recording studio, engineers can set up different microphones to capture each element of a song on an individual track. Then the engineer can adjust each track on its own before putting them all together. An especially loud drum set recording can be turned down slightly and the vocalist’s recording can be turned up.

An engineer might also adjust the volume throughout the vocalist’s track. A soprano might have really powerful high notes and softer low notes. The recording engineer analyzes each part of the song and can turn the singer’s recording up or down as needed for a smooth, even sound.

Tuning Adjustments

Even the greatest singers don’t always have perfect pitch. A singer might hit a note slightly flat because she has a head cold. Another might go slightly sharp because he reached for a high note and was a little over-exuberant. When singing a particularly long note, the pitch might waver slightly.

Recording engineers can adjust these slight errors with an editing software that tunes voices automatically. It’s easy to see how this works if you first refresh your memory on the basic physics of sound.

How Sound Works

  1. You hear a singer’s voice when the sound waves he or she produced vibrate on your eardrums.
  2. The vibrations of a sound wave are counted in terms of frequency.
  3. High notes are pitches made by a high frequency sound wave.
  4. Low notes are pitches made by a low frequency sound wave.

The tuning software allows a sound engineer to adjust the frequency of the sound waves produced by the singer, pushing the notes slightly higher if they are flat or lower if they are sharp.

With these types of adjustments, a recording engineer can bring out the best in the singer’s voice and also fix the small errors that are bound to occur in any performance.

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