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That speaker phase trick for recording vocals without headphones

November 9th, 2010 | 29 Comments   « Previous  |  Episode 24  |  Next »

After my last episode about recording vocals without headphones, many people wrote asking about the “phase tricks” people use to reduce the amount of music bleeding into the mic. I explain those tricks in this episode.

To watch on your ipod or ipad, download the m4v version

This episode features music by Satovan

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Rating: 4.9/5 (27 votes cast)
29 Comments ~ Speak your mind »
  1. Brian@Topsoil

    Punky The Snowman for president! The bleed phase-out trick is killer too, I’m going to send you a plate of cookies, Ronan. Great show!

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  2. Larry

    I don’t usually get too bothered about bleed but I have wondered about these techniques – thanks for the detailed explanation!

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  3. Tomas

    Great tricks!

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  4. Bruno Fornazza

    great!!! awesome tricks!!!

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  5. Kelvin Funkner

    I’d heard about the first phase trick from some Beatles sessions I believe, but the second one was completely new to me!!! Very cool! Just to add something…for the second example instead of compressing both signals to keep them from going out of sync, you could just do the phase trick with no compression, BOUNCE the tracks (now with less bleed) with the phase cancellation in tact and then just compress the new mono track how you want.

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  6. Ron Anderson

    Using the second method where the track is to be inverted but we might worry about using compression, could you not just bounce the tracks down to one track that has the cancellation effect then “built in”?

    You could then comp it tune it verb it or whatever.

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  7. Ken Reibeling

    Dude your voice sounded like you had be smoking 3 packs a day for 20 years on the 2nd half!Hope you doing well and staying cool.

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  8. Ronan

    Kelvin and Ron, Spot on about bouncing the tracks down to one track.

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  9. Emanuele Cirani

    Great and entertaining episode.
    And that bear is the best producer around! Reminds me of someone, eheh

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  10. Ron Anderson

    Is there any practical reason you used a 58 for the example?

    Does a 58 work better than a LDC for the 1st, two speaker phase invert trick?

    I can’t imagine why the mic type would make a difference in the second example. – You could use an omni even. – ‘prolly.

    :Ron

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  11. Ronan

    Is there any practical reason you used a 58 for the example?

    Does a 58 work better than a LDC for the 1st, two speaker phase invert trick?

    I can’t imagine why the mic type would make a difference in the second example. – You could use an omni even. – ‘prolly.


    Hey Ron, The advantage of something like a SM58 (or possibly even better a SM7) is that dynamic cardioids tend to provide better rejection than their LDC counterparts, even though I will often used LDCs to record vocals without headphones as well. You could certainly use these tricks with any mic you like, but the less bleed you have in the first place, the better off you are. Hope this helps a little. – Ronan

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  12. Jacob

    Ahahaha! You are the best, Ronan. Great show!

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  13. Rob

    I thought Al Green had taken over for you on the second trick. Great stuff as always Ronan. And thanks for your fantastic arrangement class at the rally and the great help in the one-to-one, it was something simple but an Ohhh… moment…

    You (and Punky) rock!

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  14. sam

    awsome tricks ! thanks alot ronan !

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  15. Francisco Rota

    Great episode, great show. Please keep them coming!

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  16. Kevin Granstrom

    Hello Ronan,

    I havent checked in with your site in a while been real busy recording. I have now caught up on all videos I missed. Thank you once again for all the effort and doing this for all of us. I’m definitely going to try this.

    Kevin

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  17. Anthony Rochester

    another idea to get less bleed not wearing headphones is to use a figure-8 mic and put a monitor speaker right in the null point but pointing towards the singer.

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  18. drumslave

    Man, Punky has great vocal range! and these are two great trick’s. one question. could you use just one monitor? thank’s.

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  19. Ronan

    one question. could you use just one monitor?

    You could use just one speaker for the second trick, but not for the first.-Ronan

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  20. Jimbo Jambo James

    I’m not sure why you actually do this show as I know you have a brisk business recording, mixing, mastering, producing etc. etc. etc… I thank you so much for just being cool to share your knowledge with people like me who are new to this stuff. Thanks Man!! Great info always!

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  21. Martin Zuther

    Another trick to help people sing better is to let them forget they are using microphones. This can be so simple as to change the loudness of the mix, their own voice or the balance between those two. You could also use the VST plugin “Isone Pro”. This is a very special room simulator that calculates the times different frequencies need to reach your ear from your loud speakers (the so-called “Head Related Transfer Functions”) and applies them to the input.

    What this means is that while you can still feel the familiar pressure of your head phones, you hear the sound like you weren’t wearing them. I nearly ripped off my head phones’ cable once because I forgot I was wearing them. The one down side is that you have to set it up for every single head. But if you are recording in a small home studio, you’ll be recording the same people most of the time, anyway. Fortunately, heads don’t change in size once you’re grown, so you’ll only have to do this once… :)

    The other down side: I couldn’t find the plugin on the author’s webpage anymore. But that might be a temporary issue. Here’s the link on KvR: http://www.kvraudio.com/get/4022.html

    P.S.: As an aside, “Isone Pro” is also pretty great for mixing with head phones. Your ears don’t tire as fast, and the plugin also simulates the (general) characteristics of famous monitor boxes.

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  22. David Wells

    I heard about this phase reverse effect when doing audio for TV. You could also use this for doing live sound outside and want to eliminate a noise source like traffic or a generator. Just put that second cable with an identical mic and same length cable pointed at the noisy source (traffic, generator) and phase reverse it. When you mix them together the noisy source will be reduced in volume a lot.

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  23. George Wallace

    Ronan’s arm – JUST his arm – was in the frame when he discussed the record-a-pass-w/o-the-vocal. I couldn’t stop thinking about the old ‘Mr. Bill’ bit. Ronan…you’re a NATURAL!

    Anyway, I’m getting ready to record a CHOIR using, with modifications, this technique. (They’re being o/dubbed to go with an orchestral track.) What might anyone suggest? What, in particular, do I need to do differently if I’m using a stereo mic pair, maybe a Decca Tree approach?

    thanks for the GREAT tip!!!

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  24. Joe Trainor

    Another very effective way to do this is to tape 2 mics together, I tend to use a handheld cardiod condenser (Neumann KMS104) with a hypercardiod taped to its back (Shure SM57). The SM57 can be staggered back a bit as the capsule of your cardiod is back in the housing. Invert the phase of one of them and have the singer direct thier vioce at the cardiod.

    You should use identical mics in an ideal world but I find this works, the SM57 is out of the way and anything more than about 1 foot from the source is cancelled out. The singer can hold the mics and wonder around too.

    This is great for live recordings to negate spill in the vocal and it reduces the chance of feedback too.

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  25. Daryl Kirkland

    Such a great idea. Watching a thing about Peter Gabriel on TV…..he calls headphones “condoms for the ears” and wont use them when singing.

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  26. Stone Walters

    Hey Ronan. Great video…mind blowing actually! I’ve always hated singing with headphones on. I’m going to try both of these techniques out. Thank you!

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  27. clayton

    will the 2nd method the bleed track wpould have the vocal on it right? thats the track you just recorded that was bleeding through the speakers into the Mike ?ansd would this 2nd method work with just one speaker as the monitor ?Thanks C

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  28. Tony Koretz

    Another Cool video Ronan. Love your sense of humour. Cracked me up when I first saw the snowman and Teddy…took me a while to stop laughing.

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  29. mud terrain tires

    I am pretty sure you got it wrong when it comes to u2 vocal recording, not saying you are absolutely completely wrong, however you appear a little opinionated as to what the press say about this, and never really have the depth as someone which has
    been right now there and really does which

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