Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal tracking

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Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal tracking

Post by tomo » Fri Dec 24, 2004 12:56 pm

How do you go about creating "out-of-phase" monitors that won't feed back when tracking live vocals and over dubs in a control room. I have a singer who absolutely "hates" headphones! We want to track vocals live from the control room but dont want the studio monitors to bleed or feed back.

I've heard that this can be done with monitiors that are "out of phase" so nothing will be heard the final track but don't know how to create them.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks much
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by rolandk » Fri Dec 24, 2004 1:23 pm

I believe you switch the +/- wires on one of your studio monitors and the singer has to stand in a certain spot, like in a triangle with the monitors.
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by earth tones » Fri Dec 24, 2004 1:30 pm

In order for cancellation between the phase-inverted monitors you must send a mono mix, instead of whatever stereo mix you may have going. That way the same audio is, in fact, coming from both speakers. When one side is out of phase, and your equilateral placement is exact, the cancellation should be near perfect. Any inprecision in spacing will result in minimal bleed-through, but shouldn't be percievable once the stereo mix is added.

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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by hammertime » Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:04 pm

I read an article about Bob Ezrin doing this. Basically, I'd think you'd create a mono mix of the rhythm section. Then you'd double it. Pan one mono mix, in phase, to one side. Pan another, switched out of phase, to the other. Have the singer positioned in between the monitors, when he sings. I Imagine it's somewhat tricky positioning the monitors. Even if you get exactly between the monitors, you're always going to get some bleed, if just from the room reflections, but who knows, it might help.

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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by bejeeber » Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:13 pm

Basically, I'd think you'd create a mono mix of the rhythm section. Then you'd double it. Pan one mono mix, in phase, to one side. Pan another, switched out of phase, to the other. Have the singer positioned in between the monitors, when he sings.
But waidaminnit.... wouldn't this cause the mix would be largely cancelled out where the singer was standing and he wouldn't be able to hear it worth a dang?

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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by hammertime » Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:18 pm

No. Because you're going to hear a ton of room reflections, which is not only why you can hear it, but why you're also going to get inevitable bleed in the microphone. It sounds like alot of trouble to me. Ezrin did this, I imagine, in a pretty decently designed control room, with perfectly matched speakers, so it probably isn't going to be as feasible in a small studio. But, it's worth a try.

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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by MichaelAlan » Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:22 pm

bejeeber wrote:
Basically, I'd think you'd create a mono mix of the rhythm section. Then you'd double it. Pan one mono mix, in phase, to one side. Pan another, switched out of phase, to the other. Have the singer positioned in between the monitors, when he sings.
But waidaminnit.... wouldn't this cause the mix would be largely cancelled out where the singer was standing and he wouldn't be able to hear it worth a dang?
I was thinking the same thing. But the idea I guess would be to position the mic within the monitor-mic triangle, and the singer would have to stand back a few feet to hear the mix. Or he could just use headphones and stop whining like a nne year old.
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by MASSIVE Mastering » Fri Dec 24, 2004 2:25 pm

Been there, done that, it's a hassle. Even the sound that bounces off the vocalists head gets bizzare. Much worse than headphone bleed.

I vote that you tell the vocalist to suck it up and act like a professional.

Or just try a dynamic (SM7, 421, RE20) and have a single speaker off-axis with it. That works just as well IMO.
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by hammertime » Fri Dec 24, 2004 5:16 pm

You can also position the microphone so it will be exactly where it picks up the phase cancellation, actually facing the monitors, so you'll minimize reflections. The singers ears will obviously be on a different plane, so in addition to the room reflections he'll be able to hear something, because his ears don't converge on one point like the microphone. But wait a minute, his head will be blocking the sound from speakers? So the microphone won't get any direct signal anyway. I'm interested to hear if you can work this out.
bejeeber wrote:
Basically, I'd think you'd create a mono mix of the rhythm section. Then you'd double it. Pan one mono mix, in phase, to one side. Pan another, switched out of phase, to the other. Have the singer positioned in between the monitors, when he sings.
But waidaminnit.... wouldn't this cause the mix would be largely cancelled out where the singer was standing and he wouldn't be able to hear it worth a dang?

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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by joelpatterson » Sat Dec 25, 2004 1:47 am

The other solution is to be blasting the perfect stereo mix you're going to be using. I'm surprised you guys didn't think of that.
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by Mark Alan Miller » Sat Dec 25, 2004 8:29 am

Tried it - the bleed still sucks.
Even in an anechoic chamber the sound would bounce off the singer and get picked up by the mic.

The singers I've tried it with (and I gave up trying years ago) said it sounded too weird to sing to.

BUT your milage may vary. But I wouldn't spend too much time fussing - just get the darn singer to wear cans, or simply use the best hypecardiod mic you've got and a floor wedge and deal with the bleed as part of the 'sound' of the track - just make sure to get consistent bleed down the whole track or your mix will shift every time the vocal track comes in and out...
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by Snarky » Sat Dec 25, 2004 8:44 am

I've tried this technique and loved it!! Except I did it with a PA out in the main room. And it was metal/rock so I didn't really care about bleed. Bleed is good. Isolation sometimes sucks. Bleed can give you a great cohesiveness that multitrack polished recordings lack. I just ran a mono mix with a LPF and flipped one side of the PA on the output of the amp. I put the vocalist right behind the "triangle" and it worked great!! A little bit of lo end bleed but I didn't need that in the vox track anyway!! I do this a lot when I'm just not getting it from the vocalist. Headphones and inexperience can sometimes give you flat, uninspiring vocal takes. You've seen this band live before, but the vox ususally sounds 10 times better. I like this technique, a lot. I love tape op. Merry X-mas
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by hammertime » Sat Dec 25, 2004 10:07 am

That's what I'm thinking, too. :D
darfking wrote:I've tried this technique and loved it!! Except I did it with a PA out in the main room. And it was metal/rock so I didn't really care about bleed. Bleed is good. Isolation sometimes sucks. Bleed can give you a great cohesiveness that multitrack polished recordings lack. I just ran a mono mix with a LPF and flipped one side of the PA on the output of the amp. I put the vocalist right behind the "triangle" and it worked great!! A little bit of lo end bleed but I didn't need that in the vox track anyway!! I do this a lot when I'm just not getting it from the vocalist. Headphones and inexperience can sometimes give you flat, uninspiring vocal takes. You've seen this band live before, but the vox ususally sounds 10 times better. I like this technique, a lot. I love tape op. Merry X-mas
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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by hammertime » Sat Dec 25, 2004 11:30 am

Another thing you could try is a figure eight pattern pointed directly at the monitors and at the singer on the other side. The advantage of this is the figure eight has the best null point rejection, so you shouldn't pick up too much at the sides. One side will pick up the singer (who should have some foam or something behind him), and the other will pick up the monitors phase cancelling signal.

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Re: Create out of phase studio monitors for live vocal track

Post by Slider » Sat Dec 25, 2004 10:06 pm

IMO forget the bleed.
Use a dynamic (or don't) and turn the speakers up a bit and don't look back.
I love singing in the control room.
You'd be surprised how good your pitch is this way too.
I've used a 421 on vocals this way and captured some really amazing performances.
The bleed really isn't that bad.
My buddy recorded Paul Westerberg with a U47 in the control room with the big monitors absolutely cranked.
The bleed was actually pretty cool sounding.
Listen to the bleed in context of the whole track, and don't focus on it in solo to much.
It will always sound bad when solo'd.
Some people really start performing when they get the headphones off.

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