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If the singer is doing all of her own background vocals, you can treat every vocal as a lead vocal, but if you have multiple vocalists to record, your approach needs to be different. Here are a few tricks to help that background vocal sound great. If you have a number of singers that really blend well together, or you are doing a gang vocal, you might want them all to sing on the same microphone. The following method works well with up to three vocalists. Position the vocalists around the mic, being careful not to get them too far to the sides, since they may end up being quieter and have less definition if that happens.
Set the trim and fader so the level reaches -10dB on the meter and have the vocalists sing their part. (music playing) Set the balance of the vocalist by either moving the louder ones to step backwards or the quieter ones a step forward, keep moving them by single step increments until the correct vocal balance is achieved. (music playing) When that balance is struck, mark the floor where each vocalist is standing with masking or console tape, so they remember their positions.
If the singers have trouble blending or singing in tune, ask them to remove one side of their headphones or at least put it slightly back on the ear. Sometimes this helps them sing in tune, since then they can then hear the blend acoustically as well. Replace the directional mic with one that's Omni, it might sound better and help the vocalist to be more balanced. Usually if you have more than three vocalists, it's best to use an Omni mic and have the vocalists stand all around it. (music playing) If the lead singer is singing the background parts or as part of the background vocal on ensemble, try not to use the same mic that the lead vocals are recorded on, since this will cause a build up of any peaks in the singer's voice.
Always try to do something a little different on each track. A different mic, mic preamp, room, singer, or distance from the mic will all help to make this sound bigger. Also, large diaphragm cardioid condenser mics are usually used for background vocals, because they combine a slight mid range scoop, along with the slight lift in the upper frequency ranges, it helps the background vocals sit better in the mix against the lead vocal. (music playing)
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