Learn How Young Guru Engineers for Jay Z: An Introduction to Audio Recording | Young Guru | Skillshare

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Learn How Young Guru Engineers for Jay Z: An Introduction to Audio Recording

teacher avatar Young Guru, Grammy-Nominated, Legendary Audio Engineer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Understanding Audio Physics


    • 3.

      Understanding Audio Physics (continued)


    • 4.

      Choosing a Microphone


    • 5.

      Setting Up Your Recording Space


    • 6.

      Setting Up a Session


    • 7.

      Recording Rap Vocals


    • 8.

      Recording a Singer


    • 9.

      Finishing the Recording


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About This Class

Since Berliner’s phonautograph introduced the world to the concept of a playable audio track, human beings have been enamored with recorded sound. In the centuries following, technological innovation and studio wizardry have made the process immeasurably more complex, but there are several basic recording principles that still apply. Audio recording, the process of reproducing live sound, will always be a celebrated practice because it allows us to tell stories, share ideas and preserve our voices across nations and through generations.

I’ve had the fortune of recording a diverse variety of music’s most essential artists from Jay Z to Beyonce to Eminem, so I’ve learned what recording techniques work best with the various aural textures. Drawing from my personal experience and lessons, I'll provide you with the tools you need to add a professional touch to your audio recordings.

What You'll Learn

I’ve created this Skillshare class to best help you bring your recordings to life with the effects you want, regardless of the pricepoint of your equipment. This will all be presented through exclusive videos and written direction. We'll cover:

  • Understanding Audio Physics. This unit will cover the science of sound and how it reacts according to its surroundings.
  • Selecting a Recording Space. This unit will cover how to select the appropriate space for your recording, and how to properly optimize it for your desired effect.
  • Positioning Microphones, Instruments and Voices. This unit will cover how each take will be affected based on where the microphone is in relation to the audio source/ the recording space.
  • Monitoring Levels. This unit will cover how to ensure your recording is clean (or muddled, if that’s the desired effect) and within an acceptable dynamic range.
  • Making Adjustments and Multiple Takes. This unit will cover how to alter the recording variables (mic placement, recording space adjustments, microphone add-ons, instrument add-ons) to create multiple tracks, which will eventually be layered to complete the whole of the audio project.
  • Finishing. How to properly label each take, how to organize each track and who to send everything to upon the completion of recording. 

What You'll Make

Your Class Project will be a recording of your own audio file using the principles we’ve discussed.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Young Guru

Grammy-Nominated, Legendary Audio Engineer


Throughout his illustrious, decorated career, Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton has resoundingly earned his reputation as one of the most renowned recording and mixing engineers in music today , having worked with artists such as Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rick Ross, Drake, T.I., and Eminem.   Wisened after years of successful endeavors (multi-platinum albums, and multiple Grammy nods) Young Guru has recently been working tirelessly to elevate the discourse of audio engineering philosophy, science and technology, emerging onto the college lecture circuit as one of the subject’s most distinguished and dignified speakers, and further proving why he is one of audio’s most important minds and essential voices.  Traveling the country, Guru’s intellect and el... See full profile

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1. Trailer: My name is Jamil, everyone affectionately calls me Young Guru. I'm an engineer, DJ, and also teacher. To me, I always like to say, I don't like be fixed in the mix idea. A lot of us have gotten lazy because of the immense amount tools that we have at our disposal to be able to correct things, clean things up. Teachers used to give me the greatest advice in real short words. They would just say garbage in, garbage out. So, you try to give the best input that you can. That was great. We're going to start with a little bit of theory. We're going to go into audio physics and acoustics as well. Selecting a recording space, not only you select a space, but you also determine what you're going to do with that space. Selecting microphones, and especially microphone placement. Multi-takes or should I say layering of the sound, how to add harmonies to certain things. If we go over those concepts, I feel like just do and have a great grasp on the recording process. 2. Understanding Audio Physics: Welcome to this edition of the Skillshare class. Before we get started, I wanted to just go over some basic concepts about audio. I wanted to make sure that everybody was up to speed, and that we're all speaking on the same level. So, if we start out, I guess the basic question will be what is sound? Basically sound is a displacement of air molecules. If you think about it, and not to be too scientific, when we speak, our tongue actually creates the pressure that moves air molecules. Once those molecules hit our eardrum, our eardrum then acts as what we call a transducer, and don't get scared by big words. A transducer is just something that changes one form of energy into another. A microphone is also a transducer. But your eardrum is the transducer that allows you to hear. So, a difference in sound pressure level or what we say SPL, hits your ear drum and then gets transferred into an electrical signal, which allows your brain to interpret sound. Now, we also describe sound by how fast or the frequency at which the sound is moving. So, the slower the sound, the lower the frequency and the lower the tone of the sound. The human hearing is from 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz. Again, don't get scared by the terminology. A hertz is just the way in which we measure sound. Sound itself travels at a constant speed of 1,130 feet per second. So, what does that mean in layman's terms? That means that the lower the tone or the lower the frequency, the bigger the wave, and the higher the frequency, the higher the tone, and the smaller the wave. So, that means if I'm dealing with a 20 hertz wave, it's a very very big wave, or if I'm dealing with a 20,000 hertz wave, it's a very small wave. It's telling you that you're getting 20,000 waves per second versus getting just 20 waves per second in our lower frequencies. The human ear again, can only hear from 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz. So, when we're looking at base frequencies, we're talking about things in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s, even sometimes in the 100s, dealing with certain kicks and bases. When we get into the higher frequencies, we're dealing with things that are like high hertz and things of that nature that may be way up in the 10,000 or 11,000 range. The main focus, or should I say the hardest thing to maintain or to control, are all of our mid frequencies. These are the hardest things when we're recording because all instruments have these mid frequencies, and we have to make decisions on who's going to live where. When we talk about frequency, there's also another great concept that must be understood, and that's the dynamic range. When we're talking about dynamic range, we're really talking about the softest sound all the way to the loudest sound, that whatever instrument we're recording can produce. Be that a human voice, be that a set of drums, be that a guitar, or anything that we're recording. It's sort of like the old adage where we say, only one molecule, only one thing can fill space at one time. We have to make room for all of the middle level noises, sounds, and things that present itself in our recording. So, the better understanding that we have of our frequency range, the better we can accommodate all of these sounds. 3. Understanding Audio Physics (continued): Now, the movement of the wave would be less important if we were just recording outside, but most people record in some type of room. So, learning about acoustics is one of the biggest things when we deal with the fundamentals of sound, because we have to deal with how that sound bounces off of the wall. There's mainly two things that can happen when sound moves. Sound can reflect, which means that it bounces off of whatever surface that it's on, or it can be absorbed by that surface. Hard surfaces tend to reflect and soft surfaces tend to absorb. So, when we're dealing with a studio situation, we need to know exactly how those frequencies are bouncing off of walls, because those frequencies bounce off the wall and they come back and affect our listening. Unfortunately, most people record in a bedroom, which probably is the worst place for you to record. Why is that? Because you're dealing with parallel walls. Most professional studios are built so that they don't have parallel walls, or what do I mean by that? Walls that are perfectly parallel tend to give you what we call standing waves. That is that a sound can bounce off of one wall, and bounce off of another wall, and hit each other, and cancel each other out. That's in a worst case scenario, but most of the time in real world situations, it's doing something to the sound that will give you something other than a perfectly flat frequency response. What do we mean by frequency response? Well, that's the way that the room or piece of equipment that you're using affects the sound. You will either get peeks or truss inside of the sound that weren't already there before you were recording in this particular room. The more dead you make the space, the more control that you have over the actual recording of the sound. You're allowing less of the room to be affected on to the sound. You also may be in a position where you want the room to be recorded on the sound. A lot of times we see this as real world examples when we record choirs in particular churches, because those rooms were built for the acoustics of a choir. So, we want to gather all that information together, at the same time that we're recording this choir, we also want the room. Knowing your room and knowing your space is the reason why you pick a particular recording space. Most of the time places with high ceilings, wide open rooms, are going to give you great reverb times. A lot of other spaces that are more closed in will give you the ability to have a tight more controlled sound. So, what is reverb? Reverb is actually a time. It's the time that it takes for the sound to leave wherever it's going, hit something, and return back to you. It is actually the time that allows our senses to know how big the space is that we're in. The bigger the room, the longer it's going to take for that sound to go somewhere bounce and come back. That will give us the determination of why we say, "Okay, I need a one second reverb, or two second reverb, or three second reverb." The longer the time, in essence is saying that we're in a bigger room. Another important concept when we're talking about waves and the way that sound moves is phase. This is probably one of the most underestimated or misunderstood concepts in basic audio recording. First of all, phase is a relationship. You can't have phase with just one waveform. Phase is the relationship between two waveforms. Depending on where these waveforms are in their travel and how they add together can determine the strength of that waveform. Adding waves together is just like adding numbers. It's cumulative. Depending on whether the wave is going up or the wave is going down can affect the sound. If I have two waves where they're perfectly the same wave and one is going up and one is going down at the same exact time they can cancel each other out. This is called being 180 degrees out of phase. What does this mean? This means that in certain situations where you have more than one microphone, your signal can sound weaker if you're not properly in phase. This is something that needs to be checked by all engineers when you're recording with more than one microphone. Phase is extremely important. Also another concept that I want you to fully understand is the decibel. When we talk about the decibel, this is how we measure the loudness of a sound, but a lot of people again mistake this number to think that it's a finite number. When in actuality it again, is expressing a ratio. Is the ratio between the threshold of hearing and the sound pressure level of that given moment. So, that's very important to understand when you're getting these concepts. The actual number of the decibel is not a finite number, it's a ratio between the threshold of hearing and your sound pressure level. 4. Choosing a Microphone: Obviously, our first step in our recording chain is going to be the microphone. Now, there's a whole world in and of itself when we talk about microphones, but what I want to give you is some of the basics, so that you can have an understanding of exactly why microphones are made the way that they're made. When it comes to microphone, there's generally two types of microphones. There's a dynamic microphone and there's what we call condenser microphones. You may ask yourself, what's the difference or you may have heard these terms and not truly understand what they mean or what's happening. The difference between dynamic and condenser microphones are just this: a dynamic microphone can deal with a way higher SPL level. When we talk about that, we mean the sound pressure level. Well, what does that mean in real life? That means that a microphone such as this Shure SM58 can deal with a lot louder signal than a comparable condenser microphone. A lot of our understanding can come from how these microphones work. If we look at a dynamic microphone, what's actually happening here is that we're creating a magnetic field. By applying pressure with our voice, we're disrupting that magnetic field, which then creates an electrical current. As opposed to the way a condenser works where we have two plates that are inside of here and by applying again, our pressure from our voice, our SPL level is increased, our sound pressure level and we create an electrical signal that way. What does that mean? That means that if you're standing on stage, it's probably better for you to have this Shure SM58 because it can take the pressure, it can take the wear and tear of travel, it can take the high pressure level that's going to come from being on a stage. This microphone might not be your best selection because it's too sensitive for that type of environment. So again, you wouldn't try to move your house in a Ferrari even though that's a great car, there's a reason why you buy a truck. That's the reason why you would buy this microphone. This microphone is not only great for vocals, it's great to record drums, anything that has a high sound pressure level, we would tend to go more with a dynamic microphone. Now, a condenser microphone, again works in a different way. We have two plates. One plate is stationary, one plate is moving. What this allows us to do is to have all types of configurations for this type of microphone. What do I mean by configurations? Well, we have something on each of these microphones which are called polar patterns. What that does is that explains to you where the pickup is going to come for the microphone. The microphone can be set to what we call a super eight, where we're capturing the sound that's in the front and the back, or we can have it in a cardioid pattern, where we're trying to take away the frequencies that are in the back and only concentrate on the things that are in the front. We can also go to a circular pattern that's telling us that we're picking up signal from all 360 degrees around the microphone. You may ask yourself, "Well, in what situation or why would I change the polar pattern?" There may be a situation where you're recording two singers who want to sing at the same time, and sometimes people who like to vibe off of each other. So, if there's a singer on the front and the singer on the back, we can record them on the same microphone using what we call a super eight pattern. For our recordings today, I'll probably use this cardioid pattern because I'm going to have someone in the front and no one in the back. This microphone is what we call a solid state microphone, meaning that this microphone actually has a tube in it that allows it to work. What's the difference? Well, generally speaking, and again I'm speaking in generalizations, you should always listen to the microphone yourself to determine how it sounds for you. But two microphones tend to be a lot warmer than just solid-state microphones. By adding the two, we're adding sort of a warmth to the recording. So, you'll see me use this microphone for Don and you'll see me use this microphone for our singer. Why? Because I want to warm up her vocals just a little bit. Now, one of the main differences between these two types of microphones is the way that they're powered. Again, like I said, the dynamic has a magnetic field and this is the way that it receives or the way that it conducts itself with power, by breaking that magnetic field we're sending an electrical signal. In this condenser microphone, we have two plates. So, in essence, the power has to come from somewhere, which gets us to a great concept inside of microphones which we call phantom power, that means that the power has to be drawn from somewhere else. Now, there's two ways that we can do this; we can individually give this microphone it's own individual box. If we look at this two microphone, the box that is sitting right here is the power source but you may look and see that this microphone doesn't have a direct box or power source in this room. What it's doing is using phantom power. If you notice on your board or on any Preamp that you have, there's a button that's called phantom power. What that does is just that, it sends power to this microphone, so that we can then induce a signal. Now, depending on what artists you're working with, will also determine what type of microphone you want to choose. Most of the time when I'm dealing in the rap world, I tend to use a 67, and Neumann 67. Why? Because it's a workhorse in our industry and it's something that I've pretty much learn the sound of and I can tell if there's any problems. There's also a great microphone called the Sony C-800 that a lot of people tend to love. This will give you a brighter sound than our classic Neumann, but you can choose and make the difference for yourself. Again, two microphones are going to warm things up a little bit and if we have super high pressure levels, we can always choose a dynamic. Today, we're giving you a lot of examples of recording vocals but you may be in a situation where you need to record instruments, and how would you go about that? There's so many different ways and so many different things that you can do to capture the sound of your favorite instrument. But the first thing you can do, that people overlook is to actually listen to the instrument. The way that it sounds in this room should be the way that it sounds in that room. It's really that simple. So, in your selection of microphones, you're trying to mimic that sound. You want to get something that captures the pure essence of whatever it is that you're recording. If it's drums, you want to make sure that they sound exactly the same in there. If it's a guitar, you want to make sure that you're figuring out where the essence of the sound is coming from. Is it coming from the whole or is it coming from the strings or do you want a combination of both? All of these things are things that you can think about when you're recording your favorite instruments. Also, one of the things that you want to keep in mind when recording your instruments are that they're going to have a way higher dynamic range than just vocals. So, you want to be careful in recording your instruments that you don't set your preamp too high. You want to make sure that the loudest signal is still not clipping going into your door or on to tape if you're recording that way. So, remember that as a general rule, most instruments have a way higher dynamic range than just a human voice. After your preamp, your microphone is probably the most important thing in your chain, so you want to make sure that you take care of this microphone. A lot of times I see people pay all this money for expensive things and then don't take care of them. These microphones are temperature sensitive, you can't spill water on them, it is not good to have a lot of smoke, and food and things like that around your microphone, because it will affect the diaphragm of the microphone. You want to make sure that you take care of this mic understanding that this is the key to you having great recording. 5. Setting Up Your Recording Space: Now as you can tell, we're in a proper studio where there's room has been tuned. Everything in this room is designed to have a dead room so that we can record in vocals. That may not be the situation inside of your room. If we're in our bedrooms, then we can take certain materials that allow our bedroom to become a better recording space, one of the great things that were invented with Goebbels. These things were built so that you can design and make your own space in your own room, blocking out the reflections that would naturally come from being in a wide open space. We tend to think of the walls and we understand about sound bouncing off the walls, but you have to understand that sound moves in a sphere, not just in a direct line. My voice right now was going in every direction, meaning that there's a signal going to the ceiling, to the floor, into every wall in every direction possible. So, in aligning with our rule that we can't have any parallel walls in the studio, this is the reason why you would walk in and see all these funny shapes on the ceiling. What we're actually trying to do is to bounce the signal around, so that we don't create any standing waves. So, if you're in a situation where you can't change your physical wall, you can create something that will unbalance your room. Again, the whole point is to take out standing waves. So, companies have come up with solutions for this. There are plenty of examples of what we call reflection filters that are out on the market today. You don't have to buy one specific one, they all work rather well. What this is doing is trying to mimic the idea of this room. You'll find plenty of reflection filters that go around the microphone and try to cut off any reflection that will come from the room that you are using. I highly recommend that you spend a little bit of money that it takes to buy one of these. It'll make a drastic difference if you're recording in your bedroom or any other room that hasn't been treated. Another thing that we haven't touched on that I think is utterly important for the engineer to remember is the headphone level. What you're trying to eliminate is the bleed of the headphones onto the microphone. These microphones are very sensitive. They are here to capture the voice or instrument that you're recording, and if the headphones are too loud, you're going to get what's called bleed into that signal which is very hard to take out. So, you always want to make sure that you give your performer enough that they can hear themselves, but you don't want it so loud that it's bleeding onto the microphone. Lastly, one of the smaller details it's always overlooked in a studio is the way that you use the cabling. It may seem like a small thing and it may seem like the last thing that you're going to think about, but believe me, the way that you hang the cable will tell how durable that cable is going to be for a long time. You don't want to squinch up cable, you don't want to rap cable around, and you definitely don't want cable all over the floor. People tend to trip over it, and it tends to get messy and cluttery in a studio. The more neat you are with your cabling, the longer the cable is going to last and the better that you're recording is going to be. 6. Setting Up a Session: There are some things that we need to do before we actually get the artist in the booth. I like to set up the session so that the flow of the session can be as quick as possible for the artist. You don't want to be over here creating new tracks, setting up reverbs and things of that nature while the artist is trying to create, it slows down the process. So, I like to do all those things before I actually send them in the booth. A lot of times I also like to check levels just to make sure that we have the proper headroom for our session. So, as you can see I've imported this track and when I play the track, we noticed that it's clipping. It's in the red a little bit. So, what I'll do is come in here and maybe put one of my favorite plugins on it just to pull the volume down. Right now I'm using the REQ6. It doesn't matter that I'm working in Pro Tools, all of these concepts can be applied to whatever DAW that you're using. Now, what I'll do is pull that down until we have a great level where we're not peaking and going into the red. It also gives us a lot of headroom for our artist to be able to work. Too many times if you have the track peaking, there's going to be no room for the artist to put their vocals on top and you're going to end up getting a bad mix. So you want to make sure that you have enough headroom for the artist to be able to put whatever they're going to put on the track. So after I have a nice level, the next thing I want do is put on some auxiliary so that I can put on reverbs. Now, what are auxiliary tracks? Auxiliary tracks are tracks that you can send a buss to. Inside of all of your DAWs, there's a bussing system. You can call it buss one, buss two, whatever you want. This will allow you to route multiple channels to one buss, and this saves you so much DSP power compared to putting reverbs on every single track. This is a common mistake that I see in a lot of people sessions. You don't have to put a reverb on every track, what you can do is use one reverb and buss whatever track you want to that auxiliary track. So, what I'm doing is I'm creating, let's say three stereo auxiliary tracks. I'll then assign the buss inputs for each auxiliary track. The first one being buss one and two, the second one being buss three and four, and the third being buss five and six. I can then set up my session so that all of my vocal tracks will go to these busses. Lastly, I can add various effects to these auxiliary channels. I'm going to select two reverbs and one delay. So, why would we select either a reverb or a delay? Because some singers like to sing with the reverb and delay while they hear themselves. It helps them to pronounce notes, it helps them to get into the figgle of the track. Some people like it dry, some people like it with reverb. As an engineer, it's better for you to have it set up already in case they do want it than for you to try to add it in the middle of the session. Lastly, after I have my reverb set up, I'd like to go through every channel and before someone starts to record, name each channel. It doesn't matter if you say one, two, three, if you say lead verse one two, whatever your system is, it's great that you name these channels before you start recording. That way, your audio file will have the name of the track embedded in the audio file. I also like to name the reverb so that I know the difference between my reverb channels and my audio channels. The next step in our chain in recording is going to be selecting a preamp. Preamps are almost more important than the microphones because the quality of the preamp determines the quality of the signal directly. Now as we select our preamp, what we're going to do is set our level here. We'll adjust it depending on how loud or how soft our vocalist gets. But we pretty much want to start out on a general level where we know that the signal is loud enough that we're going into the DAW without distorting. Distortion is the one thing that you want to make sure that you don't do. The last thing that we're going to put in our vocal chain is a compressor. The reason that we put the compressor there is just to catch any extraneous signals that may get too loud. We also want to make sure that he's not too soft when we're recording. So, the compressor will allow us to have a nice even level. For this recording today, I've selected the LA-2A, one of the workhorses of studio equipment. All of these things have been replicated in some type of plugin form. So, the plugin is giving you a reference to the same type of sound that the actual component would do in the real world. I think that's a beautiful thing for you at home that don't have the ability to come into a studio like this. 7. Recording Rap Vocals: We've been blessed enough to have my good friend Don Will from the group Tanya Morgan here, and we're going to use him as an example to show you how to place the microphone. The easiest and the best way to do this is just to think you want to place the diaphragm of the microphone in front of your sound source. That being his mouth today because he's rapping. So, we'll take the microphone, have him step up to it and make sure that they're on an even level. We'll adjust the screen. We want the screen to be about three to five inches away from the diaphragm of the mic. This will take care of any popping noises that we'll get while we're in our recording. Anytime you pronounce certain words that have P's in them you start to get certain popping. We want to make sure that that doesn't get into our recording which is the reason why we give it enough space. The screen can be made of anything. You can make one of these yourself just by taking some pantyhose and a wire from a hanger and making your own. It doesn't have to be a professional one but these work great. So, after we make that adjustment, we're going to also look on our microphone and we're going to do a roll off which will take care of all the floor noise. This microphone has that ability on it. Some microphones don't, but that's another reason why we chose this one is because it has a floor roll off on it. So, we're going to get rid of that floor noise that we'll get from the stand moving, from hand moving, from any other extraneous noise, we're going to make sure that we get that out of there. Yeah, I think that was a take right there. All right. Cool. You want to double and put some ad libs on it? Yeah, I wanna double it. Can you turn the vocals down a little bit and the beat up a little bit? Yeah. Got you. One of the most important things to remember while you're recording is to make the vocalist comfortable. Whatever they request you should try to do that as fast as possible. Some people like the music loud, some people like the music soft. The records will let you know and tell you exactly how they want it or after a couple of takes you'll start to fall into a certain field. So, just as he requested, I'll turn the beat up and turn the vocals down. As you can see, Don made a decision to record some ad libs. That's one of the main questions that I get a lot is, Guru, how many ad libs should i record, how many times should I double something, and my answer is always it depends on the artist. I have some artists that don't do any ad libs. I have some artist that the ad libs are extremely important because it adds to the texture of a song. So, it's really up to the artist how many ad libs you have. The one thing that I would say though is to watch yourself and don't clutter up the track. A lot of times you can overdo things or if there are some things that need some more importance or prominence, you can use effects. But adding eight more of the same thing isn't necessarily going to make something stronger. It's where you mix that thing. So, you can make that determination inside of the mix. One of the things that I do like to do is to give different ad libs different flavors. The person can use a higher pitched voice, they can whisper the track sometimes, just any type of creative thing that won't make the track sound exactly like the other track. It depends on what you're trying to do. Sometimes you're reinforcing the lead vocal, some time you're answering the lead vocal. Use your creativity and use your determination to figure out where the best place is to please ad lib. Now that we have some great takes, it's very important for you to understand my final process. Most of the time people just record music and never go over the music and this is where one of the biggest mistakes happen. So, when I'm done recording, I always want to bring the artist in and have them listen down fresh after they've done the take just in case if they want to change anything or just to make sure that the feel of what they're doing is what they actually want from the record. So, I'll play this back for Don. If there's anything else that he wants to change then we should do it now. So let's take a listen. It's pretty good. What about this part here? Do you think we should add some ad libs to make it up for it? I like it without ad libs just because it's so much words, so many words going on there. I appreciate it, man. 8. Recording a Singer: We're honored today to have Miss MeLa Machinko. She has a new EP out called 9am Blues. We appreciate her for stopping through, and we're going to record some vocals just to demonstrate how to deal with harmonies and to record singers. She's also going to be kind enough to demonstrate some techniques for us, so that you singers can see the best way to record your vocals. You ready? Yes. Do you want any reverb or anything like that? No. Drywall on recording. Okay, great. All right, that was a great level let's do that one more time. So it could be even. Great. You want to stack that or you want to keep going? I want to see the hook. Okay. Great. So I try to give a little pre rolls, so that they can fall into right where they left off. Sometimes if you slam right into that section they don't catch a vibe. So, this part was good. Okay. Next track. We're going to double? Yeah, you'd let me know how many doubles or harmonies you want to do and we'll just keep going? So the communication is key. Now I know exactly how many harmonies and how many tracks I'm going to need. Now, as we're recording I'm listening down to check and make sure that all the notes are hitting on the same, and that she didn't hit any wrong notes, and also the timing where they hit to make sure that everything sound good. What you heard earlier was her ask to do triples, and for her, she asked for me to pan them. So, what we're going to do is this pan one to the left, one to the right, and keep one in the middle. So that now she can add more harmonies to what we're doing, and can hear herself and hear back what we just did. Then you may ask yourself, why do you need to pan vocals? Well, when you think about the spectrum of audio, we can pan all the way from hard left to hard right. What that means is that you get certain cycle acoustic cues, and don't get scared by those words. All that means is that you can tell direction by where sound is coming from. If you're on the street, you can tell if the is coming from the left or the right. The same thing is with music. You have this whole spectrum of where you can place different instruments and different voices. So, it's the same thing as if you can imagine yourself recording a choir. All of those people aren't standing in the exact same place. They're spread out across the spectrum. That's what you're emulating when you pan left or pan right or anywhere in between. You're making a spread so that it appears to be more than one person, i.e we're taking her harmonies, and spreading them out, putting them in different positions so that the whole chorus sounds very full. So, let's try the first harmony. Sounded good. Let's try out a second one. As you also see, while she was recording that take, I took the time to group the first group of vocals. The reason that you may want to do this is as we add more harmonies she may ask for me to pull something up or push it down, depending on which harmony or which main note that we're talking about. If you group those three, it's a lot easier and a lot faster for you to adjust this while the singer is singing. Again, at this point in our recording, what we're trying to do is make her as comfortable as possible, and to facilitate the recording as quickly as possible. So, let's try the next harmony. 9. Finishing the Recording: That was great. You want to do the third one over? No problem. I'm going to go for the one right before that. How do you like that one? That was great. That's another key thing is to make sure that whenever someone is punching in that they know where they're coming in, very small communication like that can save you a lot of time. Sometimes artists are performing, and there's repetitious things all throughout the song. It's always good as an engineer to let the vocalist know exactly where they are in the song. Again, that little bit of communication goes a long way. It sounded great. Now, I'll probably talk those a little bit more, and that's another point. You might look at my stereo bus right now, and see that sometimes it does hit the red, but that's actually our output because these vocals are a little louder than what they're going to actually be when we blend them into the track, but our main concern right now is that so our singer can hear exactly what she's doing on each note. So, once we get finished, then we'll do a blend, but the main purpose right now is to make sure that she can hear every note. So, what I would normally do is to have the main note at one level, and then to have the backgrounds a little bit underneath of that, and as she starts to add layers, I'll start to talk and mix that in while she's recording new tape. Another thing that you'll notice, and we're blessed today because we have such a great singer is if you watch the motion of the singer, real people that are professionals that know what they're doing know how to control their body as well as their voice. There's a lot of times when singers will go to high notes. I think Patti LaBelle was one of the best at this. You would see her actually back up from the microphone because she knows she's hitting a high note. These are techniques that you learn over time. It's hard sometimes to deal with singers who don't know that, but as an engineer, the more that you know about vocal techniques, the more that you can teach your singer. Not everybody as seasoned as who we have in here today, but you can teach whoever you need to teach all of the vocal techniques that you can get the best taken the best recording. Just because we're dealing with singing don't think that there's also techniques for rapping. One of my greatest pet peeves is that most rappers write their rhymes and then immediately want to say the rhyme before they memorize the rhyme, but memorizing the rhyme allows you to face the microphone versus holding a piece of paper and looking towards the right. This naturally takes your mouth out of the zone of being directly into the microphone. This is something that you want to correct. So, it's always best if you can memorize your round first. It helps you with your flow, it helps you with so many different things, but from a technical standpoint, it's always best to go directly into the microphone. Now again, you may run into a situation where you have a great singer who is just nervous or isn't this seasoned about being in the studio. There's a wonderful thing that happens when you go to see someone sing in their church and they sound great, but they get a little nervous when they get behind a microphone. There's a bunch of techniques that you can use. What you want to do is calm your artist down. You want to make them feel as comfortable as possible. You don't want to necessarily tell them all the time, hey that was a horrible take. You want to encourage and get to the point of what you're trying to get to without discouraging the singer. So, the best thing to do is to make the singer comfortable. Maybe sometimes it's a cup of tea, maybe sometimes it's hey you need five minutes to go eat or maybe sometimes you should take a break and come, and have that person perfect what they're trying to do in the studio part before they actually go and do it on the microphone. Anything that you can do that can calm down the artist to give the best performance is what you want to do when getting the best vocal takes. Most singers, when they sing, are going to do a main note and a series of harmonies. What does that really mean? Well, there's a main note that they pick that will be the core of the chorus or the verses or whatever it is that they're singing, but they also want to pick other notes that go along with that main note that they're then going to add on so that we can thicken up the chorus. Again, it's something that will make it sound like there's a lot of voices singing and if I solo this main note, we'll hear this. If I play that same section with the next group of harmonies, you can hear that she went a little lower, and if I play with the next group of harmonies, we can obviously hear that she went higher. All of this combination makes the chorus sound full. The last thing I like to do is go through and just clean up the session. Again, this is not a mandatory thing. This is just a recommendation that I'm giving you that the cleaner your session or the easier it is to visually look at what's going on allows your self or any other engineer that is going to use the session to know where things are. So, I'll go through and just take out a lot of the extraneous audio. If there's a long gap of silence, I'd like to take that out. That way, you don't need to gate things, you don't need to do anything else but let that audio play wherever it is. Cleaning up the session is one of the most overlooked things. I hope you guys enjoyed this Skillshare class. We tried to give you some of the basics, and a little bit of the advanced in how to do a great recording. But again, overall, keep one thing in mind; your ears and what you hear are the best determination of your recording. Make sure that things aren't too loud, make sure they're not distorted going into your DAW, and make sure that you get the cleanest signal possible going in. Again, garbage in, garbage out. This is Young Guru. I hope you enjoy this Skillshare. Stay tuned for the next.