Tracking using loudspeakers instead of cans ... +/- no bleed

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct15/articles/kick-the-cans.htm

Great technique described in the link above.

The idea is that some singers don’t do well with headphones emotionally, and they say they can’t hear themselves well, and their vocals can suffer for it.

The technique is to play the backing track as played through a monitor at the null position of the mic. Then immediately after, with ideally nothing changing position in the room, record the backing track from the same monitor into the same mic, same levels. Then phase invert the backing track and bounce down to combine with the vocal track.

I tried it and was blown away by how clean the result was. Though the monitor was quite loud during tracking, it was barely audible with the vocal track (when combined with the phase inverted backing track) at normal listening levels.

I was concerned that if any tuning or even slip-editing was done it might cause phasing or other artifacts with the project in terms of the backing track, but for the mild degree of tuning and just a few samples worth of slip-editing I tried it on, there were no audible artifacts.

Finally, despite my very non-professional home set up, my bleed level seemed less than in the audio files accompanying the article, despite those being recorded in professional studio. I’m guessing it’s because I had a heavy duty Reflexion Filter (original model of a few years ago) and a Duvet in place. Also, my monitor happened to be about 45 degrees below the mic, besides being in the null position in terms of azimuth, don’t know if that helped as well.

Oh, and it really was so liberating to record the singing without cans … it felt like practicing, performing in public, rather than “Recording, OMG, I’m so stressed!!!”. Also, all that time and effort to balance/adjust the backing track for the performer (“Louder please. Softer now. Can you make it back up a little louder again? No sorry, it was better before. Also the click track is too loud …”) is now a thing of the past as well.

Obviously not a technique needed where the talent are very pro and experienced, not bothered by cans, but for home hobbyists who have a different sort of clientele, I think it could be great!

Hope someone else finds it as helpful (and fun!) as I do!

Nice idea. I can’t read the whole article because I’m no member, but I like the idea and I’ve done it before.
The click track can be a dealbreaker though, I found that particularly hard to get rid of, because any small bit left will still be audible because it’s simply not part of the song.

Yes, I could see that happening. One thing that might help is instead of a click to use a VSTi snare hit, in the hope that since it sounds more “organic” it won’t stick out as much. The article did also mention tuning the backing track in the DAW to get rid of problem frequencies that don’t cancel out as nicely, which makes sense - finding the right balance between EQng it out completely and leaving enough for the performer.

This is interesting, and I can see how the click track would be a huge problem.

As far as tonal correction goes, you could bounce down first (after the phase invert) and then do the pitch correction. Or is that still leaving artifacts?

Hi - I always bounce down immediately, the potential for artifacts is when tuning is then applied to the bounced track … the embedded" backing track is now different than the project’s “true” track. But as I mentioned above, I’ve not noticed any of that (even with “drumstick” click track playing).