Posted tagged ‘Vocal live recording’


October 14, 2011

TCM Mastering & TCM Music Group Owner And Founder, Ted Carfrae Discusses How To Achieve A Great Vocal Recording.

In our Monday blogs (TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio Series) we’re currently discussing the multitrack process. So we thought it might be useful to include a few videos that relate to this series – specifically recording vocals – as most great songs are best remembered for their vocal performance.

In the first video below, Ted Carfrae owner and founder of TCM Mastering and TCM Music Group, discusses vocal recording, microphone technique and finding your microphone’s ‘sweet spot’ to get that great vocal sound.

In the second video, Ted discusses how he and many other producers and engineers achieve a ‘magical’ vocal performance in the recording studio.

If you’re looking for help, putting those finishing touches to a music track or would like more information on our affordable studio packages, please contact us by clicking here.

If you would like more information about recording at home, why not subscribe to the TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio series of blogs. You can do this by filling out your e-mail address in the e-mail subscription box on the right. We respect your privacy. We hate spam and will never rent, sell or trade your information with anyone for any reason.



May 26, 2011


TCM Music Group’s CJ Boggs – Pro Tools expert – has just started on the Taylor Swift 2011 USA tour. CJ has completed the European leg of the tour and is looking forward to an exciting series of major gigs.

The USA tour kicked off in Nashville, Tennessee last Saturday and runs through ’til November, finishing in New York. Many of the venues are already sold out.

Meanwhile CJ’s daughter, Nicole Boggs has just recorded vocals for a sampler CD that was produced by TCM. She is also working with legendary drummer Ed Green, keyboardist Michael Holmes, bassist Bob Marinelli and guitarist Scott Van Zen.

Nicole has been working very hard with CJ on her demos and is in demand and getting a name for herself in music city, Nashville.

TCM have been providing

a professional, fast and affordable service

to the music industry for decades. So if you have a music project that needs recording, production, mixing or mastering services give us a call or drop us a line.

Click here for the contact details.


April 22, 2011

How To Produce A Magical Vocal Performance-The Frank Sinatra Method

Today’s digital audio workstations (DAWs) make it simple to piece together different performances or fix mistakes. But be careful not to over use the technology at your finger tips. By piecing together lots of bits from various takes, you can end up with a lifeless performance lacking in soul.

Ted Carfrae of TCM Mastering explains the best way to get a great vocal performance in the studio……this method can also be applied to any musical performance, not just vocals.

If you have any questions on recording, mixing or mastering TCM would love to hear from you. To contact us click here.


April 4, 2011

TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio Tips and Information

Part 5 Microphone Types

Sound shows itself as patterns in air pressure. Microphones convert the movements of the air into electrical current. How accurately that conversion is made depends on the quality and type of the microphone.

There are 3 basic types of microphones – condenser, dynamic and ribbon. And depending on how those microphones pick up the sounds (their polarity) determines how and where you would place them to record a voice or instrument.

If you’re interested in taking a look at some of the gear we use (including microphones) at our studio setup in Nashville, click here.

Condenser Mics

A condenser mic usually has a well-rounded pattern to its frequency response, produces a high quality audio signal and a fast response to transients eg. drums. There are two types – large and small diaphragm. Depending on placement though, they can take on a harshness if placed too close to the transient sound source.

They’re a very popular type of mic and in recent years have become quite affordable in price. Condenser mics require their own ‘phantom power’ (usually 48 volt). This power enables the mic to function properly and it usually comes from the mixer or preamp, but some mics have their own internal battery or power supply.

Dynamic Mics

Dynamic mics, generally, can take quite a lot of abuse. They can handle a lot of volume before feeding back. Which has made them popular with bands for use on drums, amps and strong rock vocals.

They tend not to have a uniform frequency response. And some are specifically designed to respond to specific frequency bands eg. AKG 112 for bass responses. Again, these mics can often be found at a reasonable price.

Ribbon Mics

Ribbon mics are quite fragile so need care when using them. They also have a relatively slow response time, tending to soften transients and have a more rounded tone to them due to them being less sensitive to the higher frequencies.

If you’re looking for an old or vintage sound to your recording you may want to check out this type of mic.

Microphone Polarity

Microphones can pick up sound from different directions. If a microphone is sensitive to sounds from all directions it is said to be omnidirectional. Cardioid mics (of which there are a few variations) pick up sounds mostly in front of them and bi-Directional or figure-8 mics can pick up sounds from the front and the back.

These three main polarity patterns exist in various different mics. Some condenser mics can even switch between different polarity patterns. So depending on what type of instrumentation you’re recording, certain mics will be better employed than others.

If for instance you want to record two backing vocalists at the same time you might want to use a figure-8 type. Positioning a vocalist on either side of the mic. Live bands use a lot of cardioid mics because they are directional and are good at picking up sounds from a specific direction without picking up other sound sources. Omnidirectional mics are used when you want to pick up the sound of the room as well as the source.

A decent microphone can cost less than £100 or up to several thousand. As with nearly all equipment these days the choice is huge and can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. So how do you choose?

It really depends upon the type of studio setup you are aiming for. But remember the recorded signal is only as good as the weakest link in the chain.

If you’re recording for your own pleasure you may be able to get away with a relatively cheap collection of microphones. However, if you’re aiming to release your material or trying to get a record deal, make sure you get the best you can afford.

It’s also worth mentioning at this point that, if you are trying to produce a professionally finished track, getting your music mastered by a specialist can make the difference between a good sounding track and a great sounding track. It’s very competitive out there, so anything you can do to improve your chances of your track being heard or played is worth it.

At TCM Mastering we take pride in every track we master and provide a professional, fast and affordable service to today’s musician.

Some mics to consider are:

Dynamic – Shure SM57/58 (rock vocal, amps and drums), Sennheiser MD421 (good for toms), e609 (amp or kick drum) and e602 (good bass response).

Condenser – Audio Technica AT2035 (cardioid), Neumann U87 (popular with professionals, 3 directional patterns, great, but expensive) and Shure Beta 98 (drums/toms).

Ribbon – MXL R144 (inexpensive, good for vocals), Avantone CR14 (vocal or drum overhead).

Mic placement and choice is crucial to a good recorded sound whether it’s a single vocal, acoustic guitar, flute, choir or orchestra. So experiment with mic positions until you get the sound you want. Now that we’ve covered microphone basics, next week we’ll discuss techniques for miking and recording instruments.

If your Home Music Studio is going to involve a lot of MIDI work requiring sequencing of instruments (that is programming the musical parts and getting your computer programme to play it for you), make sure you have a MIDI controller that can handle your needs. The subject of MIDI will be covered in a future blog.

Do you want to be sure of receiving this series of blogs as they come out? Then why not subscribe to them. Just fill out your e-mail address in the box near the top on the right.

And if you have any specific questions regarding the recording or mastering process please feel free to contact us here.


February 28, 2011

Audio Dithering

TCM Mastering’s Ted Carfrae responds to a question on dithering…

I have been asked a few times now about audio dithering and weather you should dither your mixes before sending them to me for mastering and my answer is No.

Dithering is a part of the mastering process and I will apply dithering using top quality Rosetta Apogee digital converters to get your mastered tracks to the required 16bit 44khz for CD replication.

The resulting quality will be lossless. It does not matter if you are working at 48,96 or 192khz, supply me with your final masters and leave the rest to me.

Tips On Microphone Technique And Getting A Great Vocal Sound

If you have any more questions on the Mastering process either contact us or check out the FAQs on the TCM Mastering website. We love to hear from you.


January 16, 2011

If you read my previous blog, you’ll know I am an advocate of live studio recording.

I always approach vocal recording the same way and as I mentioned before I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to vocals.

The purpose of a vocal is to capture a complete performance and you just can’t do that if you are recording line by line or word by word. I want emotion out of a great ballad and excitement when it’s an uptempo song.

Firstly, the singer needs to be well rehearsed, to know the song inside out so that it is almost second nature.

Next record the song from start to finish, what happens is that the singer gets into the lyric and starts to add personality and performance naturally without direction and what you get are lots of unexpected surprises so make sure you record everything they sing – the worst thing ever is to hear something brilliant and then find that you didn’t record it. That moment is passed and that small bit of spontaneity can’t be re-done so record everything.

I always record probably three, possibly four full vocal tracks from start to finish, after that the voice gets tired and you will probably have the best vocal you are going to get. From there, create a new track and compile your master vocal from the various full takes picking the best lines.

Once you have compiled your master vocal, you can drop in and correct any slight repairs that need doing and there you have it – your finished vocal track. This method is so much faster, it’s spontaneous and it’s a  real performance.

Try recording your next vocal like this and I promise you will never work any other way again.

Jaki Graham – Dynamic and TCM Music Group

CJ and Ted have just completed two new tracks with UK soul Queen Jaki Graham due for release later this year as a single. Recorded live in Nashville Jaki cut 2 songs, a cover of Michael McDonald’s classic ‘Taking It To The Street’ and a brand new song written by Ted Carfrae and Rick Astley called, ‘If You Have Faith In Me’.