The importance of a singer

Posted in Band, Opinion on April 12th, 2011 by EO-Manager

In our modern music time songs have become a sort of throw away article. The stars of today can be nameless tomorow, silly TV shows exhibit freaks rather than support artists, incredible talents are on the dark side of the internet nobody will ever listen to or be interested in… However, I personally believe that there is one thing that can make any band really stick out of thousands  (unless you play intrumentals only): a good singer!

More or less the first thing that turns me on or off when I hear a new song is the voice. the singer transports emotions. Especially in times where choices are many I think it is ever so important to have someone who represents more than any other member the „musical imprint“ of your combo. Now what is a good singer? That is a good question and different people will give different answers, but for me it is a sort of uniqueness in the tone, the timbre, the passion and – not to forget – the right person for the right music. Arguable? Maybe, I just can’t imagine Blues being sung by a person with an opera voice. Sorry! Of course there are other things a good singer needs: the ability to develop a melody, in-tune singing, feeling the rhythm of a song and respond to it and so on.

And: a singer needs to feel good with the songs he or she is singing, with the tune, with the lyrics, with the kind of music you are playing. If that is not the case – forget it. Your audience will hear it straight away. Don’t know why, but it’s true. The worst thing is: no matter how good the rest of the band is – if the singer’s performance is bad, all that will be remembered is a bad event.

If you think of great singers that made an impact (on you or on music itself) check  the points I’ve said before. You will always find that uniqueness that makes the voices outstanding. It does not mean that a singer has to have a „good“ voice in a classical sense: if you think of people like Brian Johnson (AC/DC), Roger Chapman (Family, Streetwalkers, Short List) or Paul Rogers (Free, Bad Company, Queen) – they all are far from having a perfect voice…but their voices are perfect for the songs they sing.

It is not surprising that many singers are writing the song lyrics. They have to put emotion in their singing and how could you do that better than by singing about your own experience and /or inhibitions? And sure, there are many many exceptions to this rule. But I stick to it: the ones I like best are authentic. Maybe it is more so in rock and blues, but that’s my music.

If you are singers (or not) we would like to hear you opinion ar at least you could vote for this article. Your most welcome as always.

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EQs – the frequency masters

Posted in Production, Recording on März 23rd, 2011 by EO-Manager

When it comes to using an EQ in a mixing session there often seem to be more questions than answers. When shall I use the EQ – before or after the compressor? How can I get rid of certain frequencies? Do I have to use it on each signal individually or on the comlete mix? The good news is: there is no „cookbook“ what you have to do with an EQ. The other side of the coin is you have to have an idea what you want to do before you start and how you can achieve it with an EQ. This often sounds easier than it is. It is not rocket science, though. Let’s see what an EQ is good for.

Generally there are two different kinds of EQs: the graphic equalizer (consisting ususally of many sliders each representing a fixed band, like 32 bands or 16 bands ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz) and a so called parametric equalizer that consists of various knobs, each representing a bandrange you can choose. Parametric EQs are more flexible to work with as the have also knobs for the filter quality (Q-factor, defining a wider or narrow range of frequency) and gain.

Have you ever asked yourself why we need an EQ at all? The sound of a , for instance, guitar is good enough, isn’t it? So is the sound of a bass… And even if it isn’t – can I not make a perfect EQ mix for an instrument, save it as my personal preset and use it again and again? Unfortunately it is not that easy because usually each recording session is different and it is virtually impossible to produce identical raw material. In other words: different recordings, different rooms, different sessions, different mics need different eqing. Sad, but true. Of course you can use presets that come with your preferred eq, but I would always use them as a starting point, not the finishing touch.

When you work your EQ the next important thing is to have a good monitoring system (which is NOT your hifi gear) What a good monitor system is was explained in another blog entry a couple of weeks ago. Without it  you will not be able to equalize properly because you wouldn’t eq against the frequencies of the instruments but the frequencies of your (bad) monitor (another point to invest in decent monitors).

Also, you need a good ear and experience. Why a good ear? Because the thing you want to hear are unwanted frequencies – and then get rid of them by eqing them out. And why experience? Because you need to know not only about the frequncies you want to get rid of, but also which kind of eqing you need to use – high pass filter, low pass filter, shelving filters … btw, there is an excellent explanation of all this filters at soundonsound.com (here) so I won’t go into all the bits and pieces in this article.

Finally it is always a better idea to cut frequencies rather than boost them, and that is true for all instruments. Eqs can be fantastic tools to get rid of all unwanted in a mix in order to make room for each and every instrument. And, not to forget, they are the preferred tools to cut out all the rumble below 55Hz that nobody needs.

Have fun testing your favourite EQ!

 

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