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Vocalists Intonation with Headphones

In response to a recent New in Stock at Sweetwater Sound blurb (see inSync 1/19/99) about beyerdynamic single cup headphones, inSync reader Rich L offers the following sage advice: “I have a response to your Jan. 19th paragraph about vocalists taking off one can when singing to headphones. You said, “…of course this drives engineers crazy because the sound from the open headphone cup bleeds into the microphone and on to the track.” I disagree; what drives me crazy is vocalists who sing out of tune because they don’t know enough to take one side off! I’ll take pitch over no bleed any day! I just engineered a session at Avatar (NYC, formerly Power Station) yesterday, and as soon as I suggested to the vocalists to take one cup off (to hear themselves AND EACH OTHER acoustically), their intonation improved. All they need to do is slide the cup slightly in front of or behind of their ear, and leakage won’t be an issue at all. But the beyerdynamic headset is undoubtedly the more comfortable way to go (and better for photo shoots). Either way, make sure you’re giving the vocalist a mono mix when you do this.” “Another suggestion for uncomfortable headphone singers: have them sing into a bi-directional mic, with a loudspeaker positioned at 90 degrees to the mic. Done properly, the leakage will be no worse than headphones!” Editor’s note: All great advice. In fact, this will make a great addition to our compilation of recent Vocal Recording Summit responses.

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