These days studio singers have much better options for hearing tracks, and engineers for separating and isolating sound signals so they retain more choices when they mix. They are of course called headphones. Here are some tips for using them:
1. Try adding natural cue by wearing one of your headphone ears half-off (one side placed half behind one ear). Hearing some of your natural ambient vocal sound can help your ears not get disoriented to what you are really singing:
- DON'T wear or turn that ear all the way off, even if you have that option. You need a bit of sound from the track in that ear. Just park it back midway off that ear.
- DO put that headphone flush on the side your head so you don't leak sound from the track into the mic.
- DO make sure you have your cue box set to 'mono' instead of 'stereo' so you aren't missing something because one ear is half off.
- SOMETIMES some singers do better with both ears full on. Experiment to see what you like.
2. If you use headphones a lot, keep your hearing safe:
- Don't turn them up too loud, which WILL damage your hearing sooner or later. I've known studio musicians who have gone deaf from years of using headphones too loud.
- If you've been singing for hours and can't hear as well as you could earlier, try changing the mix a bit instead of cranking volume - it's like a spash of cold water waking up tired ears.
- If the engineer says to take your headphones off, do so IMMEDIATELY! There may be a very loud spike of sound coming through them as the engineer tests something.
3. Make sure you use good headphone studio etiquette:
- NEVER point a headphone ear into the mic (it will cause feedback)
- DON'T swing headphones by the cord, yank it off, throw it down or otherwise mishandle them. They are breakable, and somebody has to buy (and repair or replace) them! Handle with care.
- UNPLUG your phones if you are leaving the vocal booth and someone else will be singing, so cue from your open phones can't leak onto the vocal track.
Know what to ask for in your headphone cue mix. I'll give you some tips about this in my next post!
Much more at www.SingingInTheStudio.com