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Tools of the Trade => Hardware & Software for Audio / Video / Photos => Audio - MIDI - Recording => Topic started by: PattheBunny on August 31, 2019, 06:45:00 pm

Title: Recording a vocal over a track and sharing online live to discuss? Mac.
Post by: PattheBunny on August 31, 2019, 06:45:00 pm
Long long time gone.  I used to be pretty active must be (shock) nearly ten years ago.  That can't be possible...

Anyway, I'm recording an album and am wondering if I can work on vocal tracks live as I record them with my voice teacher. I'm in L. A.  He's in another state.  Everything is done but the vocal, I'll be singing to the mixed instrumental track.  I'm no techie. I've been playing the track over speakers and singing live via the Skype session.  But I'd like to use these sessions not just to rehearse, but to record. 

Mac. Focusrite Sapphire 6.  Garage Band.

Thanks in advance. 
Title: Re: Recording a vocal over a track and sharing online live to discuss? Mac.
Post by: Majik on August 31, 2019, 10:33:25 pm
You can record locally. Forget about recording over Skype.

The best thing is to get a DAW application (or even a relatively simple multi-track sound recorder app like Audacity) where you can play the backing track and record your singing at the same time. If you have a Mac, Garage Band is ideal.

You'll need to learn the basics of how to use the app, which will take several attempts at recording.

When you do this, wear headphones to listen to the backing track otherwise you'll get the backing track bleeding into the vocal track.

A relatively cheap, but OK, condenser Mic should be possible for under $100 although some cheaper ones are available under $50. Check the second hand market. This might be a useful guide: https://www.gearank.com/guides/best-condenser-microphones-under-100

Ideally you want an audio interface which you can do local monitoring on. This means you plug the headphones into the audio interface so you can hear yourself through the headphones latency free, whilst playing the backing track. These audio interfaces have a local mixer that lets you set the local monitoring level versus the backing track level. The Sapphire should be perfect for this.

To share online, I would suggest exporting the vocal track (as the producer what format to export in) as a "stem" and share on something like Dropbox or Google Drive.


Title: Re: Recording a vocal over a track and sharing online live to discuss? Mac.
Post by: Majik on August 31, 2019, 11:17:01 pm
This might help when it comes to exporting the tracks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ico2EIzwjuY


Title: Re: Recording a vocal over a track and sharing online live to discuss? Mac.
Post by: PattheBunny on September 01, 2019, 08:26:54 pm
Thanks Keith.

I am apparently inept at asking a coherent question.

I have a recording setup. Do use Garage Band.  Have a little Focusrite Sapphire 6.  Have almost all of the instrumental tracks to practice to.  Have a vocal teacher working with me on Skype.

What I was thinking is if I could play back the track via Garage Band through my headphones and he could also hear the feed from the computer, I can be recording a useable track and if I catch something great during lessons I can keep it.   

Since Skype is such a pos I doubt it.  My brain goes GB/Computer out Skype in.  Don't know how to do it or if I can. 
Title: Re: Recording a vocal over a track and sharing online live to discuss? Mac.
Post by: Majik on September 01, 2019, 11:16:05 pm
Ah, OK, I see.

Well, yes, it is theoretically possible to record vocals into Garageband whilst playing back the backing track and have the resulting output from Garageband going into Skype.

I know how to do this on Linux (I've done something similar into Google Hangouts in the past), but I have only limited understanding of how to do it on an Apple Mac.

The problem is that tools like Garageband and Skype look for a physical audio device and take control of that. That normally means that only one application at a time can use that device: so you can either record or capture the vocals into Skype, but not both at the same time.

Additionally, the output from Garage band will normally go straight to the audio output and to the speakers or headphones.

The solution to both of these is a "virtual audio" setup, which basically allows you to break this connection between audio devices and applications, and lets you connect the audio output of one app to the input of another. You can almost think of the applications as if they were separate physical boxes with audio outputs and inputs that you can connect together with wires, like you might connect an old-school record player output to the input of a hifi amp with some cables. Except the cables are "virtual".

The two systems that do that, that I know work on the Mac, are Jack Audio Connection Kit  (http://jackaudio.org/)(or just "Jack") and Soundflower (https://github.com/mattingalls/Soundflower).

I know Jack well as it's what I use on my Linux systems. I've never installed or used it on a Mac. Both of these are free.

EDIT: I notice there is also Loopback (https://rogueamoeba.com/loopback/) which appears to be a commercial package.

However, there's quite a learning curve to both of them as you need to learn how the routing works. It's fairly logical if you understand audio routing, but I imagine it could be quite confusing to someone who is new to this.

Just to give you an idea, this is what the connections look like on my system with Jack. I'm running Ardour instead of Garageband, but it basically does a similar thing.

Each of the boxes represents either a physical audio input/output, or an application that has audio in/out. The two boxes labelled "Hardware Capture" and "Hardware Playback" represent my 4-input, 4-output audio interface.

I've labelled one of the capture ports "Microphone" to represent the microphone input, and two of the capture ports "Heaphones-Left/Right" to represent the output to my headphones. The Microphone capture is connected to "Vocal/audio-in" on Ardour which is the recording input on Ardour for the track I have labelled "Vocal". I have also created a stereo track in Ardour called "Backing Track".

Skype, in this, is represented by the two boxes "To Skype" and "From Skype" representing the audio to and from Skype.

In Ardour, the tracks are all mixed together into a Master bus (on Ardour this is done via the connections from the Vocal and Backing track "audio_out" into the "Master/audio_in"). The output of that (Master/audio_1 and Master/audio_2) is connected to the Headphones output. The Master bus output is also connected to the "To Skype" inputs, so the mix gets sent over Skype to the person on the other side.

Finally, the output "From Skype" is connected to the Headphones playback ports so you can hear the person on the other end.

There's some other Ardour-specific ports and connections in all this you can ignore.

You should be able to follow each the flows. For instance, the Mic input connects to an Ardour track input, the track output connects to the master bus input, the master bus output connects to the headphone output and to Skype.

As I say, I've never used Jack on a Mac, and I've never used Soundflower at all, so I don't know how they will be presented, but it's normally something similar to this.



P.S. You should also be able to connect the "From Skype" audio outputs to a separate track in Garageband (or Ardour in my case) and record any comments the person on the other end of the Skype call makes.