This is a followup to Latency As Vocal Producing Obstacle Part 1
Back in July, I came up with this hypothesis that latency was TOTALLY screwing with my vocalists after doing a few little voiceover things myself. I felt that the ability of the singer to hear themselves was all screwed up. The delay from their own voice in their head and the headphones causes a distinct comb filtering that makes everything sound totally NOT distinct.
Well, I’m happy to report that after testing this over and over that zero-latency headphone mixes are the ONLY way to go. I will never go back to recording vocals with any noticeable latency. Singer comfort seems to increase dramatically, complaints about headphones have dropped dramatically, the results seem to be better, and good singers who struggled with pitch seem to make miraculous improvement. (Crappy singers are still crappy, unfortunately.)
There are still some singers who aren’t in love with using headphones as this can is not necessarily a person’s natural way of hearing themselves. I’ve found the singers that HATED singing with 96 samples of latency in their headphones now seem about 10x happier
Getting FX In Zero-Latency Land
Many DAWS will allow you to record vocals via direct monitoring and then route that signal to the reverb. In this case,the latency will delay that reverb signal. This is the exact same thing as pre-delay, which is a very common reverb control anyway. In fact, for big vocal reverbs (Celine Dion-type stuff, it’s required anyway) so a little more won’t hurt.
I bit the bullet and paid $220 for a Kurzweil Rumour hardware reverb. This requires the ability to route signals out of your interface or it requires a hardware mixer. In either case, you need the ability to send signals and bring them back in on a new channel that can be heard. Users with 2-channel audio interfaces are out of luck.
Find a way to record vocals with zero latency and never look back. It works.