In our video series The Breakdown, we shoot artists and producers in the studio showing us the gear and techniques behind some of their best tracks. In the first edition of this month's instalment, Ruth Royall opened up her DAW to give us an insight into her production workflow.
For several years Ruth Royall has been a go-to vocalist in the contemporary D&B scene, working with the likes of Pola & Bryson, Ekko & Sidetrack, and Nookie, as well as touring with Fred V & Grafix and fronting Bristol-based live dance outfit Paper Tiger. However, the past few years have seen Ruth moving more and more into production, creating and co-producing her own tracks in order to, as she tells us, establish her own style and sound.
“I use a little bit of hardware in my vocal chain, I have a Focusrite ISA preamp that I love. It gives quite a lot of warmth to my tone. I also have a Focusrite interface and an AKG C414 mic, a vintage one. That adds a nice quality to the vocal. I like to approach vocals with kind of a gospel/soulful feel. I try not to over-process them.”
“I use Logic to record. I start a whole new project for vocals, so I don’t overload everything. I’ll do the processing then bounce that in place so I can bring that into the other project for the instrumental. On this track I have quite a lot of BVs going on. I pan my backing vocals around for that kind of choral effect.”
“The reverb that I really love to use on my vocals is the Valhalla Vintage Verb. I don’t really do anything that special to it. I’ll usually stick it on as it is, sometimes I’ll roll the low-end off, but on this track I’ve just left it as it is. I put two reverbs on this track. I’ve put a plate reverb on too which I’ve panned slightly to make it feel more roomy. That feeds into that gospel vocal sound.”
“The other thing I always use on my vocals is iZotope Nectar. It’s got loads of really great presets for vocals. I like to use one called ‘Wide Lead’. I tend to stick that on and then remove a lot of it, taking out the reverb and delay so I’m just using the EQ and compressor. That seems to work really nicely for my vocal, though.”
“I tend to compress my voice quite heavily. One compressor I use, which is free, is the Xfer OTT. I was quite pleased with how the vocal on this track came out. When I record I do so in mono, but when I bounce the track in place I have it in stereo and it gives a much wider sound, spreading it out a bit. I think that’s what you really want with a dance or pop music vocal.”
Ruth Royall on why she loves her AKG 414 microphone
A key element of Ruth Royall's set-up for vocal recording is her AKG 414 microphone. "This is what I like to call my soul mic," she says of the AKG. "This one brings real clarity to my voice. It's a vintage mic, so it's really unique in its sound. As a singer, you need to take time to get to know your microphone - kind of like another person! You're going to spend a lot of time together."