…we hear what a badly set up compressor can do to your live sound.
I have an audience recording of this show (it’s also on youtube), and I have wondered about the vocals – audience recordings are always hit or miss; a lot will depend on the particular recording equipment, any frequency band can drop out. Now that I have found this clip, I understand that it’s not just about the camera; the problem was what was coming out of the PA.
But the problem here, contrary to what the comments speculate, isn’t that Hansi was that ill or whatever, really. I’m not sure he even was. He did have certain “register blending” issues all over the late 90s and early 2000s – I’m using inverted commas because these aren’t limited to your traditional concepts of vocal registers aka mechanisms; we’re also dealing with extended technique here, that raspy thing. But really, most of the time – with Blind Guardian and their magically oiled touring machine – he managed just fine (outside of shows like Moscow 2002 where our gruesome reality likely threw his monitors off big time and caused all sorts of WTF).
Why does his lead part sound so freaking weird here, then?
Because from the sound engineering point of view, getting a mixed-technique vocal line to survive electronic processing required for amplification and recording is not exactly a trivial task (I’m speaking from experience).
The thing about classically informed clean singing is that it carries effing well. It’s designed for that. With a peak around the “singer’s formant” range.
Whenever you manipulate your instrument to produce extended technique sounds – or even “folk” style sounds – your peak frequencies shift.
So if you have a multi-band compressor set up way too far on a way narrow band (around the traditional singer’s formant frequencies), or an equaliser in your FX chain before the compressor, again, emphasising the singer’s formant (but this time your “generic” compressor is too lax)… you’ll get this weird overdone dynamics that actually sounds wrong because cleans shouldn’t overshadow those aggressive parts, y’know. And yet it happens because your cleans are focused already, they don’t need that extra boost, while the “harsh” parts could use some because the energy of your sound wave gets kinda dissipated when you add rasp via this particular technique. But the frequency band is selected incorrectly.
Other than that, Demons and Wizards was the band where Hansi the frontman was born. Remember, it wasn’t easy for him to transition from hiding behind a bass guitar to just being up there with nothing but a mike stand for company.