How to Record Vocals
The vocal track is one of the most important parts of a recording, however, the vocal and the drums are often the weakest element of a home recording project. Some of this comes from not having access to higher end equipment but if you can't afford the high end stuff there are a few things you can do to greatly improve your sound without spending tens of thousands of dollars. First use a a compressor set for about a 1 to 1.5 ratio which is a bit light but on a computer and DAW it can be increased later. With compression too little is better than too much. Second as I have already pointed out use the highest quality microphone, preamp, cables, and audio card as you can feasibly afford. Try to record in a small or medium size room. If all you have is a large room hang baffles or use a walk in closet or small bathroom to record. Remember to cover reflective surfaces, a particular problem in some bathrooms. You can use heavy towels or blankets to keep the ring down.
Make sure to get a pop screen to keep down the annoying pops associated with burst of air from singing certain sounds. Have the singer drink warm water or tea to keep the mouth from getting dry. Cold liquids can contract the vocal cords so they are not recommended. Remember to make the recording environment comfortable and as free of distractions as possible. Get a good headphone mix so the singer can hear himself or herself clearly. Taking a little time to find out what type of mix the singer likes is a highly recommended idea. If you can add a little reverb to what they are hearing without adding it to the recording, (adding more flexibility in the mix down stage).
Try to have a selection of good mics to choose from or if the singer is the only one you ever record then buy the microphone to suit the persons voice. Some great microphones sound terrible if used with the wrong voice. Don't place the mic too close to a wall or other object to avoid too many early reflections. Have the singer stand up and place the mic so that they must tilt there head back slightly to sing. Remind them to try and keep the same mouth placement as slight moves can make a big difference in the sound. Place the mic up to 12 inches away for a loud sound and a few inches for a more intimate sound. Angle the mic slightly down so the singer is not singing directly into the mic to limit breath noise.
Set the mic up at a moderate level so that the first track can be used if necessary. Many time the first track is the best so take the time to get a good starting level before you record. Allow the singer a few minutes to warm up as you get the levels set allowing for a more accurate set up. As I said before ALWAYS get that first take. You never know. Also allow the singer to try a few tracks where he improvises on the vocals if time permits. Never limit the creativity of an artist. Allow them to shape the sound without becoming tempted to get involved in rewriting the song. For computer recording remember to cut off silences to save hard disk space but leave enough on the ends of the tracks so that you don't cut off the ends of the words. Go for feel and get the best possible take without wearing the vocalist out. If possible save the loudest parts for last so the singer does not wear out his voice before the end of the day.
Tips and Tricks - Already set up and you just need tips and tricks to make your recording sound better. Click here.
Drums - If you need help or tips on recording acoustic drums then this is the place to check out.
Electric Guitars - If you want help recording a electric guitar then check out this page.
Acoustic Guitars - If you want help recording an acoustic guitar then check out this page.
Bass - Need help capturing that electric bass we offer a few options for you here.
Other Instruments - Want to add that saxophone, cello, or flute to a project. Get the facts here.
Mixing - Need help mixing those tracks to get the right sound from your mix. We can help here.
Equalization or Eq - Do you have a basic overall level and the tracks panned where you want them. Then check out our tips on Equalization or Eq.
Adding Audio effects - If you have the levels where you want them and have added Eq its time to add some plug-ins or effects like reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, and other effects to help that final mix shine.
Mastering - Need help mastering your songs. Get the low down here.
Other Items of Interest - Also while your here feel free to check out our record label Silver Dragon Records and see what we can offer your band in terms of recording and other services. Also check out Lazarus X Houston's hottest local band and their new CD release Weapon of Love or download a free mp3 for a limited time.
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