Vocals Recording Tips – Part 1

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Simple Vocals Recording Tips for the Home Recording Studio Part 1

There are so many little vocals recording tips we can talk about. So I’m going to make this subject a multi-part series.

Recording vocals that sound great is the product of being aware of, and taking care of a bunch of little details. As I’m fond of saying, “With all facets of recording at home, the person who ignores the fewest details, wins.” Let’s look at some of the first, and most important details we’ll face when getting set up for recording vocals in the home studio.

Vocals recording tips 1 – “Visualize it” and “Communicate it”

Picture the sound of the vocal and the type of performance you want well before you start. In other words, rehearse and imagine the finished performance well before the vocalist starts recording. You see, it’s a lot more effective to go over and discuss the performance well before the tension of the recording session.

Vocal recording tips 2 – Choosing a microphone for a subtle melodic lead vocal

The performance you visualized in the previous step before starting the recording process, will point you toward the right microphone to use. Remember… there are no hard and fast rules for what tools you should use. Always be willing to test your creativity and imagination. That said, it’s just as important to know the basic characteristics of your home studio tools and how each of them basically functions. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider for choosing a microphone for lead vocal.

  • Is the song strongly based on vocal melody and subtle emotional nuances? A vocal condenser microphone is the best place to start.

A condenser will ensure a full frequency “capture” of the lead vocal. They have the added benefit of allowing the lead vocalist to stand at a comfortable distance from the microphone because condensers are very sensitive and do not require the singer to plant his face on the microphone to get a good volume level. Affording the vocalist this freedom from being too aware or nervous about maintaining a strict and close proximity to the mic, means that he or she can concentrate more fully on giving themselves to and “inhabiting” the performance.

NOTE: Some condenser microphones can be prohibitively expensive for the home recording studio. However, the good news is there are some very good and very affordable condenser mics for the home studio market. I get great results from my Rode Microphones NT1-A Condenser Mic Bundle. It approaches the quality of microphones that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, except I think I only paid about $130 for my RODE NT-1.

Vocals recording tips 3 – Choosing a microphone for an “in your face” lead vocal

  • Will the performance be an aggressive, attitude-driven and edgy type of lead vocal? In that case, the immediacy and mid-range highlighting qualities of a live performance, dynamic microphone is cool place to start.

The Shure SM58 Mic Standard and SM57’s have been the warhorses of the live performance for decades. They are dirt cheap, almost indestructible and add an “in your face” color to the recorded vocal sound. I use them in almost any capacity in my recording home studio.

Read part 2 of the Vocals Recording Tips series……..