Vocals are often the most crucial part of your track. To get them to sit beautifully in the mix, you need to make sure the vocal takes are the best possible quality. These days you can easily record professional quality vocals at your home studio using your computer, Melosity or any other DAW, and a little bit of know know-how. Here are our top 5 Vocal recording tips to get you started.
Pick the right microphone
As a general rule of thumb, use a condenser microphone. You will find a large diaphragm microphone picks up more detail and does a better job capturing voice. These days you can get a great quality condenser microphone for a very competitive price. My personal favorite budget studio vocal microphone is the AKG Perception 220. I also have had a great experience using Rode NT1.
But for every rule, there are exceptions as well. The Shure SM7 is a great Dynamic alternative to the condenser microphones, that has been used on countless chart-topping albums. At the end of the day though, I am a big advocate of working with what you got. Don’t let the lack of equipment stop you recording. If used properly, you can make some great recordings with the trusty old Shure SM58. I have even experimented using the iPhone headphone microphone for vocals with quite surprising results.
2. Pick the best spot
The environment where you record can have as much effect on the sound as the microphone. In general, try to find a dead spot. Make sure there is nothing reflective right behind the microphone. A couple of blankets can make a great makeup vocal booth. Also, a bedroom closet full of clothes could work great.
If you have a nasty sounding reflective room, then a dynamic microphone can be your best bet, as it tends to pick up less of the room.
3. Use a Pop-filter
A pop-filter is a screen that reduces plosive sounds, caused by words with the letter P or B. When we pronounce these words, more air comes out of our mouth, this extra air hits the diaphragm of the microphone and creates an explosive sound. The Pop-filter reduces this air without otherwise affecting the sound.
You position the pop-filter between the singer and the microphone and that is basically it. This will have a massive effect on your vocal sound. Pop-filters are cheap enough to purchase, but if money is tight, it is easy enough to make on using nylon socks, or tights and an old metal coat hanger.
4. Use the right headphones
The right headphones actually make a world of difference. Use closed-back studio headphones. This will reduce the spill from the backing track to the vocal track. Also, good headphones make it easier for the singer to pitch correctly.
5. Record more takes than what you think you need
When you think you have the perfect vocal take, always record one or two extra takes. There is nothing worse than in a middle of a mix realizing there is something wrong with the vocal take and you need to re-record them. If you have few extra takes recorded the same day, you might be able to fix the problem spot, by copying and pasting from the other takes.