Recording vocals may seem easy, but is it really?
For most people who are working in not so perfect non pro environments the results are not always satisfactory.
Usually when you are a newbie or even a experienced engineer your vocal recordings often come out Dark and Muddy or Distorted, Thin sounding or harsh .
I know, i've been there and produced some embarrassing stuff when i started out long long ago.
Here are some tips that will help you to produce vocals right up there with the pro's.
1. Please don't get a $49 microphone off of eBay.
If you don't have alot of money get a shure 57, they are about $99 and are considered the best bang for the buck microphone you can get.
If you can afford to spend more you can do so but that is really not necessary to get good vocals.
For our artist Niva the Soul Diva we love the Electro voice RE-20.
You can record with it in the control room and it does not pickup alot of background noise.
2. Do you have a good Microphone pre amp? If the mic pre's on your digital audio interface are mediocre you can still get good vocal recordings but the better the mic pre the easier it will be.
We use the focusrite isaone.
We have mic pre's in our mixer but the focusrite is a killer mic pre and a great bang for the buck.
You can get good mic pre's used as well but as i said use the ones on your interface if you have to.
3. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP NO ONE EVER TALKS ABOUT.
Playback monitor levels.
Look at all of the videos on recording vocals and you will never hear anything about it..
You have got to be able to hear your vocals loud and clear.
You need to get an spl meter and measure the volume your speakers are putting out.
You must be listening back to your audio somewhere between 72 - 85 db.
So here is what to do .
Get a pink noise file and put it on a track in your daw.
Playback the pink noise and measure it on your spl meter,
Bring up the volume on your playback until your spl meter is somewhere between 72-85db.
Now when you record your vocals you won't feel the need to push and push and all kinds of crazy unnecessary stuff.
So even if you track the vocals on headphones, when you listen back on speakers you must be able to hear. SORRY NEIGHBORS!!
4. Should i use compression or EQ in my vocal recording chain?
HELL NO!!! you are just going to screw things up.
If you spent all of your money on a good mic and microphone pre amp why the heck do you want to throw things on top of that.
Follow the golden rule , KEEP IT SIMPLE DUMMY!!
And remember your mic talent should be between 6 to 12 inches from the mic.
I see videos on YouTube where vocalist are almost two feet from the microphone, GIVE ME A BREAK, LOL!
Well that's more than enough to get you started to great vocals, It's not rocket science.
So get started and have fun. The more you record the better you will get.
Check out two of our other favorite bang for the buck Pre Amps!