Before we get into the nitty gritty, lets dive in to what it means to be intentional with everything we do. We first need to know exactly what we’re recording and understand the approach is never going to be exactly the same.
With regard to vocal recordings, we need to understand that background (supporting parts) and main parts will likely be treated differently. Most of this can be re-created in the mix, but it’s always better that it sounds incredible from the very beginning!
Decide what kind of sound your going for. Ask yourself these important vocal recording questions first:
* Is the vocal supposed to be big and roomy?
* Is the vocal tight and present?
* How important is the part in regards to the whole project?
* What physical space do you have available to use at the present moment?
* Do you have anything to help minimize or maximize the recording space?
* What problems do you want to avoid in your vocal recording?
* What characteristics do you want to accent in the recording?
The most important part of any vocal recording is the performance. The vocalist needs to be in the right frame of mind to make sure they do their best because lets face it, there’s no amount of money or equipment in the world that will get a good recording out of a bad vocal performance.
A bad vocal performance could simply mean the artist was having a bad day, or is going through a breakup. It’s part of the job to make sure the artist is comfortable and in the right headspace.
Try setting up some water, hot tea, and light snacks out. It will help make the artist feel a little more at ease. If you are recording yourself, try to watch an inspirational Youtube video, or scroll through some super funny memes. Do whatever you have to do to get in the right frame of mind!
Next, you’ll want to decide the way you place the microphone. It is always a matter of compromise between what you want to do with the vocal recording, the environment you are recording in, and the vocalist’s tonal character. I’ll give you a quick example of a question we commonly get asked:
What’s the best way to record vocals?
In many cases this question refers to a main vocal in a modern stylistic representation (pop, hip hop, or EDM).
Make sure that the microphone is oriented in a way that will not impede their inspired, energetic performance.
For this type of vocal sound, you’ll need a to make sure the microphone is placed about 5 – 7 inches from the artist, and make sure that the levels going into your DAW are, for simplicity’s sake, sitting nicely between the green and yellow lines.
Don’t worry about compression or equalization on the way in. Your environment will factor in more than any of that.
If your room isn’t treated, try to minimize as much of the “room” sound as you can. Try draping heavy blankets over microphone stands and make a makeshift booth for the artist. You can move the microphone stands to really “dial in”
the sound you’re looking for. If you have a reflection filter, use that in conjunction with the blanket booth.
Mixing and mastering is much different than recording. It’s very important to have room that is designed to let the listener hear what’s really coming out of the speakers. There are special architects that specialize in designing how the audio waves in a room react inside of the very room it lives in. It also takes a specially trained ear to be able to make accurate changes to a recording so that it can sound like a radio ready hit. Studio 411 offers the best online mixing and mastering service available today and have very affordable rates for any budget. For a limited time, try our mixing and mastering service free.
In summery, make sure that the artist gives their best performance first and foremost. Other than that there isn’t a lot too a vocal recording. You can get creative and do some fun stuff with it, but always remember that there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
_bayland brings years of recording studio experience to Studio 411. He has worked with numerous independent artists, major label acts and been fully immersed in the music business since graduating from Full Sail University. Other than his experience, Chris brings great conversation, wit and a strong enthusiasm for Peaky Blinders.