For many artists, a song’s lyrics and vocal performance are the most critical element of an overall composition. More often than not, the vocals will be placed at the forefront of the mix so listeners can easily tune in. But what goes into capturing a great vocal recording in a home studio, and how can you ensure you get the best possible take every time you press ‘record?’
Read on as we break down some essential tips that will help you nail it every time.
Starting With A Great Vocal Performance
If you want to end with professional-sounding vocals in your mix, you will first need to start with capturing an excellent vocal performance. While many of the tips below will help you maximize your vocals’ impact, they certainly won’t fix a wonky performance or delivery.
Delivering a good performance will usually require a little preparation from your artist, but a small amount can go a long way in ensuring the session goes smoothly. Before beginning your session, your artist should have already warmed up their voice and familiarized themselves with the lyrics, as well as the key of the song.
Ultimately, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to make a poor-quality vocal performance sound great later on in the mixing stage. Getting it right the first time around will help keep your sessions running easily and efficiently.
5 Tips For Recording Vocals In Your Home Studio
Below are 5 tips that you can use to help develop your own system for recording vocal tracks.
1) Choose The Right Mic
There are a lot of different kinds of microphones out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. While condenser and dynamic mics are most commonly used to record vocal tracks, there really is no right or wrong way to go about it.
Since different types of microphones reproduce sound differently, knowing how your mics work and what kind of sound they reproduce will help you decide what options are appropriate for your artist. Taking the time to figure out what type of microphone works for your artist can help bring out the natural, unique tone and character in the singer’s voice.
While many professional studios will have a selection of high-end mics, you don’t need to drop all of your money on the best dynamic microphone to capture great vocals. There are many great budget and mid-range mic options out there that are more than capable of getting the job done when used in the right setting.
If your budget allows for it, having 2-3 mics to choose from allows you a lot more range to experiment and find the right fit for your artist’s voice.
2)Select A Good Space
Having a good space to record in is almost as important as having a good vocal performance to record. The space that you record in will have a big impact on the overall sound of the recording.
If you are recording vocals in your home studio, you should try to find a space that has minimal reverb and sound reflections. A lot of times, the closet can serve as a quick and effective DIY vocal booth, as your clothes offer great sound absorption.
Recording your vocals in a “dead space” with regard to reverb allows you to capture a clean, usable track that will be easy to work into your mix. You can go back and add effects like reverb to the track later on, giving you much more flexibility and control over the final sound.
3) Know Your Equipment & Where To Place It
It’s not always just about having the right equipment, or even the best equipment. Taking the time to learn how to use and troubleshoot your equipment is crucial to ensuring you’re able to capture the best-possible vocal recording.
This includes understanding the range of your microphone and how & where to place it, relative to the vocalist. You will generally want to avoid placing the mic in the center of a room, as standing waves tend to build up in the center of the room and can be problematic.
You should also be aware of any potential room noise, reverberation, or reflections that might make their way into your take and make adjustments accordingly. Finding the ‘sweet spot’ in the room can really improve the overall recording.
4) Add Preamp
While good mics tend to bring plenty of great tone to a recording, adding a little preamp to your vocals will add a greater sense of warmth and fullness to the recording. There are great mic preamps to suit any budget, and they can help bring your vocals out in a mix.
5) Treating The Acoustic Space
The simple and unfortunate fact is that you could get every single step of the recording process exactly right and still end up with a crummy-sounding recording if the space you recorded in was too noisy. Even taking a few simple steps to acoustically treat your home studio can produce noticeable differences in recording quality. Reflection filters and bass traps are two examples of cheap and effective options you could add to your home studio to start hearing immediate results.
Your studio doesn’t need to be acoustically “perfect,” but the more you can do to reduce room noise and reflections, the better your track will sound.
Keeping Things Comfortable (Above All Else)
More than anything else, it’s important to ensure that both you and the artist are comfortable and relaxed when it comes time to record. This will help guarantee that the singer is relaxed and ready to deliver an excellent performance, ultimately making your job easier in the long run.
Making sure that your home studio is an organized, functional, and comfortable place to work helps eliminate any unnecessary distractions or other variables that might take you or your artist out of “the zone” while recording.
The more you can both just sit back and let it flow, the better off your recording will be.
While there are an endless amount of little tricks you could learn to make your life in the studio easier, following these 5 steps for recording vocals in your home studio will take a lot of guesswork and pressure off recording the most important tracks in your mix, ensuring you end up with great sounding vocals every time!