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11 Jul 2017
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Vocals: Recording The Perfect Take

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Posted By Helene B.

Here you are, palm sweaty, at the thought of recording vocals. The weakest link in my recordings for a long time was recording vocals, I sure didn't like the days I was pulling out the vocal mics. However, over time I tried some simple techniques and it got easier. The room you record in, getting a nice performance, microphone technique and the right tools need to come together and get executed properly.

I probably sound like a broken record by now but the room you record in plays a big role in your recordings. the idea when recording vocals is to isolate the talent within your room so you don't get reflected sound into the recording and you don't record the room. To achieve this you can use sound barriers or vocal booths this will minimize any early reflections from the talent as well as keeping outside noise out like your humming fridge or traffic. Here is a little tip, you can use anything as sound barriers like pillows, blankets, mattresses, carpet etc. Whatever you can do to create a small "sound manageable" area for your talent to work in.

So you've tore out all your blankets, pillows and mattress but without a good performance that was just wasted time. Vocals is an important track so get in the mood, run to the nearest store and grab some candles, tea and Christmas lights whatever you can think of to create an artistic, comfortable atmosphere. Another helpful tip during recording vocals is try different headphone mixes or sub mixes that the talent is listening too during recording. I find using different sound levels or cutting bass helps keep the talent more in tune so do some tests to see what works best and go with it.

Everything up till now is fine but what about the technical stuff. Well just like any recording during the recording phase you want clean sound because you can add effects in the mixing phase. Have the vocalist rehearse what is going to be recorded so you can set levels, make sure at no point there is any clipping and the perfect level would be at the loudest part of the recording your levels are as close to clipping without clipping. It is a sensitive process but don't give up! make sure you use a pop filter and in case your broke and on the verge of a huge recording here is a little tip. Grab some clothes hangers and get some panty hose and make the pop filters. Don't let me catch you without one. Tilt the mic at an angle so its off too the side instead of directly pointed at the talents mouth and move in and out towards the mic for loud/quiet parts.

To get the best final results in your vocal tracks you need to achieve clean sound during the recording phase. To do this avoid using effects during recording, leave that for the mixing stage because if you focus on clean sound then adding effects later will sound and work a lot better. Just keep in mind the room, sound barriers, the mood, and microphone techniques and you will have a solid foundation for recording vocals. Experimenting with different technique is important as well I remember trying to record vocals in a closet and it worked out really well. So give it a try, what do you have to lose?

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