If you’re an aspiring musician or even an established musician, you may have dreamt of owning your own studio.
Your own music studio, with your own music producer – what more could any musician want?
Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford our own professional music studio. The good news is that recent developments in technology have made it possible to continue to record professional-sounding audio from the comfort of your own home!
No matter your budget, certain tips and tricks can get your recordings sounding entirely professional – so much so that no one will ever suspect that you recorded them by yourself at home!
Here’s all you need to know about how to record vocals the right way.
- 1 What Do You Need For Vocal Recording?
- 2 What Type Of Microphone Is Best For Recording Vocals?
- 3 How Can I Make My Voice Sound Better When Recording?
- 4 Should You Record Vocals with Effects?
- 5 Should You Record With Autotune on?
- 6 How Do You Clean Vocal Recordings?
What Do You Need For Vocal Recording?
If you plan on recording music in your home, be prepared for it to be tough work. You may have to spend a good few months planning things out.
You will also have to do your research when it comes to everything you’ll require in your home recording studio.
For starters, remember that the simpler your home studio is, the better. There is no need to go overboard and create a studio that is extravagant and overwhelming. Start from the basics and build your way up.
Here are some basic items you will require before you can start recording.
When building a home studio, the first thing you’ll require is a personal computer. Without a PC, no recording will be possible.
When it’s time to choose a computer, make sure to go for one that is fast and efficient. It has to be within your budget, of course, but the faster, the better.
These days, computers aren’t exactly a luxury and anyone can afford some sort of computer at least. The Mac Book is a popular option for audio recording – if you can afford it.
A DAW and an Audio Interface
The Audio Interface, on the other hand, refers to the hardware that you will use to connect your PC with your recording equipment.
As such, the DAW and Audio Interface work hand in hand to help you record, edit, and mix music. You cannot do without either of them.
You can purchase these two items either on their own or even together. If you are only just starting on your music production journey, it is recommended that you purchase a combination of the two.
Buying them together has various advantages. Primarily, you are likely to get a better price than if you were to buy them separately.
It will also be less hassle for you if you buy them together, as opposed to going around looking for both separately.
Once your studio gets up and running, you will most likely have a collection of different varieties of microphones. For the time being, though, even one or two might suffice.
The microphones that you select depend entirely on which instruments you plan on recording with.
As a beginner, you will most likely be spending your entire time recording by yourself. As such, you will require at least a single pair of headphones.
When deciding which headphones are right for you, remember that you can choose between two options:
Open Back Headphones
These headphones are ideal for mixing purposes. They may not offer complete isolation, but their sound quality is unbeatable.
Closed Back Headphones
These headphones are meant particularly for tracking purposes. They offer proper isolation, but their sound quality isn’t as great as open back headphones.
While some modern musicians do all of their mixing on open back headphones, speakers, also known as studio monitors, have always been the traditional equipment use for mixing purposes.
The speakers that are used for mixing aren’t the same as those that you buy for pleasure.
While the speakers you buy for entertainment purposes have various tonal adjustments that you can use to adjust the sound according to your liking, studio monitors give off a sound that is far more neutral, so that you can objectively judge for yourself how good or bad you sound.
An XLR cable is simply a sort of cable you will require if you hope to record your own music.
To get started with setting up your home studio, all you need is three cables – one longer cable that you’ll connect with your microphone and two shorter ones that you’ll use to connect your equipment with your monitors.
A Microphone Stand
Not all microphone stands are the same. Make sure that you end up buying one that suits your specific requirements.
However, if you are on a budget, even a more affordable stand can do the trick. You don’t have to spend excessively on a microphone stand when you’re just starting out.
A pop filter simply refers to the mesh covering on your microphone, which makes your vocals sound a whole lot better, by filtering out unpleasant sounds and vocals.
You do not need this, but if you want your vocals to sound the best that they possibly can, there’s no harm investing in one.
Pop filters are usually inexpensive, so even if your budget is low, you should be okay if you choose to spend a bit of money on this piece of recording equipment.
Ear Training Software
Ear training software refers to any software that improves the quality of your ability to perceive and process sound.
Remember, the key to being a good musician is to have a good ear. So while this piece of equipment may seem unnecessary to you, it is actually one of the most useful investments you can make.
If you begin training your ears from the very start, you are likely to have a perfectly accurate sound perception, which is essential for any good musician.
What Type Of Microphone Is Best For Recording Vocals?
Once you get together all of the equipment that you need to begin recording, it’s time to start focusing on specifics.
Remember, your microphone is perhaps the most important of all the pieces of equipment discussed above. The right microphone can make or break your music career. As such, deciding which microphone is the best for recording vocals can be tough.
Here are some microphones that work particularly well that you should consider for your recording studio.
Generally speaking, condenser microphones are the most popular sort of microphone used to record vocals.
These microphones come with in-built sensitivity to sound and detail. This sensitivity is what makes them such a great option to record any sort of vocals.
Furthermore, condenser microphones tend to be well-built and are designed for sound isolation. This quality also makes these microphones a great choice for anyone who is serious about recording vocals.
Tube microphones are very old-school. They produce a sound similar to that produced in the “good old” days of music. ‘Old’ sound often sounds classier and more sophisticated than the digital music of today.
So if you want an old-school edge to your vocals, a tube microphone is the way to go. Instead of a condenser characteristic of most modern microphones, a tube microphone has tubes that deal with the audio.
Even with this knowledge, the best thing to do is test both kinds (tube and digital) to see what kind of sound you prefer.
While USB microphones also come under the category of condenser microphones, they are different for a variety of reasons. For starters, they are far easier to work with.
All you have to do is plug this microphone into your computer (via the USB cable), and voila, you’re ready to record. Well, not really, but you’re one step closer.
Another great thing about this microphone is that since they aren’t all that professional, they are likely to easily fall within your budget, even if you’re only just starting out.
Unfortunately, though, this microphone doesn’t deliver as great quality as a regular condenser microphone does.
This microphone also doesn’t offer too much flexibility when it comes to recording settings. So if you are particular about that, this may not be a great choice for you.
The type of microphone you ultimately resort to has a whole lot to do with what you expect from it and the stage of your musician’s career you are at.
How Can I Make My Voice Sound Better When Recording?
Recording, especially for the first time, isn’t going to be easy. Here are some tips you can follow to make sure that your vocals sound amazing every single time!
Make Sure You Prepare Well
You should never rush into the recording process. There are so many things you may need to take care of before you can get into the recording itself.
The most important thing you need to worry about is your voice and how you sound. Practice a whole lot before you begin recording. Do relaxation exercises if you must to make sure your voice does not shake while recording.
Also, practice your pitch before your actual recording. Test the limits of your voice and see how far it can go. This is a great way to make sure that your pitch isn’t shrieky.
Other than your voice, make sure that you properly remember the lyrics and tune of the song you’re recording so that you don’t mess up once the recording is live.
Microphone Technique Is Important
It is important to practice this beforehand so that you can establish the ideal between you and your microphone to make your vocals sound exemplary.
It is particularly important to practice this beforehand, especially if you’re a beginner. Inexperienced musicians sometimes ruin their vocals because they start fidgeting with a microphone that they are not used to.
Some microphone techniques that you should especially pay attention to are the following:
Control of Volume
One technique that you absolutely cannot do without is volume control. The technique is simple really – you need to carefully move near the microphone when your voice gets soft, and move away from it when your voice gets loud.
Volume fluctuations need to be very carefully handled so that the person listening to your vocals isn’t left annoyed at the constant changes in volume.
Be Careful About Breathing
Every time you breathe, make it a point to tilt your head on to a particular side. This can reduce the amount of breathing sounds that are actively audible in your recordings.
Now, the breathing sounds can be edited out with the right techniques, but this is more work for you in post-production, so it’s best to just ensure that they don’t make it into the recording in the first place.
Actively Avoid Sibilance and ‘Popping’
Sibilance refers to a hissing sound that you may produce when pronouncing the ‘s’ sound. ‘Popping’ is when you pronounce words with the letter ‘P’ and ‘B’ with unnecessary bursts of air.
Both popping and sibilance can ruin your recording, so be extra careful to avoid these.
Pick the Right Microphone
The microphone that you end up using can vary from recording to recording, based on the requirements of your voice.
A modern-day, digital, party track may, for example, require a condenser microphone, but if you’re singing an old-school folk song, a tube microphone might be a better choice.
Be Careful With Vowels
When shaping vowels, you must be extra careful. Shaping vowels is what lends emotion to your voice each time you sing.
With practice, you will soon learn the correct way to shape your vowels so that your vocals are expressive and communicate well with your audience.
Emotions Are Important
Your vocals need to deliver a lot of emotion. You need to make the song your own and make sure that your audience feels something when they hear your voice.
Song Delivery Matters.
Make sure that you sing in a way that makes your audience feel connected to you through your voice.
Each person who listens to your voice should feel as though your voice is speaking to them on a personal level. This is the key to being a good musician – speaking to your audience on a personal level.
So, even when you record, always visualize that there is a person standing in front of you who you are singing to. Only then will you be able to deliver a soulful performance.
Should You Record Vocals with Effects?
When deciding on how to record vocals, it is common to question whether or not you should be using effects in your recordings.
There is no one answer to this question, and it’s all a matter of personal preference, really.
Some people prefer to record raw, without any plug-ins changing the sound of their vocals, while others choose to record with plug-ins and later decide which version of the audio they prefer – the one with effects, or the one without any added effects.
Should You Record With Autotune on?
Auto tuning your voice is one of the easiest ways to edit your vocals to make them sound perfect, removing most or all human errors that may take place during the recording session.
Similar to any other effects, autotuning depends on your preference. If you want your vocals to end up sounding more natural, you should probably record with autotune off. This is important because once your vocals are recorded with autotune, you cannot revert to a version without autotune.
But if you record vocals without autotune and realize that a little auto-tuning may work well, you always have this option.
To be safe then, it’s best that you initially record without autotune.
How Do You Clean Vocal Recordings?
Cleaning your recording is one of the final steps of the recording procedure. Cleaning your vocals simply means removing any of the disturbances and noise from your vocals so that they appear clear and loud to whoever is listening.
Cleaning your vocals at home isn’t too hard. In today’s time, where there are so many different types of software and audio editing applications available, cleaning vocals is a piece of cake.
All you have to do is sit back and learn how to use these programs and applications. One such application is ‘Audacity.’
Using this software, you can successfully clean your vocals, leaving them sounding better than ever before.
A process called equalization also helps your vocals sound significantly clearer and better.
This was our comprehensive guide on how to record vocals properly, clearly, and correctly from the comfort of your home.
It may seem daunting at first, but if you carefully follow the directions listed here, you are likely to become a successful vocalist in no time at all!