So you have been recording music on your own and you have some great sounding instrument tracks. Now it’s time for vocals. Vocal recordings can be tricky because, unless you want lo-fi and artsy sound quality, you have to be sure to make them clear and professional, and this can be difficult when you don’t have the money to walk into a studio and use their industry standard sound booths and microphones. In some ways the vocals are the most important part of a song, so be sure to follow these tips when recording at home.
Choosing Your Room
The room in which you record will have huge effects on your vocals. The brightness, clarity, and reverberation of the vocal track is at the mercy of the room size and shape, so choose a room that suits your style. I find that most projects work well in a small, “dead” or soundproofed room. If you choose you bedroom for instance, try standing a mattress up against a wall or hanging blankets around you. This will help to limit the room noise and provide a pure recording space. You can also invest in noise reducing foam which does the same thing in a more professional looking way.
Check out this Instructables page on making a soundproof studio.
Choosing The Microphone
Every microphone is different and will provide unique tone qualities for your recordings. While the overall tone of your vocals is up to you to decide, you should make sure you know what type of microphone will work best for your track. For most contemporary projects a small diaphragm condenser will work well, clearly balancing the vocal tones and capturing even the most subtle sounds. However, if the vocal part is especially loud (or requires a flatter and warmer sound) many artists, such as Bono of U2 and Brandon Flowers of The Killers, choose to use dynamic microphones like the Shure SM57.
Using The Right Equipment
To ensure a quality recording, it’s important to minimize noises and bleed through or “spill.” While a soundproofed room will definitely help, noises from your headphones may bleed through and get picked up by the microphone. Avoid this by using noise cancelling headphones, turning off the click track or metronome (if possible), and simply turning down the headphone volume as much as possible.
It’s also important to remember to use a pop filter when recording. This will greatly reduce the annoying mouth noises that come with singing, such as clicking and popping as well as the “whooshing” of breaths.
Be sure to check out these weird vocal tricks too, courtesy of Izotope.
Have you ever recorded vocals at home? What tips do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!