Community Tip - Advice When Recording Vocalists

08-25-2013 10:00 PM

With the support of iLok, more tips & tricks from the community. Here is one from Steve Murray…
When recording singing I prefer a large condenser microphone. I like the sensitivity and broad frequency range of such a mic. Now when starting out mic placement is key to getting good consistent vocals down. My short but easy technique on this is as follows:

  • Gain Structure – When recording vocals into your interface check the meters! You don’t wait to go any more than around 50% on the meter. Record too hot and you risk clipping.
  • Pop Filter – Use one! Good vocals tracks have controlled plosives, you don’t want any wind hitting the mic it will ruin your recordings.
  • Distance – Position the pop filter around 6 inches away from the microphone. Now get your vocalist to stand 6 inches away from the pop filter. That means your vocalist is never closer than 1 foot away from the mic. This will ensure the proximity effect is reduced when the vocalist moves an inch or two forward or back during their performance (which they inevitably will do). Also when the vocalist sings the louder parts of their song peaks should not clip.
  • Compression – You can record vocals with or without compression on the way in. That is up to you. If you have a hard time controlling the peaks and valleys of a singer if they are very dynamic, some gentle compression on the way in can help you.

TIP: Use different microphones for different singers. I found out a while back when recording a female singer that had a bright sounding voice that a condenser mic was too sensitive in the highs. This made for a harsh vocal track. In this type of scenario crack out a different mic, say a dynamic mic which tends to have less high frequency response which in turn will tame the vocals harshness.
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