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Sunday, June 17, 2018

#Musicproduction: Nine Mistakes When Recording Vocals At Home

Recording vocals properly is the cornerstone of an excellent mix.
They tell the story and set the emotional tone. They tie the entire project together. The fact remains, an incredible vocal is likely to make or break your song.
But there's a lot of variables that get in the manner of capturing a good take.
In this information you'll learn 9 common recording mistakes that can ruin any vocal and how to avoid them. Let's dive in!

1. You chose the wrong room

It's easy to believe that mixing has the biggest affect the vocal.But the truth is, your recording is far more important.
One of the very influential factors throughout the recording phase is your choice of room.
Recording in a home studio poses many challenges…
It's an easy task to think that mixing has the biggest affect the vocal. But the truth is, your recording is far more important.
You probably don't have access to a professional vocal booth. You merely have access as to the you have—maybe just a couple of rooms at home:
  • A kitchen.
  • A bedroom.
  • A bathroom.
  • A full time income room.
  • And so on…
It is a mistake to simply pick the main one that's most convenient!
The room that an instrument is recorded in always changes the tone. This is ESPECIALLY true for vocals.
If your vocals are recorded in a bad room, it's extremely obvious by the end of the mix.
Reverb pulls the vocals in a mix. The more reverb an instrument has, the less it sounds present and “in your face.” It sounds farther from the listener.
You want the singer to sound up-close and personal. Recording vocals really reverberant room is likely to make that intimacy nearly impossible.
The room that an instrument is recorded in always changes the tone. This is ESPECIALLY true for vocals.
Room reflections also can cause compression and pitch correction to sound unnatural. It'll make the vocals sound “fake,” like they were tacked on by the end of the mix.
So… what room should you select?
Try to employ a small-to-medium sized room with lots of stuff in it. Specifically, with lots of SOFT things like beds, couches, pillows, rugs and so on.
All those items tend to absorb sound, making the area less reverberant and more neutral to get the best vocal
In addition you want in order to avoid rooms with lots of hard surfaces and windows. Which means that your kitchen and bathroom are probably not the best places to record a vocal.

Rooms: The perfect balance

There's a flip side to this: You want your room to be dead, however, not TOO dead.
If you place so much absorption material in an area that ALL of the area sound is gone, your vocal will sound dull and muffled.
There is, in this instance, an excessive amount of an excellent thing. Find a balance.
Despite popular belief, a cabinet is NOT an excellent room for recording vocals. That myth started because professional vocal booths are generally small and secluded.
But the difference is that professional vocals booths are often covered in soundproofing fiberglass over 12 inches deep! Unless that's how your closet was built, avoid it for recording vox.
Regardless of how many clothes have been in them, a cabinet simply does not have enough absorption material to keep the area resonances out. Because of that, the reverb, though extremely short, will be extra loud in the microphone (especially after the voice is compressed).
So, think about this when you're recording vocals. You'll receive an improved sound with a well treated room!

2. Your mic placement is wrong

Recording vocals properly may be the cornerstone of a good mix.
They tell the story and set the emotional tone. They tie the whole project together. The fact remains, an incredible vocal could make or break your song.
But there's a lot of variables that get in the manner of capturing a good take.
In this short article you'll learn 9 common recording mistakes that may ruin any vocal and how to avoid them. Let's dive in!

1. You chose the wrong room

It's easy to consider that mixing has the biggest impact on the vocal.But in reality, your recording is much more important.
One of the very most influential factors through the recording phase is the selection of room.
Recording in a house studio poses many challenges…
It's easy to think that mixing has the biggest impact on the vocal. But in reality, your recording is much more important.
You most likely don't have usage of a professional vocal booth. You only have access as to the you have—maybe just a few rooms at home:
  • A kitchen.
  • A bedroom.
  • A bathroom.
  • A living room.
  • And so on…
It is a mistake to simply pick the main one that's most convenient!
The space that an instrument is recorded in always changes the tone. This really is ESPECIALLY true for vocals.
If your vocals are recorded in a poor room, it's extremely obvious by the finish of the mix.
Reverb pulls the vocals back a mix. The more reverb a guitar has, the less it sounds present and “in your face.” It sounds farther far from the listener.
You need the singer to sound up-close and personal. Recording vocals in a very reverberant room could make that intimacy nearly impossible.
The space that an instrument is recorded in always changes the tone. This really is ESPECIALLY true for vocals.
Room reflections can also cause compression and pitch correction to sound unnatural. It'll make the vocals sound “fake,” like these were tacked on by the end of the mix.
So… what room should you choose?
Try to employ a small-to-medium sized room with a lot of stuff in it. Specifically, with a lot of SOFT stuff like beds, couches, pillows, rugs and so on.
All of those items often absorb sound, making the area less reverberant and more neutral to get the most effective vocal
You also want in order to avoid rooms with a lot of hard surfaces and windows. Which means that your kitchen and bathroom are most likely not the most effective places to record a vocal.

Rooms: The perfect balance

There's a flip side to this: You need your room to be dead, but not TOO dead.
If you add so much absorption material in a space that ALL of the area sound is fully gone, your vocal will sound dull and muffled.
There's, in this instance, an excessive amount of a good thing. Look for a balance.
Unlike popular belief, a wardrobe is NOT a good room for recording vocals. That myth started because professional vocal booths tend to be small and secluded.
However the difference is that professional vocals booths in many cases are covered in soundproofing fiberglass over 12 inches deep! Unless that's how your closet was built, avoid it for recording vox.
Irrespective of just how many clothes are in them, a wardrobe simply does not have enough absorption material to keep the area resonances out. Because of the, the reverb, though extremely short, is going to be extra loud in the microphone (especially once the voice is compressed).
So, consider this when you're recording vocals. You'll get a much better sound with a well treated room!

2. Your mic placement is wrong

If you only have the budget for one microphone, I recommend the Se 2200a II. It’s an affordable condenser microphone that’s well balanced for the price. If you need to start your microphone collection somewhere, it’s a great place to start.
Hot Tip: Change the mic out if your vocalist is going to be singing harmonies! The change in tone will help the main vocal to stick out more.

5. You’re using an omnidirectional mic

Let me be clear: Omnidirectional microphones can sound awesome. Especially for intimate, whispery vocals.
But for home recording, they have a fatal flaw: They pick up EVERYTHING in the room.
While cardioid microphones (like the Se 2200a C) pick up sound from one direction, An omnidirectional mic does exactly what the name says: It picks up all sound in the room equally.
When you’re recording vocals in a professionally treated sound booth, using an omnidirectional mic is totally fine. There’s very little room sound for the microphone to pick up, so it’s irrelevant what direction it picks the sound up from.
But when you’re recording at home, in a bedroom or living room, omnidirectional mics make it nearly impossible to record a dry vocal.
So unless you have a well treated room, stay away from omnidirectional mics.

6. You’re keeping the mic at lip-level (unless that’s what sounds best)

Once you’ve found exactly which room and mic to use, you’re almost done.
You already know where to put your mic in relation the room, but where do you put it in relation to the singer?
These three placement factors can change the tone of your microphone:

1. Distance

If you’re using a condenser mic, the distance between the mic and the singer will have the greatest effect on the tone because of the proximity effect.
The proximity effect is a phenomenon where the closer you get to the microphone, the boomier your vocals become:
  • If I was a 12 inches away, the vocal would sound open and airy.
  • If I was 5 inches away, the vocal would sound warm and intimate.
A good starting place is to set the singer 6 inches away from the mic, and then move them forward or backward to get the tone you’re looking for.
Hot tip: Don’t put your vocalist closer than 5 inches away. Things can get too muddy real fast.
However, for dynamic mics a good place to start is 2 inches away. They are designed to be used this way. You can move forward and back from there.

2. Height

Height is another factor in the tone you get from your mic. When a mic is at lip level, it’s at your “default” height, so to say.
When you lower the microphone, you’re increasing the low end of the voice. The closer you get to the chest, the more prominent the low-end.
The opposite is true as well – when you raise the microphone, the top end is accentuated.
Make sure the vocalist looks straight ahead when singing, otherwise they’ll put unnecessary stress on their vocal chords!

3. Axis

Finally, the last factor is the axis of the microphone.
Pointing the microphone at the singer is standard, of course. But when you rotate the mic, you’re reducing the bass from your singer. You’re also reducing plosives.
This is a great thing to try for singers with heavy P’s and S’s. Try moving the mic 20 degrees to the left and right and see what sounds best.
If you tweak these three variables accordingly, you should get the tone you’re looking for before you ever reach for an EQ!

7. Your levels are too hot

This one is easy to overlook…
In the age of digital, the recording levels you set don’t matter nearly as much as they did back 60’s and 70’s.
But that DOESN’T mean they don’t matter at all!
In the age of digital, the recording levels you place don't matter nearly as much as they did back 60's and 70's. But that DOESN'T mean they don't really matter at all!
When you're setting levels, try to maintain 10dB of headroom.
Without stepping into the technical details, the digital sweet spot is basically a typical degree of -18dBFS. That's where most plugins will sound best.
When setting your levels, try to get typically -18dBFS. You ought to be peaking around -10dBFS. Make certain you're certainly notpeaking higher than -6dBFS.
This keeps your levels low enough that you won't accidentally clip (which means you'd have to re-record the part), but also avoid recording too quiet either.

8. You only recorded one take

Make certain you're recording several takes once you record a vocalist.
Sometimes you're dealing with an artist that you believe is so good any particular one take is enough. You would never edit it! It had been perfect!
And then, inevitably, you begin to combine, and… oh. There's out of tune notes. There are spitty words. Some phrases are out of time. Yikes!
Ensure you have enough content to work well with! You need to comp your vocals to create perfect version for your song. It's better to have way too many takes as opposed to not enough.
Sometimes the singer won't know when they're doing something wrong. Gently coach them towards an improved performance, but be skeptical of introducing self-doubt. You're there to simply help, not to hurt.
Rule of thumb: Make sure to record no less than three takes from the singer. Even if the very first take is really a banger!
I find something very wrong later. And I thank myself.

9. You're not encouraging your singer

The voice is something we ALL have. We utilize it share our thoughts, our hopes, and our fears.
That's why confidence is so vital that you a singer. They've to feel the emotion and KNOW they sound good.
When you're recording vocals, you will need to wear a couple of extra hats. You're not merely the engineer or producer anymore. You're the coach, the therapist, and the cheerleader.
You have to do your best to nurture their best performance!
Here's a few things to try:
  • Set the room ambience: If it's a happy track, make the room extra bright. If it's more calm, just start a lamp. Do whatever would make your singer feel comfortable based on the mood of the track.
  • Complement them regularly: Singing tends to make people very self-aware. Make them feel confident inside their performance, and they'll actually offer you a more confident take.
  • Coach occasionally, but NEVER criticize: Sometimes the singer won't know when they're doing something wrong. Gently coach them towards an improved performance, but be skeptical of introducing self-doubt. You're there to simply help, not to hurt.
  • Cause them to visualize the lyrics: Singing is intensely personal! We are able to hear the emotion in someone's voice without even trying. Help your singer to give a more emotional performance by talking them through how they feel in regards to the lyrics. They need to be thinking about the lyrics as a tale, not as just words.
  • Take more breaks than you believe you must: The voice gets tired very quickly if worked too hard. For every single 25 minutes of recording, have a 5 minute break.
Do these specific things and you'll get a great recording.