CHAPTER 4 :
How to record in your home studio
Brass & Reed Instruments
For any recording project that includes a vocal,
capturing the ultimate performance might require
some push and pull between the producer and
the talent, and often the tact and technique of the producer plays a pivotal role in the quality of the recorded performance. The producer’s experience plays a big part in this.
“I usually go in, put the mic up, and let the vocalist run through the track a few times,” advises Weiss. “I’ll let them roll for a little bit, and I’ll tell them I’m not even listening, I’ve got the monitors down, but once in a while I’ll listen in to see where they are. There’s a standard that every producer is looking for from a vocal take. The type of song has a lot to do with how much emotion you want to pull out of the artists. You’ve got to feel the artist out.”
It starts with creating a relaxed environment for
the vocalist, which could mean getting as many
people out of the control/recording room as possible. The vocalist is often going to be more comfortable if it’s just the engineer recording the
performance and maybe a producer or one other band mate there to monitor the session.
Another must is getting a really good mix for the
vocalist in the headphones. While a lot of engineers won’t put delay or reverb on a track until they mix, with vocals, you might want to pick out a reverb and put that on the track in their cans.
Work with the vocalist and make sure they’re
happy with what they’re hearing in their ears before you start the recording process.
A recommendation to getting a great vocal track
is to record and keep multiple tracks. What sounds good at the end of the night might not sound as good the next day. A rule of thumb is to have three full tracks recorded, and from there you can build a comp track — or a finished track that’s a combination of the best lines from the three.
Of course, another thing that’s really important
is getting the right mic for the right voice. Traditionally, this is where a pro studio will have a leg up on a home studio, in owning a variety of
high-end vocal mics to choose from. For the
home enthusiast, renting a pro mic is an option,
though you need to know which mic you want
to rent. Allocating money for one or two quality
microphones for vocals is ultimately a good investment, as is having quality preamps to match.
There are other simple tips that will make a big
difference when embarking on the vocal take in
your home studio. “A gigantic red flag for me,”
says Raison, “is when I hear a recording done
without a pop filter. The air motion from the p’s
and b’s, when they hit the diaphragm, will cause
it to break up, and it’s the worst sound you can
get on a vocal. I’m not suggesting you use a
slide on, foam windscreen. We’re talking about
a four- to five-inch disk that has thin, acoustically
transparent nylon. When the plosives come out
of your mouth, the pop filter stops the air velocity
from hitting the diaphragm. It’s a $20 solution
to a better sounding recording.
“Another trick is to try different distances to the
microphone. Four inches can make a substantial
difference in the tonality of one’s voice. You need to be cognizant of the amount of ambience being recorded on a vocal.
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