Top Tips: Recording Vocals at Home
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that songwriting isn’t as straight-forward as it may have once appeared to be. In today’s world, not only do you have to get your creative juices flowing to create great music and lyrics, but there’s also now an unspoken expectation that you can produce using software such as Logic Pro X and Ableton.
As Sonicbids explains,
“Songs don't exist until they're heard and appreciated fully for what they are by an audience. This means that the 20 songs you have in your smartphone recording app are not songs. They're ideas. Only once you make a proper demo of them – a recording that lets a listener be fully immersed in the story and music and not be distracted by shitty production value – will they have value. This means that you'll need to either pay a producer to make a professional track for you, or learn how to do it yourself.”
Producing music can be complex, in fact it IS complex, and time-consuming. If you’re like me and want to know the key basics (so you can create great sounding demos), but don’t want to invest all your time into becoming a fully-fledged music production expert like Max Martin - here’s some basic info to help with the VOCAL recording side of things.
1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
You need to think about some essential details before you even set foot in your home-made vocal booth. Your basic set up should include:
Music Production Software (Digital Audio Workstation/DAW – i.e. Logic Pro X).
2. Expensive doesn’t always mean better.
Are you a singer, rapper, or podcast creator? Think about what you need to use your microphone for and make an informed choice on what works best for YOUR situation. It’s key to know the difference between a dynamic microphone and a condenser microphone too! Put simply, a dynamic microphone usually works best when capturing loud, strong sounds, (for example, drums or loud vocals in a live environment). A condenser microphone is usually used to capture more delicate sounds and higher frequencies (for example, when recording in a music studio).
3. Is Your Room Suitable?
This links into preparation (point numero uno), but your room needs to be suitable to record in, else what’s the point?! Things to think about include:
The positioning of your equipment.
Room furnishings – try laying down soft furnishings (like a rug) to dampen reflections.
Background and/or traffic noise – this might seem strange, but you could cover windows and hard surfaces with duvets and blankets to create a protective barrier around your studio setup.
4. Technique and Performance.
I could spend days writing about this, there’s a lot to cover! Put simply, it really does come down to personal preference and what style/sound you’re aiming for. Basic things to consider include:
Planning your recording sessions– for example, will you record the lead vocal in one take? Will you record each section (verse, chorus etc.) separately?
Mic positioning – for an intimate performance, closeness is key.
Think about the meaning of the lyrics – aim to capture emotive takes and think of the words and their meaning when performing!
That’s it for now! 4 basic key steps to think about when recording vocals at home. Post-recording, there’s many other areas to think about, but we’ll discuss that more another time.