So, you have written that perfect verse or song in your home recording studio and it is a must you record it. I must admit, I’ve been there. I have empathy for your passion. What I hear in a lot of independent music today is the neglect of proper vocal tracking (recording). Yes, you have a decent studio microphone plugged into a decent pre-amp.
But are you considering the input levels? Are the output levels reading around -12 db? Are you recording with effects like delay or reverb? Is your microphone even placed correctly with a pop filter?
These are the questions you should ask yourself before you press record and go in on the verse you’ve spent time perfecting. Recording it should be just as important if not more. As a mix engineer, “fixing it in the mix” is taboo. It leads to more work. Most issues are fixable, but why ruin a “perfect” verse or song because of an overly compressed vocal mix. Fix it in the vocal recording phase. In others words, do it right the first time. It’s worth it.
“For a young band about to make a record, make sure you get the vocals right.” – Jerry Harrison
Here is a quick check list to reference:
1. Mic positioning – tone is affected so search for the best sound for you
2. Pop filter – 3 to 6 inches away from microphone
3. Input – loud enough to hear all the words without distortion
4. Output – pre-fader meters should read around -10 to -14 db. (-12 db is good)
5. Performance position – about 3 to 6 inches from the pop filter, staying within the circle to avoid exaggerated dynamics
6. Always record dry – effects cant be changed once recorded, and leave the EQing to the mixer. Unless its you!
The purpose of this post was to share a little insight on getting your vocals to stand out on a song, podcast or even live. With the above techniques, any decent mix engineer or yourself, can process professional quality vocals.