Vocal recording in the studio is one important production technique that requires a lot of attention to be able to have a good outcome. It is a concept that I believe I will be learning all the time and it will further advance my own knowledge.
To record a vocal we do need to have a microphone and there are various microphones that can be chosen depending with the genre of the music. For a pop vocalist a large diaphragm condenser microphone is recommended as they are much clearer in comparison to dynamic microphones. There are more balanced, accurate and sweeter than their powerful counterparts. They are very sensitive which makes them perfect for softer and brighter sounds”(Berton, 2018). On the other hand dynamic microphones are less sensitive and they are perfect for live shows and recording aggressive rock vocals.
This trimester so far I have picked up an AKG C414 to be a favourite and have learnt more about it as I have used in our recordings. It is very important to attach a pop filter to avoid all pops and to preserve clarity on the overall sound. A pop filter or pop shield is a noise protection filter for the microphones and typically used in studios. The mechanical impact of fast moving air on the microphone causes popping sounds and also the accumulation of saliva on the microphone element causes damage as saliva has salts that are corrosive. Therefore a pop filter may improve the lifespan of a microphone (Wikipedia, 2019)
With research a bit of practise in the studio I have found out that just of the central place in the room is an ideal positon to place the microphone. Don’t position the microphone in the center of the room (due to a buildup of standing waves. (Berton, 2018) But also a good vocalist the vocals will sound good regardless. Position the microphone as far away from walls/reflective surfaces as possible”. (Berton, 2018). Changing the polar pattern on the microphone depending with what you are using it for. In many instances the polar pattern will be set to cardioid if you are to record a solo pop artist.“Cardioid is the most widely used pattern in professional microphones. It provides reliable performance in both stage and studio settings—making it an excellent “jack of all trades” polar pattern”. (Rowling, 2013)
Once all is set work out the phantom power is on then work on gain structure and check the signal going into your DAW of your choice that its not less or too much in most cases clipping. I would encourage to add some reverb and compression on the vocal channel and send to the headphone mix while recording and that is not the only process. If the vocalist is comfortable throughout the entire session trust me it is a good and professional effective way to have a smooth session and this probably will ensure a much better ending product.You’re responsible for making the artist comfortable. Otherwise, you won’t be happy with the performance. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make the musicians comfortable. It’ll be well worth the effort”. (Stegsie, 2011). Once done then we get to the mixing stage given that quality vocal recording has been achieved and as an engineer we are there to bring some life in the vocal. Whether we are distorting or adding effects such as vocoder, EQ, compression, delay,reverb, automation, there is no rule its all up to you. Most definitely EQ on the vocals is important to have a professional sound. every vocal is different but you can follow the same procedure. Cutting out the low end bits removing the muddy stuff in the mix can be achieved by removing 200-300 hertz then bood=st and cut all the frequencies you like and times it may take time and may need to add extra EQ. It does pay off once EQ’ing is done.
Adding compression is an important aspect too as it adds consistency overall quality to the mix. The whole idea is to aim on mixing vocals making them a dynamically consistent as possible. They do need to sit on top of the mix at all times.Every word should be clearly audible, and every word should be a similar volume”. (Hudson, 2018). Add some reverb to make it sound nicer and make sure the pop lead vocal is clear and you use pre delay and short reverbs tim)es. Using short reverbs in popular styles is there to keep the vocals close the front mix. Use short reverb times so that the vocal does not sound too far away or muddy”. (Benson, T). Techniques such as delay,automation and sidechain compression can also be important to make vocals sound cool too.
These are some of the techniques you can incorporate in your vocal recording and mix production to sound professional. A good tip is make sure that the vocals sit right on top of the mix.
Berton, L. (2018). Musician: The 3 Different Types of Microphones (And When To Use Them). Retrieved 23rd April, 2019
Reid Stefan. (2016). YouTube: How To Mix Vocals With EQ, Reverb, Delay Ableton Tutorial. Retrieved 23rd April, 2018 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm4Vyg51ugw&t=4s
Stegsie, K. (2011). Home Studio Corner: Make The Singer Comfortable. Retrieved 23rd April, 2018 from http://www.homestudiocorner.com/make-the-singer-comfortable/
Benson, T. (2012). Musician Self: Reverb Effect Explained. Retrieved 23rd April, 2018 from https://musicianself.com/reverb/
Hudson, M. (2018). Musician – On A Mission: Vocal Compression. Retrieved 23rd April, 2018 from https://www.musicianonamission.com/vocal-compression-how-to-compress-vocals/