How to Set Up and Record Vocals
I am writing this article because in my past research almost all
websites tell you that you need this fancy equipment to record vocals,
just so they can trick you into buying a bunch of expensive stuff
Below is the most simple, and cheap way to set up and record vocals.
Obviously you can spend enormous amounts of cash on top end compressors,
microphones, DAT recorders and sound cards to achieve professional
sound quality, but this doesn't mean you can't get a decent vocal
or instrument recording with cheaper equipment. I will tell you
the basics of what you need for vocal recording and what problems
you may encounter.
Audio Equipment Required:
- Microphone (condenser or dynamic) not a computer microphone.
- Microphone pre-amp (do not use your dj mixer microphone pre-amp
these usually give bad results)
- Computer with a sound card (one that isn't from the dinosaur
- Sound card for your PC (some of the high end sound cards have
a microphone pre amp built into the sound card.
Now for Hooking it up...
A microphone signal output is too low to plug right into your
computer. This is where a microphone pre amp comes in, it boosts
the gain of the signal to a high enough level to record with your PC.
Microphone pre amps are usually pretty easy to figure out, they have
an input, an output and a gain control (volume knob). So the chain
of equipment goes mic-preamp-soundcard.
Now lets talk about the sound card, sound cards usually have a mic input, a line input,
and a speaker or line output. The mic input is NOT actually meant
for audio microphones it is configured to work with your computer
mic and its useless for any musical recording (they are simply meant
to capture telephone type quality for Internet chat). the line input
is where your computer has to record from so attach the output of
the mic pre amp into the line input on your sound card.
Now with the aid of some recording software for your PC you can record you own demo. There
is a really nice piece of freeware called audiocity that is great
for one track or multi-track recording (just do a google search
to find it).
Optimizing the Quality of your Vocal Recordings
The most important factor that plays into the result of the quality of your vocal recording
is the vocalist. You have probably heard the saying "good mic
technique" this refers to the singers ability to adjust the distance
from them to the mic to compensate for loud and quite parts of the
song. There are also other factors that come into play like the problem
of words in a song ending or starting with "s" there is
a sharp unwanted hiss on the "s". this can be fixed in a
number of different ways. One way is to get the singer to tilt there
head slightly off axis from the microphone for a split second during
the pronunciation of these sounds. You may run into this problem with
the letter "t" as well.
Another method is to buy a click eliminator this is a round screen that goes between
the singer and the microphone to filter these unwanted elements,
none the less they cost money so if your on a budget I've heard
stretching pantyhose over a coat hanger will help filter to a similar
How to Maximize your Recorded Vocals
A studio can work magic on a poorly recorded vocal track, let me begin with some methods of
fixing any variance in the pitch. As to everything there is more than
one way to do this. You can take the left channel and shift the pitch
of the vocals up a few cents and take the right channel and shift
the pitch down a few cents. This will cause a blend in the vocals,
unnoticeable to the human ear, but it will fix the pitch shift in
the singers voice.
Another way is to comp the vocals this is a method used by almost all recording studios
and engineers. This is done by recording 3-5 vocal takes then cutting
and pasting the best of the 3-5 takes, in turn compiling a flawless
vocal track to mix in the song.
Now that you know the basics of what equipment you need to record
vocals, and the methods used to record, get out there and build
yourself a project studio, write some songs, and go record your