Vocals is one of the most imporatant part in a great production.
Even if all of the music on a song is created via MIDI, you have to resort to the traditional methods of vocal recording using human singers and microphones.The vocals is the most important ingredient of most of the songs, thus it has to be flawless as the human voice is a natural sound which all of you know very well and any flaws in a vocal recording can be pointed out very easily. Thus having a perfectly in tune singer solves 50 % of the recording process the rest is up to the recording engineer whether to make a good singer sound bad or vice versa.
Recording vocals is an art there isn’t any specipic rule as such, but there are a few basic rules you need to follow and take a few tricks of the process to get your recording sound professional.
Here is a check list :
1> Singer: Make sure that the singer is well rehearsed and comfortable as the G.i.G.A.
Garbage in is garbage out applies here. As most of the singers have their personal
preference of standing you have to make sure they are comfortable and in their euphoric
state. If they’re getting distracted by any one make sure you get them out of there. Make sure whether the singer prefers reverb/delay on their can mix some like a little delay and reverb. Its a matter of trial and error make the singer listen to different mixes and decided which one suits best from the performance the singer gives.
2> Headphone Mix: Craft the headphone mix right. A little reverb always helps the singers
sing more confidently. You can also give the singer a midi control or a hardware control over the amount of mix he/she gets so they can set just what’s right for them. A good head phone mix helps to encourage a good performance.
3> Pop Shields: Always use a pop shield between the singer and the mixrophone. It helps in getting rid of the unnatural ‘pops’ on plosive ‘b’ and ‘p’ sounds which can’t be fixed afterwards. The pop shield can be a commercial or a home made it doesn’t really make much of a difference . Foam wind shields are useless in combating pops.
4> Microphone: Use a good microphone.It doesn’t really have to be the best on the market but shouldn’t be the worst, try not to use the one’s designed for home use “karoake mics”.
Depending on the voice you can use condensor/dynamic/ribbon or any other mic.
5> mix suitability: Use a mix that suits the singer, A singer with a thin or bright voice sound great on a dynamic mic, the one’s liek the Shure SM58, those needing an open sond would be better on a capacipot/back electret mic. If you have a mic kit, try all of them on the singer experiment is what makes music better
6> mix pickup pattern: make sure you use the right pick up pattern. Most vocals are recorded using a cardiod or unidirectional pick up patterns. These pick up less sound from the sides and rear of themix. And omni mic of a similar quality gets a more natural, open sound works great on a singer who sounds nasal/boxy.
7> Mic Distance: Make sure the mic is at a right distance from the singer. If you keep it too close you have dangers of getting popping sounds. Also as cardioid mics have the ‘proxomity effect’ that’s when the bass increases when the singer comes too close. Make sure you have the perfect distance where the levels are balanced not too loud not too weak. If the mix is placed too far the reflections of the rooms tend to get in the mic makes the audio boxy its ba for later processing. To get a dry sonud a distance of about six to nine inches (15-24 cms) is considered ideal.
8> Ain’t there nothing dry fo real: When we refer to a dry recording, it means the audio has no reverb on it, but there is nothing such as a dry recording if we wanted a dry recording that would mean the room to be having no pressure, that’s impossible.
But recording with minimal very less reverb is considered dry as its not really noticable. Make sure that there’s no influence of the room’s reverb on the recording. The microphone will pick up sound from both the singer and the reflections of the room. You have to reduce these reflections, to do this make sure you have the mix is placed at a perfect position where the amount of relections is the least and reduce the amount of reverb by improvising screens using sleeping bags behind the singer.