Tips and Tricks For Recording Vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by maintiger, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Please add to this thread at will. It would be nice to have as many as possible so that it can become a resource for our members. Also please lets number them so it becomes an easy reference for everyone- thanks- :D

    1- Make your singer comfortable and get extra people out of the control room. Extra people in the way will interfere with a good vocal performance 9 out of 10 times.

    2- Have plent of liquids (read water here) for your singer.

    3- Try different mics and pres with your singer, if you have the time.
    If you find the right combination it will make all the difference in the world

    4- Make sure the singer has his lyrics available in case he/she needs them. Try to post them nearby, like on the mic stand as the russle of lyrics in the hand often finds its way into the take.

    5- try to get at least three to four takes out of a vocal so you can do comps later-
    audiokid likes this.
  2. bhuvan

    bhuvan Active Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Home Page:
    i don't remember if i read this suggestion on this forum but here it is:

    6- have the mic just above the level of the mouth and point it down. this is a good way of avoiding pops. exact distance and height adjustments alters according to the sound one is looking for.
  3. Antho

    Antho Guest


    7. Take notes of levels and dynamic units used in a session. This is for consistency of future 'drop ins' & corrections. Particularly important for voiceover work.

    8. Try not to use a solid music stand as it can acoustically get in the way.

    9. Try out cheap mics as sometimes they can be just the ticket.
  4. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Antho, I renumbered your post- lets try to keep them in numerical order so this thread can become a resource that people can index- here is a couple of more while we are at it:

    10- never tell your singer his take sucks- just say something like 'lets make a couple more takes so we have material to comp the vocal with' remember that the singers instrument is their body and when you knock their peorformance they will take it personal

    11- Explain to your singer beforehand that you will be doing vocal takes and that in order for him/her to give the best performance they should get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids beforehand- also explain that in order to give the best performance they should throroughly know their material- i don't know how many times the singer has walked in my studio and not really known how to sing the song, phrase it properly

    12- encourage them to work with a vocal coach on their songs if at all possible before recording them. An experience coach will take them through the nuances of phrasing and vocal placement in the tune
  5. Antho

    Antho Guest

    quote maintiger: " they should get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids beforehand"

    Just the right type of liquids :) There's not much can be done with a sloshed singer :!:
  6. sammyg

    sammyg Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Dont know if I'm stating the obvious but here's my 2 cents.

    13: sometimes inexperienced singers hit hard against the pop shield which introduces handling noise ( usualy in the middle of the best take), so I usualy screw the pop shield to a seperate mic stand instead of the one holding my mic, they can hit it as many times as they like, wont vibrate the mic.

  7. StevenGurg

    StevenGurg Guest

    14. If you are getting too much "mouth sounds", have the vocalist drink some apple juice. It seems to clear the mucous/saliva bubbles on the lining of the mouth pretty well.
  8. roguescout

    roguescout Guest

    15. If your voice talent has a genuine "blow-out" of the vocal variety (as in losing their voice or aching cords), I suggest keeping a box of this stuff around:

    Yes, it is usually for sickness, but I have rescued sessions with a mug of this stuff with some honey added if it is too bitter. Don't sweeten it with sugar.

    And no, under normal circumstances hot and cold liquids are BAD for the pro voice in session. Room temp water and rest is the best. But if you have an emergency and can't reschedule, this may save you a headache.

    And no... I do not work for or get sponsored by them. But there are A LOT of pro singers on lengthy tours utilizing it.
  9. webtroy

    webtroy Guest

    I am not a profesional, but i've heard.

    16- I've heard that mic should always be placed higher than the mouth of the vocalist, reason being... That it makes it so that singers head is facing on an upward slant, opening the vocal cords, resulting in a clearer and more efficient vocal clearity..

    this is probably a "we all know this already..." .. but i thought for the noob that walks in here.. might find it useful.
  10. mikE@THECAVE

    mikE@THECAVE Guest

    These are my thoughts :shock: on recording Lead Vocal..........providing you have enough eqipment to do it.

    .17- Do not use the same Eqipment or settings that you use on your lead voice.( except same preamp is ok ) on any other instument or voice.This in my mind :evil: gives the lead voice its own space...
    1. microphone
    2. reverb
    4.other effects
    You can still use the effects on other stuff but change the settings or patches :wink:
  11. jahme

    jahme Guest

    18- hmm..correct my if im wrong but chewing ginger helps right?
  12. majorlabel

    majorlabel Guest

    voice "blow out" follow-up

    19- cloraseptic-
    thanks for the tip on the "Throat Coat", definately will have to keep some of that in stock !

    I once had to fly in, record an artist's vocals on 10 songs, and then fly out... all in 4 days time (that's as much as the label would pay for ! )...we got very good vocals on perhaps 6 songs but the last 4 were misery..besides the artist not rehearsing the last 4 as much as the 1st 6 (she really "liked" the 6 songs better than the other 4 ! ). Anyway after 3 days the artist and vocal was shot ! ... artist was tired and getting sick fast, plus could barely speak above a whisper...the only thing that got us through was Cloroseptic...and lots of it !

    I know...bad for the throat, but when your up against a dead line you do what you gotta do !
  13. pokie

    pokie Guest


    Your ideas will propel this forum to it's greatest heights. You are spot on with your ideas of organization and resourcefulness for other viewers...this is the way it should be!

    There is a wealth of information here but sometimes it can be difficult to reach and that makes it useless. Suggestions like these bring VALUE to this site and has my vote.

    Keep it up!


  14. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    thanks pokie- I've been a little lax about people not numbering their suggestions so I went back and did'em. here is an apropos one:

    20- be ready and organized when your talent is recording. Have a plan of action, don't waste the talent's time neddlessly as this will probably result in a sub-par performance. The voice is an instrument that is built in the mind, body and soul., Any stress can result in a inferior take. Pamper your singers, your tracks will definitely thank you!

    Please members, keep numbering the suggestions so we can refer to them by numbers as needed! :D
  15. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Here is a couple more:

    21 Experiment, experiment, experiment with mic placement- Sometimes a couple of inches one way or the other will make a world of difference in your vocal tracks

    22- If you have a multi pattern mic try the singer in omni and figure eigth as well as the usual cardioid. i have a couple k2's I use a lot and the optimal sttings are usually somewhere in between.

    23- get out of the vocal booth into the control room or tracking room. Sometimes the vocal booth will 'suffocate' your vocals. If you have a home studio try putting the singer in the biggest room in the house (as long as there are no external noises, of course.

    24- Have fun If you are in a bad mood your talent will pick up on it and it will affect their performance. Believe me, it will!
  16. roguescout

    roguescout Guest

    This may seem obvious to some, but I just had to explain it to a client who brought their own vocal tracks in.

    25. DO NOT apply any EQ or effects during vocal tracking! (especially if you are tracking multiple sessions over any length of time). You will never get them to match up.

    Keep it flat and natural for tracking. If the talent complains or is annoyed by it, EQ the headphone mix for them, but not the track being laid down.

    Get ALL of your takes down first.

    Then compile one master take for the mix. Save this as the Comp Master. No EQ. No effects. Just naked.

    Copy from that, then adjust the EQ and effects on those copied tracks to taste.

    Humans are hyper-critical of vocal frequencies and bad EQ on vocals is like a slap in the face. It is nearly impossible to get all things considered back exactly where they were from previous sessions. You can't piece it together and have it sound natural.

    This is really obvious on voiceover and narration where you cannot easily hide things with gates, compressors, verbs, choruses, delays or masking with other elements.

    If you use a quality mic and preamp in a decent room with someone who knows how to speak or sing into it properly, you shouldn't have to use ANY EQ on the vocals.

    If I am feeling lazy or tracking myself with no one else around, the only thing I would use is a SMALL amount of compression or even less of limiter if the levels are in danger of distorting.

    Otherwise, ride the faders and keep it clean for the tracking.

    Remember, the less you add now means the more you can add (of anything) later.

    Save yourself the headache and keep it simple until the mix. Screw it up in the mix and you can always go back to the Comp Master and start over from the beginning.

    If someone is bringing in tracks, require them to bring in at least one "naked" vocal track that you can use to fix or replace any other tracks they may have brought in.
  17. sheld

    sheld Guest

    26) Work out the mood of the song and get your artiste to sing in different positions, for instance if the verse is very laid back ask them to sit down to track the verses ,or even lay them back "experiment" if the chorus is up in your face stand them up. mic placement isnt the only thing to experiment with.
  18. 8th_note

    8th_note Guest

    This applies particularly to hardcore where the singer's vocal cords get shredded pretty fast.

    27) Space out the vocals so the singer doesn't have to do them all at once. If the session is typical overdub do one or two scratch guitar tracks with the drums so you've got the basics of the song. Then have the singer (I use the term loosely) do a vocal take every hour or two as you're laying down tracks.
  19. mark_van_j

    mark_van_j Active Member

    Oct 28, 2005
    Maribor, Slovenia
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet....

    28. Create an ambience in the studio or vocal booth that will make the singer comfortable.

    This includes, dimming lights, candles, insense, flowers, posters, pictures. See if working out the ambience according to the song mood affects the singer. If it's a darker, mellower song, try to create a dark and mellow mood. If the song is upbeat and happy, try to reflect it in the ambience.
  20. Me and my friend were thinking. Even though my studio is not complete what I would like to try is to double track vocals. Have one track digital and one track going to a reel to reel recorder. I don't know how it would sound mixed together but I'm hoping it will sound pretty cool. Has anyone here ever done that before? If you have that would be really sweet if you tell me how it comes out. I understand that it also depends on mics and preamps.


Share This Page