Vocal Recording Gems Part 2
By Jeannie Deva
Part One of this recording tip can be found in our Archives.
6. The Right MicYour voice is unique and so is each microphone. Match the personality of the mic to your voice. If possible test the vocal mics prior to booking the studio. If they don’t have one you’re happy with go to a different studio or bring your own mic. You may unwittingly alter the way you sing if a microphone mismatch distorts the basic qualities of your voice. The complications are too numerous to list.
7. Headset MixHeadset mix makes a big difference in how you sing and perform. You can change volume levels of instruments, other voices, effects - like reverb - or eliminate them altogether. Adjust it at the beginning of the session until you can perform undistracted. It doesn’t matter if you sound good to the engineer and what you hear in the headset is not what is being recorded. If you aren’t comfortable with your headset mix, you’ll get similar complications to a mic mismatch.
8. “Punching-in”When punching-in (re-recording a single line or word), sing along with the earlier line or section and then continue singing past it. This maintains smoothness of phrasing and helps the engineer pick the best punch-in point. Part of recording studio technique is maintaining a constant distance between your mouth and the mic even if you move your body and especially during punch-ins.
9. Vowels vs. ConsonantsPops and hisses on track created by overemphasis of consonants can spoil the recording. Think of the consonant as using the same amount of air as its neighboring vowel. Focus your energy on vowel sounds and let the consonants take a secondary role. Vowels are the sounds of your voice, not consonants.
10. Evaluate Your TracksKnowing what to look for in evaluating your tracks and how to fix errors makes the difference between a good or great recording.
Rhythm and PhrasingAre there any places where the phrases go off rhythmically from the music or sound rushed? Consistent phrasing that is appropriate for the style “sells” the song and helps you touch your audience.
PitchAre any words sung off-pitch? If you were able to sing on-pitch outside the studio possible reasons for pitch problems during recording can be incorrect headset mix or the wrong mic or its placement. The relative volume of your voice to the other instruments can hinder your pitch awareness. A wrong type of reverb or having too much of it, can confuse you by pulling your attention to the reflection of your voice rather than your primary sound.
Vocal ToneIn the context of this song and style, does the voice sound too choked, strained, or weak for pro standards? Sometimes too much compression on the vocal during recording can make a singer push and strain. If you’ve recorded your verses one at a time or line by line ensure your vocal tone is consistent throughout the song. Varying mic to mouth distance can result in unwanted tonal changes.
Overall PerformanceDoes the song sound alive? Do you believe the singer? Does it move you or leave you feeling untouched? There is a balance between achieving a great performance versus having technical details to correct. Once you have a great performance, fix anything that would distract the listener. Your objective: A performance that keeps the listener immersed in the song.
I've noticed a definite new ease in singing with volume. Notes are rolling more easily with the tension taken off my throat, and a new confidence to go along with it.