Unless you play instrumental music, the vocal track is the most important part of your demo. It’s the part of the music that most fans and listeners connect with the most, and that makes your vocal tracks the heart and soul of your recording. But recording vocals can be a tricky thing. How do you capture the spirit of a great vocal take without losing any of the raw energy of the performance? Here are a few recording tips for vocalists.
Finding a Place to Record
Where will your vocal recording take place? The opportunities are endless, really… Besides professional recording studios, vocals can be easily recorded at home with the proper setup. If you don’t have a home recording setup (or know someone who does), you might want to take a look at our guide to finding the right vocal recording studio to help you find the right location. If you do decide to head to a recording studio, you can skip the next section on recording software and hardware.
Recording Software & Hardware
When you take recording matters into your own hands, it is imperative that you choose the right recording gear for the job. The sheer number of options available may seem intimidating at first, but here are a few tips.
You’ll need a digital audio workstation (DAW) to start. Some of the most common DAWs include Protools, Cubase and Logic. If you don’t want to invest in expensive software, many companies offer scaled down, cheaper versions of their titles. There are also free options available as well, though if you’re planning on getting serious about recording you’ll probably want to spend a few dollars on decent recording software.
You’re also going to need an audio interface of some sort. This is the hardware that you will be plugging your microphone into (which then plugs into your computer, usually via USB or Firewire). Again, there are tons of options out there for interfaces, but there are plenty of basic affordable products such as the Mbox. Just be aware that the more expensive interfaces often boast better sound quality when recording. Music recording gear tends to be pretty straightforward with pricing; more expensive will get you better recordings and more options, while less expensive tends to deliver lower quality and fewer choices.
Choosing the Right Microphone
More than anything else, the microphone is probably the most crucial piece of recording gear you can buy when it comes to recording vocals. The best DAW in the world won’t make a difference if you’re singing into a $15 Radio Shack microphone. There are several different types of microphones, the most common being dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics like the Shure SM-57 are typically more affordable, but tend to be better suited for live performance than for recording. Condenser mics can be pricier, but they’ll give you a much crisper, more nuanced vocal track. That’s why most engineers prefer to use higher end microphones for recording.