The human voice is the most complex, most dynamic instrument you will ever record. Lead vocals are the centerpiece of most tracks, though they may be the most difficult to nail in the recording process.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to capture vocals during the recording process.
1. Reduce Ambience and Plosives
Before you can capture the ideal vocal sound, you have to make sure that you don’t capture excessive ambience and plosives.
a. Plosives are bursts of air that can be created when singing or speaking consonants, especially p’s and b’s. Place a pop filter between the singer and mic to prevent the bursts of air from distorting the sound.
b. Avoid capturing too much room ambience. What seems like very little room ambience when you’re recording can become exaggerated when you compress the vocals in the mix. If an acoustic space such as an iso booth is not available, surround the vocalist with as much non-reflective acoustic material as possible. On a hard floor, use a rug to prevent acoustic reverberation off of the floor. A cardioid microphone will pick up sound mostly from the front and side, so position your absorptive material accordingly, where it will do the most good. Let the pickup pattern do the work on the back side.
2. Get the singer close to the mic.
Getting the singer as close to the mic as possible will maximize the ratio of direct sound to ambience. Just be careful not to get so close that proximity effect causes the vocals to boom. Try an AT4040 cardioid condenser microphone behind a pop filter to create the ideal up-front vocal sound.
3. For a vintage sound, try a tube mic
The AT4060 cardioid tube condenser offers the vintage warmth of a tube mic, while maintaining the high-SPL capacity and reliability of modern mics.
4. Use a dynamic mic for flexibility
A dynamic microphone, like theATM650, can help tame a particularly dynamic or aggressive vocal or simulate an arrangement closer to a live gig. This mic offers the flexibility and SPL capacity of a dynamic mic without sacrificing sound quality. Keeping the mic on a fixed stand behind a pop filter can help the singer maintain a consistent distance from the mic.
Though no two singers are the same, these techniques have you covered for whatever style you’re after. Experiment with levels and A-T mics to find the right sound! Check out the full video below:
Keep checking the A-T blog for more recording tips!