How to Record, Mix & Master Vocals at Home

how to record, mix and master vocals at home

 

Recording the ideal vocal is not a perfect science. It can be amazingly subjective and frequently relies upon the sound you’re searching for on your track. It can likewise be significantly more difficult than you may expect when you haven’t done it before, so read on to know more about the basics of recording vocals at home.

The kind of vocal sound you’re looking for can adjust the recording and mixing process hugely.

This guide is for beginners, so I’ll keep it genuinely basic and adhere to the essential tips for artists on a budget. That way ideally you’ll get the basics right and gain from some of my standard practices. So in view of that, I’ve split this lesson in 2 parts:

  1. Recording vocals &

  2. Mixing and mastering

So let’s get started!

 

Recording Vocals at Home: The Basics

 

 

Many individuals think you purchase a microphone and plug it in and that’s all there is to it. Well, that’s not the scene. There much more than buying a mic that goes into recording a vocals.

At absolute minimum, you require:

  • A brilliant condenser microphones

  • A preamplifier perhaps with phantom power capacities

  • A recording interface with good digital to analog converters

  • A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software to record the vocals.

Try not to give yourself a chance to feel scared by that. You can regularly locate a fair bundle bargain nowadays that incorporates a condenser mic with a chronicle interface that has preamps and converters worked in and even accompanies a duplicate of a DAW.

 

 

Choose the right Microphone

There’s an entire universe of various mics out there, from USB mics, condensers, dynamic and ribbons all going from the extremely cheap to the absurdly costly.

All in all, which one would it be advisable for you to utilize? Indeed, that depends. Diverse mics work better in various circumstances and on various voices.

With vocals, you may find that a £200 mic suits your vocals better than a £3,000 one, so make an effort not to escape with costly rigging. Because you’re utilizing a more costly mic doesn’t really mean you’ll improve final product.

When recording a lead vocal, I always go for a large diaphragm condenser microphone as they tend to be clearer and more sensitive than dynamic mics. They’re perfect for capturing the detail and nuances that make a vocal unique, and that’s what makes a vocal recording great. Not to state dynamic mics can’t work with vocals, yet for the most part they’re utilized as a part of live performance since they’re by and large somewhat more powerful.

There’s such a significant number of mics available within your budget, so you don’t really need to burn up all your money on just one equipment.

 

 

Position the microphone

I’ve attempted such a significant number of better places to position the mic in my home. Fifteen feet away, out in the hallway, 2 inches away with a towel hung over my head; however I’d say anyplace in the vicinity of 6 and 10 inches away is a decent place to begin.

It’s not very far that you’ll get room reflections than you can’t control, contingent upon how lively your room is. But at the same time it’s not very close that you’ll end up getting a bass proximity effect.

 

 

Make the perfect recording environment

The vast majority don’t have an acoustically treated, soundproofed room or vocal stall at home, so room reflections can now and again be a touch of an issue.

In any case, as long as the room you’re recording in isn’t secured with big mirrors or windows, and doesn’t have clay tiled floors, at that point you ought to have the capacity to discover a spot in the room that works, yet do experiment with a couple of various positions. Gracious, and furthermore ensure your washing machine or fan isn’t switched on!

In order to accomplish a great lead vocal sound in a non-professional environment, it’s a good idea to record in a neutral, dry room. You’ll want to avoid cavernous rooms with reflections and reverberated sound because it will affect the quality and the control later in the mixing process. Keep in mind that there’s no way to go back to “dry” from a “wet” sound, so make sure the room has a controlled sound, leaning towards dry (not “dead” though).

You’ll likewise require a Pop Filter to stop your ‘Ps’ and ‘Fs’ from muting your chronicle. They’re not especially costly, but rather in the event that you don’t have one, at that point attempt a couple of tights extended over a coat holder, that is the thing that I used to do!

 

 

Gain Staging

This is the place many individuals goof up. It’s anything but difficult to begin turning knobs on the preamp and interface until the point when it sounds right in the PC.

Gain is the ratio of the output of a signal, in this case your recorded voice, to the input of the signal.  It’s kind of like a volume knob, except there’s a maximum and a minimum range before your quality takes a plunge and this range exists at each phase of the recording from your mic to the preamp to the converters. You have to get it just right on the head at each phase to secure an expert quality recording.

A lot of artists use Pre-amps, pressure and EQ when recording into their DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). These can be equipment or programming, however don’t run behind equipments of all kinds because you have the capacity to fix it later on when mastering. After all, editing you vocals is what you do while mastering.

You just need to record dry vocals and do everything else later. The reason you need to record a dry signal, which implies no time-based impacts like reverb, delays, and echoes, is to keep your choices totally open when you start to blend and have full control on type and amount of effects on your vocal file.

 

 

Record More Takes Than You Need

Because you want to get a perfect vocal which, obviously doesn’t need tons of auto-tuning, you need to record again and again till you get that perfect cut. And no matter how good you are while recording, you’ll mess up several times. So try not to get frustrated and be persistent.

 

 

Okay! Enough with the recording. Now let’s get on to mixing and mastering.

The majority of the artists record vocals effortlessly. What they battle with is mixing and mastering the same with the instrumental. Maybe you experience the ill effects of one of the accompanying issues:

 

  • The vocals just sound flat at some places.
  • They sound dull, but when you boost the top end they just become harsh.
  • They sound low, and not loud enough in the mix.
  • You adjust the low end to add some warmth, but then the vocals clash with the guitars and other instruments.
  • The vocals sound like they don’t belong in the same bar as the music.
  • You can’t make the music properly wrap around the vocals (while maintaining fullness and texture in the voice).

 

Creating vocals that sound professional, radio-prepared and reliable isn’t simple. It can be frustrating, confusing and disappointing. In any case, it doesn’t need to be that way.

 

When you completely understand the core elements of a decent vocal mix, you can undoubtedly mix vocals to an expert standard. At that point vocal mixing and amstering turns into a fun and agreeable experience.

 

With time, you will feel glad for your vocal mixes and begin to trust your skills.

Mixing and mastering is a never ending process and you will not be satisfied ever with your final output and ultimately you’ll overdo and destroy it. So, just don’t think too much and apply these basic editing functions in your vocals. Give yourself some time, take breaks in between and don’t lose focus.

 

The process of vocal mixing can be split into the following elements:

  1. Removing Noise and Adding Crossfades

  2. Dealing with Low Frequencies

  3. Compression

  4. De-Essing

  5. Equalizing

  6. Reverb/delay

 

Depending on which DAW you use, and how you recorded the vocal, the mixing/mastering process will vary.

Most DAWs have a built-in system for managing takes. I highly recommend you research this and use it. Here’s how it works in some common DAWs:

  • Pro Tools: Create a new ‘playlist’ for every take.
  • Logic Pro: Record over the top and a new take is automatically created.
  • Reaper: Record over the top and a new take is automatically created.
  • Studio One: Record over the top and a new take is automatically created.
  • Cubase: Enable ‘lanes’ and ‘stacked recording’.
  • Audacity (which is not a DAW but a good audio editing software): Just select the portion or whole track and click on EFFECTS from the toolbar.

 

Now let the Mixing & Mastering Begin:

 

digital audio workstation

 

 

  1. Removing Noise and Adding Crossfades

The primary thing you’ll presumably see about any vocal recording (great or terrible) is the presence of background noise ranging from subtle to irritating. This can be caused by anything; a PC in the studio, movement, fan/ac, earphone output draining onto the microphone. When you have comped your vocal. It’s time to go through the whole vocal track and ensure there are no snaps or undesirable noises.

If there is any background noise between verses, you can basically cut that part easily. But if there is noise within important vocal parts, you can remove that in the way your DAW works. There is always an editing tools for that in every DAW. Just for for that and you’re good to go for the next step.

IMPORTANT TIP: Some people like to remove the breaths from the vocal, but I think this completely ruins the natural emotion of the performance. My advice is to leave the breaths in.

 

 

  1. Managing Low Frequencies (sub-bass)

Once your vocal is playing back without any noise, it’s an ideal opportunity to begin considering a chain of handling that will complement the vocal and draw out the best in performance.

It is important to filter out low frequencies and it is always a good idea to do it early in your chain as this will allow any plug-ins after this point to operate at optimal capacity since they won’t have to process large amounts of unwanted low frequency energy.

 

 

  1. Compression

You cannot sing the whole song in exact same volume at all parts. Use compression to level off any transient peaks and also bring up any breaths and nuances you want to hear. The bigger your arrangement is, the more you’ll probably want to use compression, is as it will be fighting against a lot of other frequencies. Additionally, take a stab at utilizing volume computerization as this is a typical method to ensure the vocal level is more reliable all through.

Once more, in the event that you don’t know how to set up a compressor, begin with a started fix and attempt some Preset settings in any case. You can turn to presets to make history and change things as you go.

 

 

  1. De-Essing

In the event that “ssss”, “phh” and “ch” sounds are causing spikes in your vocal chronicle, these should be processed out. This undesirable artefact is called sibilance and is entirely difficult to avoid amid the recording procedure.

You can handle mellow instances of sibilance with a high pass EQ or low pass channel. You may considerably lean toward decreasing the gain of the issue areas manually in a sound editor, yet once more, the least demanding course is to utilize a processor called a de-esser, an automated process designed particularly for the job.

 

 

  1. Equalizing

At the point when a voice is recorded through a microphone, we have to add a touch of EQ to the voice to draw out its normal qualities. For instance, when you hear me talk in a room, you hear some common resonation in the room. In EQ’ing, you can include that regular reverb back in light of the fact that the mouthpiece won’t not lift it up in your specific account condition or you could add even more bass to sound heavy and powerful.

Furthermore, vocal EQ’ing is performed to improve the vocals so they sound best in our condition and in addition inside the band and inside the instrumental. What’s more, this is the place the greater part of your work is engaged. Eq is significantly something beyond changing bass and treble. It can enable you to tidy up any frequencies that are irritating you, take out any low-end thunders or top of the line murmur that were missed in the recording stage.

 

 

  1. Reverb/delay

Use this to add depth and width to your mix. By adding reverb to vocals, you will return them assist in the mix and make them less clear. More often than not, this conflicts with your points.

It make you sound huge, like being in an auditorium or hall, it even hides some flaws and adds talent to your performance. But it’s easy to get carried away, overdo it and lost the state that you needed.

Of course, for atmospheric styles or situations where reverb is used creatively, go crazy.

But if you want your vocals to sound modern, radio-ready and in your face, you don’t need to use reverb. At all. Instead, you can use delays to add space to the vocal and make it sound less dry, without putting it back in the mix (more on that in a second). However, there is one way you can use subtle reverb on vocals.

By applying very less, short stereo reverb you can add stereo width and profundity to the vocal.

My recommendation is influence it to sound great to your ears, at that point back it off a touch. This dependably appears to work for me. I additionally tend to utilize two sorts of reverb or delay. A A little bit of room reverb to soften the edges and another bigger delay for nice depth effects.

 

Conclusion:

Mastering vocals in not a rule of thumb. It totally depends on genre and instrumental. Sometimes you have to do it in a very minimal amount and it’s done within minutes whereas it can even take weeks when genre & instrumental demand it. So do it till your guts says “Yeah! That’s what I wanted”. Remember, if it sounds good, it’s good. (Not said by me 😛 )

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