Welcome to another online music production lesson. Today we are focusing on the most important part of a song, the Vocals.
The first thing is to get a good condenser mike, but a dynamic microphone can also produce good results, it’s just a matter of preference. For recording bright vocals the AKG C414 will be a good choice and the legendary Shure SM58. Get a pre-amp, the Focusrite is still one of the favorite in a lot of studios. So if you thinking, can I get a good vocal take without top quality music production equipment? I only have 1 question for you, “How Bad Do You Want This?” So before continuing with these online music production lessons ask yourself whether you want to role with the big guns or you just want an average sound.
The digital music production age has made everything pretty easy for everyone, so separate yourself from the majority and strive for quality. Getting a good vocal recording is not rocket science, you just need someone who can work the mike and they just need to sing in tune. A good headphone mix can encourage a good performance, before recording vocals make sure the singer has rehearsed their lyrics.
Adding a subtle reverb to the recording can help the vocalist to sing with confidence. Use subtle effects during recording, save the processing for the mixing stage. Your vocals have to be tight from the source, avoid fixing them during mixing because you might make them worse. Another recording trick is the right mike pickup pattern; you simply put another mike 15 to 24 centimeters away from the main recording microphone. Avoid using a gate during recording it can ruin a great performance so use it after recording vocals, its main purpose is to remove background noise.
Try to picture the final results, just ask yourself what you need it to sound like, especially when using Eq during recording and if you need to equalize use a little cut or boost, and remember that it’s always better to cut than to boost. If you getting a lot of sibilance change the position of the mike, below the singers mouth is a good position to get rid of sibilance, pop and “B” sound, use a pop filter/shield and if you are still not getting good results try another mike. But other music producers prefer not to remove sibilance but personally it’s irritating especially if the vocal has a delay effect.
Using a lot of reverb on brightly recorded vocals may cause sibilance, try to use an equalizer to get rid of sibilance before jumping to the de-esser. There’s nothing wrong with the de-esser effect, these online music production lessons serve as a guideline for you to choose a production technique that will work best for you.
A sync delay is great for vocals simply because it matches the delay tempo with the tempo of the song. If your vocal needs presence give it a boost around 1Khz to 3Khz, on a poor recording cut 300Hz to 500Hz to get rid of the boxiness and if you have harsh vocals cut around 1Khz to 3Khz. A voxciter is a good effect to brighten up a vocal performance. To help smooth out the performance use a mild compression.
You can also try gain riding, it can help with the dynamic range. A limiter can help to remove the peaks. Serial compression is good for vocals (we’ve covered serial compression on these online music production lessons so we won’t go into detail with it) basically serial compression is using two compressors where one is for taming out the peaks and another to reduce the dynamic range.
You can even try reverse compression (Your attack becomes your release and your release becomes your attack) or reverse delay. The mostly used is the reverse reverb effect, especially in horror movies, it creates a spooky sound. Duplicate your vocal and insert a 100% wet reverb on one and reverse it then bounce the vocal and reverse it again, and your reverb will kick in before the vocal which will create the spooky sound.
There’s not a lot below 100Hz so cut that it will help reduce the low frequency rumble and boost 10K for brightness, an exciter is also good for brightening vocals. Be careful when you are using a stereo enhancer it might drown your vocals. If you listen to the whole song without the need to change the level of the vocals in certain parts of the song then you got the right balance and listen from outside the room and if you don’t hear anything that needs to be changed then you got yourself a good vocal mix.
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