Thursday, February 6, 2014

Recording Vocals Tips

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Choosing A Microphone

When recording vocals it usually fills a beginner with a particular an explicit quantity of apprehensiveness. If it is your 1st time, it's a decent plan to assemble as much info attainable. Doing this will create the most effective recording possible as soon as possible. The thing is that with some careful brainstorming you ought to be able to make a completely professional sounding vocal recording the first time in the booth

Fundamental to great vocal recordingsv
A High Quality Condenser or Dynamic Microphone Please ensure you have a microphone that's industry standard. That doesn't necessarily mean it has to be the most expensive mic but you want Low-Noise Presence and Warmth.

I recommend a decent} quality large diaphragm condenser microphone or a top quality dynamic mic like Shure or Audio Technica. A condenser mic is very sensitive, detailed, can handle higher db levels. You will need 48 Phantom Power for these mics. Here Are Few Brands That Are Industry Standard when it comes to sound quality and also budget.

Rode NT1A - Great sound quality and one of my favorite condenser mic, needs Phantom Power

Audio Technica AT2020 - non-USB version, but condenser mic that needs phantom power

AKG 420 - condenser mic, needs Phantom Power

Shure SM57 or SM58 - dynamic Microphone

I would recommend avoiding buying a USB mic, unless it's a Blue Usb Mic. Most Usb Mics limit your recording when it comes down to attaining high sound quality vocals.

Every vocalist, rapper or musician voice and tone will be different. So making sure you match up the right microphone for the vocalist voice or tone. Some mics will sound better on higher pitch or smoother vocalist and not sound as good on a person who has a deeper voice.

Matching a mic is all about capturing and enriching desired vocal characteristics. This could take time to learn but your ears will tell you. Find out who your voice sound like (not sing or rap the same)but tone and what type of mic they use. This will get you an idea of what might work for you. Also you might not have to buy the exact mic as Lil Wayne seeming it would probably be more expensive but you could buy a lower model of that brand.


Good quality microphone cables will retain the detail and sonic data that comes from the mic. So don't go too cheap on cables. Make sure you are getting cables that have great shielding from electrical interference. This will cut down on hum and hiss noise coming from the cables through the recorded vocals. Shure Mic Cables or good and usually get the job done

Pop Shields and Wind Shields

These don't seem to be mandatory, but they are. Unless you want to do a lot of modification and fixing a great vocal that could now sound unnatural do to not having a pop filter. You will waste more time mixing vocals which could become frustrating and effect your overall mix and master. So get a pop filter.

I have found that nylon mesh works just fine.

Warm-up Your Voice.

Most New Music Artist Take This For Granted.

Five minutes of vocal exercises before you enter vocal booth will help out when hitting those high notes and lows, It will be easier and with less strain on your vocal chords. This can be for any genre, including rap and metal. Go into the booth prepared. Say your verse over and over out loud as if you were recording or performing live.

Vocal Proximity and Positioning

I tend to position the pop filter about 4-5 inches from the front of the mic, and I stand about 2- 4 inches away from the pop filter and slightly to and angle, This help take out noises you don't want like breathing or lip smacking or too much detail. It also blends the vocal in the mix better with less eqing in the mixing phase depending if the mic has a phase switch.

The tone of a vocal can changed dramatically by positioning the mic off-axis from the mouth. You can experiment with putting the mic in different positions: This is a way to find that sweet spot. Make a test recordings to hear the difference in positions

Recording Levels

One of the worst possible recording is a distorted one. Once it's there it's almost impossible to take off, and that could ruin a great take.

In all recording work, gain structure is important. It minimizes the inherent noise floor of the equipment.

When recording vocals, always record at 24bit resolution, and I suggest a peak record level of -8 db at 24bit. There is no need to go higher than this.

These settings should produce the best signal-to-noise ratio with the vast majority of Audio interface and mic preamps. In any case, avoid clipping red lights on microphone preamps or mixing console channels when recording.

Dynamic Range Control During Recording

Some engineers like to add some gentle analogue compression during the recording session. This can be done for artistic or technical reasons. For ex. a nice valve compressor can add characteristic.

For character purposes this is fine, but may not be necessary if you ensure that you have ample headroom in your microphone preamp and audio interface.

If you a vocalist with has large dynamic swings (from whisper to loud), it may be a good idea to apply 2-3 dB of gain reduction on the peaks of the vocals during the recording phase.

Be careful not to over compress vocals when starting out, because once it's recorded with the compression it will be very difficult to adjust the effects of the time constants on the recording. If in doubt, leave more headroom,record at a lower level, and do not over compress when recording.

I use an attack of 10-20 ms, and a release of between 150 and 200 ms for a vocal recording, and keep the gain reduction light, around 2-3 dB maximum.

Microphone Preamplifiers

A vocal recording blog wouldn't be complete without talking about microphone preamplifiers. Some of these are very low-cost, such as those found in a basic mixer console, and some can cost thousands of dollars. They can definitely affect the clarity and tone of the recording.

Some are designed with absolute fidelity and precision in mind, and some are designed with basic circuits, and transformers to add some vintage characteristics to your vocal recording. This is very subjective and you must decide if a preamplifier will add something special to your vocal recordings or not.
vAll of the above is essential, but a microphone preamplifier should be very low noise, and represent the output of the mic in an articulate manner.

As you progress in your skills, you will be better equipped to hear the subtle differences between the myriad preamplifiers on the music technology market.


It is completely possible to record a stunning vocal recording with your first-ever recording if you follow these guidelines. It is not particularly difficult if you have the right equipment and make good preparations before the task commences.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Best Audio Interface On A Budget

When looking for the right audio interface for your home studio. You want to look for a few .things *Build Quality *Low Latency *Low S/N ratio *Headroom *High Gain & *Good Preamps (If Needed). I have compiled up a list of the best audio interfaces in my opinion on a budget that I myself have use either in my personal.home studio or in other friends studios. All of the audio interfaces on this list price range from $30-$250. Just click on the link for prices & details of each audio interface.

Tascam US-322 USB Audio and MIDI Interface

Behringer U-Control UCA222 USB Audio Interface

Roland QuadCapture Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface

Peavey USB Audio Interface

PreSonus AudioBox USB Recording Interface

ART Tube MP USB Project Series Tube Mic Preamp With USB - (My Favorite With An Upgraded Preamp Tube)

Now this is just a few of the usb audio interface that I have had a chance to use and abuse.. I hope this list gives you and idea of a audio interface you might would like to get for your recording studio on a budget. I will be going more into detail on using an audio interface preamps and more in my next post. So keep checking back for more info and how to's on audio interfaces.. Thanks for reading and hope you have a blessed day.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best Sounding Condenser Microphones On A Budget

This Is My Review On My Top Pick Condenser Microphone on a budget for vocals.

The Condenser Microphone I suggest every beginner who wants clean crisp ultra low noise recordings should have is the. RodeNT1-A. . This is the condenser microphone that changed my mixes to a level of sound quality I didn't even know I could produce. It cuts down on EQing the vocals so much when using this microphone. the vocals also seem to cut through the mix better too when I use this mic. Also the warmth and presence this microphone gives a vocalist is amazing. Plus this microphone is so quiet.. No audible hum or hiss. Just complete silence meaning less clean up on the vocals. No need for a noise gate with this Condenser Microphone.

Also this microphone is durable. I have had mines for almost 4 years. Its been dropped an abused a little but still works like a charm. Now I know what you may be thinking. "How is this a budget microphone at a $200 price tag. Well for $200 dollars you get the pop filter, a good shock mount, and quality cables. Now you can buy this microphone individually for a lesser price. Plus I've seen this microphone being sold used for around $80. Now that could be a gamble but if the microphone is still in good working order it could be a huge steal considering the quality of this microphone. I know there are cheaper Condenser Microphones that will get the job done but this is the Microphone you will buy when you get tired of not achieving that sound you ultimately are looking for from cheaper mics.

Now I have heard some reviews saying that the RodeNT1-A sounds thin. But mine does not. That could be do to a different interface or different preamps. In the past I've used the RodeNT1-A on a Art Tube Mp Preamp. Of course I changed the factory tube and replaced it with a groove tube but the sound was still warm and smooth and clear.

I highly recommend this amazing piece of audio equipment. It surpassed my expectations and showed me what a true quality studio condenser microphone is suppose to sound like. Thanks For reading my short review. Hopefully this helps you when choosing a quality microphone for your own studio.

Here's a live recording with the RodeNT1-A Just Listen For Yourself.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Setup On A Budget For Recording And Producing Quality Music

I am no audio expert or guru but I have experienced a lot in my 10 years of recording and producing music. In this blog I will give my own personal experience with different studio equipment. From different mics to different software I used and enjoyed or not so much enjoyed lol. I also will try to keep you updated with the next best or latest gear that's out. So keep checking back and reading my blogs so I can hopefully share some knowledge or know how on any questions or problems you may have encountered while trying to setup your own Home Studio. Enough with the small talk let get to why you're reading this blog.

Now me personally when setting up a home studio first & foremost we most have a budget that needs to be figured into this. So I'm going to give you my idea of a quality budget home studio but at the same time will name other related products at lower or higher prices. The 2nd thing that comes into play is location. Now this very important but is a easy fix depending on if you care what the studio looks like.

But our goal hear is to Get Studio Quality Sound ! So here is my list of studio equipment I would get for a great Studio Sound.

1. Audio Interface

Well like me and you who are on a budget when it comes to choosing the right audio interface .. Yes of course we want the cheaper price, but we still want quality. So this is what I would do. Invest in a better preamp tube. Most cheap audio interfaces come with cheap preamp tubes.. The Audio Interface I would choose on a budget would have to be the Art MP Usb which sells for around $80-$100 (Maybe even cheaper used). Now this is a cheap but decent sound quality interface. Now add a better preamp such as the Electro-Harmonix 12AX7EH Preamp Tube and hear the big difference. This once mediocre audio interface now sounds like an more expensive one with just a $5-$15 upgrade. I would advise everyone who is on a tight budget to try this. From Vocalist, MCs, Producers and Djs. It worked wonders on my overall sound quality when I first was learning how to record music.

2. Microphone

When it comes to Studio Condenser Microphones. If you may not have of known.
All Mics are not great for every type of voice. Now we're not talking about the more expensive mics like: Telefunken, Neuman and the many more amazing top dollar mics that sound great all around. With my tone or voice which is a tenor mid range to mild high. For ex. T.I Wayne.. Now I don't rap like them just giving you and ideal of my vocal tone. With that being said hands down my choice would be the Rode NT1-A

With my experience with recording music and after using cheaper and more expensive Condenser microphones than the RodeNT1a. This microphone was the one mic that gave me the sound I truly wanted when it came to recording studio quality vocals from a Home Studio setup. To learn more about this Rode Mic click here.

3. Studio Monitors.

My studio monitors of choice on a budget would have to be the Cerwin-Vega XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers. They are some great little monitors. They produce pure clean crisp highs and mids. The low end isn't amazing but they will get the job done when it comes to mixing and mastering. Now their are other decent sounding speakers you could go with like Logitech Speakers, Bic Monitor Speakers, or M-Audio Monitor Speakers. But the Cerwin Vegas are clean and crisp and will make mixing and mastering easier. I would suggest getting a sub to get that full bottom end when mixing and mastering low bass frequencies.

4. Studio Headphones

When it comes to Studio quality headphones on a budget the thing you have to remember is most likely you will need a pair. One for the audio engineer and one for the artist who is laying down the vocals. My personal preference on a budget would have to be Sennheiser HD 205-II Studio Grade DJ Headphones (Black/Grey). Now I know what you're saying Dj Headphones. But these bad boys are crisp,clean and not to forget super quiet. The noise cancellation is outstanding. Perfect for a home studio.


Now this setup with a budget of around $500- $550 will get you that studio quality sound you are looking for on a budget. Now you don't have to follow my setup exact. Experiment with what works for you. This is a setup I used when I first got started and it was the first setup I had where I was actually amazed by the sound of my mixes and recording. This setup was put together with the idea that you already have a Pc or IMac,I DAW software to record, also a nice sound proof environment. And if you would like my preference on that I love the IMac or MacBook Pro. But a quality Pc can also produce great studio quality sound. I use Pro Tools and Fl Studio when using a pc. And I use Logic Pro when using a Mac.

Thank you for reading my blog and hopefully I helped you with your own personal Home Studio. Please Comment Share And Like!