8 Best Practices for Recording Vocals Smoothly

8 Best Practices for Recording Vocals Smoothly

Music Production

If you're recording vocals for a track, you'll want to make sure you have the best settings, equipment, and more. This article will help.

Table of contents

Singing in many ways resembles using a muscle. The more you practice, the better your abilities become.

As an amateur or someone looking to build a career within the field, randomly recording yourself singing from time to time can be a great way to monitor your vocal improvement. If you plan on

However, if you are considering taking your performance to the next level, there are some steps that you can take to prepare your voice, your equipment, and your performance for the next time you're recording vocals.

Ready to get started? Here are eight excellent tips for developing a high-quality, professional track.

1. Identifying the Right Voice Type for Your Song

Before you get started, you should be able to identify whether your voice is suitable for the track you've chosen to record. If not, it is advisable to choose another song that's more within your range or more appropriate for your voice.

There are a few ways you could evaluate this.

🎤 Know Your Range and Voice Type

Your voice type is based on the kind of notes or range of notes you can hit comfortably without a lot of effort. In general, voice type categorizations consider the weight of your voice, the quality of your voice within the given range, the anatomy of your singing or your ability to articulate, and your bridge location.

Your range can fall into categories that include bass, baritone, tenor, alto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano. Here are a few examples of voices that fall within these ranges:

  • Bass: James Early Jones, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen
  • Baritone: Frank Sinatra, Otis Redding, Dean Martin
  • Tenor: Justin Timberlake, George Michael, Frankie Valli
  • Alto: Cher, Amy Winehouse, Tina Turner
  • Mezzo-Soprano: Selena Gomez, Sara Bareilles
  • Soprano: Mariah Carey, Anna Moffo, Julie Andrews

🛋️ Natural Comfort

What songs do you instinctively sing to and sing to quite comfortably? Think of a few and make a list. The idea is to start simple and work your way toward harder songs.

Suppose you are just starting and looking to create a portfolio of good samples. In that case, it's advisable to stick to songs within your range, especially if you're not too well-versed in the professional recording process.

You can always work at reaching notes outside your range with a bit of training and practice.

2. Setting up Your Studio Space

Your studio space deeply impacts the sound quality of your audio file. Here are a few things to keep in mind while setting it up.

🛰️ Space

Firstly, you'll have to choose a space. When it comes to recording, bigger is, in fact, better. If you have the option, always opt for the bigger room for better sound. We're thinking of high ceilings, and if possible irregular or asymmetrical surfaces.

📶 Noise

Next, you'll want to ensure minimal noise. Ideally, you'll want the quietest room that allows you to be as loud as you like. Of course, you always have the option of soundproofing the room.

🛖 Floor

Thirdly, you have to pay attention to the room's flooring. For recording purposes, hardwood floors or hard surfaces, in general, are better for acoustics. If you have the budget, vinyl floors are especially effective at reflecting sound waves.

Now once you've chosen your room, it's time to clean it out completely. Be mindful of your arrangement, and take your cues from professional setups. Keep your computer separate from your microphones; do not clutter the room.

3. Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment

You could have everything in place, but if you compromise on the quality of your equipment, your output will not match the input.

🎛️ Equipment

Some equipment you may need includes a computer, a digital audio workstation (DAW), an audio interface, a MIDI controller, microphones, headphones, acoustic treatment, audio monitors, cables, plugins, instruments, studio chairs, and a workstation. You may be able to do without some of these depending on how elaborate you want your setup to be.

If you don't already have one, you will have to invest in a high-performance computer with decent RAM to support your recording, editing, and mixing software. You also want to ensure that your computer and DAW are compatible with each other.

A beginner software like Audacity would likely work with almost any computer. However, if you're looking for something a little advanced like Pro Tools, you'll need something that can run the software comfortably.

While choosing your DAW, make sure it comes with plenty of support options and tools, and that you are comfortable with the user interface. There may also be additional costs for various plugins, so be sure to do your research and read plenty of reviews before you invest.

Similarly, you'll want to ensure that your MIDI controller is also compatible with your setup.

One of your biggest investments should be in your microphone. If you capture good audio through a bad microphone, your interface is irrelevant. You'll want to be very specific about choosing the appropriate microphones for respective instruments and vocals.

4. Using Signal Processing

🎚️ Processing

Signal processing allows you to add a unique touch to your music and truly make it your own. This includes using equalizers, reverbs, dynamic processors, delays, feedback managers, and more.

Post-processing will allow you to reduce noise, and enhance the listening experience of the end product. Read up about your primary mixing tools and learn the basics of compression or decompression, echo cancellation, resampling, filtering, and beamforming.

This will help you get the best out of your audio and add a professional touch to your recordings.

5. Connecting Your Audio Gear Properly

🔌 Hardware

It's time to familiarize yourself with outboard gear. Not only will it help you understand your equipment better, but it also helps you craft a unique sound.

If you are using external hardware, you'll also need a hardware insert which is a plug-in used to transfer dry audio through your gear.

Most audio interfaces work through the use of type A to type B USB cables to connect to your computer or laptop. Additionally, you would also connect your microphone and instruments for which you would need an XLR cable. Alternatively, you could also use a 1/4-inch jack.

6. Perfecting Your Performance

🎷 Practice

You know your range, you know what works for you, but prior to recording, you have to master the art of performance. This includes:

  • Having and practicing a solid warm-up routine for your vocals
  • Doing a few practice sessions to get a better idea of what your recorded voice sounds like
  • Ensuring that you're well rested and have had a good night's sleep prior to your session
  • Protect and pamper your voice before your big session

The idea is to make yourself as comfortable as possible, get out of your head, and do what you can to be both, relaxed as well as prepared.

7. Soundproofing Your Recording Space

🧱 Acoustic Treatment

Soundproofing works using four basic principles. This includes absorption, damping, decoupling, and filling gaps.

Consider using thick materials like blankets, acoustic foam, or panels over your walls. Cork, rubber, or foam would work well depending on your budget. One quick fix is to switch to heavier curtains for your windows.

Next, make sure all airways are filled and sealed in. You can use spray insulation or find foam inserts online.

8. Mixing for a Professional-Sounding Vocal Track

🎼 Mixing

Mixing is where you can make or break good audio. While it may seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you're picturing several knobs and a huge console, it is not that hard. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use subtle panning to make each instrument sound distinct
  • Add depth with minimal compression
  • Examine whether or not your audio actually sounds better with or without reverb
  • Test your mix on a variety of speakers before you decide on a final cut

Remember that mixing is all about highlighting the essence of your sound. The mixing process itself should never overpower what the original track is. The idea is to keep it minimal and simple, and subtly enhance elements. You do not want to become the musical version of a highly-edited photograph.

🎙️ Start Recording Vocals Like a Pro

There's a lot more to recording vocals like a seasoned performer than just belting your heart out into a microphone. It does take a bit of vocal practice, training, the right recording setup, and the proper mixing techniques to get yourself on track to sound like a true professional.

For some people, this can be overwhelming when you do it alone. If you're having trouble navigating the singing/ recording/ production process, contact us at Craft Your Sound.

We offer professional coaching, courses, and mentorship programs designed for every kind of aspiring artist.