Do you want to start your own youtube channel, podcasting, audio recordings, or create your own music? Knowing how to record vocals at home for beginners is a must to create a steady following. So, we are here to help you out!
You might need to set up your own home studio to help you get started. We will make a brief intro on how to set up your own studio and the things you might need, like a studio desk and a comfortable studio chair.
Let’s start, shall we!
Needs for Recording Vocals for Beginners
Starting your own home recording studio can be a daunting task just like the recording itself. So, we listed 5 must-haves to help you record the best vocals at home.
This is the basic necessity when you want to record vocals at home. If you will record or create music and audio, you will need a computer to store and edit them out.
You will not need to buy another computer if you are starting out. Stick to what you already have!
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
DAW is a software that lets you record and edit your audio or your music.
If you are using a Mac computer, you can use GarageBand as a starter. It’s free for all Mac users.
Audio Interface is the hardware that turns the music or vocals into a digital signal for your DAW to read.
You will not need more than 1 studio microphone if you are mostly recording by yourself or tracking musical instruments, one at a time.
Studio Headphones and/or Monitors
Also, studio monitors have a flatter frequency response. Which means it gives a more neutral and uncolored sound.
Why Record Vocals at Home
If you are just starting out, it is almost always imperative that you start your recordings at home. Why? Because it will not cost you a lot of money! You do not have to pay rent for a music studio. No need to leave your home when you have to do your mixes. You can do your music whenever you want. And the most important of all, you do not have to buy your food in expensive restaurants around music studios! You can go to your kitchen and cook your meal!
Tips and Tricks in Recording Vocals at Home
To be able to create good mixes, you will need to record great vocals.
The vocals are the one that tells the story, the writer’s story. They set the emotional tone and they are the ones that make the entire project work. It’s the one that makes or breaks your song.
But there are a lot of variables that might get in the way of you recording a good take. Let’s check out these tips and tricks to avoid having to retake all over again!
The room you choose will greatly affect your recordings. It is common that you choose the most convenient room in your home when you recording. Which is a common mistake!
If your vocals are recorded in a “bad room”, you will be able to hear it at the end of your mix. Because the room will affect the tone of your vocals.
Reverb pulls the vocals at the back of your mix which is not a good thing. Ideally, you want the singer to sound up-close and personal when recording. The more reverb the less it sounds present. Which makes the recording sound farther and unreachable.
Room reflections can also cause pitch corrections and compressions making the sound seem unnatural and “fake”. Which means, please get out of your closet! Because it just sounds really bad.
Reflections are basically all the things that affect how sound waves will bounce back to your microphone. These reflections create delays, reverbs, construction or deconstructive interference, and a lot of other problems like a flutter and more.
You can use a portable vocal booth to block out any reflections and stop creating reflections in critical directions altogether.
Choosing Your Studio Microphone
There are various types of studio microphones in the market and you might need to know what are the things you have to consider when buying your own mic.
Just like the mic, the vocalist tone is also important. Each singer or vocalist has their own unique tone. Some might have a deeper and powerful voice while others have high and airy tone. You have to keep in mind that you have to match your studio microphone with your vocalist’ tone.
Every microphone is also going to sound differently when recording. So, we listed some general concepts about microphones that are important to know.
- Condenser Microphones
Condenser microphones are really sensitive to changes in volume and can easily pick up nuances, even small ones. This is why these mics are preferred in music studios with tightly controlled acoustic treatments.
- Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
Small diaphragm condenser microphones give off a bright and airy sound when used. Also, the bass response is lower.
- Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
Large diaphragm condenser microphones give off a clean and very focused sound. And the bass response is pretty balanced.
- Dynamic Microphones
Dynamic microphones are usually what you see on stage. These type of mics can handle louder sounds because they are less sensitive, in volume and damage. They sound more aggressive and warmer compared to condenser mics. Perfect for a lot of singers and various genres since there is less top end.
Generally, the type of microphone you use will depend on your vocalist. You might want to accentuate your singer’s natural tone for example. Or you can also balance your singer’s tone with the mic. It solely depends on you!
No matter what, do not be afraid to experiment! You can own 2-3 microphones of various types to mix and match with your vocalist. (This might not be ideal when you are a beginner and with a limited budget.)
Mic placement might be a small thing but trust us, it’s not! The position of your studio microphones is very important.
The distance of your mic to your singer can sound very different when they are close or far apart. Because of the proximity effect — the closer the mic to the singer, the higher the low-frequency response is. The closer you get, the bigger the bass boost is. Which can create problems but at the same time opens up ways for you to improve the audio or music you create.
For various mic placement suggestions for different musical instruments, you can check out PreSonus Basic Mic Placement Tips. They made it easy-to-understand but detailed. Great job PreSonus!
Also, here is a great and informative video about mic placement by Jason de Wilde from Audio – Australian Institute of Music (AIM). Hope this helps you out.
Basically, there is a lot of room for improvement and experimenting when it comes to looking for the best mic placement. Do not be afraid to test various suggested mic placements on the internet to know which one suits you.
Encourage your Singer
This is one of the things that any music producers and/or makers forget. Always remember to encourage, motivate, and interact with your singer! How you treat your vocalist might affect how they sound and what feeling they put into your music.
Also, confidence plays an important role in any singer. It doesn’t hurt to remind your vocalist that they sound great.
Talk to your singer and help them visualize what the song is about and the emotion it gives. Basically, tell them the story of your song, its lyrics and melody.
Remember to take a break as well. The voice gets tired rather quickly if worked too hard. We advise taking a 5min break every 25mins to let the vocal cords relax.
Record MORE THAN ONCE!
Hiring a vocalist might be pricey but if you have a friend that you can ask a favor to, great! If you are hiring a singer (or asking a friend), make sure that you record more than once
Remember, time is precious (and can be too pricey). Make the most out of your and singer’s time. We advise taking at least 3 takes.
There are times when you think your recording is really perfect and doesn’t need to edit it. Then, you start adding your mix in and viola, there are some out of tune, pitchy, or even some words you cannot understand! OH NO!
So, it is always great to have more than 1 great take to work with. It is better to have reserves when you are creating the best version of your music to help share your song, your story.
Here is a short video on how to record vocals by Warren Huart to help you record the best vocals in a small space or your own home music studio. Enjoy!
Let’s Start Recording Vocals
We are done with the must-haves in setting up your own home music studio and our tips and tricks when recording vocals. But before we start recording, make sure to try the tone of your singer first and listen to how it registers in your computer.
Prepare your equipment and DAW software. Make sure your level is NOT too hot!
Maintain 10dB (headroom) when you are setting levels. Ideally, the average level is -18dBFS for most plugins.
When you are tweaking with your levels, always get an average of -18dBFS and peaking around -10dBFS. Make sure you are NOT peaking higher than -6dBFS. This can help in keeping your level low enough but also avoid recording too quiet.
After that, make sure your studio headphones work and the levels are nice and on point.
Next is, get in the zone.
Motivating your singer comes in this phase. It also helps that you give off a relax and enjoyable ambiance in your home recording studio for yourself and vocalist. It makes you and the singer comfortable and will be able to give the best he/she can when recording.
If that is all fixed, now you are ready to start recording…
Good luck and enjoy!
Recording vocals at home can be a lot of work. But when you are just starting out your own Youtube channel, audio recording, or music, it is best to turn a room in your home into a music studio. There are a lot of things you need to think of but it is certainly worthwhile. That is if you are really serious about this.
Additional tip: Know when and when not to edit or process your vocals. This will come with experience but do not worry, there are a lot of DAW plugins to help you out! Just experiment with the EQ, compressors, de-esser, delays, and reverbs and you are good to go.
Starting your own home music studio is quite pricey and takes a lot of space, time, and effort. As well as hiring singers to turn your lyrics and melody into reality. But, if you want to share your story and let people hear your music, go ahead. The world can use more writers and lyricist with a heart and passion for music.