Home Recording | QUALITY MATTERS!
One of the most important aspects I learned about the art of radio broadcasting was connecting with your listener so that he or she feels as if you are speaking directly to them, with them, in conversation. We have all heard great story narration and in all of the finest deliveries, there is one critical characteristic to the audio that we may or may not realize - The vocal is clean, full, and easy to understand. Delivery trumps all and in some cases special effects are used to add a sense of environment, but in Part I of this series on recording we’ll take a look at the basics of how to cut a clean, full, and mic-pop free vocal.
Below, you will find quick tips on related aspects of the recording process and a preview of what we’ll be covering in Part II of this series. If have questions, post them in the comments section and I’ll reply a.s.a.p. If you would rather stick to writing and leave the recording and production in capable hands check out our SERVICES.
More About Mics
DON'T USE THE BUILT IN MIC ON YOUR COMPUTER, but it might have come with a microphone. Most likely it is one of those long, pencil-necked mics that sits in a little plastic stand and plugs directly into your computer. These will work in a pinch, but I recommend stepping up to something better. As they say, size doesn’t matter and I’ve used some tiny little mics that sound amazing, but they cost a gazillion bucks and if you happen to have a gazillion dollars then you have already hired someone to set you up with a killer home recording rig or gone to a profession recording studio to cut your tracks. With that aside, here are some reasonably priced USB microphones:
How To Position the Microphone
How you position yourself in front of the mic can also help reduce pops and booms. Experiment to find what sounds best to you. Talking just above or below the mic works well as does positioning the mic at a 90 degree angle just to the side of your mouth.
Mic positioning also affects the over-all sound quality. A good rule of thumb is to keep the distance between the microphone and your mouth between three to six inches.
The last factor to discussing in part one of this series on recording is the all important element of ambiance. We can create atmosphere and mood in our vocal delivery, which will be a topic of focus later in the series, but what should also be taken into consideration is the sound of the room you are recording in.
Several years ago, I was on an extended hiatus (of sorts) on the Oregon coast when I got a call from a record label in LA wanting to know if I could cut a song for a film soundtrack they were producing. They gave me the details and asked if I could record a demo that they could listen to. The room I was staying in had a lot of hard surfaces with natural reflections and reverb. It was a great place to sing and play guitar in, but not the best to record the kind of sound I needed for the vocal.
How I recorded was a little odd, but it worked. In the end, the label liked the demo I sent in so much that they used that recording for the soundtrack. After trying different approaches to deaden the sound of the room didn't work, I ended up in the bathroom with clothes on hangers hung on the walls, a towel over my head, and a microphone in my hand. Hot damn, if that didn't beat all. Some more reasonable tips and options would include recording in a small closet where clothing and other items can help deaden the sound a little bit, a small food pantry, or using blankets on walls, in corners, and over doors.
Of course you could purchase soundproofing material, but it can be a bit expensive. More affordable alternatives may include: Used yoga mats, egg cartons, carpet squares, paper towel rolls in corners, old towels, etc. Whatever you do, stay out of the bathroom, unless using it for it's intended purpose.