Recording a voice for a song may seem simple, and in a way it is because everybody nowadays can get access to new technologies that not only costs few money but are really simple to use. But how can we do to record a voice on a song in a professional way if we don´t have much experience?
Well, the first thing we have to take into account is that in order to make the correct recording of our voice is the equipment, and when I speak of this I mean not only the microphone but the whole set of elements necessary to make a recording.
These elements would be:
Let´s talk about each one of them so we can go deeper into what we have to do.
COMPUTER: as with all technology the more quality you want the more expensive it´ll be, but as I want to orientate you to record your voice, I won´t focus on the best equipment but on the one you need to be able to make a recording worthy of your home made studio.
Basically you´ll need a Mac or a PC computer with 8gb of RAM and a disc of 250gb or more. My advice is that you use Apple technology. There are very good second-hand MacBook Pros at a very good price. Although, If you can buy something better I recommend you to do it, and if you can get a computer with more RAM gigas, the better.
AUDIO INTERFACE: I have many to recommend you but as we´re going to record a voice we´ll focus on the minimum and necessary. When it comes to audio interface, they come with many channels, with few channels, and with different qualities. My advice is that you look for an audio interface with two audio channels and it´s fundamental that it comes with panthom power. The phantom power is a 42vlts electrical current that the microphone will need to function. Nowadays almost every audio interface have phantom power, but you have to be sure that the one you´ll buy has it, so pay attention! I recommend you Audientm plates, the ID4 is excellent to start and for little studios.
MICROPHONE: It´s fundamental to count with a good microphone, because whatever goes through it will reflect what we´re trying to achieve: record your voice correctly! The microphone, I think, is the most important thing but that doesn´t mean spending a fortune, it just means choosing well.
First of all, you have to accept the fact that you´ll be using a microphone that I don´t think you´ve used before. There´s an enormous difference between the typical Shure SM58 that is dynamic microphone and the microphone we´ll be using that is a CONDENSER. The difference between a condenser and a dynamic parts mainly in the diaphragm. Look at the pictures I´ll show you below and observe the difference between both diaphragms. The diaphragm is what will capture your voice and because of that thanks to the pictures you´ll understand why a condenser is better to recording than a dynamic which is often used live. To recommend you a good price microphone, I invite you to look at the AKG C214 and C414, or the Rode NT1A or NT2A. There are many microphones on the market, but a good guide is that the more expensive, the better. If you can buy a NEUMANN U67, do it!
NEAR FIELD MONITORS: These will be more than anything so that you can listen to your work. They are not essential to work, but if you want to have a goof reference of what you´re doing I recommend you to get near field monitors. Yamaha has excellent monitors in their line NS.
ACOUSTIC PANELS: They serve for something not everybody takes into account. As you´re probably recording at home is very likely that you don´t have the place acoustically prepared to record so, when you´re recording with the microphone, all the rebounds in the room will produce effects on the recording that we want to avoid, so we´ll try with acoustic panels to avoid phase problems. I won´t explain here what is an out oh phase recording, but if you want you can search for it in other tutorial.
To avoid this non-desired effect and the unnecessary sound rebounds, I recommend you to get at least two sound absorbing acoustic panels. You can place them as I show you in the picture below and this way you´ll reduce the rebound impact in the room. You can also get an acoustic panel for microphones specially designed for this purpose, but if you don´t have budget for this, a good solution is to place on the floor under you a good blanket or thick fabric to absorb the rebounds.
SOFTWARE: You´ll need a recording program called DAW, which is the acronym for Digital Audio Workstation. There are ones you need to pay for and free ones, but I won´t recommend you any. You just need to have in mind that you need a program that is able to record in several tracks. I recommend you the Logic Pro, the Nuendo, the Cubase, and the Reason.
Ok, the recording of a voice is a very intimate and silent moment. You need to be sure there are no external noises from cars outside, from people at home, etc. Also be careful with your shoes and any other thing you´re wearing that might make noise.
Prepare the backing track on the channel one of your DAW and select a second channel to record your voice. Once you´ve checked that the signal enters correctly, stand 20 ctms from the microphone and get ready to sing.
Be careful with the entrance signal and be sure that the entrance decibels aren´t too weak nor too strong because if they are too weak you´ll be recording a very poor signal in harmonics, and if they are too loud you´ll break the signal and you won´t be able to use it. Don´t record over Odb, and don´t record below 10db.
I imagine that by now you´ve already started recording! Cheer up! You can do it. But don´t make a single take, make many takes for the same song (7 at least) so you can start choosing the best parts. This way, you can select the best part of every take and improve the recording more and more. The important thing is not about you being able to sing straight through the whole song in one take only, if you can do it it´s great, but usually a high quality work requires dedication, and probably several days of recording.
Once you´ve recorded your voice you must move on to the second stage: the mixing one. What effects should you use for your voice? Which one are the best plugins? Well, I´ll be doing another whole tutorial on that topic, so stay tuned!
The recording process it´s an art and just like our backing tracks are recorded professionally so that you can enjoy the best quality, you should also dedicate time to your recordings. The more time you put into them, the more results you´re going to see and soon you´ll realize that you can also record your own album and produce your own music. I hope this tutorial has helped you, and if you have any questions write me! Stay tune for more tutorials like this.