Google ‘Tips On Recording Vocals’ or ‘Vocal Recording Tips’ and you will find dozens of websites who provide pretty useful information about this subject. However, I noticed that 90% of the tips on recording vocals are about getting the right microphone, studio equipment, studio environment etc.
I’m sharing 5 tips on recording vocals with you that are essential to get a high quality recording of your song, but rarely mentioned on the web. These tips are for both singers and rappers.
5 Tips On Recording Vocals
- Structure your recording session
- Dubs and harmonies
- Microphone distances
- Think what you sing
Tip 1: Rehearse
If you scheduled a recording session in a studio where you have to pay $50 per hour, you have to be prepared! Time is money, right? Go through the entire song a couple times and make sure you know the lyrics and vocal melodies almost by heart before you enter the booth. Rehearse the different harmonies again and again until you got them locked into your brain. When it comes to lyrics it’s no shame to be using a notebook or now-a-days an Ipad to back you up. The whole vocal recording process will just go a lot smoother and be more pleasant if you properly rehearse the song you’re recording.
Tip 2: Structure Your Recording Session
Make sure you create an action plan before you start the session. Go through this with the recording engineer who will be recording your vocals. When you’re recording a song that has a strong hook like Hip Hop or Pop songs, you might want to start with building up the entire hook first. If you’re recording vocals to an emotional ballad song, you might want to start at the top and go through the entire song from start to end. Another way of recording is to start with the basic elements of the song. First you lay down the basic vocal melodies. Then you enhance different parts of the song by adding the dubs and harmonies and finally you record the add-lips. Your plan for a pop song could be something like this:
Hook: Lead Vocal – Dubs – Harmonies
Verse 1: Lead Vocal – Dubs
Verse 2: Lead Vocal – Dubs – Harmonies
Bridge: Lead Vocal – Dubs – Harmonies
Make-Up: Add-Lips Verse 2 – Add-Lips Hooks – Add-Lips Bridge and Outro
Tip 3: Dubs And Harmonies Make a Hook
Dubs and harmonies can make a song sound rich and energetic. It can also deepen the emotional impact and/or enhance the dynamics of a song.
If you want to dub or layer a specific part of the verse, you should already have the lead vocal that lays down the verse. Then you add 2 layers (same lead vocal) to the part or sentence you want to enhance. Pan one hard left and the other hard right if you’re mixing it yourself. You will immediately notice the stereo enhancement and rich sound of that specific part.
Adding harmonies in a verse can be very effective, however doing it the wrong way can make your song sound messy. Make sure you do some research on creating different type of harmonies before you start using this. If you’re going to record vocal harmonies in a verse, try no vocal harmonies in verse 1 but introduce them in verse 2.
It is very common in various genres of music to record multiple layers of the lead vocal for the hook. In most pop songs they use a similar recording method: 4x lead vocals + 2x Harmony 1 + 2x Harmony 2. Your 2nd harmony could also be an octave down from the lead vocal.
A method for recording an acoustic song or ballad could be something like this: 1x Lead Vocal + 1x Harmony 1 + 1x Harmony 2 or an octave down from the lead vocal.
Experiment with different layers and try to find out what’s best for your song. Pan your different recordings left and right to stereolize it.
Tip 4: The Perfect Microphone Distance
Depending on what type of song you’re creating, there are different ways to record your vocals. You have probably seen a lot of videos on YouTube about different mic distances. There isn’t really a perfect way, but you can find out what your best personal microphone distance is.
Experiment with your vocal recordings and try to find out on what distance your voice sounds the most natural. For example: If you have a lot of bass and low frequencies in your voice, standing closer to the mic would give you the most natural sound. If you, for example, have a very nasal sound with a lot of high frequencies, you’re recordings would sound most natural if you stand back a little further from the mic.
Another tip for recording layers is to stand further away from the microphone while recording dubs or harmonies. Another trick often used in R&B and pop is to record the dubs with ‘air.’ Instead of singing normal, you sing with a lot of air. Almost like you’re whispering. This could also work great on falsetto voices.
Tip 5: Think What You Sing – Expression Is Everything!
Last on my list of tips on recording vocals is to think what you sing. Feeling comfortable in the environment you’re recording in is one thing, but using you’re imagination to get you ‘in the zone’ is probably one of the most important things. Imagine an audience standing in front of you. Use body language to deliver the message. Think and imagine every word you’re singing and you’ll persuade all your listeners.
Make sure you get in that zone and don’t let anyone interrupt you and get you out of it. Delivering the message is just as important as good singing.
I hope you found these 5 tips on recording vocals useful and I’m looking forward to hear your end-results. Feel free to leave a comment below!
5 Tips On Recording Vocals