Improve your Home Recording

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

1.Soften the Hard Surfaces.  A recording studio is purpose built to record sound, whereas our homes aren’t. Hard surfaces reflect sound so the microphone might pick up, not only your vocal sound, but the reflections of this sound; “the room”. If you have a great acoustic in your room, you’re lucky and you can use this, but if not, we want to “deaden” the sound of the room, particularly in the space around where we record vocals.  An easy way to do this is e.g. to hang a blanket on the wall behind you, close the curtains, put a cloth on the desk – fabric absorbs sound

Where you stand in the room is also important. If you stand in the middle, there are likely to be many more reflective frequencies combining. Ideally stand with your back to a soft surface (closed curtains) and not too close to a facing wall, unless you’ve got your blanket up! Also use a microphone reflector shield (also called a reflection filter or screen),

Use The Best Mic You Can Afford & Experiment.  Most of the tips in this article are no or low cost.  For home recording you could use a condenser mic, which costs around £200 (You can buy very usable mics cheaper than this but it does work great for demos and for creating vocal and choral arrangements.

2. Choose the best mic you can for your budget and, whenever you can, try out other equipment and experiment. You’ll learn a lot.  Bear in mind that if you have a brilliant mic in a very imperfect space, you’ll still struggle to get professional results. Good home recording is a combination of factors.

3. Eliminate Background Noise.  We become accustomed to the sounds in our home because they are so familiar. However your microphone will hear them. Have a really critical listen to your room or turn the mic on and record. What can you hear?  Whether it’s water running through a radiator, air conditioning or the washing machine in the kitchen, get rid of any extraneous noise by turning it off.

4. Take Time to get Levels Right.  Take a bit of time before you record and you’ll benefit once you’re in the zone.

A. Recording vocals.  Record too loudly and you’ll get a distorted vocal or a clipped sound, but record too quietly you’ll hear the imperfections of the room and surrounding sound from cables, equipment etc. Take time before recording to sing the loudest and quietest parts of the song and set the recording levels accordingly.

B. Headphone monitoring.  Before recording make sure that your headphones are set at a level where you can hear yourself well in balance with the music. If your headphone levels are too loud you may not sing loudly enough to get an optimum recording level. If they’re too quiet you may lose your pitch and rhythm references and waste a potentially great take. Again, listen to the loudest and quietest parts of music and vocal before you hit record.  Add reverb to the headphone mix as you like, but not to the vocal recording until afterwards.

5. Invest In or Make a Pop Shield.  A pop shield is a brilliantly simple, but effective piece of kit. Whatever microphone you have, avoiding annoying pop sounds and unnecessary breath noises on your vocal track is essential. You can’t remove them later easily and often not at all.  Pop shields provide a filter between your voice and the microphone you can purchase a shield or make one from a wire coat hanger and a nylon stocking or pair of tights.

So have happy home recording with My Singing Lessons

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