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Recording Vocals – The 15 Best Tips For Rappers & Singers

Recording Vocals - The 15 Best Tips For Rappers & Singers

Want to record vocals and avoid the common mistakes? Then this guide is for you!

1. Print The Text

Knowing the lyrics has several advantages. You directly understand the song better and can therefore put yourself in the song and give suggestions.

Another advantage is that you can quickly identify incorrectly sung passages. By visualizing the text, you can also react better to problem situations in songwriting. Often a syllable is missing or there is one too many. On the basis of the printed text, you can respond to this more quickly.

2. Find Out The Right Tempo Before Recording

You’d think that would go without saying. Unfortunately, I can say from experience that people like to record at the standard DAW tempo. Unfortunately, this makes arrangement changes very difficult. Just copying the chorus is delayed indefinitely. So always adjust the tempo. This saves time and nerves.

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3. Do Not Abandon a Pop Filter

Of course, there are microphones with built-in pop protection. However, this is installed directly in front of the capsule and thus cannot completely stop the explosive sounds.

I would always recommend an external pop screen about a hand’s width away from the microphone. Nothing is worse than detecting unnecessary pop sounds after or during recording.

4. Pay Attention to The Distance of The Singer From The Microphone When Recording Vocals

Leveling is one thing. But as a rule, vocals are very dynamic. Therefore, you should urgently make sure that you take care of the distance to the microphone accordingly.

During a transition from whispering to screaming, the singer should definitely move. During quiet sections, you can quietly get very close to the microphone. During loud passages, the singer should move away accordingly.

When recording vocals, it is recommended to stand about two handbreadths away from the microphone. This leaves enough space for the singer to move forward or backward.

5. Take Off Jewelry

Yes, maybe that goes more to the singers. But even the most beautiful necklace or earrings can ruin a recording. Behind the microphone only the singing counts and not the appearance! So off with it 🙂

6. Level The Singer Correctly

In general: not too quiet and not too loud. The reason is simple. Vocals recorded too softly are too close to the noise floor of the mic. This means that when you amplify the signal afterwards, you may introduce noise into the mix.

However, recording too loud is just as bad. This can result in terrible sounding distortions.

In general, it is recommended to level the voice at the loudest part to about -6dB. This is far enough away from the noise floor and you still have a so-called headroom of 6 dB in case it gets louder.

7. Record Already The Trial Run

This is actually something of an insider tip. Especially during rehearsals, such as leveling, it makes sense to press the red button. Most singers are still very free and relaxed. Sometimes these are the best and most emotional takes.

8. Play Back The Recorded Song Directly Edited

This allows the vocals to blend directly into the mix. The singer usually feels more comfortable and satisfied with his own performance. Of course, you should not overdo the processing. Otherwise, bad takes might sound too good, even though there’s more potential lurking there, or you might overhear mistakes.

For processing, I recommend creating a subgroup before recording and routing all vocal tracks into it. I usually put a compressor on this track, which only works lightly. In addition, the voice gets a little reverb via aux tracks.

9. Do not Process The Input Signal Too Much

This can have disastrous consequences, especially for beginners, as more is often set than necessary. It is better to use one effect more or stronger afterwards than to overdo it during the recording.

Of course, compression sounds good during recording. However, if the settings are incorrect, the material can be irreparably destroyed. Plug-ins can be reset, or outboard equipment can be inserted after the fact. But a broken recording must be re-recorded.

If you do decide to do this, I would recommend a maximum gain reduction of 3 dB. With this the signal is slightly thickened but still very natural.

10. The Headphone Mix Must Be Right

The singer’s performance is essential, of course. Therefore, he should feel extremely comfortable during the recording. Especially the recording with closed headphones is unfamiliar and alienating for many.

This makes it all the more important to get the headphone mix right. A little reverb makes most artists feel more comfortable.

Another important point is the volume and the ratio of instrumental to vocal. A headphone mix that is too loud usually results in poor performance. I think everyone knows this from themselves when they have the music on full blast in the car and “bawl along”. Loud music on the headphones can have a similar effect. The musician no longer even notices his own singing during the recording.

11. Adjust The Instrumental If Necessary

Especially in intros or song sections where no rhythm elements are heard, there is a lack of clues for the singer as to when to kick in.

That’s where it helps either to record somewhere else in the song or to insert an appropriate rhythm instrument there. Of course, a metronome can also do it, but I hardly know any musician who likes the click.

12. Record at Least Two Tracks of The Main Voice

From my own experience I can say that it is usually worth recording several main tracks and keeping them. Normally, even in the best vocal track, something is noticeable that would be better not in the recording. This can be smacking, knocking on the microphone stand or other things. Most of the time these things are so subtle that you don’t notice them during the recording session.

13. Do Not Make The Singer Wait Between Takes

When the musician is in the flow, you shouldn’t get him out of sync by taking long breaks between takes and getting busy with editing or other things. In the worst case, this leads to a bad mood for the artist.

14. Give The Singer a Break

If you notice that it just doesn’t work anymore, the hundredth take doesn’t sound better than the fiftieth, then it’s usually time for a little break. Mostly 5 minutes are enough to relax.

15. Try Different Microphones (If Available)

Anyone who has the opportunity to use or test multiple microphones should do so urgently. Even if you are completely convinced that one microphone is the best choice for the rest of the world’s population, it may well be that it does not suit the one voice. Trying it out is usually always worth it!

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