Recording & Audio - Mics, Vocals & Pre-amps

Recording Vocals pt1
Vocal Recording pt2
Measure Twice & Cut Once
Vocal Compressors
Processing & EQ
Virtual & Software Tools
Pro Mics & Pre-amps
Mastering 101
Music Biz Bundle

Recording & Audio - Measure Twice - Cut Once

I believe it's a good thing when an engineer or producer/engineer takes the approach to recording with the same mindset of a surgeon or a good carpenter when "cutting" a part. I'm sure many of you have heard the old saying, "measure twice, and cut once." This is what any good woodworker, construction crew, or surgeon lives by. And I believe that when tracking parts for a production or music project, it should be the same concept...especially for recording live instruments and vocals. Taking the time to make sure that levels and the overall sound quality is adequate, saves yourself a lot of potential grief and aggravation (and money) in the long run.

Everything cannot be fixed in the mix, and this is especially true when it comes to vocals. You can't undo the clipping of a microphone or mic pre-amp, or the distortion that's been recorded when you're sitting in the mixing studio, no matter how much fancy gear and technique is used. So, when you are preparing to record or track your vocals, it's very important to have everything set like you want, checked a few times, and then checked again; ensuring that the vocal performance will get recorded as high-quality as you possibly can capture it.

If you are the audio engineer recording everything, then it's your job to make sure that your input (and outputs) are not distorting, humming, or buzzing, especially if it's being recorded along with the performance or instrument. See, if any of these things are present, then the recording may possibly be useless when it's time to do a "real" mix. Too many times, new producers or new engineers just do not take enough time to make sure that the level is correct or not too hot. Something as simple as checking your levels a few times before you start recording can save you a whole lot of headaches and heartache. So whether you are going into a big professional studio, or you're doing it at home with a workstation, or home recording software, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that you're "on-point", so that you can keep that great vocal performance, and use it for the real mix. Also, if you get that big recording contract, you may not have to go back in to a studio and attempt to re-create the live instrument and vocal performances because of a bad original recording.

More on Recording Vocals

Try to make sure you take time and care into recording your vocals cleanly. You want to start off by using a decent quality microphone - one that is good for recording vocals. Now you don't have to go out and buy the most expensive microphone on the market, nor do you have to get the best mic-preamp to go along with it, unless, you have the budget for it. Of course, it would be great if you can invest in both a good microphone and a mic pre-amp, but if you can't get both - definitely get a decent vocal mic for vocals. There are many good, low-budget mics available for recording. One of my favorite manufacturers that make great quality, low-to-mid budget condenser vocal mics is Rode.

What is a Mic Pre-amp?

· Mic Preamp or Microphone Preamplifier: A Mic Preamp increases the signal strength of a microphone to a line level for signal processing. Mic preamps help to manage and vary the dynamics of the input signal from your microphone - before the signal is routed to your recording interface. Some mic preamps have unique sound qualities, and can play an important role in the overall sound characteristics and quality of the microphone being used in combination with it.

What is a Condenser Mic?

· Condenser Microphone: Condenser mics are microphones that are powered either from a battery or another external source like a 48-volt phantom power supply. Condensers have a stronger and more sensitive response than a dynamic mic - and are great for capturing sensitive audio. Condenser mics are often used in recording studios, and have a greater frequency response than dynamic mics like the Shure SM58 or SM58.

Also, when you get your mic, make sure you get a pop filter to go along with it. This will keep all those nasty "p" and popping sounds that sometimes happen, which can ruin the capture of a great vocal performance. This is especially needed in rap because of the sometimes-aggressive vocal performance style of the artists. Words like paper, player, pimpin', poppin', and peeps will come across pretty distorted without a pop filter or pop screen in front of the microphone. And if you can't get a professional pop filter, just run down to your local convenience store and buy a package of panty hose or stockings, and make your own with the help of a coat hanger and tape.

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