How to record vocals well????

So how do you fellas record vocals ?
and i dont mean spend
£1000s on equipment…i mean youve got a mic & a mixer & some free plugins…expensive preamps & mics is totaly out of our reach
we can never do alli justice when we record her our latest attempt wasnt really good enuff the funny thing is we used to be happy with the sound we got
we havnt changed anything & cant understand what is wrong now
any tips?

Hi bright lights tonight:

Tell the guys what mics you have available, to use…
Let them choose for you what mic and let them tell you how they’d set it up to get the best response from the setup you have… Not everybody has a Mic preamp like TomS or Large Diaphragm phantom mic like Bubbagump, has…
However, I’m sure that they might suggest a way to get the best vocal tracks from the setup-and-plugins you have available, to use… spreadercraig and TonyR’s vocal tracks are not too shabby…
Maybe, that can tell you how they track their vocal tracks…

Poppawillis has a great vocal mic…
Maybe, he’ll lend it to you…


Yes, tell us about how you record them now. Lots of things matter, including things like the room in which you are recording the vocals how close you are to the mic, all sorts of stuff that I almost never pay sufficient attention to.

Quote: (TomS @ Jan. 11 2011, 12:25 PM)

Yes, tell us about how you record them now.
Lots of things matter, including things like the room in which you are recording the vocals how close you are to the mic, all sorts of stuff that I almost never pay sufficient attention to.

:D Join the club!

Mic and distance from the mic can have a huge effect. I have a very nice, not very cheap, Rode mic that just doesn't suit my voice. My best recordings are done on a much cheaper ATT.

we record in a box room 8x8 feet often full of washing & my husbands gym (born to snooze was done in a much bigger room)
we have a realy old shure unadyne 545d mic & this broken foster mic we thouht wed repaired but im not so sure now & im not even sure the shure is wired properly
so ive sent off for a xlr lead for 2 less old shure mics we never had a lead for
what else can i say alli stands as close to the mic as she can & it goes straight into our little mixer with all the eq knobs on 0
it just sounds dull when played back & double tracking her gives this funny effect
bubba said it was becos she was singing evrything identical but i realy dont think its that

The 545d is really almost a 57 - you should be able to get great vocal tracks out of it.

About the room - have you ever noticed what the room sounds like? When you clap your hands, do you hear a quick slap back? Are the walls reflective? All of that stuff in a room that size will make the vocals sound like they are in a box. Also, different spots in the room will sound different - there will be some spots where the low end is increased, others where it is decreased. Seems to me the best thing you could do is stick a whole bunch of couch pillows to deaden things and find a good distance from the mic for your singer, and get as even and clean a track as you can to start with.

After that, there is no reason why the n-Track compressor and EQ and such can’t get you what you want.

Anyway, it’s not like I’m very good at this, it takes a lot of time and attention and tweaking and knowledge, but I am to impatient for that, so I just sort of hope. I have noticed that what I thought sounded good last year doesn’t so much this year, and every year it is like that.

“and every year it is like that” Never a truer word…

But! Tina!!! You think something physical or technical has happened, changed, somewhere along the way - or, are you saying that your expectations of your skills have increased?

Quote: (bright lights tonight @ Jan. 11 2011, 2:35 PM)

it just
sounds dull when played back & double tracking her gives this funny
bubba said it was becos she was singing evrything identical but i realy dont think its that

Double-tracking often causes comb filtering. Often, the more you try to sound JUST like the original, the WORSE it is...

Read THIS...


PS This is not opinion or just me being dopey... It's fact with a butt-ton of physics behind it. Oh... if the first take was "dull", double-tracking it will likely worsen the end result, not help improve it. Read the doc... it explains it better than I can. :)

Yeah, Tina, UJ is right, Bubba was right, that’s what it was, it was pretty clear. Did you ever get the vocal doubler I suggested? I bought the most recent issue of Computer Music magazine to get it. It’s quite good.

Ah… danggit!! I’ll get in trouble but here goes…

Forget the semi-useless FuzzOft Compressor. Parallel compression is one technique that might pull your vocal out without making it STAND OUT like a sore thumb. Parallel compression is as simple as inserting ReaComp on your vocal track, tweaking the threshold, ratio etc… AND tweaking the “DRY” output to mix the unaffected signal back in as well. One track, one comp plugin. Piece of cake. BTW… the “Aggressive” or “Modern” vocal preset might give you a good starting point. :agree:

The multi-channel paradigm of Reaper makes for all manner of routing and FX’ ing possibilities. Some techniques that are absolutely painless in Reaper are difficult or impossible in other DAW’s… Worth wrapping your mind around for sure.


Hmmm, this really is a 1 million dollar question (spoken in a Dr Evil voice).

Lots of good stuff above.

Here’s my thoughts…

The crass answer is: get a good singer, in a good room, with a good mic and a good preamp. Record with a good engineer and mix with a good mixer…


When I started out recording I had a Shure SM58 “industry standard stage mic”. Shoudl be good, eh? When I plugged it into my less than average mixer into my less than average soundcard it sound dull and lifeless. Rubbish in fact.

I could get by with adding “air” with EQ and clearing out some of the mud. Add a bit of compression etc and it started to sound reasonable.

The next time I went into a proper studio I was taking more notice in the equipment and techniques. We recorded some guide vocals with an SM58 and they sound great compared to mine… So I concluded that what you plug the mic into (eg preamp, mixer, etc) made a difference. No EQing necessary. Hmmm.

Eventually I bought one of those cheap MXL large diaphram mics (990 I think), and got myself a Soundcraft mixer and things started to get better.

I now have several mics (LDCs, SDCs, dynamics, etc) and several options of what to plug into so things are much better. Not top $$$ but certainly not junk. My own (pretty average) vocals are starting to sound OK, but a decent singer sounds much better. Even the '58 is usuable.

So my “buy more gear” answer is not really helpful though. You’ve got to work with what you’ve got. Try some EQ on the voice (add “air”), and maybe some of one of those hi-freq “stimulator” type plugins ( Use sparingly though.

Or try the Antress Seventh Heaven “character” compressor. That’s really nice. I “sprinkle”, Tom “smashes” although recently I have been joining him with that.

Anyway, I hope it works out for you.



Quote: (bright lights tonight @ Jan. 11 2011, 4:35 PM)

we have a realy old shure unadyne 545d mic

OLD MIC ????
That's unfair..
That's a Beautiful Mic..

I have that model but with a stand and on-off switch..
I used it from back in the mid '70's, as my Vocal Stage Mic..
It's called a PE 54 Series II..

I bought it USED 1974-75 for 70.00, I think..
It was used by Louis Armstrong, when he toured over here, to blow his trumpet, through.. The only thing I don't have for it is, the Box and the RED Felt Mic Bag that comes with the mic when you get them new in-the-box.. The mic cable is the original..
The mic and cable is NOS...
Like New condition..

If I were using it to track vocals, I would get a Foam POP Filter to slip over the diaphragm/grill and get close to it..

Hold you hand in front of your lips..
Index finger touching your nose and your little finger touching the POP Filter, of the mic..
Tilt your head back when singing P's and S's, that's if you have No POP Filter..

Apart from that..
The mic is fine for vocals..
Just my opinion..


Coming out of the studio world into the home studio arena (or toilet bowl) what was the sweetest part of recording = hearing an open mic in whichever room I was in, became the worst of home digital recording. The better the mic the more room flaws will be heard. That’s why most home recordings utilize direct ins and midi and “in the box” effects; the rooms almost always suck. Sadly there’s no quick, cheap or easy fix. Over the last year I’ve spent about 800.00 dollars on acoustic treatment for my room. Mostly in fiberboard insulation. The resulting change in clarity and presence of any open mic was instantly obvious. Now all the money spent on room treatment has created another potential problem although. Now my mid-priced mic flaws are more obvious to me. Balance is they key here. Work-arounds are always there. Knowing the environment you are recording in would help me help you more than anything.

Yerp. GIGO rule applies.

Fixing one source of “garbage” often reveals another source that needs attention. It keeps going in circles until your money, your kids, money, your GRAND kids money etc… is GONE.

How to become a millionaire in the stoodio bidness? Start with two million. (or more!)


This helped a lot too.I designed and built a portable vocal baffle that I mounted on an old mic stand to cut down on forward reflections. 3-4 inches of insulation (fiberboard again).

…I let someone else do vocals. The few times I have tried has been vary embarrassing to my friends and family later.

Quote: (phoo @ Jan. 12 2011, 10:41 AM)

...I let someone else do vocals. The few times I have tried has been vary embarrassing to my friends and family later.

Same here phoo... some are blessed with a good singing voice. Others, like me are blessed with extremely good looks. :laugh:

Quote: (Unblown_Jonson @ Jan. 12 2011, 12:31 PM)

...some are blessed with a good singing voice

... and some of us are not but we do it anyway because nobody else will sing the damn thing.

Do I record my 'singing' well? Nah. I put up the NTK with a pop filter, move up real close since the room sounds like sh!t, test-yell to set levels, then yell some more & call it done.

thankyou evryone whos given advice
First off id have to say tony we definitely cannot get the same vocal sound we had upto 2009 yet nothing has changed with what were using only that w e had a year doing no music while we made our 3 band videos
when we started again we sudennly had problems & i dont remember hearing that funny comb filter efect before

weve always double tracked alli our singer simply becos she doesnt always get the notes perfect & if you put 2 takes together the mistakes seem to disapear

Thanks bill for the mic technicue & UJ for the comb filter xplanation we understand now what is happening
i spose we could make poppas baffle quite easy & we will def put toms load of pillows in the room
maybe we should also look on ebay for a better mixer as mark suggested

the environment poppa is a tatty box room 8x8x8 full of junk & washing often wet

i cant get the reaper comp plugin to actualy work in reaper UJ so i will try it in ntrack… i hope that wont cause you to hit the bottle UJ :laugh: