(Useful for Home and Professional Recording Studios)
1. Try hard to make the levels right in the artist’s headphones so that they can give their best performance. The better their performance the easier your job is as an engineer. You want them to sound their best.
2. You should always use a pop screen when recording vocal tracks. It is essential to keeping pops and bops out of the vocal. Normally these issues cannot be fixed in post-production so it is a must to have a pop shield. Homemade or professional both will work.
3. Get a microphone that suites you and your artists. This may be several microphones. Sometimes buying 3 mid-level mics is better than 1 high end mic. You will likely be more able to get the right sound with different vocals and different artists.
4. Six to Nine inches or (15-24 centimeters) is a highly recommended start for recording vocals. From this point you can move the artist forward or backward a little depending on the sound you are going for. The room you record in will also decide the distance. Normally in flatter sounding (Foamed Rooms) you can get further away if you like. But if you are in a room with more reverb in it then I suggest staying a bit closer to avoid coloring the vocal too much with the room’s natural re-verb.
5. Try your best to minimize the studio’s room from influencing your vocal sound. Your microphone picks up the direct sound from the singer or rapper and also the reflected sound from the room you are in. So you must reduce the room’s contribution to the sound by keeping away from walls as much as possible and defusing reverb in the room. Even adding furniture like couches etc. to the room can help as well.
6. Always get the best performance out of the artist possible in the allotted time. Some artists are on a budget, so have your effects templates and song templates ready for recording so you can focus more time on the performance and after mixing. No effect is better than a great performance.
7. Try to use little or no compression on the signal coming into your recording software. It is good to use more compression on the vocal tracks once they have been recorded into your music software of choice. Now you can test heavy and light compression. I normally start around a 3:1 ratio on vocals, but there are no rules in audio so use your ears as your guide. Ask your as you turn the nob is it making it bigger and louder or flatter and less lively.
8. I don’t recommend using a gate the vocal while recording either. Apply your gating after the fact. This will give you the option to cut out what you want and not lose valuable frequencies. Gating is great for home studio users as you can take out background noise from your home. But do this after you record. It is a thin line between a little and too much sometimes.
9. When mixing vocals don’t get too caught up on how the vocal sounds in solo mode as it is more important how it fits into the mix. Some effects or tones may sound odd on their own, but great in the mix.
10. De-ESSSSING!! When you really need to de-ess the vocals you may want to use a split-band de-esser rather as it normally works much better than just a simpler compressor with an EQ in the side-chain. The more suitable split-band approach normally produces far fewer undesirable side effects to your audio. Try your best to avoid sibilance from the start by moving the microphone slightly or by using a different mic all together. This works better than trying to fix it after the fact. Normally you can get rid of unwanted sibilance by simply pointing the microphone slightly above or below the singer or rapper’s mouth.