Basic Tech to Help Your Singing Practice

gold microphone
Technology reviewer Chris Kennedy points to devices singers are using in practice to develop their technique.

1. Digital Recorder

An inexpensive recording device can be a very useful tool when you practice to help you evaluate your singing. Listening back to recordings of your rehearsals or gigs gives you a different perspective to in which to hear for any areas of your singing that you need to work on. That said; don’t over evaluate every note – we all make the odd mistake – but look for areas where you repeatedly make the same errors and then try to find ways to improve them.

My recommendations for 2018-19:

* Zoom H1N ($99/£99) – This stereo digital recording device is great for making quick and easy recordings wherever you are. It is sturdy, very compact and is capable of good quality recordings. See website.

* Sony ICDPX370 ($39, £45 )– If you’re looking for an ultra low-cost recording device, this could be a good option for you. It is very portable, has great battery life, and has a USB connection to transfer your recordings to a computer. See website.

* Your mobile phone and an app (free) – Although the sound quality may not be as good if you don’t use an external microphone, for quick and easy recordings, your mobile phone may be enough.

2. Metronome

As well as pitch, timing is also a very important part of a great vocal performance. When you are practicing scales and exercises, try to do them in time to a metronome or click track, and at various tempos. Metronomes are also useful for practicing phrases at the correct speed and ensuring your can sing the words to a song on the right beats with fluidity and ease.

My recommendations for 2018-2019:

* Seiko SQ50-V ($24, £28) – This simple, low-cost metronome is probably all that most people will need for rehearsal. It has good selection of tempos and a clear, loud click so you can hear the beat. See website.

* Korg TMR 50 ($99, £50) – This digital metronome also features a basic recording mode that allows you to listen back to your rhythm practice and hear if there are any problem areas that you need to work on. See website.

* Steinway Metronome App (free) – This is a great basic metronome app made by Steinway – and best of all; it doesn’t cost anything. See on iTunes.

3. Vocal FX Unit with Pitch Correction

Young man singing in home studio
Copyright: Free-images, unsplash

Some singers find that practicing through a live vocal tuning device can help them increase their pitch accuracy. If you want to try this
don’t think of the auto pitch correction as a tool to correct out of tune notes. Instead, set it to a more extreme setting and think of it as a reference pitch that you should be targeting.

My recommendations for 2018-2019:

* Boss VE-5 ($250, £176) – This vocal multi-fx unit offers tonnes of effects including a pitch correction that can be adjusted to suit how much correction you want applied. This unit can also be used in performance. See website.

* TC-Helicon VoiceTone Correct XT ($249, £235) – The VoiceTone Correct not only corrects your pitch, but it gives a live display of if you are sharp or flat. You can also easily turn the pitch correction off with single switch. This unit can also be used in performance. See website.

4. Vocal Warm Up Routine MP3s

When doing vocal warmups, it is often useful to have a recording to playback of a routine that you can follow and regularly use. This is especially true if, like me, the only time you have to warm-up is in your car on the way to the gig! There are so many to chose from, so maybe try a few and find one that works for you. As well as buying MP3s or CDs (for those of you who still have CD player!) from specialist online websites, you can also find warm-up routines on music streaming services such as Spotify that won’t cost you a penny.

My recommendations for 2018-2019:

* Kim Chandler’s: Funky ‘n Fun (£30). See website.

* Jeannie Diva: Vocal Warm Up ($11.95) See website.

* Singing Lessons on the Go (Free: with Spotify account) See website.

5. Microphone & PA

If you perform live with a microphone; it is a good idea to practice your mic technique as much as possible. Having a small PA and microphone at home to practice with, will help you familiarise yourself with how your voice will sound when you’re on stage and how close or far you need to be to the microphone during certain passages of the song. Ideally you want to do this with the same microphone that you are going to use live so that you can feel comfortable and confident with how it works with your voice on stage.

My recommendations for 2018-2019:

* Korg KONNECT ($399, £365) – An extremely portable PA speaker that is impressively loud for its size. It has 4 inputs and Bluetooth, so you can play other things through it such as backing tracks; and it also has on-board reverb and a basic mixer to get all the levels where you want them. See website.

* TC-Helicon VoiceSolo FX150 ($279, £260) – The FX150 is primarily designed as a monitor, but is loud enough to be used as a PA for practising at home and has vocal effects such sad reverb built in. See website.

* Bose S1 ($599, £500) – This may not be the cheapest option, but it is a great sounding portable PA system that is perfect for practices and small gigs – and it can even be run on it’s own internal rechargeable batteries for use anywhere you want to take it! See website.

Finally, one of the most useful tools to help your singing practice is something that you probably already have in your pocket (or are possibly even reading this article on it right now) – your smartphone. There are so many great apps available that provide useful tools for singers that cost very little money. As well as many of the devices mentioned earlier such as a metronome or recorder, there are also apps that will help you with warm-up routines, ear training, improving pitch accuracy, and many more.

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