Recording at home has come a long way and with the global pandemic, there has been even more emphasis for vocalists and musicians to be able to record and collaborate remotely.
BandLab’s Chris Barker guests on our blog and offers up his five tips for vocalists looking to improve their recording and their workflow.
1. Buy a USB Mic!
Yes, you can improve your vocals by getting a better microphone. But, when it comes to recording with a microphone, it can be confusing and clunky to buy an audio interface for your computer and then using mic preamps, XLR cables. Yes, a quality mic, preamp, audio interface with premium AD/DA converters will be the finest option, but if you’re unsure about any of what that last sentence means, then hang tight!
There are so many good microphones available for every budget now and the ease of use of a USB microphone means you can plug and play. Plus, get yourself a USB-C to USB adaptor (or whatever type port is on your phone) and you can even use most USB microphones with your phone and record high-quality audio anywhere! Speed and simplicity is the mission here, and the more you record, the more you sing, the better you get!
2. Think About Your Recording Space
Now you’ve got your mic sorted, think about where you place it. Do you need a mic stand? A Pop Shield to stop those boomy, air-blowing-plosive’s on the B and P words? Are there any external vibrations or sounds being picked up by your mic even before you record? Listen closely in headphones to your mic when everything is “silent” before you sing. You might discover that things aren’t quite as quiet as they could be…
It’s amazing what the right acoustic environment can do for your recordings. Be careful of any unwanted natural reverb or echo too. Think about a soft, closed space that avoids flat, reflective surfaces. For example, you can easily create a make-shift vocal booth by opening both doors on a wardrobe and hanging some blankets or thick items of clothing on the inside of the open doors.
3. Use Effects and Processing
Once you get the acoustically flat recording of your vocals, you’ll be able to get much more out of the free effects and tools to process them and make them even more professional. Even out the dynamic range of your vocals using compression, add some space with reverb and sculpt the overall tone with EQ. There are even fantastic denoise and autotune tools too.
A simple initial process of cutting some of the very low frequencies below 100Hz with EQ, adding a little “air” with a high-frequency boost around 11kHz and a subtle room reverb to add space can make a huge difference. Experiment from these simple starting points and find the right processing and effects chain for your voice. Learn more about creative vocal effects on the BandLab blog
Turn your ideas into fully-fledged compositions by finding like-minded musicians and producers to work with. With over 30-Million registered users, there’s a global melting pot of people to help turn your vocals into killer tracks. BandLab lets you make forkable tracks for others to discover and work with. This means that users can publicly dive into your project and make a new “fork” and continue where you left off, totally non-destructively!
Or if you prefer to meet your collaborators and looking for something more real-time, you can use the creator connect feature to find collaborators and then work together live, in the browser – imagine Google docs but for musicians! Collaboration can be as simple as browsing the site for forkable instrumental projects, forking these and adding your own spin on a vocal, or it can be building your own profile on the site. Build a profile with acapellas and simple demo tracks that will allow users to discover your vocal skills. Search, send messages, get recording and get involved! Learn more about the ways to collaborate with forking.
3. Get Ideas Down Fast!
Every time melodic or lyrical inspiration strikes, you need a way to capture it! Nowadays, we’ve all got a powerful recording device in our pocket and using the BandLab app you can get these ideas recorded and stored in the cloud fast. Ready to share and collaborate wherever you are, all for free! Plus, with BandLab.com/sounds you can grab loops and samples to build simple backing tracks for melodic or lyrical ideas. If you’re stuck for lyrical inspiration, take a look at some of the methods used by famous songwriters over the years on this great BandLab blog post about creative methods to write better lyrics.
Chris Barker is Business Development Manager at BandLab Technologies. BandLab is an online music community and cloud-based recording software – think digital recording studio meets Google Docs style technology. All totally free, you can record anywhere, on any device, then instantly share and collaborate! Combine the features of this revolutionary free technology with a few simple tips below and you can dramatically improve your workflow and the quality of your vocal recordings.