Before you record your next vocal track, take a moment to consider a few basic best practices which will improve any vocal recording. Keep in mind that once you get the performance down, you can always add effects or dirty up your track later, but starting with a clean track is always the best.
Good mic technique is basically made up of two components. Number one, remember that the microphone’s diaphragm reacts with great sensitivity to all of the subtle variations in your vocal performance. Number two, learn how to adjust your body position and proximity to the mic depending on the dynamics of your vocal delivery.
For quiet, soft, intimate vocals, you can stay just a few inches from the mic from start to finish. If you plan to let loose and sing full volume, stand back a couple of feet from the mic. If your performance requires a mixture of both, move up and back off as needed, and learn to make subtle adjustments, even if it’s just for a short phrase.
Ideally, you should keep your mouth just a few inches from the mic as long as you’re not overloading the levels. If you do overload the levels, two things can happen to your track. One, you will get digital clipping- which sounds horrible. Two, it’s possible that your mic will shut down temporarily depending on how sensitive it is. Both scenarios effectively ruin your recording, but both are also easily avoided by just ‘wasting’ your vocals a little. by this i mean just pointing mouth to the side or above the mic so you’re not singing directly into it during loud bursts.
Getting rid of mouth pops and lip noise is crucial! Depending on the type of mic youre using, there may already be a pop-filter built in. Stage mics generally have the pop-filter built into the ball-shaped mesh grill that also serves to protect the sensitive parts. However, studio mics generally come with a foam sleeve that slips over the mic itself. Many engineers argue that the foam variety kills some of the high end frequencies and prefer the newer, nylon stocking O-ring pop filters. Positioning one of these between the singer and the mic will prevent blasts of breath from overloading the mic.
Mouth noise can really make for a lot of clean up work afterward if you dont deal with it during the recording session. There is a surprisingly easy solution: drinking lots of water throughout the recording session will keep mouth noise WAY down. A few extra trips to the bathroom and no mouth noise Voila!
If you follow these simple rules, you will start with a nice clean vocal track. From that point you are free to add reverb and whatever crazy effects you can dream up without enhancing the unwanted noise when you’re trying to get at the meat. These simple practices will save you hours on Mr. Fix-it time in the end.