Recording - May 2013 - 24

The human voice is easily the most recognizable of sounds, at least to other humans. Even
before we are born, we listen for, recognize and
respond to our own mother’s speech and inflections. In pop music, from Rock to Rap or Rhythm
& Blues, we still find ourselves instinctively searching for that fundamental element. While the
magic of music lies in its power to imply or inspire
a wide array of feelings and emotions, when it
comes to details and specifics, only words will do.
This places a great deal of importance on the
quality of the vocals, both performance-wise and
in a technical sense. No matter how great the
song, groove and arrangement are, it can all be
quickly undone by the entrance of a weak,
pitchy, or poorly recorded vocal performance.
In the recording process, the only surprises
we’re looking for are pleasant ones. A consistent
approach helps to minimize unforeseen distractions that can eat up precious time and energy.
There are many facets to this, including the
recording environment, the choice of microphone, preamps, headphones, effects and the
physical comfort and wellness of the singer himself/herself. While each voice is as unique as the
individual that possesses it, there are measures
you can take to minimize the negative aspects,
while maximizing your listeners’ enjoyment.

24

RECORDING May 2013

The space is the place
It all begins with where the singer will be performing. Most home studios don’t
have an acoustically treated isolation booth available, or even a room besides
the area we’ve set aside to record in. The first consideration, then, is determining what this available space sounds like and how it influences the sounds generated within it. (See Eric Ferguson’s “Recording Fundamentals” in this and several previous issues for detailed discussions of room acoustics.)
Reflections coming off walls and windows can affect things in drastic ways,
multiplying some frequencies or canceling out others due to the sound bouncing
off hard surfaces and arriving at the microphone slightly later. This is why iso
booths are so ‘dead’ sounding: they’re essentially taking the influence of the
room out of the equation.
There are a number of ways home recordists can address this phenomenon.
Moving the mic as far away from the walls as possible is a good idea. Treating
those walls with sound-absorbing materials like blankets, carpet, foam and even
eggshell cartons are equally time-honored solutions (although these tend to deaden highs and leave lows unaffected,and the non-foam solutions are fire hazards).
Closets work great—provided there’s enough space to keep things from becoming
too claustrophobic!—due to the sonic damping qualities of the clothing. If you’re
looking for something that’s more ‘pro’ in looks, performance, and safety, check
out solutions from Auralex, Primacoustic, Foam By Mail, and other vendors.
A more portable (and slightly easier to install) fix is a reflection filter, which surrounds just the microphone with acoustically absorbent materials; it’s essentially
a tiny vocal booth that you can pick up with one hand and attach to a mic stand.
Besides the smaller footprint, the added benefit is a reduced amount of ambient
noise (computers, air conditioners, etc.) coming in as well. sE Electronics made
and still sells the first Reflexion Filter which gave this type of product its name;
many competing models are made by companies ranging from Primacoustic and
Auralex to CAD (the Acousti-shield 32 is reviewed in this issue).
Mic check... 1, 2, 1, 2
Once you’ve got the actual vocal recording area established, it’s time to set
up a microphone. There are several types to choose from and no one mic will
be exactly right for every given situation. That said, large-diaphragm condenser
types are generally the most suited to vocals, due to their extended frequency
response and ability to capture subtle nuances. This can make them very versatile too, which is a consideration if you’ll need to be using it to record other
instruments as well, i.e. acoustic guitar and small percussion instruments like
shaker eggs and tambourines. They do however, require phantom power from
a preamp or mixer to function. Tube condenser mics don’t, because they use
their own power supply to power the tubes, which can impart a bit more warmth
to recorded sources in the process.
Some condenser models also offer selectable polar patterns like omni and figure-8, which actually bring the room back in to the sound. Omni mics also minimize the proximity effect, the increased bass response that comes from getting closer to the mic in the standard cardioid pattern. There are many great condenser mic
manufacturers to choose from, with AKG, Audio-Technica, Avantone, Blue,



Recording - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2013

Recording - May 2013
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Readers' Tapes
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Intro
Recording - May 2013 - Recording - May 2013
Recording - May 2013 - Cover2
Recording - May 2013 - 1
Recording - May 2013 - 2
Recording - May 2013 - 3
Recording - May 2013 - Fade In
Recording - May 2013 - 5
Recording - May 2013 - Contents
Recording - May 2013 - 7
Recording - May 2013 - Talkback
Recording - May 2013 - 9
Recording - May 2013 - Fast Forward
Recording - May 2013 - 11
Recording - May 2013 - 12
Recording - May 2013 - 13
Recording - May 2013 - Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Recording - May 2013 - 15
Recording - May 2013 - 16
Recording - May 2013 - 17
Recording - May 2013 - Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
Recording - May 2013 - 19
Recording - May 2013 - PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
Recording - May 2013 - 21
Recording - May 2013 - 22
Recording - May 2013 - 23
Recording - May 2013 - How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Recording - May 2013 - 25
Recording - May 2013 - 26
Recording - May 2013 - 27
Recording - May 2013 - 28
Recording - May 2013 - 29
Recording - May 2013 - 30
Recording - May 2013 - 31
Recording - May 2013 - 32
Recording - May 2013 - 33
Recording - May 2013 - Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 35
Recording - May 2013 - 36
Recording - May 2013 - 37
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Recording - May 2013 - 39
Recording - May 2013 - Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
Recording - May 2013 - 41
Recording - May 2013 - DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Recording - May 2013 - 43
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Recording - May 2013 - 45
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Recording - May 2013 - 47
Recording - May 2013 - 48
Recording - May 2013 - 49
Recording - May 2013 - Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 51
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Recording - May 2013 - 53
Recording - May 2013 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - May 2013 - 55
Recording - May 2013 - 56
Recording - May 2013 - 57
Recording - May 2013 - 58
Recording - May 2013 - 59
Recording - May 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
Recording - May 2013 - 61
Recording - May 2013 - 62
Recording - May 2013 - 63
Recording - May 2013 - CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Recording - May 2013 - Advertiser Index
Recording - May 2013 - 66
Recording - May 2013 - 67
Recording - May 2013 - 68
Recording - May 2013 - 69
Recording - May 2013 - 70
Recording - May 2013 - 71
Recording - May 2013 - Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Cover3
Recording - May 2013 - Cover4
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