Recording - May 2013 - 27

Let’s get physical—advice for the
vocalist
It can’t be overstated that singing and/or
rapping is a mental, spiritual and physical
endeavor. Just as an athlete needs to train,
practice and rest for a big game, so too
does a vocalist. Some folks seem to only
sing at the gig or in the studio, even though
their ‘instrument’ is always at hand!
My advice to them is always, “Sing!”
Sing in the shower, sing in the car, spit
rhymes while you’re walking or working
alone. You need to have an intimate knowledge of your voice and everything it can
do. Solo a cappella singing helps us to
define our pitch relationships and at the
same time, strengthens muscles and builds
confidence. Practice supporting your breathing from your diaphragm. Try holding out
notes at low volumes, focusing on keeping
the pitch steady. Try them with vibrato and
without. Try to explore horn-like sonorities
and other timbres to find your own unique
set of tones and textures. Most of all, sing
the songs you’re going to record. The vocalists who come in and get those magic takes
most quickly are rarely the most talented
ones; they’re simply the most prepared.
Pre-session concerns extend to diet and
other activities as well. Avoid greasy foods,
sugars and especially dairy products prior to
a session, as these all contribute to phlegm
and mucous issues, as does smoking.

Drinking alcohol may well make a vocalist
less inhibited, but that usually comes at the
price of fatigue and poor intonation. No
one’s asking you to become an angel
overnight, but when it’s time to sing in the studio, it’s time to set some vices aside.
Lots and lots of water should always be
on hand, and don’t be shy about suggesting a sip between takes. This not only
helps prevent fatigue, but keeps vocal
chords clean and lubricated. It also
improves one’s energy and mental acuity.
Some vocalists prefer to have hot tea or
coffee, but these can dehydrate as well.
Hot water alone can really do the trick in
some cases.
Can you hear me?
Once you’ve got everything in place,
including a music stand for lyric sheets and
the right amount of light, it’s time to don the
headphones. If your vocalist is in the same
room as you, you’ll both need to be wearing them in order to keep the backing
tracks from bleeding into your vocal takes.
Most mixers and recording interfaces have
one or two headphone outputs, which (in
addition to a headphone extension cable)
may be all you need. Those needing a few
more headphone outputs may need to turn
to a headphone distribution amplifier, like
the Aphex HeadPod, ART HeadAmp, or
the PreSonus HP60.

The vocalist should be able to hear himself/herself clearly in relation to the track.
Some even prefer to take off one earcup for
monitoring. If they do this, be sure to have
the singer close off the unused earcup
against their skull or neck, so that the
‘phones don’t bleed or cause feedback. You
can also pan all audio to the side in use, so
the other earcup gets no audio. Also be
aware of “crunchy” sounds coming from the
headphones themselves, as all that plastic
and faux-leather can be as noisy as your
grandma’s vinyl-covered couch!
Adding some (non-recorded) reverb on
the vocals can inspire confidence and make
your vocalist less self-conscious, but try to
use as little as possible; I personally find
people sing much more in-tune without it.
Vibe is king
Let’s roll! The best advice to give your
vocalists at the start of the session is... nothing. Let them settle in and get used to the situation. Even if they come in at the wrong
place, or start with the wrong lyrics... whatever. Just let it slide for right now.
Why? Because instructions bring the
thought process into what should ideally be a
‘feel’ process. As soon as someone begins to
actually think about what they’re doing, it can
come at the cost of some of the more creative
and intuitive aspects, like emotion and improvisation. This is why some of the first takes are


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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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