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Recording Vocal Performances In Your Home Studio

Recording Vocal Performances In Your Home Studio

If you haven’t completed stage one – checkout Vocal Recording Pre-production first.

Stage 2: Recording Vocals: Tracking & Vocal Performance

Now that we are prepared and setup to lay some track down…

Producing polished and professional mixes – requires vocal recordings that sparkle and standout. Recording Vocal Performances that shine can make or break the success of a song.

In this article you will learn how to use the basic tools of the home recording studio to achieve better vocal recordings.


The first thing you need to know about recording vocals is that there are really only two factors which matter… All said and done.

1. This is the performance of a very unique instrument. Recording the human voice is unlike any other instrument. Far more consideration and time spent on tracking should be spent making sure the voice is ready and the preproduction has been done. For more {Preproduction for recording vocals in the home recording studio}

2. the recording of the vocals should not get in the way, or venture far from simply capturing the vibe and expression of a great vocal performance.

Remember it is the thinking skills, experience and simplified processes-executed as professionals which separate the average hobbyist from the seasoned industry vet with credits, contacts, and confidence in craftsmanship. Determine characteristics of the vocal, the texture, the end result you want to hear/hear in your head, what microphone would best suit the voice, and why?

DO NOT COMPROMISE. Only settle for the best vocal performance you can get. Don’t be unrealistic though. You probably won’t get it all perfect in one take top to bottom. Punch in and overdub passages as need be. But overall, focus on the quality and not the quantity. I’ve learned to focus the importance on a few-to-several great takes not 45 decent variations.

The whole name of the game is to get a good clean sound at the source without unwanted distortion or clipping.

Using the right microphone.

polarity, pickup pattern, type all should be taken into consideration. {link to my article on microphones}

Gain-Staging is critical

Again i emphasize the importance of this.
If you have the perfect performance but your levels were all too hot you’ve just made a big mistake. Don’t let that happen. Play around with and adjust levels before-hand, gauge the technique and proximity habits of the singer. Set the pop filter accordingly.

Loop Recording Vocals

For overdub passages loop recording allows us to record between set points in the timeline on a loop.
This is helpful and especially useful in overdubs. The thing to remember is that you’ll want to keep in mind that the looped passage should fit into the song smoothly and effectively. Its better to take this into account and have an idea of what you’re going after, rather than getting stuck trying to make something work. The flow and emotional expression of the performances should never be sacrificed for a interesting line that doesn’t sound natural to the song and a normal singing pattern which can be sung by a human voice.

Should sound good before effects

If your daw recording software offers the feature, use monitor mixing to record dry tracks and still hear the effects in the headphones. Theres no need to go overboard if you are applying effects directly into the recording, and understand that once you print, these effects are “destructive” which means that they cannot be undone.

Using Effects on Vocals

This is pretty cool. Plugins are outstanding in there versatility and effectiveness these days.
One cool effect is to use a tube emulation plugin to get more of that often treasured valve-mic sound.

Using Eq on Vocals

While its better to not add or make any equalization edits until the mixing vocals stage, if your tracks are picking up or tracking too much unwanted low end, one thing that will eliminate unwanted low end rumble and excessive bass frequencies is a low cut filter. Rolling off at about 80hz is a good starting point for vocal recordings. Most low pass/hi cut filters available as a hardware feature are at around 100hz.

Using Compression on Vocals

Personally, I don’t typically use much compression when recording vocals, but many do. It can add an interesting style of performance, and that effect of expanding and then swallowing the vocals. Try to picture a mouth that has a dual function of a magnifying glass, as the softer words move towards it, it makes the softer phrases sound larger and then eats them up.

Leave the soft knee on. Increased knee ratio will just make the compression ratio’s smoother. Meaning there will theoretically be less abrupt action on the compression settings. You may not even notice much difference.

Bounce down to your composite track

After several full-run performances and the necessary overdub takes, the next step is to select & compile the winning takes into one consolidated track. This is called the composite track, or “comp track.”

This stage is where the rubber meets the road. Next lets get into the fun part, now that the hard work is done. From here we’ll move on to {Mixing Vocals in the home recording studio}


Don’t turn up the headphones too loud… one there will be bleed in the recording, but you want to be able to feel yourself singing so you don’t push your voice and strain it.