The Mic used on this recording is a TLM49.
The mic used on this recording is also a TLM49.
How to Record Better Vocals: The Beginner’s Guide
For my vocal recording project, I recorded Brianna Maclean’s original Face to Face. This song is performed with female vocals and electric guitar.
The first take was with the Shure KSM 313 Ribbon mic. I reached for this first because I wanted to have a smooth and buff vocal tone. Ribbon mic’s have a natural high end roll off, so I thought this would work well for her voice.
This mic was a little too dull, and lacked articulation.
The next mic I tried was the Neumann M147 Tube mic with the pop filter. This mic reacted to her voice a lot better, because she doesn’t sing with very harsh syllables.
The next problem I ran into was bleed from her electric guitar strumming. I was running it directly into the interface, so there was no amp to worry about, but the strings can be heard in the recording.
To solve this, we did a take without her playing while singing, and this eliminated the nuances.
All of the tracks have light EQ and compression to help capture the performance.
To learn how to record vocals, I refrenced three different sources including: The Recording Engineers Handbook by Bobby Owsinski, Practical Recording Techniqes by Bruce Bartlett & Jenny Bartlett, and the Sound on Sound article, Vocal Recording and Production Masterclass.
All of my refrences mentioned that perfomance is the number one key to getting a good vocal recording. The vocalist should have to mic “awareness/technique”. Another aspect to getting a good vocal recording is mic choice and mic placement. Some say mic placement trumps, in terms of importance the quality of the mic. In general, Large Diaphram Condenser FET and Tube mics are regarded as the best vocal mics because of their flat responces.
For my Duet recording, we recorded our vocalist using the Neumann M147 Tube mic. Refering to the literature, we hung the tube mic upside down, with the bottom of the mic an inch or two higher than the vocalists mouth. This allowed the singer to open his chest up and deliver a more pure tone. The hardest part of the vocal recording was coaching inexpericened studio vocals on how to sing into the mic properly.
When recording a vocalist there are many things to take into account prior to the actual recording. Before the recording, some form of pre-production has to take place. Microphones have to be chosen, the genre of music (which affects the type of microphone one may want to use) must be discussed, and if the vocalist has no studio experience, they must be coached. We experimented with three different microphones. Schenniser 421, TLM 49, and the Neumann 147 as well as a pop filter. We used the 421 on Derisa’s (me) voice and it gave a great clear sound. Although we did not use a pop filter Derisa had to sing above the microphone in order to capture that sound. However, the 421 did not capture many of the attacks so I concluded that although it is a great microphone it would not be my choice for the female voice. The 147 did a good job on the female vocals. It is a large diaphragm microphone which picks up high frequencies so it was ideal for a female singer. Finally, we used the TLM 49 microphone for both male and female voice as well as a pop filter. It was the best microphone for both voice and the pop filter prevents the microphone being damaged from moisture and prevents the harshness of sounds from words that begin with B and P.
Female and Male Vocals
Neumann TLM 49
The Vocalist was placed a hands distance from the mic at approximately a 45-degree angle below the mic so she wasn’t hitting it straight on.
The 421 is a cardioid, dynamic microphone. It sounded ok but not great. It had an issue with the plosives when the vocalist would make a p sound. Overall this is a good mic but its application with female vocals is not the best fit I think this mic would be better for micing instruments.
The M147 is a Cardioid Tube Condenser Microphone. This mic sounded warm and clear and had no problems with the plosives even without a pop filter. Over all this is an excellent mic that is highly effective for the application of female vocals.
The TLM 49 is a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone. This mic sounded warm and clear. There was a problem with the plosives on the p’s but it was eliminated with a pop filter. Over all this is a great mic and works very well for male vocals.
Neumann TLM 49
The Vocalist was placed a hands distance from the mic at approximately a 45-degree angle below the mic so he wasn’t hitting it straight on.
The M147 is a Cardioid Tube Condenser Microphone. This mic sounded warm and clear. Over all this is an excellent mic that is highly effective for the application of female vocals.
The TLM 49 is a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone. This mic sounded warm and clear. Over all this is a great mic and works very well for male vocals.
Recording male and female vocals proved to be a challenging in many respects because there were many things we had to take into consideration. We had to think about what would be the best vocal mic for male and female voice , what style of music the person was singing, mic distance, whether or not to use the pop filter and it benefits , and the various effects that could added to improve overall sound quality and cleanliness of the vocal track. We also learned about the importance of being able to coach a singer in the proper way to sing into the mic and articulate what they say. When we recorded Derisa, we used a Sennheiser 421 Dynamic mic. This mic worked well for Derisa’s voice, however she had to sing directly above the mic for clarity and so there wasn’t as much attack on certain syllables she sang. We also tried a Neumann 147 dynamic mic as well with Derisa’s voice which produced a more direct and cleaner sound and complemented her voice more then anything. For male voice we recorded Andrew with TLM 49 mic with a pop filter. With the pop filter we got rid of the extra cracking and poppiness in the mic and we adjusted the distance of the mic for Andrew’s voice. The best mic in combination with the filter was the TLM 49 because it worked well for both male and female voice and gave the best direct and clear signal for mixing a vocal track.
- White, Paul. ” Vocal Recording and Production Master Class”. Sound On Sound. DOP: June 2016. Date of Access: 19 Sept 2017. https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/vocal-recording-production-masterclass
- Wiggins, Scott. ” How to Record Vocals like a Professional”. Envatotuts+. DOP: 15 May 2017. Date of Access: 19 Sept. 2017. https://music.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-record-vocals-like-a-pro–cms-28848