Record your vocals with as much isolation as possible

Lately I have received a good amount of files to mix that have a lot of room sound to the vocals. While I can still make it work with some extra plug-ins that I will talk about soon, it is crucial to get an isolated sound.

A dynamic microphone can be a great way to have isolated vocals if you are recording from home and don’t have a properly treated vocal booth. Dynamic microphones like the Shure SM7b only really pick up what’s going directly into it. Make sure when recording, you are close to the dynamic microphone.

Another way is if you have something like a walk-in closet at home full of clothes. When I was in college for recording, my little studio apartment had a walk-in closet and it worked well for a vocal booth. Still be very close to the mic but make sure you are using a good pop filter. Another thing to be aware of is the microphone preamp level. If the level is set really low, the noise and room sound will be more prominent in the mixing process. Have a nice and hot level that reaches 3/4 of the way up the meter in your recording program.

Sometimes I have noticed that bands going for a really organic sound in the studio will be far from the mic and want a very roomy sound. While this can be cool, it can affect the pitch correction process. The vocal will have weird artifacts while pitch correcting with the room prominent in the vocal recording. If you do go for the room mic vocal set up, just make sure the vocalist is absolutely killing it! It should sound good with no pitch correction. I’m not going to lie, it’s rare that this works but for certain rock or bluesy sounds it may just work depending on the singer.

If you are a mixing engineer and you run across this problem of too much room, one plug-in I use is SPL De-verb. This plug-in is designed to eliminate reverb or room sound from a vocal track. Use can also use Waves Rvox and use the gate slider on the plug in to gate out some of it in between words.

Overall it’s just very important to record the voice with no background noise or room so that when you send to the mixing engineer, he or she can effectively pitch correct, compress, eq, and add their own effects to the vocals.

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