Recording: How do I get tight vocals on my track?
So you practiced on rapping about everything, kicked some fire freestyles but now you are ready to capture your words for an eternity. As a requirement for doing so you have to have equipment for recording your vocals or someone who wants to record you. But for the fact that you do it on your own, you will maybe have no clue what to be aware of when recording your fire bars.
This article is meant to be your guide for some good sounding quality records of your rap and when you consider the following points you will definitely improve your recordings and the quality of those (if you aren’t already know these tips)!
It sounds kinda weird, but trust me on that: If you don’t feel yourself comfortable before a recording session, it won’t be that fun that it should be. So your parts won’t be that powerful they should had to be. So maybe you have a little bedside lamp to give you that smooth light. Get yourself some nice posters of your favorite rappers and artists you are looking up to. Make yourself your own space for your music, where you feel good when you are working on your piece of art. It doesn’t cost much and you can even improve the atmosphere in your bedroom. Get yourself maybe some LED-Lightstripes on amazon or from your local store. I got that for my production room and it gives me the mood to get creative. It is worth it, promised.
Listen to your body. When you feel tired to rap or to work on your music, don’t force yourself to do it. Of course you have to be fit and to give your body the energy it needs. Eat something healthy and drink enough water to make your brain work well. Water is one of the most needed fuel for your brain. Also water is perfect for making your voice clear. Soda and Softdrinks will make your saliva sticky and you sound like sucking on a candy on the record. Not that tight. Figure out the time your body and your mind feels the most comfortable to record. There are artists making music in the evening and at night because they get their mood they need. Some prefer afternoon and some say they want to work after breakfast because this is the time they feel the best for being creative. Find your time of the day.
Plan yourself enough time to record your stuff. Never do recordings on the run (only when you want to make scribble recordings to catch some kind of tight flow you just made up). If you have plans in the evening at 7 pm, start your recording session at least 3 hours earlier, or better, change your day for your recordings where you have enough time to get creative and to try different styles on rapping. Nothing is a bigger killer of creativeness like a tight time schedule. I can’t work under time pressure, so I turn my cell phone off, lock myself in my room and make music as long as I feel good. Picture yourself this: You are starting your recording session. At first you need to get into the working mood, into the recording feeling. Then, after some time you get into the “zone”. A state of mind where you forget the time, where you get the best out of yourself and your performance and then BOOM you have to quit to record, because you have that appointment or something. That sucks! I know that feeling. And there are no excuses like “but I have no time because I have to do this and to do that”. F**k that. What is your goal? Having “okay” records or tight records? Choose by yourself.
These are the first parts you have to do or to get before your recording session. Now we look at the technical side, the hardware side of recording.
Acoustic of your room
For getting clean recordings of your parts you need a room, where the sounds doesn’t echo like hell. For example if you have an empty room and you clap once, you hear the high tones reflecting within a second many times. This is not the best situation (for getting CLEAN vocals*). To get a better acoustic in your room, get a carpet for your floor. It will absorb some reflections. Maybe you have also some curtains in your room, so these will also absorb some of the reflections. A room, where you have more furniture has in general a better acoustic. But to improve your acoustic on a higher level, I recommend to get those foam material absorber. Or to look for DIY absorber for your room. But to be honest, the topic about room acoustics is (almost) a science for itself. But if you are interested on this, get yourself a better knowledge about it and you will improve your acoustic situation a lot.
*It is possible and even a creative way to use the sound of a room to get a certain effect on your vocals. This can be a creative way to get something special to your recordings and is definitely worth trying it.
Yeah, I know. Maybe you’re think: What? I just need to put the mic in front of me, that’s it. There’s nothing more I need to consider. – Sorry, but wrong. You are right, the mic needs to be in front of you, but it is important to know what effects it will have on your recordings when you put the Mic higher or lower than the height of where your mouth is. Mic higher than your mouth: This will record more of your high frequencies, eliminating the sound of your body resonating when you speak. Very useful for recording doubles with less body (deep) frequencies (tones). Just put the microphone higher, so that the membrane of it is 3 fingers higher than your mouth . Mic lower than your mouth: Your recordings will sound more deeper. That’s because your mic will record your chest vibrating while talking. Perfect for having that deep, dirty and warm sound. Here you put that mic 3 fingers lower than your mouth (membrane as fixing point). Try different positions for you mic, record and compare what fits the best to your expectations.
Popkiller / Pop Filter
For having less problems in the mix you have to have clean recordings. And this includes the pop and hiss sounds of your parts. The t’s p’s f’s b’s d’s and every vocal that is making a pop sound. By exhaling the compressed air in your mouth and lungs the membrane of the mic will be hit by the air like a punch in a face. These are the parts in your recordings that sound like someone stomped on the floor while you were recording. They downgrade your quality a lot and make you sound like some total noob. So to avoid these annoying sounds there are pop filters you can buy in your local store (I prefer local stores more than the internet shops) or the internet. Or maybe you can even make a DIY version of a pop filter. For example here. If you want to buy them, they are cheap and once bought the will last for a long time. I have mine for about 8 years or something like that and it was about 19,-€. It is a very good investment in my opinion. If you have already one, it is necessary to have a little distance between the mic and the pop filter. I take a fist or half a fist measure between both of them. This will do it.
Having a good mic
I know times where rappers started to record their rap with a headset. If you do it just for fun and for yourself it is a good way if you have a headset at home anyway. But if you want to have a quality recording you have to invest into a better microphone. If you already have one that’s great. If you don’t own a mic until now, you have to choose the right one for yourself. This will be the next article to give you a little glimpse of what mics out there and what kind of those you should consider buying if you want to make vocal recordings. But to be more honest: Get yourself a recording buddy who wants to record your stuff and mix it for you because music is about getting together and creating something new. You will be in good company with people that love to make music as you do. And this will push yourself even more.
I hope that this article will help you improving the quality of a recording. Ask yourself that: Do I listen to rap tracks where I hear that the quality of that track is shitty? I can answer for myself with “NO!!!” and if you answer yourself that question just like me, then you will see the need of getting your records to a good quality. We are at a time where we are spoiled with good sounding quality music even from no name artists. So it is even harder to get someone to listen to your stuff when you don’t get your stuff tight.
So Let me know when you liked the tips and tricks on recording your vocals or if you have any question on that topic write in the comments below or send me an e-mail. If you want to be always up to date when there is more Info about how to’s, just subscribe to the RizzakBeats Newsletter!