Recording vocals is often an intimate and delicate procedure, the vocalist needs to be comfortable, relaxed and ready as well as being well rehearsed and confident with the track.
There are a few different approaches to getting the best vocal take, each with their own pro’s and con’s. But firstly there is the decision of what microphone to use.
When studio recording we are fortunate enough to be able to choose from a variety of vocal microphones, some are very expensive, some not so expensive, but they all have their own sound. Even mics that are the same make and model can often sound very different when compared.
Each singer has his/her own sound also, and it is super important to choose a microphone that compliments this. The only real way to do so is to set some mics up and get your singer to sing into them, then from the control room really listen to how each mic is reproducing the voice.
Getting this stage correct will make mixing and processing much easier and also much quicker.
When you have chosen your mic you will need to look at preamps and processing, are you going to compress and/or eq the vocal to tape? This is a whole other area which i wont talk about today but its worth thinking about.
So, when the singer’s voice is sounding good how should we record?
The most important thing to remember here is what recording technique will produce the best end result. If the song is loud and takes a lot of effort from the singer it is not very likely that he/she will achieve the best of their potential by singing the whole thing as one take, however on the other hand, if the song is more relaxed and a more important factor is the flow and the build up of the song then recording in sections will mean that it is very difficult to get the song to naturally build and drop when needed.
Try to keep the end result in mind at all times and speak about these points with your vocalist, try to agree a plan of how to record the vocal parts before you record.
One good technique is to record the song in large sections, or as whole passes, try to record three very good vocal takes, then with the vocalist in the control room listen to each liner, one at a time and compare it to the same line from other takes. As you go along comp the best parts onto a master vocal track and you will usually end up with a very good vocal take.
Every session is different and you need to be able to adapt to work with what you have, but always try to keep the end result in mind and aim for that.