Tech Updates

Voice Recording Tips

It all started in 1999 when I began investing extra cash into recording gear. I started using a friend’s computer back in the days when you had to go into bios and optimize your PC for recording. I spent much time researching how to build the perfect recording machine. After a few artists, I sank some cash into a faster, more specked-out machine. So, I drove to Atlanta and found a cool computer shop. I got an Asus Tech motherboard with 512 Kingston and a 1.74 p4 processor. Remember, this was about six years ago, and that is a slow computer now. Let me tell you. I have been nothing but happy with the performance of the Asus machine!

Voice Recording

For the most part, I never had any problems until one day, it shut down right in the middle of a session. Come to find, I smoked the power supply and had to update it. So I moved from that smoke 250 to a constant 500-watt power supply. I will tell you what; it has run like a dream through 25 artists with four full CDs.

I ran my buddy Josh’s Gadget Labs Pres with Windows 98 for many years and optimized it. I loved the output features, and it sounded great! But a few years after Gadget Labs went under, XP came out and didn’t have drivers for it. I hear that someone wrote the drivers for XP. I am sure it will be used for years to come. So I had to get a new sound card and decided to get a Tascam 1804.

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I was a little hesitant about the size of 1804; things don’t always perform by their looks. I went out and bought XP and installed it. Then I loaded the Tascam drivers, tweaked a few settings, opened Cubase, and hit record! Oh yeah, I forgot that the Tascam is a Firewire device. Then I decided to move from 8 to 16. So I ordered the Focusrite 8, and I connected them via optical. The Tascam is the main card with the Focusrite set up in the Tascam on the Adat channels 9-16. I have recorded several full bands, and it has proved to be a workhorse DAW.

I read an article about Ray Charles recording with Sonar a few years ago. Well, I had to check it out! So, I grabbed a copy of Sonar 7 and loved the features and workflow. The verbs and effects were way more adjustable than Cubase. Then, I noticed that Cubase was much faster and easier to track, so I returned to it. Then, I decided to change my whole game plan.

I ordered a Mac Duo 2ghz with 1000 RAM running Logic Express 7. This is where it is. The days of windows are over for me! Well, for audio recording, I do like the Macbook a great deal. You can add some crazy tripped effects and lay some groovy loops. It is a win-win.
Maybe one day, I have been thinking about updating my RAM and putting Windows here for web work. It only takes me about 10 minutes to set up the project folder, set the tempo, and find the right loop.

Once I find a cool loop, I will loop it out and record my tracks. Then, I will go back and start adding and tweaking ways. It is a cool program! I am waiting for more Apple loops to build a nice library in good time.

I have owned many mics throughout the years and have liked AKG c-2000s and 57s. I have owned a Re-20, several XML” S, Beyer Dynamics (killer mics, by the way), AKG c-1000’s, 58’s, and Marshall’s. The proper mic depends on the style, voicing, and dynamic of what you want to record. For example, if you have a wispy voice, you would wish to use a condenser, and if you have a more aggressive, loud voice, you may want to use a 57 or 58 or even a larger diaphragm mic like a 421.

Here are some great tips I have thrown together to get you started on the right path! Remember that recording is a craft, and it takes many years to tweak your style! It does take a while to learn, so be patient! I have been mixing life for 12 years and have worked for some greats! You can use the live technique in the studio and vice versa!

1. Be prepared! Pre-production can be very powerful in the whole process! I like to lay my drum tracks and then rehearse with them for a few days! It is a perfect way to tweak and work out all the tweaks!

2. Once you have found the sound and feel you are looking for it, it is time to lay some tracks! What I do in Logic! I set up 16 ways, and I will keep the first 8 for drum tracks, and I will arm 9 and 10! I usually will put my vocal on nine and acoustic on 10! Be sure to set you’re in and out points! If you are recording many tracks, you will want to increase your program’s RAM! This comes in handy later if you add loops and instruments to the mix! If you don’t have enough RAM to run your program, it may crash while recording!

3. How to find that perfect sound! I love to mic my acoustic and run directly, too! This is where I used to mess up all the time! I always got strange pops on my acoustic track and realized what was causing it! Every time the acoustic and plug would lose a little connection, it is recorded! Guess what I found that works great! Use some WD-40 on your tips! All I can figure out is that the corrosion causes a break in connection! Smoke will cause a film on electronics also!

4. Check your batteries and make sure they are good! Please don’t use those cheap they don’t work well! I love the Pro cells for their reliability, and they last forever!

5. Make sure your power source is grounded properly! I recommend a battery backup also! I would also ensure your PC has a good, quiet power supply!

6. Always restart your PC or Mac before you do any recording. It reboots your system and frees up the resources needed to process all the information. It is always a good idea not to run other programs while recording. I repeat, never have another audio program running unless you are using it for your recording purposes. I use the word to read lyrics and haven’t had any problems! It is not as big of an issue as it used to be. Back in earlier windows, it was a big issue! Remember, many computers (or Macs) don’t like sharing audio drivers with different programs simultaneously.

7. Updating isn’t as important as you think. I ran the same 98 and Cubase happily together for four years. That is a success! I attribute it to never putting it online; I bought a laptop just for that purpose.

8. File Handling. I have found that moving files could give you a headache. I have found out the hard way! Always save your audio folder in the file folder as your project. Always make a folder per new project. That way, when you move your files, they will all be nice, tidy, and in one place. Otherwise, you may waste a few days of your life trying to figure out where those new audio tracks went, plus it makes you look like a chump.

9. Always!! Save Save Save your song. Before you check out that new verb plug-in, you save your track. I have had a Logic crash while mixing before a save. Logic is a cool backup feature that will keep your butt in this situation. But be aware that if you delete a track, it is gone! I wish they had a step-back feature like a lot of other programs.

10. Mac or PC? It depends on what you want to do. I love them both and have had great success with each one, using all the tips listed above. I do think Mac has caught me for now. I do believe the learning curve is tougher with a Mac. After you get the hang of it, you will record like a Pro Engineer.

11. Keep your levels clean! If you peg into the red, you squarely wave the recording. Use a compressor to catch vocal peaks. Always use a pop filter on a vocal! Unless you use a dynamic or the mic has a built-in Pop filter. The Filter will catch the air before it hits the diaphragm. Sometimes, it causes a popping sound.

12. I like to set my recording at 44 and 24 bits. I do dither down to 16-bit for CD. It always sounds great. Find what works for you! It depends on how much disk space you want to use.

13. Monitors? Use what sounds great to you! I used some decent passive near fields that were hot that year for a few years. Gear changes so fast, and some great-sounding speakers are out there. I have used all kinds of monitors! I love headphones cause you can use them anywhere and have privacy. I suggest the Sony MDR-7506. They have an awesome response and a nice full range. There are many powered monitors out there, and do some research and find out what you need for your purpose! Don’t forget that Shielded ones are the way to go!

About author

I work for WideInfo and I love writing on my blog every day with huge new information to help my readers. Fashion is my hobby and eating food is my life. Social Media is my blood to connect my family and friends.
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