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Tips for recording vocals at home

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,079
What are your best ideas for getting useful vocal tracks in a home studio environment?
 

Able Grip

Senior Member
Messages
2,401
I have a pop up recording booth that I made out of some folding metal frame and a giant, super heavy blanket that goes over the whole frame structure front and back to double thickness. Works great. I can fold up the structure and put the blanket in a storage bin when done.
 

pbmw

Member
Messages
6,627
I had one of those portable vocal booths. Worked fine. I finally built a vocal booth in my studio.
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,079
I have a pop up recording booth that I made out of some folding metal frame and a giant, super heavy blanket that goes over the whole frame structure front and back to double thickness. Works great. I can fold up the structure and put the blanket in a storage bin when done.
What do you mean by "some folding metal frame?" Got a pic? Thanks.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,312
Boom stands and packing blankets. If you can do a "V" shape behind you, and another up close to the back of the mic, you'll be fine.

I concur with getting everyone out of the house, too. No distractions, or anything that cramps your ability to deliver the best performance.
 

Able Grip

Senior Member
Messages
2,401
What do you mean by "some folding metal frame?" Got a pic? Thanks.
They are some sort of business quality frame/divider thing my friend scavenged. We have 2 sections. Each section has 3 sub sections that hinge. They are about 6' tall. When the 2 main sections are put together they form a skeleton booth, which we skin with the super blanket. You could easily make one out of 2 x 4's or metal studs...

Here is something similar from Ikea. I use 2 of these. I Googled "dividers".

 

chillybilly

Member
Messages
3,697
It's easy to forget or ignore ambient noise from computer fans, furnaces, A/C, vehicles passing by, leaf blowers, etc.

You can do your level best to turn off noisemakers in your house but the outside world won't stop unfortunately so the isolation ideas above are often necessary.
 

oldhousescott

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,878
Yep, chillybilly nailed it. Turn off heat/AC, even the fridge (just remember to turn it back on!)

I've done the quilt over boom stands thing, and it works pretty well.
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,079
Thanks all.

My music room has pros and cons. It's partially underground, which is good. I have my vocal corner set up where one wall is completely backed by dirt and the other is probably 15% covered. I have a couple of sound-deadening blankets hanging in the corner itself that I sing into. I have hung a panel of 703 directly behind the singing position. Under ideal circumstances I don't get any wonky reflections and the tracks turn out fine. I can generally keep the family from walking overhead since the room above mine is a rarely-used sitting room.

However...

There's a window near my spot, and my neighbor has an obnoxious barking dog that is sometimes outside. When he's out there I am pretty much screwed.

The adjacent room has our furnace in it. It's a modern furnace and not terribly loud, but it's audible. Fortunately it's in a room with exposed studs, so I have been treating that wall with Roxul Safe'n'Sound. I think the hollow-core door is probably the biggest culprit at this point. Might hang a solid-core door there.

I start thinking of the various ways sounds can leak in, and it leads me more and more toward wanting a real booth. Not sure that's in the cards.
 

pbmw

Member
Messages
6,627
It's easy to forget or ignore ambient noise from computer fans, furnaces, A/C, vehicles passing by, leaf blowers, etc.

You can do your level best to turn off noisemakers in your house but the outside world won't stop unfortunately so the isolation ideas above are often necessary.
I think I'd subconsciously just written all that noise off as tinnitus.
But it's not.
 

makerdp

Member
Messages
617
If you are on a budget and/or don't have the room for something permanent, then I have had really good results with this...

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ReflexionX

Then of course, you cannot have this conversation without asking what mic(s) and pre(s) you are using. You know the whole "garbage in -> garbage out" thing.

Thankfully, in today's world, you don't need to spend crazy $$$ to get great vocal tracks, but you can't expect to get great vocal tracks from a $99 mic and an ART preamp either. "Decent" sure; but "great" no.
 

chlorinemist

Member
Messages
700
Skip the booth. Reflection filters are what you want. They are cheaper, easier, smaller, and sonically superior to a vocal booth in almost all situations. Little known fact. This German guy explains why quite eloquently.


I've been a recording engineer for a little over ten years and my reflection filter has worked marvelously throughout my career.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,312
I start thinking of the various ways sounds can leak in, and it leads me more and more toward wanting a real booth. Not sure that's in the cards.
I'd have to look at it in terms of pay off. Are you making $ with this and if so, how long until you make enough to pay for a booth?

The room that I use for my VO business isn't soundproofed, and there can be a lot of ambient noise at times. It's also $140/mo. and perfectly located, so it's way better for me financially to have to eat a half-hour of talent fees every once in a while due to waiting for it to get quiet, as opposed to getting a new room which would be at least 2-3X the rent and would still need extensive treatment.

It sounds like you've treated the acoustic issues? If you don't have paying clients, why not just wait until the dog goes back in? And unless you're doing soft acoustic stuff, a little BG noise from a furnace or something probably isn't going to be a deal breaker.
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,079
Then of course, you cannot have this conversation without asking what mic(s) and pre(s) you are using. You know the whole "garbage in -> garbage out" thing.
I have decent gear. There are three mics that I audition for vocals on various tracks. I have a Michael Joly-modded Oktava ML 52.02 ribbon which likes my voice, as well as a Joly Hulk 990 LDC and a Telefunken M81 dynamic (sort of an SM7B alternative).

I have an Audient iD22/ASP800 combo. I also have a Drawmer MXPRO-60 channel strip. I like to use it for backing vox for some gating and compression on the way in.


It sounds like you've treated the acoustic issues? If you don't have paying clients, why not just wait until the dog goes back in? And unless you're doing soft acoustic stuff, a little BG noise from a furnace or something probably isn't going to be a deal breaker.
I have definitely thought of doing mostly just my direct tracks at home and then get in a project to a studio where I can do anything that has to be mic'd. I am sure I'll get better vocal tracks when I can just relax and sing and let someone else worry about the rest. I can use my Logic Remote app or PreSonus Faderport to control the playhead from the booth area, but not the same as having a second set of eyes and ears.

The main constraint I have is time. When I do have a couple of hours to work uninterrupted I want to make them count.
 

chlorinemist

Member
Messages
700
Thanks all.

My music room has pros and cons. It's partially underground, which is good. I have my vocal corner set up where one wall is completely backed by dirt and the other is probably 15% covered. I have a couple of sound-deadening blankets hanging in the corner itself that I sing into. I have hung a panel of 703 directly behind the singing position. Under ideal circumstances I don't get any wonky reflections and the tracks turn out fine. I can generally keep the family from walking overhead since the room above mine is a rarely-used sitting room.

However...

There's a window near my spot, and my neighbor has an obnoxious barking dog that is sometimes outside. When he's out there I am pretty much screwed.

The adjacent room has our furnace in it. It's a modern furnace and not terribly loud, but it's audible. Fortunately it's in a room with exposed studs, so I have been treating that wall with Roxul Safe'n'Sound. I think the hollow-core door is probably the biggest culprit at this point. Might hang a solid-core door there.

I start thinking of the various ways sounds can leak in, and it leads me more and more toward wanting a real booth. Not sure that's in the cards.
Can you put a panel in front of the window while you record? Ive got some big windows in my mixing room and I have some big panels filled with 5 inches of fiberglass that I simply put against the wall, blocking the window, and blocks sound quite well. I took a couple photos to demonstrate:

Before

After


Also have a more permanent setup blocking another large window in the room

Nothing fancy. Didn't even really attempt a perfect seal. It works well regardless.
 

makerdp

Member
Messages
617
Oh yeah no gear upgrades needed then. Like others are saying, I would focus on acoustic treatment of the room.

Putting some 4" Rockwool on some movable stands would be what I would do. Recording and mixing in the same room is an exercise in compromises. Having easily movable panels can let you configure your room for how it's being used at that moment. Movable panels can be placed according to the situation and always be utilized as opposed to something you need to set up when you need it and tear down and put in storage when you don't.
 

champion ruby

Member
Messages
1,803
It's been my experience that the ceiling causes the ugly stuff. I sing using my monitors and holding the mic in my hand. I'll use the cans for doubling, background etc.

My pitch, confidence and dynamic control all got much better without the cans.
 






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