10 Tips To Get A Better Recorded Vocal Performance

So you’ve finally finished writing a new song and you’re ready to take it to the studio. You are confident with the song itself, but you feel a little nervous about how you will perform in the vocal booth – are you going to perform to the best of your abilities and maximize your studio time? Or will you fumble? We at Golden Impala want every artist to succeed and after years of recording experience, we have identified and developed 10 different tips on how to help any artist perform to their greatest potential, no matter the genre or skill level.

1. Always Face the Microphone

Possibly the most obvious, the most crucial, yet the most underestimated tip is to always face the microphone. Facing the microphone allows the mic to capture the full resonance of your voice. It is easy to start slowly turning away as you perform, or to start dancing as you lay out your verse causing your head to bob back and forth affecting the overall quality of your performance. The simple truth is that even adjusting your head one inch will affect the tone of your voice and how it is perceived in the recording. If you want a constant, clear, and consistent vocal recording it is best to always face the microphone as you record.

2. Remain 2-12 inches from the Microphone

The best way to achieve a thick and rich vocal recording is to remain about 2-12 inches from the microphone as you are performing. The more distance you put between you and the microphone, the less the microphone captures the frequencies of your voice, particularly the lower frequencies that give body and bass to your voice. For the best possible recording, it is best to stay close to the microphone (about 2-6 inches away) and for sections in the song where you know you will perform louder, it is okay to pull your head away a couple inches to hit those louder notes to avoid microphone clipping. Do not worry about being too loud or too quiet as the engineer will adjust the mic’s input setting to the appropriate level. 

3. Memorize Your Lyrics

Memorizing lyrics allows you to better focus on your vocal performance. Too many times we see artists reading lyrics off their phones, which may cause them to perform in a duller way, as they aren’t completely focused on their own performance. Memorizing the lyrics allows you to spend all your concentration solely on your vocal performance and may also prevent you from making lyrical mistakes in the vocal booth.

4. Pay Attention to Your Rhythm

For nearly all genres of music, especially hiphop, timing is everything. As you lay out each bar, or each phrase, check to see if your words line up with the music. Does each syllable fit in pocket with the drums? If your timing is off, check your habits. Do you tend to rush it, or do you tend to come in too slow? Knowing what your habits are will help you easily identify and correct any problem you have in timing. 

5. Pay Attention to Your Pitch

Pitch is the next element you should pay attention to in your vocals. As you record your vocal takes, listen if you are on pitch. Are you too high? Too low? Or right where you want to be? In modern times we have tools such as Auotune to help us out with pitch correction but the best thing to do is to record like you do not have autotune. If you sound great before the autotune, imagine how great it will sound once the engineer slaps it on.

6. Check Your Annunciation

Annunciation is the hidden element to vocal recording that will dictate the whole vibe and mood of your song. Just as there is such a thing as annunciating too little, there is also annunciating too clearly. Perhaps you are singing a slow heartfelt song and every word needs to be heard, or perhaps you are recording a downtempo trap song where performing in a sluggish unclear way fits the vibe better. Whatever the genre may be, pay attention to how you are annunciating your words as you perform and see if it is right for the song. Annunciation comes out the most when singing vowels so be mindful of that as well.

7. How Is Your Expression?

Once you feel you’ve mastered rhythm, pitch, and annunciation, it is time to focus on vocal expression. What feeling are you trying to convey to the listener as you perform your song? Perhaps recall how you felt the night you initially wrote your song and bring that same energy back into the vocal booth. Every song calls for its own unique way of delivering vocals and any great artist will know when to perform more aggressively, more smoothly, quieter, louder, or whichever is appropriate for the song.

8. Consider Placements of Adlibs, Doubles, and Harmonies

To make the most of your studio time, it is wise to consider what types of vocal layering you want for your song before you enter the studio. Maybe you want a raw and straightforward sound for your verses which will not require any layering, but maybe in your chorus you want a giant surround sound type effect which will require multiple layers and perhaps ad-libs to fill in the spaces. It is good to already have a good idea of where you want these layers placed before coming to the studio.

9. Drink Hot Tea – Avoid Thick Liquids

Performing constantly in the vocal booth can put a strain on your vocal cords no doubt. To combat voice fatigue try drinking hot tea, or warm water in between vocal takes to rest your voice as quickly as possible. It is also common practice to consume honey (either as a syrup or a spray) as it will coat your throat and allow your vocal cords to perform with more durability. Do not drink thick liquids such as smoothies or yogurts as it can clog your throat and make performing more challenging.  

10. Have the right energy

The most important element of the studio environment is the setting. Most studios try to encourage a fun, positive, and creative environment to allow artists to thrive in creativity and expression. It is important as an artist to refrain from bringing in any energies that throw them off their element. Whether you like working alone, or bringing a whole group of friends, or if you like to dress up, or dress comfortably, know what works best for you and be yourself. This is music at the end of the day, and if you are not being yourself and not having fun, then the experience may lose its magic. It is important that the vibe is right so you as the artist can focus solely on the craft of making music.

In conclusion, we find that these 10 tips offered by Golden Impala Recording Studios will surely help anyone who needs guidance in the vocal booth. If you would like a more detailed explanation on our ten studio tips, or would like to hear more recording tips offered by our sound engineers, please feel free to book a session with Golden Impala today.