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Vocal Recording

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RobJones View Drop Down
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Joined: 14 Oct 2009
Location: Berlin
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    Posted: 28 Dec 2011 at 5:22pm
Hey guys,

Just wanted to post this message I wrote to a student earlier about improving the quality of vocal recording into the computer - I thought some of you might find it useful...

The things that make a difference to the quality of your recording are...

1. your microphone - this is probably the most important, although a good quality preamp can improve a poor quality mic. I would recommend at least getting a 50-100 GBP condenser, if you want to do decent recordings. A lot of manufacturers make these....the large diaphragm types are best for vocals I'd say (most similar to the pro mic U87). Check out mics from SE Electronics, Samson, Rode.... maybe Blue mics too.

2. your mic input quality. Old, hardware recording setups were formerly a microphone going into a mic preamp. The mic preamp made a big difference to the sound because of the quality of its input design and circuitry. The things that made the biggest difference to the sound were the preamp impedance, whether the preamp had transformers or whether it had valves. The impedance changed the response of the mic, e.g. made it produce more top end for example, and the transformers/valves created more character and warmth, normally by adding harmonic distortion and so on. If you want to take your recordings up a notch then you might want to invest in a good preamp to go before your interface (like a Focusrite ISA or similar)

3. your sound card/interface. If you have a preamp, then this is only important for the digital converter. Most converters are pretty good these days so you shouldn't need to worry too much about this. Again, you may want to have a preamp with onboard digital conversion, which would mean the soundcard or interface was literally just sending the digital signal into the computer so could be anything really as long as it accepted a digital signal. If you don't want to go the preamp route then the interface is much more important as it's playing the role of the preamp and the converter. You might want to consider an interface from a manufacturer with some background in recording, e.g. making consoles and old studio kit. I'm quite interested to hear the Focusrite Scarlet for instance...

r
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