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Recording Tips Vocals 2

The Perfect Take

Posted By: Michael Smith

Tips to Deliver a Perfect Vocal Take. 

The human voice is what we are most familiar with and this makes it the focal point of any and every song. Any mistake or stupidity in the studio can cost you time, money and energy. Precaution and preparation are your best bet at minimizing loss.


If you are responsible about your vocal chords and have a good engineer, then consider half the battle is won. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the most out of your vocal take and studio time -


Before the Studio:

Prepare yourself well in advance. Don't depend on a sheet for the lyrics, don't fumble your words and don't leave things to the last minute.

Don't just practice your vocals but also take time to understand the rhythm, melody, stops, breakdown or any other elements that are important to the song.


Avoid talking loudly or screaming for a few days before the performance.

Bar talk or hooting can cause swelling in the vocal chords due to the strain it causes. This will affect your performance in the studio.



As the studio date approaches, take more and more care of your vocal chords. Do NOT spend the previous night drinking with your buds. If you have a hangover, so will your voice.

On the other hand, don't spend the whole night rehearsing either because you need to be rested.

Talk as little as possible during the day of the recording. Try and schedule the vocal recording early in the day.

This way you are still fresh, energetic and ready to give it your best shot.


Watch what you eat because certain foods can have a detrimental effect on your singing.

Dairy products, chocolates and foods with high sugar content are a big no-no. They add a layer of film that make cause irritation in the throat and restrict the full movement or you vocal chords.

Lemons on the other hand are believed to be great for clearing the throat of mucus and residue.

Just slice a lemon into half and squeeze it in to your mouth. Drink a glass of lukewarm water over it and you are ready to go.



At the Studio:

Don't sing without a warm up! Just like a good work out, a good studio session must start with a warm up. Cold vocal chords (when they aren't warmed up) can get strained easily.

Take 10 minutes to get them into the groove of things.
Singing is no walk in the park. Any song that is vocally demanding requires energy.


Don't stress the vocal chords too much if you are having trouble giving the perfect take. Remember to take frequent breaks to let them regain their strength.

Have say in the headphone mix.

 A little reverb will go a long way but the best option is to rig a system where the vocalist can handle their own levels.

Confidence is essential for giving a good take. This confidence can depend greatly on how the artist hears himself in the headphones.

Placing pop filters or pop shields between the singer and the microphone can help cut out the plosive ‘p’ and ‘b’ kind of sounds. These ‘pops’ can’t always be fixed later so it is best to avoid them to begin with.

 vocal recording

If the studio allows you to choose your microphone then do a test recording with each to see what works best with your voice.

Thin and bright voices may work better with a dynamic mic but open sounding vocals may be better suited to a capacitor mic.

Even without getting into the technicality of these, a test recording will help you decide what is better.

Don’t use excessive EQ or effects in your vocals while recording.

This can make it difficult for you to realise what you are doing wrong. Reverb, for warmth, is fine but don’t use more than the song requires.


A good vocal performance is a hard day’s job. Don’t walk in expecting to do it perfect in one single take. But that doesn’t mean you ignore the option of punching in and out the phrases that need re-doing.

The best thing to do is to record several takes so that the engineer can compile a single take from the best parts.

Don’t compromise on quality. Blood, sweat and tears are poured into every piece of art or music. You song is no less special and deserves nothing less than the best.

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