Singing Into a Microphone - How to Record Vocals for Best Results

Here's a lil video all about microphone singing! My best 6 tips for knowing how to record vocals for optimal results.

My tips include....

1) Set levels so they're not too high; otherwise you'll max out and distort your vocal recording -- and, worse, try to hold back or sing tentatively to accommodate this too-high setting. Instead, aim for a lower microphone level. You can always boost it later.

2) Get your live monitor/headphone levels right! Singing with headphones always presents its own set of challenges, so I almost always leave one ear outside of the headphones as I'm singing to get some live feedback.

3) Don't forget your breathing DOWN BELOW! The microphone picks up what you're creating up top, however, the work and effort happens via the rest of your body. Don't forget your technique or become a "neck-up" singer in the studio.

4) Be mindful of how distance to the microphone affects the nuance, intimacy and volume of what you're singing. Closer = more intimate. Further away = taller, more echo-y, for louder moments.

5) Learn how to breathe without harsh, noticeable gasps (super distracting -- and in the video I give you a quick tutorial on how to do this).

6) Finally, experiment! Microphones are incredible tools, so don't be intimidated! Just practice and see what sounds good, then trust your instincts. 🙂

In the video I also mentioned that I was using an Audio-Technica AT4040 condenser microphone for $299 - http://amzn.to/29hKetW

Ooh! Even better -- AT4040 plus pop-filter and XLR cable, for $299: http://amzn.to/29gKJVd

Other good condenser microphones....

AT2020 microphone is $99 - http://amzn.to/29lNwh2

AT2020 microphone with USB hookup is $149 - http://amzn.to/29gLqOE

MXL 770 for $75 - http://amzn.to/29fUlDm

My headphones are also Audio-Technica (see a trend here?) and you can find them here: http://amzn.to/29fUiaP

*Please note, these are Amazon affiliate links.

Hope this video and these resources are helpful! Please leave me a comment to let me know whether you've been recording some vocal projects, and whether you'd like more videos like this!
xo Fel

AUTHOR

Felicia Ricci

All stories by: Felicia Ricci
31 comments
    • Joseph C Kline Jr
      REPLY

      your great love your tips on the microphone, you mention recording can you mention what type of recording equipment one should get and approximate cost and how to use it and some possible techniques for recording a song with music coming in on tracts. I played in a combo years ago and the three of us sang without lessons . my bother keyboard me drums and younger brother guitar. we played for wedding receptions. I wrote songs never published. just wrote one for my grandson and in the process of recording. I have a client who said he has a recording equipment he bought used but doesn't know how to use it yet. so I am looking for something for my self to record and have no Idea where to start can you help. I have a home office and work seven days a week always running behind with my clients but music relaxes me . I also have a 1923 esety grand piano folk guitar and my voice with the help of your free videos. thanks for listening

    • Søren Sedit
      REPLY

      Hey Fell, I am a metal singer, so a lot of fry and so on.. but when you talked about breathing, that got me thinking, I have seen Melissa Cross and others talk about breaking goes in one way, and out the other, so for the voice to come out of the mouth, then breath should go in the nose? and down my belly ? right ? -- that also eliminates the annoying breathing in between words, when its not wanted for giving "emotion" effects..... or am i all down a wrong path there?

      The thing i noticed when i changed that was, that my throat gets less dry, so less water jumping around on stage in the belly...

      Hope to hear from you soon

      Søren

  • Barbara Rzesutock
    REPLY

    Fel:
    This is very helpful. I am busy working on an EP. This helps me review what I may be doing right and (oops) where I can make changes. I am collaborating long distance with musicians in West Virginia. I provide what I call the draft-map of the song with click track along with lyric/chord sheet and they send back the instrument parts, one track at a time. I have learned a lot in the mixing recording process. We did a single release of one of the songs, "Great Day". The vocals are pre-Fel. I plan on redoing the main vocal for the EP version.
    (In case you are curious :https://soundcloud.com/barbara-jorgensen-rzesutock/great-day)
    I have taken the full belting coarse which has helped with relaxing and getting more tone and control. Actually, I take it every day. Just like ab-crunches, I don't do any song singing until I've gone through about 30 minutes of warm-up exercises which always include wha-baby cry, lip trills, bahs to start. I am hearing progress but I know it takes time. The best part are those moments when it comes together on a high note and I'm relaxed open and grounded and the voice comes out easy, hitting the palette sweet spot...what a rush. But, doesn't happen all the time and if I think about it too much...dreaded tension sets in.
    In summary, I love your videos. You break it down to "edible bites" that I can work on daily without getting over whelmed.
    Side note: I too am an Audio Technica fan and use an AT 2035 for recording. If you're ever looking for great personal sales and tech advice and awesome sales, check out http://www.sweetwater.com/dealzone/.
    Keep the videos coming and thank you.
    I'll send you a link to the updated "Great Day" with new and improved "Fel-vocals" when I am done messing with it.
    Sincerely,
    Barb Rz

  • marco paulo flor
    REPLY

    hi fel!!! good tips as always. can you please tell me what kind of music software is good for recording and mixing. thanks in advance. hope to hear from you soon. more power!!!

  • Louis Gallopantaloni
    REPLY

    Hi Felicia how are you? I am using your tips now while performing every night in an hotel in Sardegna,Italy my voice seems completely different more powerful versatile and stronger and beautiful.Thanks for your so important knowledge...is The food another tool to help singing better?I hope to hear your opinion about that...bye take care from Louis

  • Rachel
    REPLY

    Thanks for this! When you say don't put the levels too high, would volume/loudness of the mic fall under same rules? I adjust my own mic at church. I never mess with the levels (I will check them) but mainly just turn it up so I'm louder and I back off the mic if I belt. would just mic 'volume' cause distortion, or only the fancy levels?
    Would love more tips on how to record yourself, make demos, EP's etc. What mics/stuff you need Etc. I want a mic that can do both studio recording (like for putting on YouTube or making a demo-so may need to have usb plug?) but that can also be a performance mic so I don't have to buy 2 mics. Is there such a thing??

  • rob
    REPLY

    great tips......amazing singer... cant wait to hear you sing a full song....... BTW you are incredibly sexy..... love the hair color as well.

  • Roy
    REPLY

    Thank you so much for the video! I found it very useful, though I have been searching for recording software and I have not found a suitable one. Is there any you can recommend me? And I don't have a proper studio set up and is there any software and microphone that does not pick up the surrounding sound such as the AC unit.

    Thanks!

  • helen lyle
    REPLY

    I love all your video's. I always get something useful out of all of them. This video helped me understand using the microphone. I don't record but use a mic for live audiences. Thanks Fel

  • Jessica
    REPLY

    Yes more recording tips! I find my biggest struggle is in trying to get the headphone mix -I've tried the one ear off but then have trouble hearing the track notes and often sing off pitch. Which is so frustrating because if I'm in the room just playing with my guitar, I sing it on pitch every time. I am so not good at recording but I know your videos will help!

  • Monique Richert
    REPLY

    I love your videos, Fell, it makes me smile and you are so great with explaning the tings we all struggle about, i am so exiding to hear somthing soon from you as a singer, and come on, yo and shy, no way Fell you are a superstar to me

  • John Gilbert
    REPLY

    One caution: Studio headphones are closed back for a reason, to isolate the headphone mix from the recording. Leaving one headphone off to the side to hear the room runs the risk of the mic picking the headphone mix, if the off phone is not well clamped to the side of the head. We have had this problem enough that I built a simple inline box to plug the headphones into that eliminates one channel, selectable right/left, allowing the singer to shift that phone off the ear and not pick it up in the microphone.

  • Robin
    REPLY

    Fel,
    Thanks so much for the video! I am getting ready to go to Nashville to record an EP. I am needing all the advice I can get. I also have recording equipment in my home but have only recorded a few songs there. Keep the videos coming, and Yes, I want to hear your recordings too. Mohave fun!

    Robin

  • RicardoJoglar
    REPLY

    Hi Fel,

    First of all, thanks for and to ensure some recording procedures we're used to, always important to do it!
    What I enjoyed most was the last tip: experiment, dare!

    Have a nice day!
    Ricardo, greetings from Rio

  • RicardoJoglar
    REPLY

    Hi Fel,

    Just to add what I've recorded during last three weeks.
    My solo project: Elisabethan songs and Corsican polyphony (mixing four counterpoint vocal parts which I've sang on different sessions)
    With my duo, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Clannad songs which I've arranged (two counterpoint vocal parts)

    All your tips HAVE BEEN REALLY HELPFUL!! You're the BEST

    Cheers, Ricardo

  • Mark
    REPLY

    Another great article..You never stop do you?

    Actually you have been an inspiration for me for quite some time, i devour all of your youtube videos. And have learned much from them.

    When will be next blog post?

    If you want some more singing tips i found http://www.howtobeabettersinger.net to be quite a good resource for those who want to learn how to sing well.

    Thank your for this great informational post

  • Jelena
    REPLY

    You're so INCREDIBLY CUTE and fun and so full of amazing advice. I would love to see ANYTHING you do. 🙂 I am a total at home novice singer, but your tips have helped me more than anyone else's in a FULL year and although I don't have a professional aka decent mike yet and just use an mp3 voice recorder, I found I was doing most of what you suggested just on instinct, which was cool to realize. I SOOOOOOO want to take your singing course when it comes up again as well as your belting course.

    Thank yooooooo!

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