Posted by
Paolo De Gregorio
Jun 14, 2013

Slow, sparse songs allow the vocals to become the central focus of the recording, and that’s when the choice of microphone and mic preamp can make a big difference. Not many can afford a Neumann U47 (pictured) through a Neve channel, but even with a limited microphone/preamp arsenal, a lot that can be done to improve your vocals’ tone. There is a degree of enigmatic “chemistry” between some mic+preamp combos and some voices – to be discovered through trial and error – but here are a few simple tips that can help fix some common problems:

1. The distance of the mouth from the microphone is crucial: vocal mics feature the so called “proximity effect” which exaggerates low frequencies at close distance and reduces them progressively after a certain range. 8 inches from the mic is normally a good place to start, try closer for a warmer tone, farther for a tinnier one.

2. Excessive sibilance can be very distracting in vocal tracks. To fix it try these tips and/or any combination of them: a less bright mic (maybe even a Shure SM58), a better a/d converter, singing to the mic on an angle, sticking chewing gum between your upper front teeth. If you realize about this problem after the recording, try a de-esser plug-in.

3. Plosive consonants (“P”s and “B”s) can create weird artifacts in your recordings. The solution in this case is very simple: use a pop shield between the vocalist and the mic, and also filter out with EQ anything under 100-150 Hz.