Listen up artists and sound engineers and all wannabes – sound is important to your audio and video track. You need to record it, edit it and deliver it in the best way possible. If you are in a live show, you need to deliver what the audience expects, and more. While you cannot be 100 percent ready for each situation, you can avoid some of the problems that arise during the process. With this said, let us review some of the top mistakes when recording or when performing, and how to avoid them.
Too Much Background Noise
Room noise is the thin and echo-ey sound that seeps in especially when you record too far away from the mic. Well, while you might be thinking that you have the perfect set up for the mic, the converted garage might be far from acoustically ideal.
One of the ways to beat this problem is to get as close to the mic as possible. Be close enough such that no background sound can overwhelm your voice. However, watch out that you don’t go too close to the mic to overload it, a situation that leads to a nasty buzz noise. This is one of the most common mistakes I have noticed, where the performer has a really jazzy video yet the audio is crappy.
Crowding the Mic
This mistake occurs mainly with voice recording. Standing too close to the mic is often a bad thing. The symptoms that you are too close to the mic are overloading and distortion. Instead of getting the smooth sound you expect, you get a lot of pops and other unnecessary mouth sounds. The first problem is easy to handle – get far away from the mic (don’t go too far). From experience, stay 4-6 inches far away from the mic. Additionally, this issue becomes worse with cheap mics.
P-pops can be avoided by use of a pop filter screen. You can buy a professionally made filter or create one by yourself. Place the filter between the mic and your mouth and you will eliminate the sounds.
If you have the recorded audio and you want to maintain it, the last option is to edit out the pop sections and add in some sections from another track.
This issue touches on the music. Lead vocals need to have soft and loud parts naturally. However, most home recordings miss out on this. Some of the vocals tend to disappear in the mix, requiring you to put dynamic processing to work. Some mics come with compression capabilities to help you handle this situation, but this isn’t enough.
You can use other tools such as panning and EQ as well as putting your ears to use.
If you suck at singing or you can’t sing at all, then don’t go ahead and record a track for others to listen to. Either practice and get better or get someone to do the singing and you provide the backup. If you are a good singer, then look for backup singers that can sing. Don’t tolerate crappy notes in your track. To get the best, record the vocal track several times (2 -3) and come up with a composite vocal track using the best sections of the ones you have recorded. This is not a new thing, it has been executed since the day multitasking became the in thing. If you love the track and wouldn’t want to redo it, then go correct any bad notes by using intonation programs.
A Lot of Computery
AutoTune is great, an essential tool for recording and getting your track right in the studio. If you listen keenly to most modern country and pop tunes, then you will realize that these tracks use too much computerization, making them sound artificial. To get the best results using AutoTune, make sure to limit the use to tweaking individual tones. Do this in graphical mode in AutoTune. This will take longer, but you will be amazed at the results.
Lack of a Proper Guide Track
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to lack a proper guide track. You wake up one day, create a new session in the DAW, hook up the mics and dive into the recording session without a guide track. Huge mistake. What you would have done is put some things in place earlier so that you have a solid track to guide you.
You might be wondering what a guide track is. Well, it is usually a series of tracks that help you define a clearer map of what you plan to do. Here is what you can include in the track:
- A demo of your song with vocal and guitar or piano.
- Have a click track to match the tempo of the demo.
- Come up with drum loops to go along with click. This is optional.
- Get markers for each chorus, verse, bridge etc.
Take time to have these elements in place, and you and the band will be forever grateful that you prepared earlier. They will be confident of the song they are going to perform, the tempo, and will end up giving the audience the best performance.
Unbalanced Lows and Highs
The hallmark of flawed recording is getting too much or too little of one of both. It isn’t just the highs or the lows that are affected, the whole spectrum need to be taken into consideration – low mids, mids, high mids. These middle sounds are the ones that are usually too high or too low.
To make sure these frequencies are spot on, make sure to perform your recordings in an environment that will bring out the frequencies the best way. If you are recording in a homemade studio, read on various tips to follow to make the studio much better.
Using the Wrong Microphone
Yes, the quality of the microphone dictates the final track. One of the ways to get this is to research on the available mics and which one to use. You can check out this site to find out more about microphones and make a smart purchase.
Even the experienced vocalists were once newbies. They made so many mistakes but they never gave up – they learnt from the mistakes, made corrections and moved on. You will make mistakes along the journey to being the best vocalist and performer, but you should know the solutions to the mistakes. At the end of it all, make sure you deliver the perfect show, albeit better than your last. When it comes to recording, the impression you leave behind matters a lot.