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Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock

23.1.2017

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Bedroom recording has dramatically increased over the past ten years due to a myriad of reasons, mostly due to finance and convenience. With this increasing trend, followed by social media sites such as SoundCloud and digital distribution services like TuneCore, the production of music is no longer exclusive to a select few of moderately wealthy individuals and record labels.

The move out of a professionally catered environment has of course in most cases resulted in a lack of quality and an over saturation of musical dross, filling our timelines and newsfeeds.

However, producing quality recordings from the comfort of your bedroom (or a cabin in Bon Iver’s case) is entirely possible. Here are few things to get you on the right path:

Equipment

If you buy a crappy microphone, chances are you will get a crappy sound. For most genres, the vocal is the most important element of the entire production. It’s the vocal that you want to be stuck in your listener’s head for weeks on end and so it is imperative that you achieve a wholesome, clear recording.

That is unless you are deliberately searching for a distorted vocal sound that would be well suited to say, a rock track. Analyse records that you aspire to make and make your microphone purchase based on your findings.

Now that you have a quality microphone, there are still a few hurdles in your path that you can encounter during the recording stage. They are as follows:

Popping

Popping is the harsh noise due to mechanical impact of fast moving air on the microphone, making the sound of the recording to ‘clip’ or ‘pop’.

This occurs mainly on ‘plosive’ sounds, for example, those that begin with a letter ‘P’ or ‘B’.  In comparison to soft ‘aah’s or ‘ooh’s which expel little air, plosives are short blasts and are quite severe when directly entering the body of the microphone, creating a punchy, low frequency.

Ways to avoid it:

  • When approaching plosives,  sing into the microphone at a slight angle, in order to avoid the blasts straight into the diaphragm of the microphone.

  • Pop filters are an essential tool in overcoming plosives and usually, they are inexpensive, another bonus!

Some microphones even contain a built in pop shield to avoid this:

  • Aston Microphones have a stainless steel knitted mesh pop shield and electromagnetic shielding.  This notably minimises the level of plosives and produces a much cleaner signal.  It’s also washable so sharing microphones can be a cleaner process.

Sibilance

Sibilance is a nasty harsh tone that occurs often during consonant syllables (eg. S, T, Z).  This happens when there’s unequal audio dynamics in the upper midrange frequencies.  Sibilance is usually caused by the vocal signal, rather than the microphone.  However, it can be overemphasised by the microphone placement (e.g. if you are standing too close).

Proximity Effect

When recording, if you’re standing too close to the microphone, the levels of lower frequency response increase which may cause your track to have poorer quality in sound and diction.   The closer you stand, the more noticeable it is.  Many new/inexperienced microphone users tend to hug too close to the microphone, causing a low-end boost to come and go affecting the quality of the track.

If you are having trouble staying away from the microphone, perhaps try this:

  • Use a pop filter! –  Using an attachable pop filter stops you from singing into the microphone too closely.

  • Omni-directional mics designed with a globe surrounding the body means you have to stand a certain distance away.

Overall it’s about trial and error, what works for some producers will not necessarily work for others. I hope we’ve been able to cover at a foundational level, the main areas that budding producers may encounter. Now get out there and make a record!

We are working with Aston Microphones to give selected Members a free Aston Origin Condenser Mic and free Aston Halo Reflection Filter. To find out how you can view the project here:

If you’re if you are a vocalist looking for some help with production, or a Music Gateway member in need of a Vocalist. Get creative and collaborate on a project here:



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