How to Record Studio-Quality Vocals for Beginners in 3 Easy Steps (VIDEO)

How to Record Vocals for Beginners

(Recommendations for Music Equipment at Bottom of Page!)

So you’ve decided you want to start rapping or singing either as a fun hobby or even an exciting career. If so, congratulations! You’ve come to the best place to start learning how to record your own studio-quality vocals at home and on a budget. In this article, I’m going to teach you 3 easy steps on how to record vocals on the computer, so you can start sharing your music with the world.

1. Get the RIGHT Equipment You'll Need

The first step to recording studio-quality vocals is just getting all the necessary equipment. There are only 3 basic things you need to start recording:

1. Microphone - But not just any microphone. Specifically, you need to get a large-diaphragm condenser microphone. In simple terms, a condenser microphone is your typical studio mic, since they’re very sensitive and can pick up even the quietest sounds.

Condenser mics usually look similar to this:

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone (Source: bswusa.com)

The other common type of microphone is the dynamic mic, which is what you’re probably used to seeing at concerts. These microphones are mostly for live performance, since they’re not as sensitive or detailed as the condensers. Dynamic microphones are NOT ideal for recording vocals.

Typical dynamic microphones are NOT ideal for recording (Source: Amazon.com)

2. Audio Interface – This device connects your microphone to your computer via USB cable. Audio interfaces also power your microphone through something called “Phantom Power”. Make sure you choose an audio interface that has Phantom Power, which is 48 volts.

This is a typical audio interface used for recording vocals. (Source: starthomerecording.com)

NOTE: You can also buy a USB Condenser Microphone which comes with an audio interface built-in. This would be a more convenient option for beginners.

USB Condenser Microphones come with an audio interface built-in. (Source: bswusa.com)

3. Music Software (AKA Digital Audio Workstation) – Music software is what actually records your vocals and stores them on the computer. Using this program, you can edit and add effects to your vocals.

This is a typical music software used for recording vocals. (Source: seanandmckinze.wordpress.com)

2. Setting Everything Up

After you have all the basic equipment, it’s time to connect everything together so your computer can start recording all the sound that goes into the microphone.

Here’s a basic diagram I made of how everything is connected:

This is a diagram of how a recording chain is connected together. (Source: RecordingNow.com)

First, you connect the microphone to the audio interface using what is called an XLR cable. These cables are not very common, but you can get them at any local music store or order them online.

Next you connect the audio interface into your computer through a basic USB Cable.

Lastly, your music software AKA digital audio workstation should recognize your audio interface, which you can then select from your program’s “Settings” as the “Audio Input” or “Input Device”.

Optional: You can connect your headphones either through the normal headphone jack on your computer or through your audio interface, but you’ll need a 1/4 inch adapter to connect to the audio interface.

3. Recording Your Vocals!

After you setup your audio interface with your music software, all that’s left to do now is hit the record button which looks like a red circle.

The record button looks like a red circle on any music software.

If everything is setup correctly, you should be able to see your software recording the sound going into the microphone.

Vocals currently being recorded in Apple Garageband. (Source: RecordingNow.com)

If there’s no sound: Make sure Phantom Power is turned on in your interface and that the gain volume on your interface is turned up. Lastly, check your program’s Settings or Preferences and make sure the “Audio Input” is set to your audio interface.

Recommendations for Beginner Equipment

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone: MXL 990 (http://amzn.to/YflUT4)

Audio Interface: Focusrite Scarlett SOLO (http://amzn.to/1JI83X2)

Music Software: Acoustica Mixcraft (for PC) (http://amzn.to/1yt2KcW)

Apple Garageband (for Mac) (comes with every Mac OR https://www.apple.com/mac/garageband/)

That wraps everything up for this tutorial! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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