1. Set up the studio environment to be as comfortable and relaxing for the singer as possible. Good ambience and good vibes will lead to a better performance.
2. Choose a microphone that's compatible with the singer's voice. Ask the singer in advance about mics he or she has had success with, and if you have that model available, use it. If you're not sure which mic to use, audition several before making a final choice.
3. Start out by positioning the singer four to eight inches from a condenser microphone, and one to two inches from a dynamic.
4. Use a pop filter to reduce plosives. Metal filters are the best choice, and mesh models are a close second.
5. Consider using an omni-pattern mic if the singer has trouble staying still while recording. An omni will help keep the vocal tone consistent. Omnis are also good in situations when you want to eliminate the proximity effect.
6. Set up a headphone mix that's comfortable for the singer. Take out unnecessary instruments that could muddy the mix and make it difficult to discern pitch.
7. Try using different combinations of mics, preamps, and mic placement in order to get the sound you want before you resort to EQ.
8. Use compression when recording to keep the dynamic range of the vocal in check. But be careful not to overcompress; you can always add more during the mix if needed.
9. Try to record complete takes whenever possible and keep the punching to a minimum. This will enable you to get a better, more natural performance from the vocalist. If necessary, make a comp track composed of the best parts of several takes.
10. Write down all settings, mic and preamp choices, and positioning information. If you need to rerecord any of the vocals at a later date, your notes will make it possible to recreate the original vocal sound.
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