Vocal Recording Tips From John Perry
Hi, I’m John Perry. I’m a singer, and a vocal arranger, and a producer.
It all started in the 60’s when I sang on Hey, Jude. Later on, I was in a three-part vocal band harmony group. We worked with everybody and his brother. We practically booked a room at Abbey Road studios.
It all starts with the microphone. If you got a bad mic, you’re going to get a bad vocal. There’s no question. If you’ve got lots of money, you’ve got lots of choice, if you’ve got minimal money, you have to do some research, you have to talk to people, talk to friends, find friendly dealers.
If they’ll let you bring a mic home to try in the studio, that’s fantastic, but it has to be a vocal mic. For your first mic, you really need a good vocal mic, or a decent vocal mic to get a decent take down.
The second thing is levels. You’ve got your microphone, you’ve plugged it in, and now you’ve got to get some signal.
In the old days, it was signal to noise ratio was the big deal, now not clipping is the big deal, and in digital, you can not clip. Make sure you’ve got strong signal coming in, but not overloading. If it’s a little bit too low, the great thing about Nectar is you can adjust it at a later stage and get it to where you need it.
You’ve got everything lined up, you need to get a signal into the computer. The next thing to think about is your mic position. You can totally change the sound of your voice. You can either get on the mic, which is going to give you a warmer sound, the proximity effect, which is as you get closer, it gets fatter, wider, and sort of richer in a way, and that’s to me, a nice sound, so I tend to sit there on the right side of the pop shield to avoid getting pops and noises.
The problem with that is if you’ve got a loud vocal, you might overload the mic and the signal, so you need to back off. So if it’s a rock belter, back off a bit and give it some welly, but back off.
If you’ve recorded close to the mic, and there’s too much breath in the vocal, don’t worry, because Nectar can fix that. If you want to use it when you’re recording, there’s a mixing mode and a tracking mode. If you put it in tracking mode, there’s very little latency.
You’ve got to be able to hear yourself properly to perform a decent vocal. Enclosed headphones is what most people use. I tend to use semi-enclosed ones for myself, because then I can hear clearly in the room what I’m doing, but then also hear the track very clearly in my ears, which is the way I like to do it.
The only time I’ve ever come a cropper was at the end of a solo with a lady singer, and it got very, very quiet with just a gentle piano and the click, and what could you hear? Click, click, click, click.
Bad effects can ruin a great vocal. The great thing about Nectar is it’s got loads of presets in practically any genre you can think of.
There are two versions of Nectar. Nectar Elements with fantastic presets, with a little bit of tweaking, and then there’s the full version, where you can go really deep into the presets to get them exactly how you need them.
You can mess around a lot and spend a lot of time getting the right effects, or you can use Nectar.