How to Record Music and Songs Like a Professional



It’s no secret that in order to make hit music, you need to be able to record it! Here are some tips that will help you improve the quality of your music and record better  songs in your own home studio:


Step # 1.

Memorize your song lyrics to the point where they come just as natural as when your singing along with your favorite song. Do not record if you have to read your verses off of notebook paper.


Step #2.

Try to keep your mouth approximately 3 to 6 inches from the mic when recording, placing your pop screen three inches in front of the mic will help you maintain the right distance. Do a test vocal run recording at the level that you will actually be rapping at. A simple mic check 1, 2 is not enough for a recording level check. Adjust the interface/preamp gain input so that your vocal recording averages in the middle of the meter without hitting red even on the loudest parts. It is a good idea to record with a compressor on your vocal tracks this will help keep your vocals at a steady level. Most recording programs like pro tools le has presets for vocal compression that are good starting points. When you find the right settings write them down, save as custom settings, take a picture of the knob, mark with tape etc so you can recall easily. Do this for each different rapper you record. Be sure to use a pop filter or windscreen in front of/on the mic to keep the plosive pops ( like from p sounds & t sounds) out of the vocal recording. Place heavy blankets or carpet on the walls behind & around where the mic stand is to keep the room sound/echo zing out of your recording. Buy an SE Reflexion filter if you can afford one.


Step # 3.

Record 1 verse at a time & get a perfect take of each verse with every word pronounced right. Treat it as if you were not even going to have ad-libs as if the 1 main vocal track was going to have to carry the song. Keep your main vocal track panned dead center. Avoid having to punch in because if you can’t record your verse without messing up how would you ever perform it.


Step # 4.

Use ad-libs over dubs to accentuate key words phrases on your main vocal don’t use ad-libs to fix badly pronounce words your main vocal track should be perfect remember that. Duplicate your ad-lib tracks & pan 1 to the left & 1 to the right 10 to 50 % lower their volume so the blend well with the main vocal & accentuate the words without overpowering them. Do not layer performances of your entire vocal over & over unless you want to have the chant/crowd or the sound of ten of you. Most songs will be better without that effect. Additional adlibs/ sound effects, other person voice reactions to lyrics follow the same but pan slightly different & eq a little different so may stand out from the other vocals at low volume without clashing. **Avoid editing out all of the breathing/breaths on the vocal tracks, you may reduce the volume but leave the natural breaths removing only those occurring in un-natural places and in doubled vocals.**


Step # 5.

When mixing the vocal tracks at first mute the beat/instrumental & get a good balance between all the vocal tracks recorded that sounds on it’s own, compare with an accapella from a major hip hop artist many can be found online. When you get a great accapella mix render it/bounce out to a two-track stereo file & save it by itself. Import that two track mix of your accapella into your recording program. Mute the separate vocal tracks now & unmute your beat. Adjust the volume level of your vocals track so that you can hear each part of the vocal as well as each element of the beat. Do this at a very low volume on your speakers. Make sure you can hear EVERY part then turn the speaker volume up to a comfortable listening level.. *** Make sure your master fader output is not hitting the red & try to keep ii peaked at the -3db level. The overall song volume will be maxed out to industry level during mastering don’t worry about overall loudness in the mix concentrate on blending all the parts to sound good together.***


Step # 6.

When you have the mix sounding good to your ears put in one of your favorite hip-hop songs that may be similar to yours turn the volume on it down so the volume level matches your mix listen to both & take notes to how your mix sounds in comparison. Burn a cd of it & do the same test in your car preferably on a factory system with no eq setting set. Go back & make the adjustments that you noted during the test. It is a good idea to wait several hours or even a day to let your ears rest & get fresh again. When you get a mix you like that passes the a//b tests save it & render/bounce it out to two track stereo mix. Bounce out another one with your vocal s raised about 1 to 2 db as well & label it as such. These are the two mixes that you will want to send to be mastered or master yourself though not recommended to do it yourself. The mastering engineer can listen to both & master the one that his/her unbiased ears think is best. They will pick the one that will have the better overall sound after mastering so trust them.


Step # 7.

If mastering yourself know that you will need to rest your ears about a day first then use an eq to fix any overall frequency issues then use a compressor to smooth out the mix, then a limiter to raise the overall volume of the mix to be as loud as any commercially released track. Go ahead & do new a/b tests with your favorite industry track this time with the goal of making your song as loud as the industry track even while both volume faders are set the same. Listen to the overall sound & try to get as close the overall quality as you can. Software such as Propellerheads Reason as well as others has Mastering suites included that have mastering presets that can be good starting points for your song mastering though adjustments must be made to fit your song.


Step # 8.

Use your ears & judge the sound closing your eyes is a good idea to get a different perspective too. Rest your ears for a day then come back to the song for a different perspective. Try to listen to it from the point of view of an average music fan, ask yourself if it sounds like a song you would want to listen to if it was not yours or if you were not even involved in music. Try your best to be objective.


Step # 9.

Listen to your master on many different types of systems such as your studio monitors, your car system, your iPod ear buds, very cheap headphones, high quality headphones A loud club system if you can, Laptop built in speakers, a clock radio, an aftermarket car system if you can. Also check your song on mono sound sources to make sure you can still hear everything ok. A great master will sound good /translate well on all kinds of playback systems. That is actually the point of mastering, to make your song loud and make it translate well everywhere.


Step # 10.

Get opinions of your songs from people associated in the music business as well as just non music business people like just regular fans. You need to know if your song is something an everyday person would want to listen to on a daily basis. Take constructive critic for what it is “constructive” Use the information to improve and make better songs in the future because really as an unsigned hip-hop artist, you should want to be able to give your music to the world with pride and not have to make excuses for the sound quality/mix etc. All the techniques and tools to capture great song recordings are out there for anybody to obtain. You just have to write great songs then take the time, however long that is, to record the perfect vocal takes, make the mix down, & get the master right.


By following the above 10 steps you will definitely record better Hip Hop and R&B songs in your home studio that will be able to compete with songs recorded by the pros.


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