For the March edition of our Disc Makers Twitter chat (#DMchat), we asked recording artist, producer, recording engineer, and “The Recording Solution” founder Scott Wiggins for some home studio recording tips. His video, “How to get a great vocal sound in your home studio,” is a great primer for the Twitter Chat.
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To view the entire chat transcript, please visit this link. Below is a reformatted version of our discussion.
Who’s with us today in #DMchat? Please introduce yourself and let the conversation begin!
My name is Scott Wiggins, and I started my site, The Recording Solution, to help DIY musicians make better music.
What’s the biggest challenge home studio owners face when it comes to producing a high quality recording?
I think the idea that you need expensive gear to make good recordings. It’s the ear not the gear! Budget gear works great.
How do you create a comfortable, but functional, studio environment for your clients?
I believe that producers and artists, if they choose to home record, really should take a course (and take their time!). Education and learning the right techniques are crucial. I keep my space clean, cozy, maybe use lamp light and set a vibe. Provide snacks/water. Be professional. Be nice! It’s crucial! No one wants to work with a jerk. 🙂
How important is your gear? What small upgrades in equipment make the biggest difference?
It’s more your skills that matter. I think a quick win is setting up some acoustic treatment. It’s commonly overlooked, but important. You need to hear accurately.
How much experimentation in terms of mic placement, angles, and distance do you do with your clients?
It’s all about mic placement. I try multiple positions until I feel it’s right. Try at least two and pick the best one. I try to get it right at the source, meaning that during the recording session, sometimes you’ve got to just move on. Music shouldn’t always be perfect, and deadlines can certainly help with moving on. Get it done!
For vocal sounds specifically, how do you encourage your clients to work the mic?
Don’t eat the mic. Keep a little distance, about 8-10 inches can help a lot with balance. It also allows for the vocalist to make a little movement.
Do you try to get the hottest signal you can? What do you do for your particular DAW?
Do not record too hot in digital land. Clipping is bad! In ProTools I shoot for -16 to -18 on my meters. Leave some headroom.
Why is it important to limit compression & EQ when recording?
If you’re just getting started, be careful with EQ and comp when recording. You could kill the performance if the compression is overdone. If you know what you’re doing, a little bit won’t hurt. Sometimes you need to commit to a sound and go with it.
What are some ways you prevent overlapping frequencies?
I will mix in mono and then use subtractive EQ. This helps you carve out correct EQ pockets and also helps balance any issues. Anybody have crickets make their way onto recordings? This dude has!
Why is it important to use proper gain staging?
Clipping in digital is nasty. It’s not musical at all, like analog can sometimes be. Leaving headroom will help you later in the mix stages with EQ/comp.
Can you share an example of a time you needed to bring creativity or reinvent a track after the session?
Besides adding crickets, we once played a lot of percussion on some coffee cups to add excitement to a chorus. That was fun!
Crowdfunding for Musicians: #DMchat Recap
How to get a great vocal sound in your home studio
Five tips for recording vocals at home
How to record a great vocal take
Singing tips – don’t tax your voice before a vocal performance
The recording equipment you really need for your home studio setup