When I used to hear people talk about recording vocals in their bedroom, the first thing that would enter my mind is the annoying sound of every single noise in the house along with the voice in the recorded audio. Sure, you can install some acoustic treatment panels and use a pop screen, but getting that supertight, vocal booth sound in your bedroom is pretty tough without actually building a vocal booth. Plus, acoustic treatment can be unsightly, and while you may think it looks cool, your partner or family members may think it’s atrocious. While it may be difficult to match the tight vocal booth sound in your bedroom, you can get surprisingly close to it if you have the right gear.
When most people think of a studio microphone for vocals, the first thing that pops into their heads is a large-diaphragm condenser mic, like the Neumann U 87, for instance. While condenser mics are great for capturing crystal clear, subtle detail, if they’re not used in a properly treated recording environment, you will likely end up picking up all of the background noise that comes along with an untreated room, whether that be an air conditioner, refrigerator, or traffic sounds from outside. Then, of course, there are the early reflections, which unfortunately will also be picked up with a high degree of fidelity.
When recording in these less-than-ideal acoustic conditions, you will find that you often get a tighter, cleaner vocal sound by using a high-quality dynamic microphone, instead of a large-diaphragm condenser. My personal favorite mic to use on vocals in situations like this is the Sennheiser MD 421. This mic is great on just about everything, including snare drums and guitar cabinets, but what many people don’t know is that it also makes an excellent vocal mic for singers. Being a dynamic microphone, it is going to be less sensitive than a condenser mic, and therefore be less prone to picking up background noise. Plus, it offers excellent rejection from the back and sides, which helps minimize the picking up of early reflections. It’s not as high output as a condenser mic, so if you have a lower gain, or noisy preamp, you should consider also picking up the Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1, which will give you +25 dB of clean, transparent gain when you need it.
Another indispensable piece of my home recording setup is the sE Electronics RF-X Reflection Filter. The RF-X prevents unwanted audio ambience from contaminating your vocal tracks, and it blocks early reflections. The combination of the MD 421 dynamic mic, used with the RF-X reflection filter, yields a tight, yet high-fidelity vocal sound that will surprise you, especially if you’re recording in your untreated bedroom.
As simple as this list of gear is, I suspect you will be surprised at the results, just as I was, and continue to be. If you have any questions, or if you have your own tips on recording vocals at home, I encourage you to leave them in the Comments section, below. We are always pleased to hear from you!