Inside the Studio with Mark Hornsby: Recording Vocals
What can be said about recording vocals that hasn’t been said before? There’s mic choices, preamps, compression, EQ, unicorns, FX, sliced bread and studio magic. Then there’s the age ol’ forum question: “What’s the best microphone for recording vocals?” Well, as my good friend Dave Martin often says “What’s the closest one that’s currently plugged in?” Case in point: I was literally sitting in the studio today with funk legend Bootsy Collins. He said that he wanted to add a filtered vocal part in the bridge of the song we were working on. While a lot of us would reach for the Waves Q10 plugin and select the ‘AM Radio’ or ‘Telephone’ setting, I grabbed a Shure Bullet mic that was sitting on the studio couch, plugged it into a DI and had him cup his hands around the mic (think vocals on the intro of Led Zep’s ‘Bring It On Home’). Two takes, there was the sound, and we were moving on. He loved it. While the right microphone is always a step in the right direction, context is still everything. What processing are you using? Is it a live recording or a studio performance? How aggressive is the performance? What is the band (if there is one) doing? To explore these questions further, here are a few examples of some recent projects I worked on at Sweetwater Studios and how I approached them.