Don’t you just hate it when you thought you record a perfect piece, only to discover later that there is a lot of hiss and other sounds being recorded as well? It happen to me in more times than I can count, which is why I am always looking to improve my recording. I don’t use whole class studio and such. It is just me, my room and the recording gear that I can afford. One has to live within his means, you know.
Anyway, here are the top 10 tips that work very for me. I am sure you can find at least some of them to be useful to you if you want to reduce the noise when recording your singing.
Turn off all electronics and fans to reduce hiss when recording
One of the most common noise is the hissing sound that is audible between your vocal notes. The easiest way to reduce this is to turn off all possible causes of the hissing sound, be it a fan, bad adapters, the window or any other potential sources.
Alternatively, you use a box or blanket to block these objects. In other words, you are ‘sound proofing’ your mic from these sources of hissing.
Position your microphone in the right place
Another trick is to turn the position of the microphone such that it faces away from the source of the hiss sound. It can be at the other end of the room or even the house. Some folks even have the mic in the closet to have a vocal booth effect.
Sing closer to the microphone
You can sing closer to the microphone so that the signal to noise ratio is greatly reduced. In essential, your body or head is essentially blocking the external noises such that the only sound being picked up is your vocal. Doing so will also let you practice singing up close to the mic for clarity and power.
Consider switching to a hypercardioid dynamic mic
A hypercardioid dynamic microphone is a powerful one directional microphone. It picks up sound from a very straight and narrow spectrum, thus ignoring all other sounds from multi directions and source. The downside for such a mic is the low signal. In such cases, I recommend getting a preamp to boast the gains. For more reading on the benefit of such a set up, check out my article: do you need a preamp for vocal recording?
Don’t use compression during vocal recording
Compression tend to amplify background noises so using it to track your recording will worse the problem. If you are using compression, I suggest using it during the mixing.
Use a pop filter to reduce popping sounds
For certain mics, there will be popping sounds when you try to get close to it. The best way to reduce this is to use a pop filter. This device cuts out the plosive sound from your breadth and reduces the popping sound. If you are unfamiliar on how to pick a right one, check out our pop filter buying guide.
Sing at a constant volume
Related to point 3, singing at a constant volume helps to maintain the signal to noise ratio. If you are singing drops off the volume in certain parts, the noise will then be hear easily. If your singing technique is currently not mature enough to maintain the constant volume, using a compressor plugin with a preset for vocal will help.
Try a noise reduction software
If you have a budget, you can try to use noise reduction software that can take out some of the background noises. One famous software is the iZotope RX. It can reduce about 6 dB worth of noise which is pretty significant. You can reduce further as it will start to degrade your own vocal recording.
How iZotope RX works is pretty ingenious. It will try to understand the whole track such that it knows what is its noise profile. It can then let you choose which part of the frequency you want to remove. This gives you total control over the noise reduction process and result in a pretty good output.
Use an expander
An expander works in the opposite way of a compressor. It magnifies the sound that is above a stated volume. You can adjust this stated volume until you get more of your vocals and less of the background noise. Assuming the latter is always softer than your vocals, it will boost your vocal significantly more.
Trying to get the perfect vocal recording is the wish of almost every bedroom singer like myself. Unfortunately, there is a lot of external factors affecting the quality of such recording. I hope these 9 tips can help you to improve yours.