Work in progress with Liam Vik

Actually Liam Vik (vox and lyrics) and Mr. Ivan Perrone (beat) record their new album at our studio.

Liam Vik

Liam Vik

Listen their last single released in december 2014 – Vittorio Arrigoni (Besana in Brianza, 4 febbraio 1975 – Gaza, 15 aprile 2011)

Technical backstage: Recording vox

It’s not a didactic section (when needed I’ll link related pages on manufacturer site) but so as to explain my approach to recording.

Capture and recording at the best, vocals is a basic work for a sound engineer.

When you list a radio program or a song with a speaker/singer you must understand speech/lyrics and every nuance and dynamic of their voices. Here’s why when I record a singer I pay great attention to capture his perfomance at the best. But, check it out, it’s not just a matter of microphone tipology.

Sometimes vocals recording session become an album cover

Sometimes vocals recording session become an album cover

I draw up a list by five points.

1) Let him hair down

A good perfomance need a quiet environment in a comfortable feel with a warm half-light and with a presence of few people (better a trusted person or none) to realize a relaxed situation without any kind of embarassament. For me it’s important to create an empathy with the singer.

Generally, lead and back vocals need two hours to record. I consider some breaks to listen takes or simply to drink a cup of coffee.

My live room with a warm and diffuse half-light

My live room with a warm and diffuse half-light

2) Suitable acoustic environment

It’s basical working into a room with a flat and balanced response and with a small reverberation. The top is a room with variable acoustic (from absorber to diffusive).

My room is made with double side panels on the walls, one absorbent and one reflective. By this way I can change room response quickly. Generally, I use all panels with absorbent face to record vocals or half-share panels reverse when recording drums, strings or acoustic guitar.

I projected a quadratic diffuser panel, Acoustic Environment DRQ13, to balance my control room’s acoustic response and sometimes I use they on my live room.

Quadratic diffuser panel Acoustic Environment DRQ13 on my control room

Quadratic diffuser panel Acoustic Environment DRQ13 on my control room

3) Setting up a good level monitoring

Obviously monitoring is a main step.

I prefer create a customized mix for singer with a separate sub-master for pre-recorded accompaniment (musical base). I use my SPL MTC 2381 CUE Mix controls to balance vocals and sub-master.

SPL MTC 2381 (pic from web)

SPL MTC 2381 (pic from web)

My monitoring phones are Sennheiser HD 25 sp (closed with 75Ω impedance) or AKG K240 (semi-open with 600Ω impedance). The latter has a superior sound quality but it has a low sensibility and some interference troubles.

Once occasion a singer used my monitor speakers to listen base because he found a live perfomance feel.

Generally, I use a light, short reverb like large room.

4) How choosing the best way to record…

Drop verse and chorus one by one or at once?

I usually ask to the singer to perform two or three times at once to create a right feel and to facilitate his focus. After I record all verses at first and all chorus to follow meaning not to lose his feeling and to find a better perfomance.

I choose in real time better takes and edit they to listen an almost definitly compilation of session.

5) …and the better microphone for his perfomance

Be careful: I wrote “to record his perfomance” not just his voice.

I generally use a Neumann U87ai (I bought two of it) but I always check if the nuances and the sound are linked with the essence of the song.

I tried Cloud JRS-34, a beautiful ribbon microphone, to record a youth singer and to add a warm and mellow presence.

Sometimes I use Electrovoice RE-20, a typical dynamic broadcast microphone, which it’s perfect to record speech on intro or bridge to create a deep, in-face sound.

I use two matched microphones with different gain to record very wide dynamic session like growl or scream voice.

About explosive consonant or breath, obviously, I use pops filter to minimize them but, sometimes, I turn capsule by 90° and I switch the microphone polar pattern to omnidirectional. Air flux overtake microphone without noisy effect.


– Do you add an equalizer or compressor during recording? No, I don’t

– Do you add automation on vocal track during mix? Yes, I do (if  needed)

– Can you record my song in your studio? Yes, with pleasure 😉  Contact me

If you got a question, please tell me 🙂



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