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5 Tips To Record Your Audio Right From The First Time

5 Tips To Record Your Audio Right From The First Time

Whether you are a seasoned professional or an indie artist recording in your home studio, recording audio can be a hassle. Recording audio right the first time avoids extra costs in post-production when your engineer has to somehow mix out the dog barking in the background or has to work around a singer’s lisp.

Learn how to record like the pros with these 5 tips that every musician, sound engineer, and even producer should know:

1. Location. Location. Location.

Before you record a single note, you need to choose the right location. For industry pros with access to high-quality studios, this is not a big deal. However many indie artists are recording in makeshift studios, sometimes in their own living rooms! This brings on extra recording issues that could potentially cost time and money.

The location where you record vocals can be very important. The quality of the acoustics in the room can significantly affect the sound of the vocals and can make the difference between a professional-sounding recording and one that sounds amateurish.

Ideally, you want to record in a room with good acoustics, meaning that the sound of the vocals will be clear and natural, without too much reverberation or echo. A room with too much echo or reverberation can make the vocals sound distant and indistinct, while a room with too little can make the vocals sound dry and lifeless.

It’s also important to consider any noise in the environment where you’re recording. If you’re recording in a noisy location, such as a busy street or a room with lots of background noise, it can be difficult to get a clean recording. You may want to consider using soundproofing materials or recording in a quieter location.

Some things you want to avoid:

  • Trains and planes
  • Barking Dogs
  • The Air Conditioner
  • Areas with high traffic
  • Machinery

This might seem simple, but having worked with lots of indie artists and filmmakers, in particular, it is amazing to me how much extraneous noise could have been avoided if a different location was chosen. Indie musicians can avoid this by choosing the right place to record.

2. Microphone Mastery

Do a little research before choosing a microphone. Some folks like to do podcasts with their built-in computer microphone. That might work for a podcast, but it will wreak havoc with your music audio. You want the right type of mic for the instrument or voice.

If you aren’t sure what to use, head to your local music store and talk shop with the owner. You’ll learn a lot quickly. Or check out our article: Microphone Buying Guide.

There are many affordable microphones on the market that can be used for recording vocals. Here are a few options that are highly regarded by many recording professionals:

  1. Audio-Technica AT2020: This is a popular entry-level condenser microphone that is known for its clear and detailed sound. It has a cardioid polar pattern that helps to reduce unwanted noise from the sides and rear of the microphone, making it a good choice for recording vocals.
  2. Shure SM58: This is a classic dynamic microphone that has been used by musicians for decades. It has a cardioid polar pattern and is known for its durability and versatility. It’s also affordable, making it a great option for those on a budget.
  3. Rode NT1-A: This is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that is known for its low self-noise and warm, detailed sound. It comes with a shock mount and pop filter, which can help to improve the quality of your recordings.
  4. AKG Pro Audio P220: This is another large-diaphragm condenser microphone that is well-suited for recording vocals. It has a cardioid polar pattern and a wide frequency response range, which can help to capture a detailed and natural sound.

All of these microphones are available at a relatively affordable price point and are good options for those who are just starting out with recording vocals. It’s important to remember that the quality of your recordings will also depend on other factors, such as your recording environment and technique.

Read: How To Choose Best Microphones For Recording Vocals

3. Thou Shalt Not Clip

When I worked with singers recording themselves for the first time, I found that many of them didn’t know that they were clipping like crazy when they recorded. Sometimes this can be fixed quickly by simply moving the microphone away from their mouths or adjusting the volume. Other times they need different recording equipment and someone helping them to watch levels as they perform.

It’s important to set proper levels when recording audio. If your levels are too low, your recording will be too quiet, and if they’re too high, you risk distortion. Use a level meter to ensure your audio is recording at a healthy level, and adjust as needed.

Watch the levels, and when it goes in the red, you will need to record that section again. If possible, give yourself some headroom to work with.

4. The Power of the Pop Filter

A pop filter is a piece of equipment that is often used when recording vocals to reduce or eliminate the popping sounds that can occur when certain letters or sounds are pronounced forcefully, such as “p” or “b”. These popping sounds are caused by bursts of air hitting the microphone diaphragm, and can result in unpleasant popping or clicking sounds in the recording.

By placing a pop filter between the vocalist and the microphone, the filter can help to diffuse the bursts of air and prevent them from reaching the microphone. This can result in a cleaner, clearer recording that is free from unwanted popping or clicking sounds.

In addition to reducing popping sounds, a pop filter can also help to reduce sibilance or hissing sounds that can occur when pronouncing certain consonants, such as “s” or “sh”. A pop filter can help to soften these sounds and create a smoother, more natural vocal recording.

Some musicians insist that they don’t need a pop filter, but I never record vocals without one. The pop filter will catch air and excess sound, cleaning up your audio quickly and saving you time in post. While there are many tutorials on how to make your own pop filter, professional ones are very affordable. You can purchase a pop filter for the price of a pizza.

5. Don’t Tire Out Your Performers

This might seem obvious, but some musicians will keep trying for the perfect take well after they sound exhausted. Best bet? Keep water close by, take regular breaks, and if it seems like the quality of the performance is suffering, you might need to save yourself for another day. Vocalists especially can run their voices ragged, and sometimes the first few fresh performances sound the most natural.

Save yourself time by only working on smaller chunks. If Take 7 was good except for the chorus, then just run through the chorus again instead of the entire tune. If your vocalist is tired, then maybe take the time to record the drummer, some background vocals, or extra instrumental riffs for the post. Rest is important!


Taking these few simple steps to ensure that you get the recording right the first time will save you more than a few headaches in post-production. Be sure to have the right equipment, from microphones and headphones to a pop filter. Avoid clipping by being careful with the levels and watching mic placement. Stay fresh and hydrated for optimum performance. By following these tips, you can improve the quality of your audio recordings and reduce the need for re-recording or editing later on.

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