A "Best Practice" Question on Vocal Recording


New member
Greetings, all...

For a while now I've recorded my vocals in a separate group of tracks in the project set up strictly for recording, meaning there is minimal treatment going on, my philosophy being that in order to get the best performance out of myself, I should be hearing my voice as naturally as possible. I use a gentle reverb and slight compression, but that's about it. When I get the take I like, I drag it into my Vocals Mix folder which has all the aux effects tracks, etc, for treatment in the mix. I've just started using Izotope plugins—specifically Neutron 3 for vocals, an Abbey Road saturator (Waves), etc—and loving what it does, enough that I'd kinda like to hear that when I'm recording. I'd like to know what the general consensus is on that question: record as raw as possible to get all the natural nuances of my voice, or record hearing it as close as possible to what I want in the mix?

Looking forward to other perspectives.


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AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Natural to me does not sound good. The voice sounds better with compression. I like to make the vocal spitty. So dual compression fast, then slow works ok. I want it spitty but no lip noises and diminished breath sounds. Do that with track automation. No reverb. Delay.

Belt it out. Hard. cardioid pattern. Pop guard. Metal pop guard if you got. The ones that are made up of downward louvers. When you sing through them they impart a sound that adds some thickness to the note.
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
Can’t you record the raw sound and just route the track audio through the processor so you have both worlds? I do this as normal in Cubase, the input channel has no treatment at all.


If only for a moment.....
I remember when I started recording, I had no reverb unit of any kind, so I used to place the bass drum between the mic and I. I quite liked the reverb that I heard in my headphones. However, when it came time to mix or even do some processing on that vocal, I was stuck with that sound as source.
I didn't do that for very long !
Since then, I have always recorded raw. No reverb, no delay, no compression, no anything. Just the mic, preamp and voice. The same goes for all my friends that have sung on my stuff. Once the vocal is down, then the sky is the limit if I want to do some jiggery-pokery. I'm a committer ~ I like to commit to sounds right at the start. The only raw tracks I keep as a "just in case", are the drums and the vocals, because they are the only things that might ever be altered further down the line, although I avoid this and have rarely done it.


Active member
It’s pretty common practice to set up a headphone bus with a vocal chain, so the singer can hear the performance roughly as it will sound after being mixed. This can help the singer fine tune the performance to sound its best considering the effects. This is especially useful if you’re using something like auto tune as a creative effect. I notice that when singers/rappers hear their voice sounding good in the headphones, it tends to build confidence and improve the performance. I think it works more often than not.