Home Demo Recording Setup
One of the conversations I have with artists most frequently goes something like this:
Artist: I can’t get my voice to sound they way I want. I’m going for an [insert artist name here] sound, do you have any tips?
Me: Most of the sound of a vocal comes from the performance, not the mix. Let’s experiment with different singing/rapping styles and see what we can get. Have you demoed these songs? It’ll really help you get your songs 100% ready before you get to the studio so we know exactly what we’re going for and can make the most of the time you’ve booked.
Artist: No I don’t have the right equipment to record at home.
This is absolutely valid. Recording equipment is complicated, confusing and expensive BUT all you really need to do to demo is to record yourself on your phone or via the microphone on your laptop, we just need a way of getting ideas down to finesse the performance before coming to the studio to record your songs properly and get them radio ready.
If you feel like you’re ready to upgrade your home studio set up to get more professional sounding demos at home you’ll need a microphone, audio interface, laptop, DAW and some headphones.
Microphones are tricky – if you have £500-£1000 to spend you can get a decent mic that’s going to sound good on any voice but it may not sound great on yours.
Audio interfaces aren’t too much of a problem, for £100 – £200 you can get a Focusrite Scralett 2i2, an Audient ID4 or similar that will do a great job for you. Using them can be complicated though.
ENTER the Antelope Axino – a USB microphone which can model the sound of various industry standard microphones. This allows you to buy a mic with a bit more confidence that at least one of the models will suit your voice AND removes the need for an audio interface.
In terms of DAW, for the purposes of demoing a free app like GarageBand, Studio One or Audacity is all you need, something that can capture the sound of your mic and allow you to listen back, assess the sound and try new things out.
Headphones are simple again, just use the ones you use to listen to music – you don’t need to be overly critical of the mix of your song, you’re just trying to test out a bunch of different vocal tones and develop your voice.