In my work as a remote production consultant, I receive mixes to evaluate. I ask each client about where they are stuck and where they want to go in terms of production sound. One of the most common questions I’m asked is this: “How can I make my vocals sound more professional?”
When I ask those clients what they are using, 9 times out of 10, they are using an inexpensive ($100-150) condenser mic going straight into an entry-level, interface with stock plugins in the DAW. When I carefully ask questions about why they chose those items, I find that sometimes it is truly a budget issue but in other cases, they were convinced that such a setup would ensure professional results because some “expert” on YouTube said so.
Theoretically, with a lot of careful work and the right vocalist in the right room, one can achieve a decent vocal sound with such a setup but it is far from a sure thing. If one could reliably get a “professional” sound from such a setup at home, would commercial studios and all of the gear in them exist?
Some artists using a budget setup as described above may initially think their recordings sound good and they go on with mixing, mastering and distribution. Then, when the artist compares their release to those of similar artists, they often feel disillusioned because their production sound is substandard even though they followed all of the (generic) “expert advice” they found on YouTube.
There is no single approach or solution that, if embraced, will allow artists who record at home to achieve professional results.When I work with artists who are frustrated with their productions, I may suggest a different condenser or some type of dynamic mic. I may suggest a real mic preamp between the mic and interface or a Cloudlifter. I may suggest room treatments or even vocal lessons.
All I can tell you is that what works for someone on YouTube may not work for you, your voice, your room and your sound. Skip the generic tutorials, do some research, experiment and just listen to different things as you implement them. If you are still stuck, reach out to me for a consultation.
Do you need help getting a professional sound at home?