How to Write, Perform and Produce Studio Vocals
Vocals are the most important element of a song.
They convey the emotion, drama and human connection in music.
No matter what genre of music you create, if it features vocals, they deserve special attention.
But getting great studio vocals is hard.
The process starts before your song is even written—and continues all the way to mastering.
In this guide I’ll go through every single topic you’ll ever need to know to get perfect vocals for your song.
What are studio vocals?
Studio vocals are the recorded audio of a human voice in produced music. They can include techniques like singing, rapping, screaming, beatboxing or any other method of vocal expression that might be used in a song.
Studio vocals sound much different from a live singer because of the unique music production techniques engineers use to create them.
The way these techniques interact at different stages of the process defines the sound of the vocal and its effect in the song.
I’ll go through each step you need to create a great studio vocal sound from start to finish.
To record a great vocal, you’ll need to write a great part. You’ll never get a satisfying sound if you don’t start with the right raw material.
That means writing your vocals is the first step to getting them right in your song. A memorable hook, a strong melody or an insightful lyric can be all it takes to capture your listeners’ attention.
But creating good parts from scratch isn’t always easy. Inspiration can seem random—especially when it comes to writing vocal lines.
Even so, writing vocals is a skill you can practice like any other in music.
There’s no correct way to write your vocals, but there are plenty of ways to get started if you’re feeling stuck and need a kickstart.
Here’s every resource we have to help you write your vocals.
How To Write a Song in 6 Simple Steps
How to Write Better Lyrics in Your Songs
What is a Hook in a Song?
What Is Melody? How to Use Melody in Your Songwriting
A perfect vocal line isn’t worth anything if you can’t sing it.
Delivering a great vocal performance may seem effortless for the pros, but any great take requires chops to execute.
One of the best ways to improve your vocal tracks is to focus on your singing.
You don’t have to be a natural talent to get a compelling vocal that compliments a song well.
But taking the time to work on your singing will improve your results no matter what.
Practicing doesn’t have to mean endless repetitive takes during recording. In fact, practicing your vocals this way is often the least efficient way to improve.
Instead, work on your ear training and music intervals to improve the fundamentals you need to nail your vocal takes.
Vocal practice is essential, but warming up the right way can make a huge difference for your vocal takes right away.
Find a good warmup and get into the habit of using it every time you sing for an extended period.
You’ll be much more confident going into a vocal session if you’re well warmed up and ready to sing.
Dive into our collection of resources to learn more about these topics and how they can help your singing.
The 10 Best Vocal Warm Ups for Every Singer
Music intervals: How Notes Work Together
Ear Training Apps: The 8 Best Tools For Improving Your Listening Skills
If you’ve written a great part and practiced hard to learn it, recording your vocals is the next step.
Tracking vocals takes a special approach to make sure you get it right.
If you want your vocals to sound big and bold in your song, it means they’ll have to be loud—sometimes much louder than almost everything else in the mix.
It’s easy to notice tiny details and imperfections when your tracks are in the spotlight like this.
And once you’ve started, it’s hard to go back. If you need to record something again, it’s not always possible to get the exact same sound.
That’s why there’s so much pressure on tracking vocals. The quality of your end result depends a lot on the choices you make during recording.
To help you get it right we’ve put together in-depth guides on key issues like how to choose a microphone, how to produce a vocal session and how to create the right environment for vocal recording.
It may seem difficult, but even beginners can get great results if they understand the basics and take the time to get it right.
Here’s everything you need to know to record vocals well:
Recording Vocals at Home: 9 Big Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
How to DIY Vocal Booth for Studio Quality Vocals
How to Produce a Vocal Session in 6 Steps
Great studio vocals have a polished, professional sound that seems larger than life.
Every part of the process has an impact, but mixing is especially important for creating the finished sound of studio vocals
It’s the step where you’ll apply the processing and effects that give the song it’s unique vocal texture.
Some mixing processes are subtle like the compression and EQ you’ll need to situate the vocals in the mix.
But you might also choose to apply some stylish vocal effects to make your voice stand out.
To get the best results you have to lay the groundwork for this kind of creative processing.
That means editing your takes carefully to get the best performance and cleaning up any clicks pops in the tracks.
It also could mean adjusting the performance with vocal pitch correction.
You’re probably familiar with compression and EQ, but do you know how to use them on vocals? You may need to take a different approach in this special case.
And no matter what approach you choose, you’ll need a suite of plugins to do the job.
Here are in-depth guides for every important task in vocal mixing.
Mixing Vocals 101: 6 Steps to Get Release-Ready Sound
9 Free VST Plugins for Mixing Perfect Vocals
Everyone wants perfect vocals that soar above the mix and evoke strong emotions.
From idea to release, every step in your workflow affects the end result.
If you’ve made it through this guide you have a collection of resources that will help you get the vocal sound of your dreams.