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Learn Music and Audio Production | iZotope Tips and Tutorials

4 Tips for Vocal Recording on Your Phone

by Arthur Kody, iZotope Contributor April 8, 2021
4 Tips for Vocal Recording on Your Phone

Record high-quality vocals anywhere:

Spire app for iOS

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Recording professional sounding vocals is possible with just your phone and a pair of headphones. But, recording vocals comes with its own unique set of challenges. In this article, I’ll give you four of my favorite tips I’ve learned about vocal recording to help you streamline your sessions and get high quality vocals every time using the free Spire app for iOS. 

Tip 1: Plan your vocal recording session in advance

When you’re recording vocals, you should be focused on delivering a killer performance–not worrying about if you’re getting all the takes you need. In order to keep your mind clear and on task, it helps to have a clear vision of all the vocals you’ll want for your track before you start recording. For this, I use the notes section in the Record tab of the Spire app to outline each vocal ahead of time. This acts as an easy reference I can check in on while recording to make sure I stay on track and get all the vocals I need.

Use the notes section in the Record tab to plan your vocal recording session ahead of time
Use the notes section in the Record tab to plan your vocal recording session ahead of time

In the Spire app, you have up to eight tracks to record on (seven if you are using one for an instrumental). I typically like to dedicate the first three tracks to main vocals and doubles, use the next two for harmonies, and fill up the remaining tracks with any adlibs I feel like throwing in. But each song calls for something a little different, so it really helps to have this all figured out before you tap record.

Tip 2: Use a metronome to help you stay on-time

If you’re spitting lines over a dope hip-hop beat, it should be pretty easy to keep the rhythm. But, what happens when you get to the percussion-free hook? Depending on the instrumental you’re recording vocals to, it may be beneficial to use a metronome, or “click track.” This should help you stay on-time during those sections of the song that may not have many percussive elements–making sure you aren’t rushing or dragging out your vocals.

Metronome With Percussion-Free Hook

The Spire app has a nifty metronome built in. Just tap the metronome icon at the top right, set your tempo to the BPM of your instrumental, and you’re good to go! One other thing I love about this feature is that it will add four counts of metronome at the beginning of your track, which is perfect if you need to start your vocal recording right on the first beat.

Tip 3: Don’t record too “hot” and clip your audio

Has this ever happened to you? You just laid down your best take ever, only to find out your vocal recording “clipped”. Audio clipping occurs when the volume of your input goes over the allowed threshold, and it causes the audio to become distorted. This could be used as a creative effect (check out this article on creative uses of audio clipping), but for the most part, it’s better to have a nice, clean vocal recording since you can always add creative audio effects to your vocal later.

Audio clipping is caused by the input volume being too loud
Audio clipping is caused by the input volume being too loud

Tip 4: Make sure your vocals cut through the mix

When recording vocals, I know it can be tempting to want to blast the instrumental through your headphones. If you’re like me, it’s always easier to get into the groove of a performance when the music’s as loud as possible. But, when recording vocals for the final mix of a track, you’re going to want to avoid cranking up the instrumental since some of that sound can bleed out from your headphones and get picked up by the microphone. It’s best to only have the volume turned up as much as you need to give a good performance, but no more.

Spire Pro has an innovative noise removal feature, powered by RX technology, that will remove unwanted background noise (like room reverb and the hum of your AC). Even so, I still prefer to keep my headphones at a modest level when recording my final takes. If you need to turn down the volume of just your instrumental, navigate to the Mix tab in the Spire app and drag the instrumental’s track marker downward until you get a good balance of music and vocals.

Drag your instrumental track down in the Mix tab to hear your vocal take clearly
Drag your instrumental track down in the Mix tab to hear your vocal take clearly

Try these tips out!

Now you know how to get professional vocal recordings with your phone. If you haven’t already, download the free Spire app today and try out these vocal recording tips for yourself.

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