Best Way To Record Acoustic Guitar And Vocals At The Same Time

Best Way To Record Acoustic Guitar And Vocals At The Same Time | integraudio.com

Because we know how important it is for musicians to get the full experience when recording a ballad on vocals and guitar at the same time, today we have prepared the best method to record this way.

Singer-songwriters generally give their most genuine performances while recording vocals and guitar together, but separating them allows them far more flexibility in the mixing stage. Knowing how to record vocals and acoustic guitar simultaneously is an essential talent for any engineer, whether recording a rapid sample of an original recording or an emotional song with a vocalist in the studio.

For example, consider a musician who also writes songs. They’ve spent their entire musical career singing and playing the guitar simultaneously; now, you expect them to perform as well while focusing on just one instrument. Concessions are often necessary on the recording end to get the best performance rather than making things more difficult for the performer.

Let’s look at ways to record guitar and voice at the same time, as well as the biggest problem you might encounter when doing so.

What Is The Best Way To Record Acoustic Guitar And Vocals At The Same Time?

The best way is using a single mic in an optimal location is the easiest method. This is how people did it on many old records, so it can be helpful if you’re going for a retro sound. Finding the ideal location is easier said than done, so you’ll need patience if you plan on doing it this way.

When using a single microphone, it is recommended to be placed as close to the singer’s mouth as possible. Compared to the other ways discussed, this will result in a less front-and-centre guitar in the overall mix. However, this technique might help make a demo or record with a more lively vibe.

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Tips To Record Acoustic Guitar And Vocals At The Same Time

You can achieve the most vibrant results from a guitar/voice recording with a multi-mic setup; nevertheless, phase coherence must be carefully considered at all times, not just while recording but also when mixing. If you’re recording in stereo, you should check your microphones in mono before mixing.

Room Mic

Take out your preferred large-diaphragm condenser and set it up close to the performance. Use an omnidirectional pattern to capture more ambient noise or a cardioid pattern to get a more focused, less muddy sound.

Adjust the mic’s distance to capture a more direct or ambient sound. Elevate the mic stand or tilt it up for more vocals, or lower it or tilt it down for more guitar to change the relative volume of each instrument.

This method provides a balanced mix of foreground and background noise and requires only a microphone, eliminating the possibility of phase issues while recording.  The performer can give their all in a relaxed setting. The downside is that it might be tricky to fine-tune the mix by adjusting the volume of each instrument individually.

Vocal Mic And DI Guitar

Using a direct input (or DI) for the acoustic and a dedicated mic for the vocal is the quickest and easiest way to record both simultaneously. In addition, this method allows for the greatest isolation between instruments, simplifying the mixing procedure. However, the direct output of an acoustic guitar often sounds brittle and thin, so you may require a lot of adjusting to produce a pleasant sound.

Two Mics

Get a great vocal sound by using your preferred mic and adjusting the settings. After deciding where to put the performer, you must ensure they are at ease, then record the guitar with a separate mic. Although the sweet spot moves around slightly from session to session, it is typically located about the 12th fret, where the neck meets the guitar’s body.

This method yields a pure, even sound with ample space between the instruments, making it simple to mix. However, phase issues brought by having two mics might make it tough to find a mic placement that is appropriate for the sound and comfortable for the performance.

Three Mics

You can use a stereo pair of microphones to record the guitar and a third mic to capture the vocals, making the three-mic approach the most flexible method on our list. Start by placing the vocal mic, then focus on dialing in the guitar sound. Given that there are still two microphones available, you have a lot of leeway regarding how you want to capture the guitar.

Using a stereo pair of condenser microphones is a standard method for recording acoustic guitars. One mic at the sweet spot and another near the bridge will produce a close, direct sound. Just be cautious, as this approach is prone to phase issues. If you’re looking for more room, try using an XY method.

You can get a more direct sound by moving the mics in closer or a fuller room sound by moving them back. This method produces an expansive stereo image; however, if you step back too far, the guitar’s stereo image will collapse into that of a regular room mic. Remember that the greater the number of mics, the more complicated it will be to mix the final product.

Mid-Side Technique

The mid-side method produces a warm, even sound with good separation and wide stereo spread. The method calls for using two microphones: one with an omnidirectional pickup pattern and another with your chosen mic. You can get a tight, focused sound from a mic with a cardioid or hyper-cardioid pickup pattern or a broader, more ambient sound from an omnidirectional mic.

The mid microphone should be positioned so that it is facing the performer. If you’re having trouble getting the correct sound, refer to the Room Mic recommendations. The side microphone should be positioned directly beneath the primary mic, at a ninety-degree angle to the instrument, with the capsule’s long sides towards the walls.

This mic will capture the room’s sound with a wide stereo image. More effort into your digital audio workstation is required like you’ll need to duplicate the side mic channel in your DAW. To separate the capsule’s left and right halves, flip the polarity of the new channel and pan the camera sharply to the left and right.

Adjust the background noise level by blending the “side” mic channels with the “mid” mic. When you next record voice and an acoustic guitar together, use these methods to get the best possible sound.

Player’s Perspective

Micing the performer is another typical technique for recording guitar and voice simultaneously. Like the Room Mic, begin by placing a single mic in front of the performer to record the guitar and voice. The second microphone should be situated behind the performer, adjacent to the right ear, and pointed at the floor in front of the performance.

This microphone records the sound the performer hears, including the direct vocal sound and the ambient guitar sound that enhances the first microphone’s recording. This method is an excellent option for any recording session because it provides a consistent, well-balanced tone with a customizable ambiance.

If a performer dislikes being confined by mic stands, this method may be a decent alternative because of the mic positioning. The two mics are pointed in opposing directions; therefore, you must switch one channel’s polarity to eliminate phase issues.

The Best Way To Record Acoustic Guitar and Vocals (at the same time)

How To Prepare To Record Acoustic Guitar And Vocals At The Same Time?

To prepare to record acoustic guitar and vocals, you must think about the room first because a poorly tuned environment might compromise your mix by adding mediocre reverb. That’s why it’s crucial to think about recording techniques, preparation, etc., before starting to record.

  • Chose The Room
    When making plans to record voices, the first thing to do is settle on a recording space. The ideal location would be one with low background noise and decent acoustics. If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to record and compress your music files without sacrificing sound quality.
    While a completely silent space is best for recording, excessively silent can be detrimental. Look for a middle ground between the two extremes. Removing distracting background noise is the following step assuming you’ve settled on a room. Next, put the air conditioners and fans to sleep. A carpeted room is the ideal place to record because of the additional soundproofing it provides.
  • Microphone Position
    If you want to record vocals at home, you’ll need to ensure the microphone is set up correctly. The microphone needs to be distant from any walls. The result will be less echo and reflection. Furthermore, the optimum sound can be captured by placing the microphone at the room’s geographic centre.
  • Acoustic Treatment
    By dampening echoes and minimizing reverberation, acoustic treatment improves a space’s overall audibility. The addition of soundproofing materials to the ceiling and walls can accomplish this. Acoustic panels and bass traps are two typical aural decor additions.
    This is especially helpful for recording rock, pop, and rap vocals. Adding acoustic treatment to a recording space makes the space more pleasant to work in and improves the quality of recorded vocals.
  • Microphones Selection
    The choice of microphone is likewise up to you. Condenser, dynamic, and ribbon are the three primary categories. In general, condenser mics are more expensive but provide higher-quality recordings.
    In addition to being cheaper, dynamic microphones are less susceptible to feedback. Remember that condenser microphones need a power supply of 48 volts, so you’ll need preamps if you want to use them.
  • Microphones Placement
    The first microphone should be placed at an angle, so the singer looks down into the top of it, and its polar pattern should be adjusted so that the front of the capsule is aimed at the 12th fret of the guitar. The second mic should have its front capsule pointed at the singer and its side capsule at the guitar.
    The instrument must again be aimed at the edge of the capsule. An additional figure-8 polar pattern with the second microphone would be helpful too. Place the mics close to the source to acquire an excellent direct level compared to the ambient noise (5-8 inches).
    Getting the mics far enough apart from each other to avoid feedback will require some trial and error. The acoustics of the recording environment will be especially important, given that you will be recording from both the front and back of the capsule. If the room has been treated or is heavily furnished with plush carpeting, you will see fewer reflections.
Tracking Tips: How to Record Vocals and Acoustic Guitar At The Same Time

What Is The Main Issue When Recording Acoustic Guitar And Vocals At The Same Time?

The most significant challenge in recording vocals and electric guitar together is the bleed of guitar sound into the vocal mic and vice-versa. The vocal mic in the recording studio will pick up your singing voice, and it will pick up the guitar’s sound as well.

Of course, the guitar mic will also take up some of your voice, but since guitars can be louder than people’s voices, this is less likely to be an issue. But, if you like it, maybe it will give the recording more of a “live” vibe.

For a long time, musicians recorded live in the studio and dealt with the bleed of sound from other instruments into their mic as an inevitable part of the process. They felt compromising individual control over instruments was acceptable to portray a band’s live performance atmosphere.

  • Stand Up
    Standing will provide the most space between the guitar and the mic, whereas if you’re seated, they’ll be near one another. You might also experiment with lowering your guitar strap slightly to see if that helps.
  • Chose An Less Sensitive Mic
    Compared to a condenser microphone, a dynamic microphone is less likely to pick up the sound of guitar strings. You might record the vocals using a Shure SM58 or something similar.
  • Change Mic Positioning
    Using a microphone with a cardioid response pattern will dampen most of the sound coming from the back. Try singing into the mike from above, with the mic’s rear-facing your guitar. Be wary; you could be ruining your vocal performance with this.
  • Mouth Closer To The Mic
    You can turn down the gain on your audio interface the nearer the microphone is to the source of the sound. The lower you may set the gain, the mic will catch up, and the less the sound from the guitar. Unfortunately, the “proximity effect” causes the low-frequency material to be enhanced when the mic is very close to the source. You may not like this effect, or you may be able to fix it in post-production with equalization.
  • Edit Gaps
    After recording vocals, you can remove unwanted silence using the digital audio workstation. The guitar strings will only vibrate when a vocalist is present. The singing should completely drown out the guitar string noise.

Conclusion

There is now a well-defined set of steps to take to capture vocals and acoustic guitar in a recording studio simultaneously. We can employ various techniques to reduce the amount of guitar sound leaks into the vocal microphone. The primary benefit of digital audio workstation-based multitrack recording is that it allows us to record one track, then another track over the top, etc.

This is what “multi-tracking” is all about at its core, so if you want to do things differently, you better have a solid reason. Maybe you want to sing and play guitar like you’re in a real band. This, too, is an admirable objective.

However, it would help if you were prepared to give up some of the versatility of having individual, unprocessed vocal and guitar tracks. No matter how careful you are, some guitar sound will leak into the vocal mic, and this is not always bad and might give the recording a unique flavour.

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