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Learn Music and Audio Production | iZotope Tips and Tutorials

What Do I Need to Start Recording Vocals?

by Arthur Kody, iZotope Contributor May 20, 2021
Learn about these five tips and tools to start recording vocals that won't break the bank.
Learn about these five tips and tools to start recording vocals that won't break the bank.

Record high-quality vocals anywhere:

Spire icon

Spire app for iOS

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Most people think you need a huge, fancy studio with tons of expensive equipment to start recording high quality vocals. But, thanks to recent technological advances, the days of having to spend bookoo bucks on studio time are over. In this article, I’ll highlight my favorite new tools for capturing professional sounding vocals. Whether you’re just beginning to record vocals, or you’ve been at it for years, these resources are a must-have if you want to up your vocal recording game. 

1. Find a quiet room to record in

The first step to recording your vocals is to set up your recording space in a relatively quiet room of your house and soundproof it as much as possible. Items like blankets, curtains, area rugs, or upholstered furniture can help minimize sound bouncing off surfaces in the room and reduce noise from the outside. If you’re serious about recording vocals regularly, consider items like acoustic panels and learning more about acoustic treatment.

2. Get a pair of wired headphones

You’ll need a pair of wired headphones to monitor your voice when you’re recording. Bluetooth headphones cause latency between what you’re hearing and what you’re singing, which makes it very difficult to record properly! The standard wired Apple Earpods will do. Your headphones don’t need to be fancy, but they do need to connect to your iPhone with a lightning cable attachment (iPhone 7 or newer). Here’s why...

3. Use the free Spire app for vocal recording

Instead of forking out thousands of dollars on a new computer, an audio interface, a condenser microphone, and pro audio recording software, the free Spire app for iOS, developed by iZotope, is perfect for capturing high quality vocal recordings. The best part: It’s all on your iPhone. The free Spire app includes a Soundcheck feature that will automatically set your input levels, and using technology from Nectar, it will apply automatic tone shaping to your vocal recordings to make sure your voice always sounds crisp and clear. 

The Spire app makes vocal recording easy and fun, with multi-track recording (great for adding layered harmonies and vocal doubles) and an easy to use visual mixer. Plus, with the unique cloud sharing feature, you can quickly and easily share your projects with friends and fans, or send the stems directly to your producer right from within the app. Whether you’re collaborating on a new idea for a track, or recording your final vocal takes, the free Spire app is a fantastic tool for capturing high quality vocal recordings.

Use the free Spire app to capture high quality vocal recordings
Use the free Spire app to capture high quality vocal recordings

4. Become a Spire Pro member to unlock more professional vocal features

While recording professional vocals starts with the free Spire app for iOS, Spire Pro is a membership that unlocks even more functionality. Spire Pro members get access to exclusive, new features that really make your vocal recordings shine, including:

  • Automatically repair your audio and remove any unwanted background noise via WiFi connection.

  • Clean up pops and plosives from your vocal tracks—just like a virtual pop filter, via WiFi connection.

  • Access to some really cool vocal effects including pitch correction, formant shifting, and the “Inspire Me” feature which applies randomized, unique vocal effect chains to help you create your signature sound. 

Here’s an example of some dry vocals I recorded using only Spire Pro and my iPhone:

Spire Pro Vocal Example

And here’s an audio example of some Spire vocal effects being used in my recordings:

Spire Pro Vocal Example with Harmonies & Effects

If you’re looking to record professional sounding vocals with your iPhone, sign up for a free trial of Spire Pro.  

5. Take your voice to the next level with Spire Studio (2nd Generation)

As a professional vocalist, I used to spend hundreds of dollars on studio time every month. That is, until I got my first generation Spire Studio back in 2019. Since then, I’ve been recording my vocals exclusively with Spire Studio and a Spire Pro membership and, let me tell you, using these tools together makes my vocals sparkle. Listen to one of my released tracks recorded with Spire Studio. 

iZotope recently rolled out the new Spire Studio: a wireless, rechargeable recording tool that pairs perfectly with the free Spire app (and Spire Pro membership). With its built-in microphone, Spire Studio serves as a full vocal recording studio for those who are looking for a more serious setup. It’s like having your own personal recording engineer on call.

Spire Studio: a wireless, rechargeable, and easy-to-use vocal recording studio
Spire Studio: a wireless, rechargeable, and easy-to-use vocal recording studio

Here’s a few of my favorite Spire Studio features:

  • Portability: Since Spire Studio is wireless and rechargeable, you can record anywhere, anytime. And, with a 4+ hour battery life, you don’t have to worry about it dying in the middle of a recording session.

  • Built-in microphone: The studio-grade omnidirectional condenser mic is perfect for capturing vocals without having to stress about the perfect mic placement. Plus, it’s great for recording other instruments too!

  • Dual combo inputs: The two XLR and ¼” inputs with phantom power on the back of Spire Studio allow you to plug in additional microphones or instruments so you can record multiple tracks in one take or track all of your instruments to build a song if you don’t have an instrumental to add vocals to. 

  • Headphone outputs: With two ⅛” outputs, you can have a friend join you to monitor your performances in real-time.

  • App compatibility: Spire Studio pairs with the iOS app and a companion Android app, so anyone can use Spire Studio. It also has exclusive hardware recording effects and amp models to help record vocals, guitars, bass, etc. Lastly, Spire Studio unlocks Enhance in the app, a mastering feature powered by Ozone that improves clarity and boosts a track’s loudness to finalize a song.

What’s new to Spire Studio?

I was thrilled to get my hands on the 2nd generation of Spire Studio a few weeks ago, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite improvements with you:

  • 6-month trial to Spire Pro: The Spire Pro membership paired with Spire Studio adds a ton of extra vocal tools and effects to your arsenal.

  • Double storage space: Now, you can store twice as much audio on your Spire Studio.

  • Upgraded preamps: The new preamps have better interference rejection and more headroom, meaning you’ll get more volume with less distortion on your vocal recordings.

  • Automatic device pairing: Spire Studio has built-in bluetooth pairing to automatically pull your Android or iOS device onto its WiFi network. No more going into settings and submenus to connect. 

Start recording professional vocals 

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on studio time, or invest in tons of expensive equipment in order to get high quality vocal recordings. With the Spire ecosystem of tools, you can easily capture professional vocals on the fly, on the go, and on your own! Download the free Spire app for iOS today.

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