I'm a fairly experienced newbie in producing and I've always wondered specially on a lot of "tutorials" on Youtube specially when you search "how to edit/process vocals"; their "raw" vocals already sound good, probably not perfect but way better than my actual raw and untouched vocals after recording. I have an at2020 with a Behringer UM2 interface, and they're quite good too. But it doesn't seem to sound similar to the rest of the "dry and raw" vocals out there in Youtube. I figured maybe they're like using preproduction effects? Like on a console or something and edited the eq their and compression before editing them on the daw? Since whenever I record, the output is good and okay, but sounds a bit boxy and roomy. Their "raw" vocals already sound eq'd and "airy" if you know what I mean, and only needs a little bit of touch. How do you think they did something like that with their vocal recordings? Even so, how do you guys do it?

Sorry for the naive question, I'm just really confused. Any thoughts?

2 Answers 2


The best way to have any recording sound good is to make a good sounding recording in the first place. This is not an easy task. Excellent recording engineers have usually spent at least a decade learning their craft.

Like most things, the right equipment helps but can’t make someone without skills sound like someone with skills. So you have to study and practice recording avidly for many years to get good. And along the way, you’ll want to get quality equipment.

If your recordings are boxy and roomy before you process them, then that’s because of how you’re recording. You’re choosing where to record, and the sound of that room gets into the microphone (which is always true). The only way to get a good room sound into a microphone is to find a good sounding room and/or put the microphone in a part of the room that sounds good. You can also do things to make a bad sounding room sound less bad - maybe even make it sound kinda good in some cases.

Once you have selected a good place to record, the next step is utilize many other skills, including mic positioning, mic and preamp selection, optional processing during recording, and cajoling the best performance from the artist(s).

We can’t tell you in a few paragraphs how to be a good recordist any more than we could tell you how to be a good violinist. You have to either learn to record over many years with concerted effort, or you have to hire someone who has already learned it.

  • The sad truth is that there are many ways to make a good sounding room bad, but no way to make a bad sounding room good. Oct 27, 2021 at 11:57

There's a lot to be done, before ever processing anything, just with how you set up the recording. I qualify as a "newbie" at production myself, but the smattering of instruction I've gotten suggests:

  1. Microphone placement is incredibly important. Move it 3 inches away, 3 inches in, and the difference is incredible. The best way to figure this out is simply to get live "monitoring" in your headphones and then try trial and error, changing distance and even vertical positioning. The right distance can vary with different microphones, different subjects, and different spaces, plus the sound you want can be a subjective choice. If you get within a few inches, you get the "proximity effect" that makes you sound like a morning radio DJ, if that's what you're into. In general, I find the best placement is usually somewhere in a 12-inch to 3-foot range, and for vocals, slightly to the side of the "stream" of air coming straight out of the mouth.
  2. Choose your space. I often record classical music and do zero effects or processing, so I choose a very live, "wet" space, but for most other purposes, the goal is to get as absolutely dead and dry as possible, and then just add reverb as well as other effects as desired. Your dry, raw audio in this case should have no hint of "room" to it at all. The best bet is often to get into the smallest space possible, like a closet. Soft surfaces (hanging clothes, pillows) can absorb echos. Your worst enemy is a medium-sized, rectangular, room with hard, flat, bare walls. An unpitched sound would hit the left wall, bounce 20 feet to the right wall, and bounce right back, and before long frequencies that are factors of 20 feet get selectively amplified and the sound takes on a pitch.
  • 2
    Unfortunately the smaller the room the more prominent early reflections can be, which can cause comb filtering and boxy sound. The one advantage of a small room is that making all the walls dead is cheaper, since you usually pay to stop reflections on a square foot basis. And then, that’s only effective for higher frequencies. You can’t get good low end in small rooms no matter what, unless you have mega bass trapping and the source is quiet. Oct 26, 2021 at 2:55

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