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Recording vocals in Cubase

Mo Volans on Jan 31, 2011 in Cubase 0 comments

Steinberg's Cubase is an immensely powerful DAW that contains just about every tool you'll need to complete your projects from conception to completion. One of the many areas it really shines in is vo

Steinberg's Cubase is an immensely powerful DAW that contains just about every tool you'll need to create your projects from conception to completion. One of the many areas it really shines in is vocal recording.

Straight out of the box Cubase is more than capable of recording and processing vocals for voice over, music and podcast projects. Let's take a quick look at the basics of laying down your first vocal recordings...

Step 1 - Microphone & Interface Setup

First up, before you even touch Cubase you'll need to think about the hardware you are using. The easiest way to get a vocal signal into any DAW is to use a microphone connected to an audio interface that incorporates a quality microphone pre-amp.

With this hardware acquired and the physical connections made, the only job left to do is ensure you have the correct drivers installed and your audio interface is selected in Cubase's Device Panel.

With all of this done, the physical inputs of your interface should show up clearly in any channel in Cubase. Be sure to select the input that your microphone is plugged into and arm that track for recording. You should now hear your vocal and see your input level coming into Cubase.

Getting Input Gain Right

Many DAWs don't have the option to set the input gain directly in their mixers, Cubase is different in this respect and has a dedicated gain control at the top of each channel strip. This means you can quickly tweak the level of a vocal without even touching your interface.

Even though this feature is extremely useful and can allow you to get the right input level during a hectic session, it's well worth remembering that anything you do here will be imprinted onto your recorded files permanently.

If you have a very quiet, noisy microphone signal and you turn it up using this method (or any other gain control), your signal level will be increased but so will your noise floor. So it's worth thinking about your signal path and hardware choice before any drastic changes are made here. As long as a healthy balance is struck and plenty of headroom is available when your recording hits the disk, you should be able to get a perfectly acceptable recording level with most hardware set ups.

Processing Vocal Recording

Now processing your vocal is a pretty in depth subject and perhaps a good candidate for a future tutorial but let's take a brief look at the different options available to you here.

In some situations you may want to hear some effects when you are actually tracking or recording your vocal parts. Before you start there are a few things to consider. You can add effects plug-ins to your recording track but this will induce extra latency and also imprint any effects used on to your recording, essentially making this processing permanent, this is not ideal and not something I would advise.

Your alternative is to use 'monitor' processing, this involves using effects that are heard by the vocalist but are not imprinted to your recording. This processing can then be added or subtracted at a later stage.

The best way to access this form of processing is to choose an interface with some form of internal DSP. Many low cost interfaces sport this excellent feature now and it allows you to apply latency free, real-time effects to your inputs that are not passed to your DAW.

This means your vocalist can be inspired by an excellent reverb or delay patch but you retain the freedom of applying new processing at a later stage. A feature well worth thinking about when shopping for your next interface.


Check out these video tutorials to learn more about recording.

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More

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