I just received a question through the Home Brew Audio YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/homebrewaudio) about recording vocals at home.
This person doesn't understand why when they sing loud into the mic in their home recording studio, the sound comes out distorted. Here's this person's question and our answer:
Q: well what I'm trying to understand is why I can't sing as loud as I like... I recorded in a studio a few times, and i could sing as loud as I like, and similar things, however now the trimming affect works and the software break the voice into a horrible annoying sound... so sorry I don't know how to describe it any better.
I connect my mic to a little boxy thing that my dad bought with it, called M-Audio (ed: he probably means the M-Audio Fast Track) that connects to my computer through USB.
Thanks alot, Dave :]
A: Dave, I know exactly what you mean. You have two options. The best one is to get a compressor and/or limiter, and connect it to the M-Audio box (Fast Track is it?). A compressor will lower your voice loudness when it starts getting loud, and a limiter will prevent it crossing a certain loudness level entirely. You would use the "insert" sockets on the back of the box. I use a great little compressor called the Really Nice Compressor (I'm not kidding:)), by a company called FMR audio. There are lots of different kinds out there though.
The second way is to back way away from the mic for the loud bits. If the entire song is loud, turn the "gain" knob down until the loudest parts don't clip (make the red light on the M-Audio box go on), and then raise the level of the recorded wave after the fact. The problem there though is that it might let more noise in along with your voice, which you would then be turning up at that last stage.
I hope that helps!
note: Dave is not the real name of the person who asked the question. We changed it for privacy reasons.