Recording music is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying parts of singing. During a recording session, there’s a lot of essential steps that a singer needs to take to perform at their best adequately. One of which is wearing a good pair of headphones.
So why do singers wear headphones while recording?
Singers need to wear headphones when they record because headphones help isolate unwanted sounds from other instruments and backing tracks. Wearing headphones while recording also allows singers to hear themselves clearly and customize their preferred audio mix.
Singers need to wear headphones to perform at their very best. In this article, I’ll go more in-depth with the reasons why singers wear headphones when they record as well as the best headphones in the market that singers can use for their next recording session.
Isolate Unwanted Sounds
Whether the singer is overdubbing music tracks that have already been recorded, or if the band is recording simultaneously, the headphones help the singer cancel out any external noise being picked up by the microphone.
At times, there may be recording sessions where the band and the singer are recording a live performance in the studio, and they may be in the same room. This can be quite distracting for the singer because of all the instruments that are playing together, especially if the entire band is placed in a close distance.
The best way to fix this problem is by providing headphones for all musicians, including the singer. Doing so allows each member to hear their mix correctly rather than a big cluster of noise coming from every instrument.
For singers, wearing headphones will help them hear themselves without worrying about drowning out from the instruments around them.
If the singer is not recording with a band, but rather overdubbing a recorded track instead, using headphones to hear themselves rather than speakers can avoid any speaker sounds being picked up by the singer’s microphone. This creates a clean and clear tone, making it easier for any post-production work on the audio track.
Read Next: 15 Best Microphones For Live Vocals
Improves Vocal Performance
When recording vocals, the comfortability of the singer is extremely important. One of the simplest ways to improve that is by allowing them to hear themselves better using high-quality headphones.
If a singer can’t hear themselves properly, their vocal performance will suffer greatly and won’t sound very good. When I record my singing, if I can’t hear myself properly, I feel very uncomfortable and unsure about my performance. Being able to listen to every nuance of phrasing and pitch helps me deliver the song more effectively.
The producer can also direct me more effectively and point out important details, which helps me to evoke the right emotions for the song. If I were to only rely on hearing myself through bone conduction or the “room sound,” I wouldn’t be able to pick up on all the necessary details that allow me to give my best performance.
Also, by wearing headphones, singers can hear other instruments to stay in time and relative pitch. They can turn on the “click” and hear the metronome to keep them singing on the beat. Without headphones, the metronome will be picked up clearly by the microphone, which will distort and make it difficult to edit the audio track during post-production.
Read Next: 21 Simple Tips on How To Sing Better Quickly
Customize The Perfect Mix
Another benefit of wearing headphones while singing is being able to blend and customize the perfect mix. When a band is recording together at the same time, each member will most likely have their personal preference in terms of what they want to hear and less of.
Every musician gets to have a separate “headphone mix” that’s tailored to their own. For example, the bassist may want to hear more drums and keyboard while the singer wants to hear more guitar in his or her mix. By wearing headphones, there’s more variety and customization for each musician.
I like to hear more of the piano or guitar because they help me stay on pitch. Drums are also crucial for staying in beat, but too much drums can be problematic because of how distracting it can be due to how loud the drums are in the mix.
Also, by wearing headphones, singers can hear essential effects that enhance their vocal performance. Singers can request more reverb in their sound so that they don’t sound too bareboned or “dry.” They can also add various vocal effects to provide “color” or style to their performance.
Wearing headphones during live gigs can also provide the same benefit as recording in a studio. You can also adjust the volume settings of each instrument and add or take away different effects during a live performance. Doing so prevents any muddy sound coming from the monitor mixes and clears up every member’s sound to their liking.
Read Next: 21 Things You Should Know Before Singing At An Open Mic
Best Types of headphones for recording
In the world of headphones, there are many different brands and styles that a singer can choose from for their recording sessions.
Typically, higher-end headphones are needed for music production, such as recording and mixing. But with that being said, many new companies are changing how high caliber headphones are priced by offering high-performance quality with inexpensive pricing.
Two of the most popular headphones that singers can use is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and the Shure SE215.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 (Amazon) is adored by many singers and sound engineers for its signature clarity and neutral sound. On the surface, it boasts a clean, sturdy design that looks and feels like it can last for so many years. The headphone has an incredibly soft, plush padding that singers can enjoy during long studio sessions.
Overall, the style, sound quality, and comfort make this headphone one of the best. It’s built very sturdily and can last a long time, making the ATH-M50 definitely worth its value.
If you’re looking for a smaller pair for your recordings, choosing an in-ear monitor (IEM) can be a great alternative to bigger headphones. The Shure SE215 (Amazon) is arguably the most popular in-ear monitor that singers and audiophiles use. This IEM offers detailed sound with a clear and accurate sound that singers can enjoy when they’re recording. It’s comfortable in the ears and lightweight.
What I like about this IEM is the cable design that allows the earbuds to hang on the ears comfortably. It’s also highly customizable where you can change the MMCX cable to lengthen the size.
If you’re looking for a smaller package like professional in-ear monitors that you can use to hear yourself when you record, the Shure SE215 is the best.
If you want to record good sounding vocals, a high-quality pair of headphones is an essential tool that you should invest in. Even though producing and creating a sound music track is a collective group effort, it’s crucial that singers feel comfortable with their vocals to deliver the best performance for that session, especially for lead singers. Not only can you use a good pair of headphones for recording sessions, but also live gigs. So choose a pair that you enjoy listening to, feels the most comfortable wearing and that sounds the best to you. You’ll find that your recording will sound that much better when you wear high-quality headphones.
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