Recording vocals in Garageband is easy, but you’ll need to have some things set up before hand. You’ll need a microphone (unless you plan on using the built-in mic from your computer), an audio interface, the necessary cables and a set of decent headphones as well.
Microphones are relatively cheap these days. You can find a lot quality mics in the $200-500 range that sound great. For recording vocals, a solid condenser microphone will do the trick.
Condenser microphones require Phantom Power to work. Amongst other things, this is typically included in your audio interface. The term ‘ Phantom Power’ is just a name given to the source of volts (48) needed to power a condenser mic.
An audio interface is basically a hub that controls many things. It gives you control over volume levels, Phantom Power, and also converts incoming analog signals into a digital signal that your computer can work with.
Most audio interfaces connect to a computer via a USB cable.
Take a look at this diagram. It illustrates the nature of a recording environment and how these components interact with each other.
As shown below, your microphone sends an audio signal into your audio interface, which openly communicates with your computer while sending output to your speakers and headphones.
You’ll need your interface and mic set up properly before recording.
Load up an instance of Garageband and pull up your Preferences. We want to make sure Garageband is recognizing our audio interface. Set your Audio Input and Audio Output to your device. In my case I’m using an Mbox.
If you don’t have an audio interface you can choose built-in microphone to use your computer’s mic. Don’t expect to get an amazing recording though.
Now, lets create a new instrument/vocal track.
Choose Real Instrument.
Once that’s finished, scroll down to the right hand corner of Garageband and turn Monitoring On. You can also set your Input Source to mono.
Note: Turning Monitoring On will allow you to hear yourself through headphones. If you’re recording over top of music, you’ll want to turn your speakers all the way down, so that output doesn’t bleed into your microphone – that’s where headphones become important.
You’re now ready to record!
Record enable your track.
Finally, record enable Garageband and begin recording your vocals.
After you get a decent recording, have some fun by experimenting with effects that Garageband has to offer. Things like a Phaser, Delay, and Reverb can give your vocal recordings a big boost of character!
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