This blogpost will focus on the use of microphones. If you want more info about a full YouTube studio setup, check out this blogpost about The Basics of a YouTube Studio.
You found your voice, and you want to record your first video on YouTube as a singer/songwriter.
You also quickly notice that your phone is not the best microphone for YouTube in terms of sound quality. Although it can be used, we will first focus on external microphones.
You don’t want to spend too much money on a professional studio mic, but you want something that is at least half decent for a YouTube microphone.
The two most used options are a USB mic or an external mic.
Depending on your needs, you can use both options with equally good results.
The USB Microphone
The USB Microphone is probably the easiest of all options because the only thing you need is the device itself. Plug it in, install the software and you’re ready to record your music. Most of the USB microphones offer decent quality for a low price.
The price ranges vary, but you can start from 50 bucks towards, well, anything you want.
One of the mics that is commonly used among YouTubers is the Blue Yeti USB Microphone. This is an affordable microphone that is easy to set up and has a decent audio quality.
You can find a list of good USB microphones for YouTube on my Resources page.
One thing to note when using an USB microphone to record your songs on YouTube, is the lack of instrument inputs. To record other gear, you will need an external sound card.
The external Microphone/Soundcard
Your second choice is to buy an external microphone in combination with an external sound card. A good example of a high quality set like this is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
It combines a good microphone and a quality external sound card that can be used to plug in more instruments like guitar and keyboard.
With a setup like this, you expand your options and are prepared for possible future expansions of your music gear.
Extra tools to get a better sound for your videos.
A pop filter
To get rid of the s,f,t,p,b sounds that you don’t want in your recording.
You can make one yourself with a thin cloth or a used sock/panty to see if that does the job.
A mic stand
You don’t want to hold your mic when recording that awesome song. Chances are that you could hear your hands touching the mic, and you don’t want that to be part of your demo 🙂
You could go with a simple stand where your mic clicks in place, but an even better option is to add a shock mount to reduce the noise of wiggles and movement of the mic stand.
You want to hear what you sing. The best option would be a closed headphone, as it will help you cancel out all the surrounding sounds. Remember to try to remove one side of the headphone when you record, to hear yourself better. This can improve your tone and pitch.
If your room sounds “echoic”, then some well-placed sound panels could help out. You can buy the cheap ones on Amazon or go for some higher quality ones from a decent online music shop.
You can also go the free route by strategically placing rugs and blankets in your room. Add some furniture or curtains. The denser you can make your room, the better. Clap your hands and hear how it sounds. If it doesn’t sound like a bathroom, but the sound dampens instantly, you are good to go.
Last resort, use your phone to record your songs.
If it isn’t possible for you to get a decent microphone, you can always start out by using your phone.
The results with a decent phone should not be too bad.
There are many apps that you can download for free to record your songs on your phone. Some phones have a basic voice recorder built in.
There are downsides to recording your voice with a phone.
The two main ones are compression and lack of dynamics.
Because your built-in microphone in your phone is made to create a good sounding telephone voice. It should be as even and distinguishable as possible. That is why phone usually compress your sound to make the loud and soft passages more even.
As for dynamics, your microphone is super-small. It is simply not able to pick up all dynamics that a good quality microphone would. You will end up with less bass and very mid-heavy tones.
To get the best results, record your voice or instrument in a silent and “flat” sounding room to get the best results. I have heard many singers on YouTube getting good results by recording in a closet between their clothes. Full sound dampening guaranteed!
Another thing to note is the file type your phone uses to record.
Ideally, you should get the option to choose your file type. Preferably AIFF, WAV or MP3, in the highest quality
With these file types, your computer and your editing software will know what to do with it.
With this gear and these tips, you can start recording your first song on YouTube in no time.
Record a cool YouTube cover song or sing your own composition and make it into a cool video.
If you have some basic multitrack recording software, you can even create your choir. Experiment and see what you can come up with.
And as always, keep creating awesome music and share it with the world.