If the studio can boast a large range of expensive mics with names like Neumann and AKG in abundance, they will probably have everything else a good studio should have. Cheapskate studios and cowboy operations tend to skimp on things like good mics, high quality outboard gear and air conditioning. Having a top of the range Mackie desk and nothing to go with it and nowhere to put it, is next to useless. See "Specifics" below for more about microphones.
To record a lead vocal properly requires skill and the right tools. A powerful vocalist may have an enormous dynamic range - (from a whisper to a scream). Coping with these extremes of level has lead to the development of special microphones and dynamics processors to do the job.
A method has had to be developed to capture the apparent dynamic range whilst actually squashing it down so that its quiet to loud range is much reduced. This has to be done for technical reasons to do with the way domestic audio technology works, and popular music production techniques currently in practice.
All this has to happen without losing any of the drama, detail and excitement present in the performance. This is where the skill bit comes in. For if the engineer doesn't know what he is doing or how to use the equipment, the whole thing will probably be a disaster.
The right tools for digital recording are: a specially designed condenser microphone, and a (valve) compressor/limiter/de-esser to deal with the dynamic range.
Caution: The cheaper microphones will not be able to give you the smooth, transparent, and polished sound you need, no matter what the manufacturers blurb says.
Most commonly used suitable microphones:
- Neumann models: TLM170 - TLM107 - U87 - U89 - M147 - M149
- Audio Technica Model: AT4060
- Rode Model: Classic MkII
- Sony Model: C800G
- AKG Models: C12 - C414 (Gold)