A Step-by-Step Information to Recording Vocals in GarageBand for Mac

It's both exciting and nerve-wracking to record your singing. Even on a clean and intuitive digital audio workstation (DAW) like GarageBand, you can get confused and not get the best results.

With that in mind, here's an easy-to-follow guide on how to record your vocals in GarageBand to make sure they sound as good as possible.

Make sure you are ready to record

Before we begin, it's important to make sure you have everything you need for a solid vocal recording.

There are a few key factors to consider when recording vocals at home. To keep things simple here, make sure you have at least a good quality microphone, proper gear, headphones, and a pop filter.

What type of microphone should you use?

While you can record vocals with your built-in microphone, it is not recommended as the sound quality is far from acceptable in most cases. When recording your singing, you should use either a USB or an XLR microphone.

Related: USB vs. XLR Microphones: Which Should You Get?

If you are a complete beginner looking for a handy option that will give you decent sounding vocals, a USB mic like the Blue Yeti would work best.

If you want to use an XLR microphone, you need an audio interface like Focusrite's Scarlett 2i2, an XLR cable, and a microphone stand (these are always the obvious things we forget).

If you want to record musical vocal performances, take a look at large diaphragm condenser microphones like the RØDE NT1-A.

If you want to record spoken word or more aggressive vocals, you'd better go with a dynamic microphone like the Shure SM7B.

Now that the gear is sorted out, let's take a step-by-step look at how to record your vocals on GarageBand.

Related: Condenser Vs. Dynamic Microphones: Which One Do You Really Need?

Step 1: Check if your device is connected properly

First, check that you are set up correctly and that you can record comfortably. The best thing to do is to make sure that you can easily get to your computer without tripping over cables or inefficiently maneuvering around your microphone.

If you're using an XLR microphone, plug it into your audio interface, then plug it into your Mac. If you're using a USB microphone, plug it directly into your Mac.

For both microphones, make sure your headphones are plugged in (either to your computer, microphone, or audio interface) and that your pop filter is between you and your microphone when you're ready to record.

Step 2: create a new project on GarageBand

When you're happy with your setup, open GarageBand and select Empty project or go to the top left of your screen and select file and then Newif GarageBand opens a previous project at startup.

Step 3: Select the correct output and the input devices will be selected

Next, check that GarageBand is picking up your microphone and that you can hear everything.

To do this, go to in the top left of the screen GarageBand> Preferences, then Audio or Audio / MIDI.

Under the Input device In the pop-up menu, make sure your audio interface or USB microphone is selected. If you've connected your headphones to your audio device or directly to your USB microphone, simply select them from the pop-up menu for Output device.

If you'd rather plug your headphones into your Mac, choose External headphones (or Built-in exit on older devices).

Next from the Choose a track type Select the option with the microphone icon in the menu to create an audio channel for recording your vocals.

At this point it is worthwhile to save your project as well Cmd + S.. Remember to save frequently throughout the recording process to make sure you don't lose any work.

Related topics: How to Record Multiple USB Microphones Simultaneously on GarageBand for Mac

Step 4: Set up entrance monitoring and enable recording

Now you'll configure your vocal channel to record the best take possible and the right sound you're looking for.

One useful option that you can enable if you want is Quick help with which you can switch on and off Shift + / or by clicking the question mark in the upper left corner of GarageBand.

First, enable monitoring. This way you can hear what your voice sounds like through your headphones. This is ideal for finding the right position for the recording and fine-tuning the volume and EQ to suit your needs.

You can switch the monitoring symbol on and off in the Record settings of track Section in your Intelligent controls Area (which you can show or hide by pressing B.).

The watch icon should also be visible on your track channel. However, you can check this by selecting your track, double-clicking it, and selecting Configure the track headerand take care of it Entrance monitoring is checked.

You should now be able to hear yourself through your headphones.

Also in the same menu, make sure Activate recording is checked. This will bring up a record button in your track header, which you can also easily toggle on and off.

Step 5: Select your Vocal Preset and customize it

Next, you should take a look at the selection of your vocal preset. Various presets can change the EQ or add effects to your singing.

You can choose your vowel preset by selecting voice by doing Sound library (which you can show or hide by pressing Y.) and choose from the list of different vocal presets available.

It is worth experimenting with different presets to see which one is right for you. When input monitoring is enabled, you can switch back and forth between different presets to hear the difference immediately.

You can also adjust the EQ of your chosen vowel preset in the Smart Controls area under Track> ControlsHere you can adjust the buttons and switches on the right. You can also view and adjust the plug-in effects that make up your EQ on the left and adjust the master echo and reverb of your track.

Step 6: add a background trail

To record with a background track, click and drag any background track from another folder in GarageBand. A new title should be created automatically for this. However, you can also create new titles by pressing Command + Option + N..

You can also customize your backing track in the same way as your lead voice, as both of them use audio files if you think you need to adjust the EQ or add echo or reverb. You can name each track by selecting its channel and double-clicking on its track.

Monitoring your vocal channel is particularly useful here as it allows you to match your vocal EQ with your backing track EQ so that both sound consistent.

Step 7: start recording

When you're ready, make sure the record icon is flashing on your vocal channel and press R. Start recording! There are many things you can do while recording, but to keep it simple, here are the basics.

You can select different points to start recording with the playhead, or you can press Enter to go back to the beginning of the project and record again.

To record over a section, simply move the playback head to that point and start recording.

You can also adjust the length of your recorded track by clicking and dragging on either end. Alternatively, you can move the recorded track along your project by clicking and dragging the main part of the track.

In addition to cutting, copying and pasting your track, you can also split your track into independent segments by dragging the playhead to where you want to cut and push Cmd + T..

Use GarageBand for more than just your vocals

And that's a basic guide to recording vocals in GarageBand! Of course, there is a lot more you can do with practice, such as composing, but learning the basics is key to getting better and better vocal recordings.

What is special about GarageBand is how intuitive it is. So if you want to record another instrument, you don't have to learn everything from scratch.

If you follow the same basic steps, GarageBand makes it just as easy to record an entire band to match your singing.

A step-by-step guide to recording your guitar in GarageBand

To get the best recording of your guitar in GarageBand on a Mac, follow this beginner's guide.

Continue reading

About the author

Soham De
(33 articles published)

Soham is a musician, writer and player. He loves all things creative and productive, especially when it comes to music and video games. Horror is his preferred genre and he is often heard talking about his favorite books, games and miracles.

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