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Hear your vocals at their best

Category : Products

Common recording problems and how to fix them 

So why isn’t your shiny new mic giving you the professional-grade recordings you’d hoped for?

The main attribute of a great microphone is its ability to faithfully capture the sounds it hears. Mics do not judge - if they hear an unpleasant sound then that’s what they’ll send to your DAW. First step is to understand what may be causing such unwanted noises.

Before we dive in, remember all the gear in your signal chain – the path between the mic and your recording device - needs to be of a consistent quality. Like any chain, it’s only as good as its worst link. But once you’re all set up with decent cables and a quality audio interface there are usually still challenges to overcome before you can capture pristine vocal takes. 

Here are the most common causes of disappointing results in the home studio and some easy fixes. 


Bad vibes – how to stop room vibrations reaching the mic’s capsule 

Condenser mics (like the Aston Origin and Spirit) are particularly sensitive to vibrations in a mic stand, perhaps caused by a tapping foot in the studio, or the world outside – traffic, the elements or next door’s DIY project - causing the tiniest movements in a building’s structure. This is where a shock mount can save the day.  

Aston’s shock mount, the Swift, fits the Origin, Spirit or any other side-address mic between 40-mm to 60mm in diameter. It effectively combats room vibrations by suspending, isolating and cushioning the mic via its unique ShockStar membrane technology. Swift is so-called because of its ingenious quick-release mechanism which means setting-up or changing mics takes seconds. 


Pesky plosives and exasperating ‘esses’ 

Plosives (the ‘puh’ and tuh’ sounds that can accompany consonants like the letters ‘p’, ‘t’ and so on) are caused by unwanted rushes of air hitting the capsule of the mic. You wanted to record the word ‘potato’ but you end up with something resembling a punch-up in a tunnel. Just as intrusive are the high frequency hisses caused by ‘ess’ sounds. Moving the mic slightly off-axis (to the side or above) so it’s not directly in the path of the moving air, can improve things somewhat, but the best way to combat plosives and esses is to use a pop filter. 

The Aston Shield GN and SwiftShield pop filters disperse unwanted air movements leaving significantly cleaner vocal takes. Unlike most pop filters these shields curve around the mic, meaning the vocalist can have better freedom of movement during a take. 

The Shield GN features a sturdy gooseneck and clip so it can be used on any mic stand. The SwiftShield combines the pop filter screen with the Aston Swift shock mount (see above) in one neat clip-on combination. 


Poor room acoustics – how to avoid boxy, boomy recordings 

So that’s fixed a couple of gremlins – but now the overall sound is not floating your boat; it’s boxy, boomy and a little unpleasant, and changing mics doesn’t seem to help. Bad room acoustics are the bane of many, if not most, home-recording afficionados. Very few of us have properly acoustically treated spaces to work in and so have to find workarounds to get the best from our microphones. 

A room’s shape, size and the type of surfaces on walls, floors, ceilings and furniture all have an impact on how sound reaches the mic, which is receiving a mixture of direct signal, straight from the horse’s mouth (if you’re recording a horse) and complex reflections from all the surfaces and objects in the space. Parallel surfaces are a particular issue, reinforcing the frequencies whose waveforms fit neatly between them (‘standing waves’). It all adds up to a poor capture of the vocalist’s, or instrumentalist’s performance. 

So you either treat the room, which can be expensive and requires specialist knowledge of acoustics, or you invest in a reflection filter. Aston Halo is widely considered the benchmark. “I think the Halo sets a new bar for personal vocal booths.” said SoundOnSound’s editor in chief Paul White. 

While most filters work only on the horizontal plane, Halo’s curvy design also tames floor and ceiling reflections, a 360° fix for even the worst-sounding spaces. In addition to its effective absorption, Halo’s unique front and rear ribbing scatters reflections to give an even, natural sound, while the mounting mechanism allows for the mic to be moved toward or away from the filter’s surface, to control how much ‘room’ (ambient) sound makes it through. Halo is quick and easy to set up, extremely light, so can be used on pretty much any mic stand. That’s why so many of the A-listers use them! 



So a Halo/SwiftShield combination really is an extremely effective – and surely the easiest – way to get the very best sound from your mic, and therefore from your performance. Whichever way you approach eliminating vibrations, plosives and boxy-sounding rooms though, it’s worth remembering that even the best microphones will need these problems addressed in order to perform at their best. 


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