Sometimes you need a vocal that will sound straight-up bad in order to get your point across in a song or video. It's not recommended to do with regular recordings, but purposely recording in a way that your mic sounds low budget is a process that I myself recently went through in order to get a funny skit of mine for my upcoming album to make people laugh even harder. Check out these tips I used in my process and see if you'd like to try one or several to make your mic sound bad! You can also use these as pointers on how to make your mic sound good if you happen to see a tip that you're accidentally doing in an attempt to make a good recording (but I hope that's not the case).
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Recording outside with the wind blowing into the mic is a sure way to get a terrible sound from your mic. This may come in handy if you want to recreate something like a speech that was given in an outside setting. It could be used to emphasize boring, unfunny, or emotionally impactful quotes that you remember someone of authority saying to you. It can also be used for voicemail effects in addition to some EQ edits that I mention in a tip below.
Being too close to the mic gives off the feeling of low production quality in music and videos. If you want to use this to your advantage, get close to your mic to the point that your mouth is literally right up on it. If you have a pop filter, don't use it for this particular recording. Add some extra bad quality by increasing your spit and mouth noises to the point where you can hear every click and clack coming straight from your teeth, tongue, and gums. These sounds are often referred to as plosives.
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Being too far from the mic is another great way to sound like an amateur for your voice recording process. It helps extra when you are in a loud environment, like a room with a lot of noise coming in from outside or noise coming in from your AC unit. This can be useful for recording candid conversations and adding a sense of realism to the conversation.
If you've recorded in a studio before, you probably know what it sounds like to peak or clip on the mic. When the gain on your microphone is too hot, it can cause your vocals to be so loud that it hits the maximum capacity of noise on the mic and gives you a distorted sound. This is different than simply being too close to the mic because when you are very close but well within good gain levels, you won't clip or distort and will just suffer from sounding muffled and have increased plosive noises. Recording with the gain too high can help you get a very emotional point across in a song or video.
To mimic the sound or a voicemail or phone conversation, you will want to adjust your EQ settings by cutting out the high and low frequencies. Phone audio quality highlights the mid-range frequencies in our voices and can easily be mimicked, which is why you often hear this effect in songs and videos.
Similar to getting too close to a mic and being in a windy area, you can breathe heavily in your microphone to put a damper on your audio quality and also to give off the sound of seeming emotional, desperate, hungry, or simply funny. Again, you will want to set your pop filter aside for this one if you have it.
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There are many effects available to help your mic sound bad without actually recording in a low-quality way. Distortion and Overdrive are two very popular effects that mixers use to add color and personality to vocals. These are probably the most common way to make your vocals sound bad but still put it in a good song mix overall. Distortion and Overdrive can be plugin effects that are found in DAWs like Protools and LogicPro, but you can also use these effects in live settings with vocal pedals.
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