Home recording quality issues

Yesterday, one of our customers, Ayshana contacted me with a problem she’s having with her home recording. Here’s what she wrote (and my answer beneath):

Hi Kenny, 
I wanted to ask for some advice. I sound almost perfect
when performing, but when i record in a studio i sound
very nasal and the quality of the CD is very low. Do you
know why? P.S- thanks for the article.

Hi Ayshana 

Without sitting in front of your computer and seeing exactly how you are recording it’s difficult to say exactly what’s going wrong. However, there are a couple of possibilities which immediately spring to mind… 

1. Often singers can sing much louder, much higher in pitch and with much more force when they sing live. So, it’s possible that when you sing in the confines of a small studio, you are not really opening up your voice as much as you would when live onstage in front of an audience, so that’s why the vocal is sounding different.

2. The quality of the soundcard in your computer may be affecting the quality of the recording. If it is only the vocal that doesn’t sound right, then it’s most probably the first possibility above. But if the sound of the music is very nasal too, then it is the quality of the whole recording process (ie your soundcard) that is causing the problem…

3. Recording at low bit-rates can also cause quality to be deteriorated. You should always record your master in WAV format. If you want an mp3, you can always encode the WAV to mp3 afterwards…

Hope this helps…