Vocal Editing Tips

[sg_popup id=”2″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]Once you have recorded your vocals, it is time to work some magic on the back end. The purpose of recording is to get a clean take and a great performance. If we were to use that take as it is in today’s music production, it would sound out of place. We are so used to hearing all those production tricks on the finished track, that we don’t even notice them unless they are missing. In this post, we will take a look at some basic vocal editing tips to get you started polishing those all-important vocals.

Clean it up

After recording and before the final mix, I usually clean up the vocal recordings. If we had a perfectly isolated vocal room, and an artist who did not tap their foot, move about or even breath, we would need to worry about this. But as that is never the case for most of us recording in our home studios, cleaning up the track does a great job.

You cut the vocal track into sections, and remove all the empty space in between the vocal lines. It is a good practice to add a fade-in and fade-outs to any edits that either has empty space in front of them or behind them. You can also clean up any crucial pops or other unwanted noises. If you followed my Top 5 Vocal Recording Tips blog post, you should have more than one vocal take an and you can edit these together. Just make sure there are no glitches. You can do this by making sure that the waves in the two files you are trying to stick together, match.

Level it up

I must say I am a big fan of tasty compression on a vocal track. Don’t overdo it though, or you will squeeze all the dynamics out of your track. At the same time, you do want to have a nice consistent level throughout the vocal track. Most VST compressors do come with a vocal preset. These are a great place to start. Then follow by subtle adjustments. Adjust small and listen a lot. I will go into the details of using a compressor in a future blog post.

Make some space

Just like compression, space is required in vocals. We are so used to hearing reverb and delay that without it, the vocals sound almost naked to us these days. Reverb sounds like a quick fix here but never underestimate Delay. Too much Reverb can often make things messy as well, whereas Delay can give you a better sense of space. Again start small, adjust small and listen a lot.

Find a place

Finding a place for the vocals in the mix is very important. The guitarist has a bigger than life guitar sound, the bass player likes to play complex melodies in the high register, the keyboardist likes massive sweeps. Soon enough everything is one big mess.

What you want to do is find a frequency range for every instrument. Bass fills the bottom end, guitar lays chords or riffs either below or above the vocal. No solos on top of the vocal lines. And the same goes for the Keys. The dominant space (where the most of the presence is) for vocals in popular music around 1-2k. All the other instruments should take it easy in these frequencies. Again I will write a more detailed blog post on vocal EQ. But the point here is to make space for the vocals in the mix.

Taking the time to edit the vocals and making it sound nice will help you a lot when going into the mix and start to bring it all together. For a seasoned sound engineer, all of these vocal editing tips are something they do every day. But for the musician who might not be so familiar with the complicated DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations,) Melosity’s new studio, which is coming out on the 5th of June was designed for the musicians. It has a very user-friendly interface that you can learn to use in minutes, and it is powerful enough to accomplish all of the tasks in this article. Read more about the new studio HERE.



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