Recording - May 2013 - 29

This first thing to do is listen through the
takes and find the one that sounds best
overall. This will be the foundation of your
master take and you’ll be bringing in
pieces from the other takes to replace sections, lines, words and even syllables.
See Figure 4 for a sample section of a
vocal comp in PreSonus Studio One. The
process is actually simple, if not always
easy, and it can be a bit time-consuming
as well. Break it down into multiple passes, to remain focused and retain perspective.
During the first pass, listen to the overall performance and flow. You may hear
a line and wonder if there’s a better version of it in another take. Audition them
until you find one you’re satisfied with,
cut and paste it into place. Go back a
few measures before that section and
play it so you can hear the edit in context.
If it sounds good, continue on. Repeat this
process until you’ve gone through the
entire song, and then play the whole
song back, making notes of edits that
maybe don’t work as well and find suitable alternatives to put in their place.
On the next run-through, we focus on the
details. Solo the vocal track and listen for
clicks, bumps, crackles and less-than-perfect
edits. Remove the audio gremlins. Delete or
mute areas where there are no vocals, taking care to tame or even eliminate breaths.
Great care should be taken not to suck the
life out of the performance by editing things
too tightly; ideally, you’ll take out what’s distracting while leaving the positive human
elements in place. All edits should be as
smooth and natural sounding as possible. If
you run into one you just can’t get 100%
right, take the track out of solo mode and listen to it in context. You may discover that it
sounds just fine. If not, try a different take or
have the vocalist re-sing it.
The final vocal editing pass concentrates
on intonation—making sure the vocal is in
tune. If there’s a note that’s a little off key, I
prefer to open it in Celemony Melodyne,
or tune the note “by hand” by slicing the
clip at each end and transposing it up or
down by a very small percentage until it
sounds right. Melodyne, Antares AutoTune, or similar products can be used over
the whole track if you want, but getting it
close first minimizes the Cher or T-Pain
effect (unless of course that’s what you
want) that comes as a result of making the
tuner work too hard. Online audio examples 1 and 2 illustrate what a vocal sounds
like before and after this process, you’ll
find them at www.recordingmag.com/
resources/resourceDetail/396.html
The Sugar
Finally, we sweeten the vocal, polishing
it with a little eq, maybe a touch more
compression or limiting, some subtle deessing and subsequently adding some
reverb and/or delay to add a sense of
RECORDING May 2013

29

space and dimension. We want the vocal
to sit prominently in the mix, but we need
it to blend with the other tracks as well.
Too much vocal level can make it sound
disconnected or even obscure other crucial elements in your arrangement. Too little can diminish its power or leave listeners scrambling to find a lyric sheet.
When mixing, it’s always important to
remember that the elements within your
mix are not merely placed between the
left and right of your stereo field, but front
to back as well. Reverb can help us to further establish this sense of depth.
Faster tempos and dense arrangements
will generally require smaller spaces and
shorter decay times, while ballads and
lower track counts can afford us a little more

sonic “elbow room”. This is where presets
can come in handy, as there are invariably
several that carry names like “Vocal Room”,
“Vocal Plate”, “Lead Vocal Hall” and so on.
This gives you a good place to start from,
and many times, the only other consideration is how much reverb to use.
You can add the reverb directly to the
track’s insert and bring its Mix setting
down to around 30% to start with, or you
can set up an effects bus to which you can
send more than one track, i.e. lead and
backing vocals and a little of the snare
drum. This helps to give your instruments a
common space to exist in, helping to glue
things together more in the process.
Predelay is another parameter to
explore, as it gives you several milliseconds


http://www.dpamicrophones.com/dfacto http://www.recordingmag.com/resources/resourcedetail/396.html http://www.recordingmag.com/resources/resourcedetail/396.html http://www.dpamicrophones.com/dfacto

Recording - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2013

Recording - May 2013
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Readers' Tapes
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Intro
Recording - May 2013 - Recording - May 2013
Recording - May 2013 - Cover2
Recording - May 2013 - 1
Recording - May 2013 - 2
Recording - May 2013 - 3
Recording - May 2013 - Fade In
Recording - May 2013 - 5
Recording - May 2013 - Contents
Recording - May 2013 - 7
Recording - May 2013 - Talkback
Recording - May 2013 - 9
Recording - May 2013 - Fast Forward
Recording - May 2013 - 11
Recording - May 2013 - 12
Recording - May 2013 - 13
Recording - May 2013 - Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Recording - May 2013 - 15
Recording - May 2013 - 16
Recording - May 2013 - 17
Recording - May 2013 - Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
Recording - May 2013 - 19
Recording - May 2013 - PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
Recording - May 2013 - 21
Recording - May 2013 - 22
Recording - May 2013 - 23
Recording - May 2013 - How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Recording - May 2013 - 25
Recording - May 2013 - 26
Recording - May 2013 - 27
Recording - May 2013 - 28
Recording - May 2013 - 29
Recording - May 2013 - 30
Recording - May 2013 - 31
Recording - May 2013 - 32
Recording - May 2013 - 33
Recording - May 2013 - Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 35
Recording - May 2013 - 36
Recording - May 2013 - 37
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Recording - May 2013 - 39
Recording - May 2013 - Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
Recording - May 2013 - 41
Recording - May 2013 - DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Recording - May 2013 - 43
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Recording - May 2013 - 45
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Recording - May 2013 - 47
Recording - May 2013 - 48
Recording - May 2013 - 49
Recording - May 2013 - Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 51
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Recording - May 2013 - 53
Recording - May 2013 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - May 2013 - 55
Recording - May 2013 - 56
Recording - May 2013 - 57
Recording - May 2013 - 58
Recording - May 2013 - 59
Recording - May 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
Recording - May 2013 - 61
Recording - May 2013 - 62
Recording - May 2013 - 63
Recording - May 2013 - CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Recording - May 2013 - Advertiser Index
Recording - May 2013 - 66
Recording - May 2013 - 67
Recording - May 2013 - 68
Recording - May 2013 - 69
Recording - May 2013 - 70
Recording - May 2013 - 71
Recording - May 2013 - Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Cover3
Recording - May 2013 - Cover4
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