CD Quality Vocal production

Discussion in 'Vocalists' started by champ1979, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. champ1979

    champ1979 Active Member

    I've recorded my wife's vocals over a karaoke backing track. I am a beginner when it comes to music editing, and I'd like to know what are the steps and best practices when it comes to editing. I'm using Mixcraft 5 as my DAW, and I just installed the trial version of Auto Tune which works with Mixcraft. I have two tracks: one is the backing track, and the other one is the vocal track. I had some questions:

    1. What is the general process now, especially to fine tune the vocal track? I've heard that you need to isolate the "bad" parts? Does that mean I need to "split" the track into parts, and place them into separate tracks so that I can apply different effects on each part?

    2. What are the standard effects that I can apply to make the vocals stand out a bit more? I know this depends on a lot of things, but it's so overwhelming, and as a beginner, I just want something easy to get up and running, so are there some recommended effects that are pretty versatile? I've tried applying the master limiter, classic compressor, and reverb. The Reverb (depending on what preset it's on--small hall, big hall, etc) sounds good, but I feel it makes the vocals too pushy (for lack of a better word). If I take the reverb out, I sort of miss it, but with the reverb, it sounds too loud, and not as soft and elegant as a professional CD production.

    3. Any tips on how to use Auto Tune? Any tutorial out there?
  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I went turkey hunting the other day and I shot the bird with a boozaka, a howitzer, a shotgun and a .45, it does not look very appetizing what should I do? Ok I'm just trying to be funny but before you reach for any effect (or weapon) you should have a reason to use that particular one and good idea of what you hope to accomplish.

    Let's start with a master limiter, it is a device which limits the peaks of a recording it is most often used on the final output of a series of mixed tracks so that the overall levels can be boosted with out a few small spikes causing the output to clip. This is a very simple explanation of a complex device that can be used in many ways. Another common use would be on a an instrument ttrack that had a very dynamic range. So do you think that her vocal requires this? Most vocal tracks usually don't.

    A lot of modern vocals are compressed a process which "smooths" out the dynamics it can lessen the louder parts, or increase the quieter parts or both depending on the type and settings. The problem is that setting a compressor is really an art acquired through experience. You should definitely try using it but you may want to read up on it and should really experiment with it.

    Reverb, nearly all vocals today have some sort of reverb added, but a little can go a long way. The style of reverb room, hall, cavern changes the way the signal is effected but so does the amount you mix in. Reverbs are often used as a "send" effect. This means that a certain percentage (which you can adjust) is sent through the reverb and a certain amount of "dry" signal (uneffected) are then blended together. The old rule of thumb is you add reverb until it is noticeable then back it off until you can barely hear it, though there are no rules.
    Chorus, delay and panning are some other things you can try the judicious use of.

    Does the track require auto-tune? I am sure that you can find youtube tutorials on its use just remeber that anything we do to vocals has the potential to make it sound worse. The human ear has a great ability to discern even the most minute differences re: speech. Here are some links

    The Inside Track: Mixing Vocals

    When you ask if you need to split the track and isolate the bad parts I'm not sure exactly what you are trying to accomplish or what you have read. If you are "comping" vocals, taking the best phrase out of a series of tracks, then I usually create a new track and paste the pieces into it but if you are working on a single track most DAWs have automation that allows you do to do whatever you want to any part of that track. I hope this helps and doesn't just confuse you.
  3. champ1979

    champ1979 Active Member


    Thanks for your response. I have some follow up questions, but in the mean time I was wondering if you could comment on my first attempt: malarecording

  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    The vocal is over processed, the amount of delay is annoying, needs some type of high mid, high EQ though that might be a by product of the reverb ,delay. Reverb can accent highs unpleasantly and many reverbs have some type of EQ section just for that or if you set up a send you can EQ the vocal prior to the reverb. The vocal seems a little out front of the backing track but the track is so lackluster I am not sure if that is a bad thing. I think you need to try again a lot dryer.
  5. champ1979

    champ1979 Active Member

    Thanks for the feedback. So from what I understand I need to:

    - remove all my effects to start with (master limiter, compression, reverb)
    - try increasing the mid dial for the vocal track
    - add the reverb, but edit the settings so that the delay is not so much

    How do you do the SEND? What does that mean? It's all in the DAW software right?

    I also had another question. How do you go about editing the vocal tracks? Say I have 3 vocal takes, placed in three tracks. Now, I want to use the best segments from each track. How do you normally do it? Do you insert a new audio track, and start moving segments one by one from each of the other three tracks into the new track?

    Also, to double down, can I use the remaining segments of the other three tracks (even though they may not be perfect, which is why they would still be remaining in those tracks and not shifted to the mixed track), OR do I do 2 other takes after I have my mixed version?

    Thanks a lot...

    Also, I have two recordings at that link. Did both of them have the same issues?
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Acoustica User Forums :: View Forum - Tips and Tricks
    This is the Mixcraft forum. I don't think Mixcraft has a manual does it? I don't use it so I don't have a clue how to set up a send in your DAW, mine came with a manual. Basically you are routing the output of the track into standard output and into a new track which you then use to control the amount of effect(s).

    Champ "How do you go about editing the vocal tracks? Say I have 3 vocal takes, placed in three tracks. Now, I want to use the best segments from each track. How do you normally do it? Do you insert a new audio track, and start moving segments one by one from each of the other three tracks into the new track?"

    Everyone has their own work process. You can make copies of all three tracks, that way you have unedited tracks if you need them. You can then create a new track, if you want you can cut and drag or you can copy and drag sections to new track, or you can take the best track and simply paste a few phrases over the top. Most DAWs read whatever is on top. There is no one right method, which ever you find easiest. You can then use any unedited track for a background doubling track if you want.

    The link I followed only showed one recording.
  7. champ1979

    champ1979 Active Member

    Thanks. I didn't know most DAWs read whatever is on top.

    When you paste segments from different takes, how do you ensure that there is no volume variability? Do you just manually adjust the volume of the segment in question using your ears?

    Also, here is the link to both the recordings: malarecording

    Thanks for your help!

  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Are you adding reverb to the stereo output? I wouldn't karaoke tracks have effects already on them adding more is probably not a good idea. Again this mix has way too much reverb IMO.
  9. champ1979

    champ1979 Active Member

    Actually no, I didn't add any effects on the karaoke tracks. I'm glad you mentioned about that as I had that question in mind. I might have actually put some effects on one of those recordings actually.

    Let me ask you this...this will help me fine tune the reverb properly.

    What is it exactly that we are trying to achieve with the Reverb effect? What is it supposed to do to the track?


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