Vocal Production is by far the most challenging production hurdle I have faced so far in my career. Vocals really on so many factors and is often very hard to get the right. Microphone chose, Health, mood, confidence, Room, Mic pre, Interface all have a dramatic effect on the sound of the vocal. After you have recorded the best vocal takes you can possibly get, Often they still need processing. But the better you get your vocals to sound at the source, The better your vocals will turn out I promise. Today Im going to walk you though the tools that I use to create my vocals. Keep in mind these techniques Im showing you are in FL Studio but they can be applied in any DAW with similar results.
MY TYPICAL VOCAL CHAIN (LEAD VOX)
- Maximus (Muilt-band Compression, Expansion, Saturator, Stereoizer, EQ, Dessesor)
- Fruty Limiter (Limiter, Compressor)
- Fruty Reverb 2
- newtone (Performance Correction, Pitch Correction)
Bellow is an image of my of my typical signal chain.
Before applying fx to your vocals, They need to be in tune. I find working in headphones when editing vocals best as I hear more. Plus if you are with the artist in the room they arnt hearing what you are. artists are super sensitive about how they sound and if they sound bad it can effect them for a long time. You want to sheild your artists and only show them there best side.You should avoid editing vocals durring recording and really focus on getting the best possible take from the artist.
I start with my favourite recording from the session that I will usually mark durring the recording session. Paying close attention to lyrics, Pitch and Pronunciation I will go though and compile all of my favourite sections into one new vocal take. I will then go through and edit volume automations on breaths and turn them down to about 40%. This will avoid most of the time the weird artefact sound you get if you have to tune a vocal with a breath. After I have a full dry vocal take of the song that i am happy with i will consolidate it and if it needs pitch correction I will drag it into newtone.
Below in a pitchure of a vocal being edited in newtone
In newtone you can edit pitch, Variation, Format & Key. You can also use it to create new harmonies that where not originally recorded. Its a powerful tool and a must for any producer.
After vocals have been edited and tuned if necessary, Its time to add effects. add compression to control the dynamics of the vocal. Attack and release times are very crucial to get a clear vocal that sits ontop of your mix. A good starting point is Attack 50ms, Release 120ms, Threshold -20db and a ratio between 2:1 – 4:1. Ill often stack compressors and set them up to do different jobs. For example, one just to catch loud sections of a vocal. Experiment with these setting to find something that works best for your vocal.
Next in my chain is Maximus a Muilt-band Compression, Expansion, Saturator, Stereoizer, EQ, De-esser all in one. Its also a fantastic tool to use on your vocals. I like useing expansion on the high band to bring up the subtlety in the higher frequencies. You can then counter act sibilance by adding another maximus in the chain to act as a de-esser.
Lastly Reverb, Use a reverb with a pre delay to give the vocal a space away from the reverb. This helps you give a lot of reverb with alot of definition.
How do you process your vocals?