The 3 Vocal Editing ImperativesMay 27, 2023
So you want your vocals to sound perfect just like the ones on the radio? If you want to compete with industry standard pop songs, you gotta get your vocal editing down to a science. Here are the 3 major tasks you need to master.
- Tuning. Just give in already, it's mandatory to tune vocals in modern music. Release the stigma that tuning means you're not a good singer. NOT tuning means you're not a professional recording artist. Periodt. In the days of old, before tuning, it was the standard to not tune, and everyone was happy. But alas, we evolve, we are the titans of industry and we now demand perfection. The biggest issue here is not that we demand perfection though, it's that we've accidentally gone and trained the masses to expect it. Even the tone deaf are now so used to hearing perfectly tuned vocals, that when your song plays (untuned), they can sense something is wrong. They will assume that you are not a pro, and they might not even know why. This, my friend, is why you must tune. My favorite tuning plugins are Autotune Pro and Melodyne. You can check out my breakdown of the 4 plugins I use here.
- Timing. This is another one of those culprits where you hear a song and thing it doesn't sound professional and you're not sure why because the reason is so subtle. Did you know that when we stack harmonies under the lead vocal, even though we are singing in great rhythm, we're never perfectly in time with each other take? This is where time aligning will make your song sound suuuper clean and pristine. Lining up the beginnings of every word of every stack give us that true pop tight sound. I'm efficient about my approach (or lazy), and I simply use a plugin called Vocalign to line everything up for me, but you can also do this process by hand with ninja like editing skills. Placing cuts between words, nudging them to start where the lead vocal starts, using time stretching if needed, and then of course cross fading those cuts. Learn more here.
- Fading. This is the most fundamental requirement for editing. Make sure that every audio file has a fade-in and a fade-out, and that if two audio waves overlap, they cross-fade to one another. I have a compulsive tendency to repeatedly fade things in and out while I record because of this. I call it, "cleaning my room," lol. Don't compromise the quality of your music by skipping over this imperative part of vocal production because bad edits can ruin your song. Check out this article where I go in depth on the subject.
Happy editing! And I invite you to check out my free Vocal Production workshop by signing up here!
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