Nowadays, the widespread development of digital technologies allows us to have an opportunity to create the instrumentals, and even record vocals at home or to use mixing online http://sevenskiesmusic.com/mixing. There is a wide access to the mass of phonograms of the famous songs, which many of us want to perform, creating our own versions of these popular songs. and the recording of songs in the studio by non-professional vocalists has already become a form of leisure. When it comes to the issue of processing and mixing acappella with a phonogram is especially relevant. So, let's enumerate all the stages of vocal processing.
- Editing: installation and tuning
- Dynamic processing
- Spatial processing
- Final Mix
Even a professional singer, very often cannot sing a song brilliantly from beginning to end from the first time, so during the editing the mixing engineer has to face a lot of takes by a vocalist. Editing the vocals we choose the best of these duplicates and glue them together into one perfect one. Depending on the skills of the vocalist, you have to choose either the whole verses or choruses, or to collect the best variant by the takes: phrases, and sometimes even single syllables. When an ideal vocal is created, you can proceed to its tuning, to adjust the pitch of the voice, roughly speaking to eliminating false notes.
In essence, tuning is pitch shift in micro format. There are different points of view about the vocal tuning: if we correct all the natural shortcomings of the vocalist, then how does it differ from the robot? This opinion is quite true for inappropriate tuning, because it’s like any work of the music mixing - is significantly conditioned by both the stylistic features of the composition and the sound engineer's skills as well.
You need to analyze the instrumental the vocals will be mixed with. In styles where performance is live, such as jazz or rock, the purity of the intoning can fluctuate. This is related with the conditional settings of live instruments. In this context, the ideal vocals won’t be suitable for the overall living concept. At the same time, if the instrumental was created on the computer, then it was made with the tuning fork and metro-rhythmic parameters. In such music, a well-polished ideal vocalist fits well. Of course, all music is very original, and we cannot build 100% regularities. As a sound engineer you need to have an individual approach to each song, to be an analyzer and a co-author at the same time.
The most important thing you have to remember – try not to harm. If we do not hear an obvious defect in a separate fragment, then it's better not to touch it. If we hear falsehood, but do not understand what is the problem, try moving the note up or down a ton or semitone. In principle, if you analyze the average vocal melody, then it usually consists of repeated figures, the sequents. In case of the difficulty in determining the inaccuracy in the notes, you can track these repetitive figures and see where they are sung and how. Perhaps, any of the pieces was sung correctly.
Also with the help of the most popular tuners (Melodyne, Autotune, Vari Audio in Cubase), the mixing engineer can shorten unnecessarily stretching sounds and vice versa, to extend too short using the time stretch function, and also to remove unwanted voice vibrations. It should be remembered that the more you remove vibration, the more direct your sound becomes. That means it becomes less natural and similar to a real person. Many effects that create an electronic voice are built in your DAW.
It is very important to remember that any actions related to raising and lowering the tone of the voice, its speeding up or slowing down, brings the distortion into the voice, which means that it worsens its quality. Therefore, you should remember - we get a clear reduction in terms of quality, if all these types of processing are applied to the same vocal fragment.
Editing the vocals can be completed, if you clearly hear their favor in comparison with what you had in the beginning after all the manipulations. It is not necessary to apply any effects, for example reverb or delay, when you are editing and especially tuning the vocals. It distracts you, covers your hearing and masks the of the recording.