In a professional musicproduction, the part that needs the most work will probably be Vocals. Vocal Editing and tracking can be the most extensive work on a full musicproduction. I will describe a bit how I do it, after receiving the Vocal Recording Session.
So, in the Vocal Recording Session there will be recorded a lot of different „takes“ from the singer. The producer ofcourse wants to ge the very best performance from the singer so it’s needed to record a lot of different vocal takes, to choose the very best from at the end.
Some producers already select final vocals during the recording session, other producers record a lot of vocals in different shades (like sang loud, medium, with more breath etc..) and do the selection at the end, to save time for the singer.
It will be unconvenient to import all single vocal tracks from a large recording session into your mixing session, so it’s needed to sort out and choose the best vocals, create clean vocal tracks and make stems of backing vocals, which can be used in the production / mixing session document (in Logic, Protools etc.).
I’m working with Logic Pro, and I always do the vocal recording in a new session document. I set the tempo of the song, import the playback of the song plus maybe some guidetracks for the vocalist. After the vocal recording session I will have a lot of different vocal tracks to choose from.
The next step would be, making the final selection of the very best vocal takes. With this you may – depending on the singer and song – end up with a different vocal take for each sung word or phrase, or just select of a few vocal takes that the singer sang almost perfectly through the whole song.
Mostly there are also some Main Vocals, Backing Vocals, Adlips and Double-Vocals which will be used to create a wider Stereo-Vocalsound.
After the final selection of vocals, all the selected parts has to be cutted and edited. It is needed to make Fade -Ins -Outs, and adjustments of timing. The breathing noises has to be cutted correctly (depending the song the breathing noises will be not cutted away!), and most important the regions has to be cutted clean that there will be no noise on parts where the singer doesn’t sing.
When the vocals are clean, it is needed to „consolidate“ or „merge“ them. In Logic Pro the function is called „merge“. It will create one region of all the selected vocal bits including it’s fade-in and –outs.
After that is done, it’s time to do some tuning of the vocals. It depends on the singer and song / musicgenre if that is needed or not, and in which way it will be done. Of course for rapvocals there will be no tuning in most cases! Mostly I will use Melodyne for that, and sometimes Autotune. When using Autotune it’s important to set Autotune on the correct key and select also „major“ or „minor“, and dont just leave it on „chromatic“ what some Engineers do if they can’t find out the right key! In Melodyne I’m using the standalone version, import the playback and vocals, and correct the tuning and timing of the vocals.
After that is done I will export the tuned vocals back to the session. Melodyne btw. Is also great to correct the timing of vocals. And another great tool is „Vocalign“, this is useful for Vocal Doubling, to set different vocal-Takes „tight“.
When the vocal editing and tuning is done, the next step is, preparing the vocal-tracks for the mixing session. For the backing vocals (if there are a lot of) it can be useful to make “stems” (several tracks bounced/mixed into one stereo-track) already. Because, in a mixing session that already has a lot of tracks, it will be unconvenient to import another 40 vocal tracks. Than it can become very useful to do a little bit pre-mixing already in the vocal editing session, like for example sending a bunch of backing-Vocal tracks to your favourite gear (EQ, Compressors, etc.) and record them back as a new stereo-track, to use that in the mixing session.
Sometimes while doing that, I already record also some analogue Effects which I’m going to use on the Vocals. At the end, just import your edited and clean vocal-tracks into your mixing session, that you can concentrate on your mix, and dont need to spend time on moving and cutting vocals during the mixing progress. If you have prepared your vocals very well, you will have a much more easy workflow during the mixing and final production of your song! In any case, that extra work is absolutely worth it for a professional musicprodution!
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!