How to get crisp vocals

April 21, 2020

Have you noticed that when you stream your favorite artists music their voice sounds super clean?

 

It's hard to explain. Like an angelic tone to it. The vocal is bright. It's present. You could even say it sounds crispy...

 

This technique is partially what separates good vocals from great vocals. When I first started producing I would try boosting the high frequencies on my vocal EQ to get this sound. It never worked... Ever.

 

The technique is actually straightforward to implement on your own vocals. It's called parallel processing.

 

Keep reading, i'll explain how.

 

Crisp Vocals

In this example we're going to be working with vocals that are already recorded.

1. Create a bus from your vocal channel strip

2. Send it to any aux channel of your choice

3. Turn the "bus knob" up to -1.2

 

On the bus channel

1. Choose EQ of your choice

2. Add a low-cut filter and cut up to 10400 Hz

3. Add high-shelf filter, boost 9db at 13400 HZ

 

Crisp Vocals

Next thing we want to do is add a compressor. Choose whichever one you want.

1. Set the attack around 10ms

2. Set release around 50ms

3. Set ratio around 1.5:1

4. Lower the threshold knob until the needle is hovering around -1, like the image

5. Add about 7db of makeup gain

How to get crisp vocals

After we got the compressor settings down, let's add a DeEsser. A DeEsser is basically a compressor that allows us to focus on a specific region of frequencies.

1. Set the frequency to around 10000 HZ

2. Set the strength to around -10.0db, or until the piercing frequencies come out of the vocal

How to get clear vocals

For our second to last step we're going to add a limiter.

1. In this example I added some gain to send the signal into the limiter. We're trying to flatten out the vocal a bit. This is a creative effect so try to ignore what traditionalists say about how you should and shouldn't use limiters. They don't apply here. I added 13db of gain

2. Set release around 2ms

3. Make sure the audio going into the limiter is hovering around 3db over the 0db threshold. This is shown in the image in yellow. This is the amount of signal that's being clipped.

How to get clear vocals

For our last step let's add some delay.

1. Put the delay on 1/4 Note

2. Set the feedback to relatively long. I put it on 64% in this song. Adjust to taste

3. Turn the dry up all the way

4. Mix in a little bit of wet. Barely audible but just enough to make the vocal notes sound longer

How to get crisp vocals

We're finished

1. Use the bus volume slider to mix in your new crispy vocal layer

2. Make sure the bus channel is sitting underneath the main vocal

3. If you did this right your vocals will sound sicko mode

-Ryan


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