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Your Manual for Achieving Amazing Vocals

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This post is part of a series called Recording Vocals.
Creative Spot Processing for Vocals

Vocals are key. You can nail everything else, but without great vocals your song will lack life, interest and believability. Since 2008 we've been posting some great tutorials on vocals. In this post we've listed them all - 22 in total! Think of it as your manual for achieving the best possible vocals.

In a recent Open Mic we asked if you sing. If you haven't had a chance yet, head over and tell us about your experiences. But even if you don't sing, there's something here for everyone - vocal technique and performance, how to record and produce vocals, using effects on vocals, and more. Let us know what you find most helpful in the comments.


Vocal Technique

Way before you get to performing, recording and processing vocals, you can improve your sound by using a better technique. This will take some time and effort, but will make a bigger impact on your sound than anything else on this page. Bring the best possible vocal sound you can to the recording session.

  • 15 Youtube Videos that Will Improve Your Vocal Technique

    15 Youtube Videos that Will Improve Your Vocal Technique

    The voice is the one instrument we take with us everywhere we go – even into the shower. Yet many of us spend less time working on vocal techniques than we do learning other instruments. Whether you are a lead vocalist, background vocalist, or just record your voice for “special effects”, these videos will teach you to warm up your voice, help you achieve a better vocal sound, and also protect your voice by teaching you to sing with a proper technique.

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  • Improve Your Singing With Daily Vocal Exercises

    Improve Your Singing With Daily Vocal Exercises

    If you ever use your own voice in your productions – either as lead or backup vocals – you’ll want to get the most you can out of your instrument. The best way to improve the pitch, diction and tone of your voice is to practice daily vocal exercises. Here are a bunch of places to get you started.

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Vocal Performance and Delivery

Again, it's what you're recording that's more important than how you process it later. Take time to capture the best possible performance. We're not just talking about the best technical sound - you need to inject emotion and interest into the performance as well. Here are some great tips on how to focus, be inspired, and do just that.

  • The Producer’s Guide to Putting Passion into Vocal Delivery

    The Producer’s Guide to Putting Passion into Vocal Delivery

    “It’s in the can,” “On tape” and “It’s a wrap!” You all gather in the plush leather, shag-pile comfort of the engineering room and wait as the final touches are put to the mix. Anticipation is running high, everything is technically perfect, the rhythm tracks tock to the clock of the heart with precision and feel, perfectly locking in and connecting the bottom end to the mids and linking them to the highs with emphatic punctuation into an harmonious arrangement that captures the feel and energy of live.

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  • 5 Ways to Deliver More Expressive Vocals

    5 Ways to Deliver More Expressive Vocals

    Singing is the first music-making experience most of us ever had. It came naturally without a single lesson probably before you even went to school. You probably started with a nursery rhyme or other well-known song, and you sang for the simple pleasure of it. And your mom probably thought you were amazing!

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  • Getting The Best Out Of A Vocalist – Audio Premium

    Getting The Best Out Of A Vocalist – Audio Premium

    In this week’s Audio Premium content, Bobby Owsinski teaches you how to get the most out of a vocalist in a recording session.

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  • 11 Videos to Improve Your Vocal Microphone Technique

    11 Videos to Improve Your Vocal Microphone Technique

    To get a great vocal sound you need an amazing voice, the right microphone, and correct mic technique. Here are 10 Youtube videos that will improve your vocal microphone technique, and one that’s just for fun.

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Recording Vocals

There's a lot you can do to improve the recording process, from treating the room, using a better mic, and way you interact with your singer and software. Before you hit Record, check out these tutorials first.

  • How to Record Vocals in a Bedroom

    How to Record Vocals in a Bedroom

    Recording vocals can be one of the more challenging tracking phase processes you may run into. If it wasn’t enough of a tough cookie in the studio, you can be sure it’s a daunting task in a bedroom (or a home office or any other room you’ve set aside for recording fun that wasn’t purpose-built for it).

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  • How to Record and Mix Stereo Backing Vocals – Part 1

    How to Record and Mix Stereo Backing Vocals – Part 1

    Recording backing vocals in stereo has been a tried and tested technique for years. Some of the greatest singers have done it – Michael Jackson, Marti Pellow (Wet Wet Wet), Mick Hucknell (Simply Red), Seal, Madonna, Christina Aguilera – and they’ve done it well. But how do you get that layered, wall-of-sound backing vocals without clouding the lead? How do you choose how many and which ones to do?

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  • Recording and Mixing Stereo Backing Vocals – Part Two: Adding Effects

    Recording and Mixing Stereo Backing Vocals – Part Two: Adding Effects

    It takes a lot more than good pre-production to make vocals sound professional in a track (although it certainly helps), and there are many ways to improve your mix. In Part One of this tutorial we had a look at the pre-production as well as how to mix lead and backing vocals together effectively with the use of EQ, compression and panning. This time take it one step further and add the sheen to the sound.

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  •  Vocal Recording Techniques – Audio Premium

    Vocal Recording Techniques – Audio Premium

    In this week’s Audio Premium content, Bobby Owsinski takes us through some practical and insightful vocal recording techniques from his books.

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  • 10 Steps to Get the Most Out of a Vocal Session

    10 Steps to Get the Most Out of a Vocal Session

    We spend hours creating, arranging, tweaking and mixing the perfect song. We get so engrossed by all the components of a song that it’s easy to forget one major point – the vast majority of music consumers only concentrate on the vocals. As a result, us “music creators” don’t need to co-ordinate ‘good’ vocal sessions, but ‘great’ vocal sessions!

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Vocal Effects

Effects play an important part in how your vocals sound, whether you're aiming for a particular sound for your favorite genre, or trying to achieve something special or unique. These tuts are a good start to exploring vocal effects.

  • How to Autotune Your Vocals Like T-Pain, Cher or Daft Punk

    How to Autotune Your Vocals Like T-Pain, Cher or Daft Punk

    Ever heard a song by T-Pain on the radio and wondered how the robotic vocal effect is achieved? By the end of this tutorial, you will own the autotuning sound that is used on so many pop records right now.

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  • Create a Vocal Glitch Sequence

    Create a Vocal Glitch Sequence

    Glitch processing is a popular technique in contemporary electronic music. Although this method can be used on any sound it is often most effective when applied to vocal sounds. In this tutorial, Mo Volans shows you how…



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  • How to Make One Vocal Sound Like a Choir

    How to Make One Vocal Sound Like a Choir

    In this tutorial we are going to explore how we can make a simple four-part vocal harmony sound like a full choir. We’re going to do so by using a freeware VST plug-in called “Clone Ensemble” and a few simple recording techniques. This effect is useful for creating an ethereal sounding backing vocal, and it’s also a lot of fun! I’m using Cubase 4, but the techniques would be the same in any audio sequencer.

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  • Everything You Were Scared to Ask About Autotune

    Everything You Were Scared to Ask About Autotune

    Autotune is everywhere. It is found on countless albums, and with the help of iPhone apps, the rest of the world are getting in on the act as well. What is Autotune, and why is it so popular?

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  • How to Use Vocoders in Remixes

    How to Use Vocoders in Remixes

    So maybe you’ve just been given a vocal part to remix and no matter how hard you try you just can’t get it to sit with your style of music. Maybe the progression is just too ‘light’ or perhaps you already have a piece you want to use. Whatever the reason, vocoding could really help you out in this situation.

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Mixing and Processing Vocals

This is the business end of the recording process. You've finished tracking, the singers have gone home, and it's just you, your software, and the early hours of the morning. Here are some great tips for taking your recorded vocals to the next level.

  • How to Process and Improve Home Recorded Vocals

    How to Process and Improve Home Recorded Vocals

    So, you’ve recorded a vocal, and now you want to mix it and process it so it sounds great in your mix. We’re not going to look at tracking vocals in this tutorial. Instead, we’re going to focus on how to process vocals once you’ve recorded them. Depending on your room, your mic and placements, your pre-amps and inputs and, above all, your skill-level, the quality of your recorded vocal sound is going vary.

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  • 5 Great Vocal Effect Tips – Audio Premium

    5 Great Vocal Effect Tips – Audio Premium

    In this week’s Audio Premium content, Björgvin Benediktsson teaches you five techniques for enhancing vocals. While the screenshots for this tutorial are taken in Logic Pro, the content is not Logic-centric and is equally useful and valuable in any software that deals with sequenced music.

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  •  How to Process Vocals for Podcasts or Voiceover

    How to Process Vocals for Podcasts or Voiceover

    This is one I get asked about all the time, how do I process my voice recordings for clearer more professional podcasts and voiceovers? Well, the truth is as long as you have a microphone and a voice people can understand, any DAW should be all you need to get things to a pretty high standard.

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  • How to Process Vocals for an Amazing Professional Sound

    How to Process Vocals for an Amazing Professional Sound

    Persuading a problematic vocal recording to play nicely with the rest of your mix can seem like a futile task. Well-recorded vocals and poorly-recorded vocals both need to be correctly prepared, and the processes we’re going through today will help you turn your untreated vocal take into a polished and commercial sound.

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Vocal Samples

Feeling lazy? Can't find the singer of your dreams? Your singing makes dogs bark and small children cry? Explore vocal samples instead. Here is a great place to start.

  • 15 Sites Where You Can Find Free Vocal Samples and Loops

    15 Sites Where You Can Find Free Vocal Samples and Loops

    Vocals can add flavor and emotion to your tracks. This article lists 15 sites where you can find vocal samples and loops for free. If you don’t have your own choir or backing vocalists – or just can’t sing – this list might be just what you’re looking for.

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Vocals and Composing

Singing comes naturally to most of us. Even if you never intend for your vocals to be heard on the finished track, you can use your voice to experiment with different rhythmic and melodic ideas. Here's a great tut that explores how to do that.

  • Quick Tip: Starting a Song by Beatboxing or Singing an Idea

    Quick Tip: Starting a Song by Beatboxing or Singing an Idea

    This article is about a quick and effective technique for capturing inspiration in a practical way that quickly translates into an actual song. This is one way to start a track with a vision you will want to finish.

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