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Quick Tip: How to Cut and Enhance Your Vocal Phrases

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This post is part of a series called Producing Vocals: From Mic Placement to Mixing.
Quick Tip: How to Fit Vocals Into Your Mixes Using Delay
How to Make One Vocal Sound Like a Choir

Vocals are an important element in many dance tracks. In this quick tip I will show you some tricks that add interest to your vocal phrases.

Step 1: Decide on the Best Phrase to Cut

You can use a whole vocal track in your production, but sometimes it is enough just to use a few words taken from it. You can discover the best vocal word—one that is compatible harmonically and has the right mood—by cutting around the section that you want, then using the Start Marker in the Clip view. While the music continues to loop, pull the Start Marker until you find the right word or phrase.

Some EDM producers don't use pluck sounds to colour their music. Instead, they use vocal cuts to enhance the lead sound itself. Another example of how this technique can be used is to cut your vocal track into different parts, then mix it at the beginning of the track.

Sometimes a word is almost suitable, but not quite. Here's how to tweak it. Set the Warp Chooser mode to Tones and transpose the pitch up or down one or two semitones. You can also try the Beats and Complex modes.

Listen to our vocal sound so far:

Once you've chosen and tweaked the right word or phrase, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Add Some Filters

Next, duplicate the track so that you have four in total. We will use the extra tracks for three different filters.

On the first track we'll use the Band Pass Filter. Drag and drop an Auto Filter to the channel, and select the Band Pass mode. Set the main frequency to 539 Hz and Q to 0.69. Next, automate the cutoff frequency as you can see in the image below.

On the second track we'll use the High Pass Filter. Repeat the previous step—just set the frequency to 1.81 kHz and Q to 0.69. Then automate the cutoff frequency as you see in the next image.

On the third track we'll use the Low Pass Filter. Repeat the earlier step, but set the cutoff frequency to 609 Hz and Q to 0.69. Then automate the cutoff frequency as you can see in the following image.

Lp vocalLp vocalLp vocal

Step 3: Add Group Channel Effects

In order to make your vocal awesome, you have to put different effects on it. So group the vocal tracks and put a reverb on it, which will give some space and sparkles. Set a moderate Decay Time of around 2-3 seconds.

Next, add a Flanger, which will give the vocal some wideness. Finally, add a Ping Pong Delay and a Compressor with an enabled Sidechain function.

Now you can hear how the vocal sound with effects:

And in context:


Keep your creativity high. From here you can automate the flanger or the delay or anything else. Happy music making!

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