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Tighter Vocals (Backing or Doubling) Using the Flex Tool

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This post is part of a series called Recording Vocals.
Recording and Mixing Stereo Backing Vocals - Part Two: Adding Effects
How to Process Vocals for an Amazing Professional Sound

The vocals are always the most important part of a mix. They sit right up front and are the main thing that the listener will latch on to. If they sound too lazy and loose, it can throw the whole track out and give an overall messy feel.

Now, getting the vocalist to sing rhythmically and on-the-beat is one thing, but trying to get them to do that again for either a chorus double, or backing vocals, is another! When it comes to parts like this, that need to be spot-on, there's something you can do in post-production to help the situation out. With the use of the Flex Tool, in Logic, I'll show you a quick tip to do just that.

Step 1

Locate the two phrases you want to be matched. In this case, a lead vocal and a vocal double, to beef up the chorus.

Step 2

Trim the parts so they are the same length.

Step 3

Select each track, one at a time, and set them to 'Monophonic' in the Flex Time menu.
NB: There are two places for this;

  1. in the Inspector Menu under 'Flex Mode'
  2. turn Flex Mode on with the button above the arrange page then use the drop-down menu on the track itself.

Step 4

Make a Groove Template of the track you wish to be master (the one you wish the double track to tighten to). This will analyse the track and find the hit points of the phrase.

  • Go to the Inspector menu on the left (Hit 'I' if it's not already visible)
  • Go to the Quantize menu at the top
  • Choose 'Make Groove Template' from the list (should be right at the bottom)

Step 5

Now select the track that you wish to be the slave (the one you wish to tighten to the first one).

Step 6

Go to the Inspector menu again, but this time for the doubler track.

Go to the Quantize menu again and choose the quantize value at the bottom - it will be labelled the same as the clip name of the master (in this case 'Lead Vocal.3').

Step 7

View both tracks together to see how they should match up to each other and therefore, be much tighter!

This quick tip should help you to bring a little more focus to your mixes> It's all very well doubling up your vocals to make the choruses sound thicker, or layering backing vocals to add colour to a section in a song, but if they are too loose and out of time it can sound sloppy.

Also, why stop at just vocals? Apply this same technique to other applications, for example: Locking the bass into the drums, bringing two strummed acoustics together for better rhythm or perhaps just bringing electric guitar stabs bang on the beat for more punch.

Get tightening!

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