Any engineer will tell you that its the quality of instruments you choose as well as the recording that will contribute to a good mix. Early on in the recording process there quite a few techniques artist can use to get the studio quality sound in their recordings. But in order to achieve the sound you want, you'll need to know the basic fundamentals of the recording process. And knowing when to apply certain effects to your vocals. In this article I will be going over the top ten audio effects every recording artist should know.
1-Compression- Keeping the low parts loud and the loud parts low of your vocals can be achieved with compression. Another alternative would be to use automation on the volume control of your vocals. But if you're looking to use compression to alter the tone of your vocals, or tighten them up in the mix. You can do so by adjusting the threshold below the average level of the vocals. This way the compressor will be most active during the louder parts of the performance like singing. The audio will sound overly compressed at first but using a longer attack setting will fix this. However if your looking for a more up front aggressive presence for your vocal mix. The desired compression settings are threshold -2db, ratio 4:-1-6:1 ,attack 1rms, release to about 40rms and adjusting the gain output so that it matches the input level. At this output you'll need to add a considerable amount of of gain to compensate.
2- Equalization (Eq)- Boosting ,reducing and sometimes attenuating a signal this will allow you to clean up vocals by removing unwanted frequencies. Eq is one of the most important tools you'll use. Knowing where to cut and boost is vital part to achieving good sounding vocals. When applying Eq to your vocals its best to start by removing unwanted frequencies. When cutting from the low end its anywhere from 75HZ to 100Hz. Removing “boominess” and small room resonance ranges from 100 Hz to 150Hz. This will depend on the vocals your working on as the frequencies range can sometimes be used to add warmth and fullness by boosting in 100Hz to 150Hz. For lyric clarity you can either boost or reduce in the 800Hz-1k range. For open presence boosting in the 3k-6k range. For brightness 9k-11k range. For air you can boost or reduce in the range of 12k.
3-Reverb- Used to add space and depth in the mix. The idea behind using this effect is to create a natural sounding environment and space for each of the sounds in the mix. Think of live music performances and how the instruments along with the vocalist are positioned on stage. Lead vocals
will be in front of the band along with any accompanying lead instruments. Every instrument being played needs its space. When applying reverb keep in mind that subtlety is the best approach. Bring the input level of reverb effect to where you want it and bring it back down to about 2db-4b lower then you initially intended it to be.
4-Delay-Like reverb this effect is used to add space and soft instruments and vocals in the mix. Delay can be used with or without reverb to add a bit of depth to your vocals. As reverb tails can cause clutter issues in the mix if applied excessively. Whereas delays and echoes can dissipate quickly, giving you a cleaner sound.
5-De-esser- Think of it as a frequency compressor allowing you to keep harsh noises at bay. Preferably used on vocals and sometimes lead instruments. Great for removing sibilance from vocals. An extremely useful tool when mixing your vocal and keeping them clear of unwanted noise caused from speech.
6-Limiter- After applying compression for tone and compression once again for dynamics. At this point the vocal volume should be consistent. But for a more commercial sounding feel you can take the extra step and add a limiter to grab any peaks that may have gone noticed during the compression stages. Subtly is key when adding a limiter to your vocals.
7-Exciter-The idea behind this effect is to add controlled distortion also referred to as saturation, to vocals, instruments and an over all mix. There are many types of saturation that can be applied varies frequency areas of your mix. For example if you wanted to add some saturation to the highs or mid frequencies of your vocals. This effect can be achieved in one of two ways the first would be to create a copied track of your lead vocals. Using a hi-pass filter to isolate the highs while removing the low and mid frequencies of the copied vocal track. At this point the sound will be extremely thin and low so to compensate for this you may need to add a limiter or compressor to add some presence to the copied track. You'll then need to bring the level of the copied track into the mix once you've applied the effects. The next approach would be to create a bus track or an additional fx track from your main fx track. This is done because the saturation signal coming from the exciter plug-in can be extremely harsh so with that being said you'll want make that you're adding too much of it. Remember subtlety is key.
8-Pitch Correction- Primarily used for correcting notes that are sung by vocalist. Most DAWS may have some form of pitch correction but for those that don't. Can look into plug-ins like “Celemony's Melodyne”,”Izotope's Nectar 2” And “Antares Auto Tune”. The idea behind this effect is to correct notes that were sung out of key by moving them in the right key.
9-Chorus-While having the longest delay out of all modulation effects. The chorus effect is commonly used to create vocal doubling.
10- Auto tune- I'm sure by now you've heard of this effect and what it does to your vocals. But for those that don't, it's an audio processor that alters pitch in vocal, instrument recordings and performances.
No matter the skill level of your artistry it's always a good idea to invest in yourself. As an artist finding your sound is a lot easier with original beats then it is with instrumentals of popular commercially released recordings. Developing your own cadence and melody oppose to going with ones that everybody knows. Is what will help you as an artist grow and stand apart from the rest that choose to put out low quality mediocre music. Even if you're doing it as a hobby and its something you truly enjoy doing. It's always a good idea to invest a little in yourself. Whether its learning to paint or playing an instrument you'll still need to invest. For today's aspiring artist who are unsure or unaware of the benefits to buying beats online. I’ve put together 10 reasons why Artist should buy beats online.
1.Beat selection: When you buy beats online you get access to a wide variety of beats in different genres. From pop, trap, EDM, experimental, R&B, Hip Hop and more. And the best part about it is you get to take your time and listen to as many as you like.
2.Instant delivery: You receive beats you've purchased instantly whether it's a lease or exclusive rights. It's all automated and ready to be sent to your email with detailed instructions. A quick and easy process that allows you to begin your song creation as soon as possible.
3.Deals & special offers: You can expect to find some sort of deal online buying beats. Usually around the holidays like anything else you'd buy online will have a sale. Like a buy one get to free or a 30% discount code you can enter during the checkout process. The online shopping experience for an artist has come a long way.
4.Access: There are a ton of producers to choose from online all with different levels of experience, and sound quality. You can and will literally spend hours listening to the many different styles out there. And you can buy at anytime of the day without having to contact the producer, unless there's an issue with you receiving your order which doesn't happen too often. But in the event that it does most producers are easy to get in contact with and will gladly assist you on the matter.
5.Royalty free: When your leasing beats there will be no royalties unless your buying beats for exclusive rights. Most producers will often include a contract telling you what your limitations are.
6.Affordable: Buying beats online can be cheap if your leasing them. The most you can end up paying is anywhere from $ 25 USD to $ 60 USD and up. As I mentioned before you can always find deals or pricing that works with your budget. But if your buying exclusive rights it can cost anywhere from $250.00-$2000.00 and up. Now this depends on what the producer is comfortable with selling his beats for. The reason exclusive rights will cost more is that the producer is giving you the full rights to use his beat without any limitations and will no longer be able to sell it once you've purchased it. It will be marked as sold and if he or she was leasing it to others before you bought it won't affect your agreement because leases have limitations and expiration.
7.Tag free: As soon as your payment is received all voice tags are removed and you are able to enjoy a tagless beat.
8.Saves time and Reduces cost: As a producer, engineer studio time with artist can vary upon the artist. As far as time spent on writing and recording songs. The process can normally take anywhere from an hour or more depending on the artist. As for the mix engineer working on your song can take quite some time. The turnaround time for completion can take a week and if it's an entire project a month. This process cannot be rushed as it is vital to the sound quality of your songs. If you're expecting your producer to make your beats on the spot. The process can take any where from 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on the producer. This time can be better spent going through a catalog of beats online. Especially if your working on an entire project. This allows you to begin the songwriting process at your own pace. From my own experience working with artist. I can tell you that the recording process tends to go a lot smoother when the artist already has the beat and lyrics written prior to recording. The artist will by then have time to memorize and develop a flow for their song. Once it's time to lay their vocals down. And if you're an artist that can do your own recording then you'll only need your songs to be mixed. Saving you time and money that would've been spent on booking studio time. Be advised doing the recording yourself will require you to have a good quality microphone, preamp and audio interface to have near studio quality. You'll also need to be able to edit your own vocals and more. Just something to consider before opting out and doing it yourself.
9.Track outs for better mixes: As mentioned earlier the process that goes into putting your songs together weighs heavily on the quality of your recordings. The stem files are the kick, snare, strings ,piano etc, of a beat. These files are extremely important to have and should be handled by an experience mix engineer. This allows you the most control over your sound then it would a single Wav file. The difference in quality is noticeable and can be observed when comparing a mix tape to an album. 2 track recording is used for mix-tape recording which consists of a single wave file and vocals. As for albums the process requires having access to tracked out stem files for optimal sound quality.
10.Negotiation: Buying exclusive rights can be expensive because the producer is giving you the full rights to the beat. But in most cases a lower price can be negotiated. Depending on what the producer is comfortable with selling you their beats for, will play a factor in the deal.