How to Improve the Quality of Your Vocal Samples
Tuesday , 06 October 2020 , 03 : 17 PM

To add that extra oomph to a song or project, most producers would look to vocal samples to supplement the lead vocal and sometimes even become a main part of the song. This is usually made by slicing a portion of a vocal recording ⁠— sometimes made by the artist or taken from an unrelated project or song.

Vocal samples can make or break a song. In fact, we wouldn't have massive hits like Eminem’s Stan and Fatboy Slim’s Praise You if the producers for these songs didn’t borrow vocal samples from songs of the past.

That’s why every music producer worth their salt should be able to clean up a vocal sample and improve its quality. By doing so, it can help the sample make a bigger and better impact when added to a project. So in this post, we’ve listed a few tips that you can use to enhance the quality of your vocal samples.

Use Automatic Tuning

This is pretty much as straightforward as using any other production software tool. Every producer knows how to use auto-tune to some extent, as it’s been a staple of most pop records for the past 20 years. When it comes to vocal samples, your intent is most important when using auto-tune. Do you want it to be recognizable and evident? Or do you want it to be subtle, only helping fix issues when it comes to pitch and disguise inaccuracies?

When it comes to software, you can easily whip out Antares’ Auto-Tune, but other digital audio workstations (DAW) have a variety of built-in automatic pitching tools. For instance, Melodyne is integrated with PreSonus’s Studio One and Cubase pro has Steinberg’s VariAudio as a pitch correction software. If you want to create texture and add warmth to your vocal sample, mix an untuned vocal with an auto-tuned duplicate.

Have the Right Equipment

If you’re planning to create your own vocal samples, you have the chance to create the purest and most pristine quality version of your vocal sample. So, be sure to do your due diligence and take the time to read about the best microphones and audio interfaces to help you achieve a high-quality vocal file. Price doesn’t always translate to high quality, so be sure to look beyond the cost of equipment.

This is especially true with microphones. Depending on the kind of music and sound you want to produce, it’ll be hard to find a one-size-fits-all mic. Microphone review site Shout4Music provides detailed breakdowns covering all the different kinds of mics out there on the consumer market — from affordable models like the Shure SM58, to the pricier and more high-end ones like the Neumann U87 AI. Be sure to read up on how to match your mic to your or another artist’s singing style, as well as the recording environment where you plan to create your vocal samples ⁠— whether it’s in an untreated room or a professionally made acoustic booth.

Comp Parts You Like

If you really want to make the most out of your vocal sample, it’s best that you get into the nitty-gritty and comp the best parts of the sample. This will put your manual editing skills to the test as comping can be incredibly time-consuming. However, comping the best parts of a vocal sample will bring out the best in it and even make it a killer part of your project or song.

When comping, try to edit the vocals down to the finest details ⁠— focusing on sections as short as words and syllables and not just on sung lines. Furthermore, a lot of producers make mistakes when comping precise sections, so be sure to stick to the sample’s timing and make use of small fades to prevent clicks in the audio.

So the next time you’re planning to use vocal samples in a project, you can use our guide to further enhance the quality of your samples. If you’re a beginner producer who’s trying to expand your knowledge in the art of music production, you can also check out the courses we offer here on Modern Producers.

Article specially written for Modern Producers by: Rana Jet

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