i'm showing you how to process vocals in fl studio although you can follow along in many other softwares i'll be showing both a simple and an advanced workflow depending on your level so please do use the time stamps in the video description to find what you need and let's waste no time and just get right into the tutorial [Music] i also just want to say that all of these vocals are sung by my friend david i recently flew out to la to record one of his albums he's got a couple of projects going on right now please do check the description to find out more if you're interested and i got the chance to record him in a sort of dream studio with a u67 and a wonderful processing chain but i also recorded him in his home studio and also on an iphone just for comparison so that's what all these vocals are here piano at the top and then various different vocal takes we have the home studio at the top the pro studio in the middle and then the iphone at the bottom so i'll turn those two off so we're just working with the home studio and let me quickly go over what the simple technique entails so it's a two-step process where we're going to clean and balance the vocals and then add creative effects and it really is very simple and straightforward the advanced process takes us into some more intricate multi-layered compression and then more parallel processing which i'll go into in a little bit more detail it's quite a lot of fun starting with the simple technique i've sent the vocal to track three on my mixer and the first thing we're going to do is just get a balance trying to get the vocal at the right level compared to the backing track or [Music] piano but hope set us on fire there's no effects on this yet so some of the words will sound too loud some will sound too quiet but we're aiming for that sort of ballpark what i'd recommend for this as well is take the headphones off turn up your studio monitors if you have them and then set it again with the studio monitors it gives you a completely different image now you'll notice i haven't started talking about dbs or the position of the fader because this is something that you just use your ears for so now that we've got the rough balance the next step is to clean up this vocal and try to make it sound more natural what i'd recommend using here is an eq so load up fruity parametric eq 2 on your mixer or if you have any third-party equalizers that you might prefer you can use those for instance i have this ozone eq the first thing i'd recommend doing is going to token one and just adding a high pass so right click type high pass this is just going to roll off some of the low frequencies if you like you can also right click again and change the order to make it a steeper filter just like this usually you can set it between 60 and 100 hertz but just play your audio and take a listen i know it's over so that's far too thin we're just trying to roll off this low end that we don't need but hope set us on that sounds good the next thing we're going to do is search around for some frequencies that we don't really want now you have to be careful because if you do this sort of boost and sweep method that's very common lots of frequencies are going to sound bad however in small untreated rooms like we were recording in there's often a big build up between about 110 and 180 hertz so just look for something that's really resonating and sounding bad let's take a listen i know it's over it was over from the start i'm hearing something around 150 or 160 so i'm just going to make a small cut there just of a few db but i want to make sure that i'm not taking too much warmth out of this vocal i know it's over i'm going to quickly swap to the other equalizer i have this ozone 9 eq just to show you some of the benefits of third-party plugins so on this eq i can actually solo a band of frequencies and take a good listen to what they sound like on their own which can help you with your ear training to know sort of what you're listening for so i'll show you what this sounds like i know it's over it was over from the start so around 3 400 it sounds quite sort of nasally but hope set us on fire one to two is like where all the detail is and we felt like lovers and then the top end of this microphone is really fizzy and harsh let's take another listen i know it's over it's very detailed in the top end but it's quite harsh if i go back to this fruity eq we might want to remove some of that nasal quality in the voice around three or four hundred and we may also want to smooth out some of the top end but to do this i'm going to play it along with the piano because we really don't want to do too much eq'ing in solo i know it's over it was over from the start so i'm just searching around but hope set us on fire and we felt like lovers do so now we're going on to the next step which is to add compression if you look closely at this waveform you'll see that it's all over the place in terms of peaks and dips some words are going to be really loud some are going to be really quiet the aim of compression is that the vocal is still going to sound powerful and emotional when david sings louder but we're just going to prevent too much sound pressure actually getting to the headphones or the speakers the reason we want to do this is that it just makes the vocal sound more confident you can hear every word and also it lets you get a louder final mix as there won't be any loud transients peeking through and forcing your eventual mastering limiter to clip or distort so i'll load up the fruity limiter and i'm going to put it into compression mode and then i'm going to play in the chorus just for a little bit of variety it's also a little bit louder and then i'm going to set the threshold ratio attack and release and i'll try to talk through what i'm doing for a much more detailed video about how to learn and hear compression please check this link here or check the description so i'm lowering the threshold until i'm within the audio and i'm going to increase the ratio probably to about two or three to one this white trace here shows us where compression is acting and to get the amount of compression you just move your cursor over one point and then you read off the top corner in fl studio and it says minus 3 db minus 6.1 db now i don't set compression by reading a number of decibels i really just listen to it and set it until it sounds right this compression is controlling the vocal but it's also clamping down on the words too fast so now i'm going to set the attack time to be longer which lets the starts of the words through and i'm going to pull the release time back so that the compressor releases and it's going to sound more natural so let's press play and take another listen find a way to look past the obvious and see the good i so this is where i really want you to listen into the compression when david sings self at night you'll see in the clip that he is singing louder but he's also moving away and towards the microphone which just makes it move up and down in volume if i turn the compressor off you'll hear that those two words really peak through the there's mix way whereas if i turn it on they're much more controlled and see the good i tell myself at night there's no way and when setting compression i would highly recommend using your studio monitors as well so i'll just do a double check here and make sure that sounds okay the reason i would use studio monitors is that they give you a much better idea of the actual sort of air pressure coming out of the speakers and it's something that even the best headphones just simply can't do now that we've controlled the dynamics of the vocal let's go to our second stage of eq this is where we're going to make some very gentle boosts and cuts wide bands just seeing if we can brighten up the vocal dark and it really fit it around that piano let's take a listen and see the good i tell myself at night there's no way it could be fixed but i can't help [Music] let's turn all the effects off and take a listen would we get it right find a way to look past the obvious and with the effects on would we get it right find a way to look past the obvious i think that sounds good the final part of the vocal cleanup is de-essing which i don't need to do on this vocal but if you do i would recommend downloading a plug-in called nova it's a free plug-in they have a de-essing preset this might look very confusing but i have a detailed tutorial for this plug-in as well if you if you want to watch it what this does is it listens for those sharp sibilant harsh sounds in the high end when they get too loud it just turns them down it does it automatically for you so if your vocals are really sharp and harsh i'd highly recommend looking into that technique so now that we've done the clean and balanced stage we're going to add the creative effects this could be anything from vocoding saturation reverb delay all of which again i have uh details tutorials for how to apply and use those effects in different mix situations for this particular vocal i think all it needs honestly is a dash of reverb at least in a simple case so i'm going to use fruity reverb too but i'm going to add a little bit of a low cut to cut some of the low frequencies away and i'm going to make sure there's quite a nice long decay time so that the vocal sounds really lush let's go back to the verse i know it's over it was over from the stars so that's far too much reverb let's dial it back in but hope set us on fire and again with these effects you've got to listen in headphones and on your studio monitors if possible let's take a listen so that's the simple processing chain finished and the idea is just to make it fit into the mix nothing's too loud nothing's too quiet and it sounds reasonably natural let's go on to the advanced chain which follows the same principles to start off with cleaning balancing and then adding effects however we're gonna go into that balancing section in a lot more detail and then add all the effects in parallel chains so let's go back to this track i'm just going to turn off the reverb and the second eq so i'm going to go back to that first limiter and this time what i'm going to do is set a much higher threshold and i'm going to do two stages of compression so the first stage is going to grab the very highest peaks and just crush them down and then the second stage is going to gently compress everything the reason we do it in two stages is so that the first stage catches all the loud stuff so that the second compressor won't ever clip or distort and see the good i tell myself at night let's go a little bit more and see the good i tell myself at night so if i pause up here you can see that the loudest words are getting compression but everything else is not really being touched maybe just a tiny little bit by the compressor there then i'm going to load up another compressor now i wouldn't recommend using the fruity limiter there's so many free compressors that sound better and most of the third-party paid ones too but i want to keep this as a stock uh plugins video if you want some good free compressors check out my free plugins video so again turning this into compression mode this time a much lower threshold a much more gentle ratio of say two to one or three to one and then i'm going to adjust the attack time so that the compressor is not cutting off the starts of each word too much i'm going to go back to the verse and let's take a listen i know it's over it was over from the start let's make the release a little bit shorter but hope set us on fire a little bit more compression i know it's over it was over from the start as i'm adjusting this compressor i was just pushing the gain of the fader up just to try and balance it because the compression is obviously taking away quite a lot of gain i know it's over it was over from the start that sounds really good to me so let's listen to it with that piano as well i know it's over it was over from the start so this isn't really my favorite compressor but i still think that sounds pretty good now at this point what i would do is start the parallel processing chains again i have a video detailing exactly how to do this and i actually have a free template which i'll put in the description where this is all set up for you but the basic idea is that whatever effects you think it needs vocoding saturation delay reverb parallel compression you take from your main track here you go to an empty track in this case insert six click on this triangle right click route to this track now it's going to send a double of the signal through all of these effects to this track this is now our reverb channel so i'm just going to turn it down and add a reverb add any reverb you like i'm just sticking to stock plugins here make it 100 wet and no dry signal and then press play i know it's over it was over from the start so now our reverb is much easier to control and automate because we've set it up on a new channel it's going to be a little bit more confusing if you're brand new to this but it gives you a lot more control because after the reverb i can add a ton of eq i could add delay i could compress this reverb again by using the fruity limiter i can do really whatever i want to do to the reverb and it's not going to affect the original dry vocal signal i also find it easier to blend in the reverb when it's on its own separate channel the idea behind this trick again is that you just keep routing to new channels whenever you want something something that i really would recommend doing is a parallel compression chain so we've sent a duplicate of the vocal to this track here called parallel i'm going to add a compressor and basically what you do is you just absolutely compress it like mad you can actually have quite a short attack time in this case you compress it a ton let's take a listen i know it's over it was over from the stars so you can see there's just an absolute ton of compression and then what you do is you just blend this in with the original signal let's go to the chorus here past the obvious and i think depending on what you're listening on this adds a lot of weight and confidence behind the vocal and if you can get this sort of parallel compression right it really makes your track stand out it just makes the vocal sound really confident without sounding over compressed so if you're going to do this sort of compression you can actually turn the compression off on your dry signal and again you can basically just blend the exact amount of compression you want in a final word about these parallel effects chains is that if you're using effects like reverb and delay this also makes it really easy to automate the levels of these delays so that you can do delay throws you can automate the amount of signal going into a delay plug-in for instance and it just opens up your your possibilities so that should give you lots of topics for further study but what i want to show you now is the difference between the home recording and the studio and the iphone recording because this is where things get really interesting i'm going to just switch straight to the studio microphone would we get it right find a way to look past the obvious it sounds so production ready there's a ton of high end but it's not too harsh in these headphones at least back to the road would we get it right find a way to look past the obvious sounds good on its own but there's a lot of dynamics and i'd say the top end sounds quite harsh and then finally the iphone would we get it right find a way to look past the obvious there's a lot of self-compression going on there and it sounds okay on its own doesn't sound great but what i wanted to show you was that the biggest differences between these three recordings become apparent when you play them in the context of a mix let's start with the road would we get it right find a way to look past the obvious studio would we get it right find a way to look past the obvious every word is just right there exactly where you need it and then the iphone would we get it find a way to look past the obvious just sort of all over the place and doesn't do his singing any good which is what you'd expect however i did want to show that if you throw some reverb and some compression onto the iphone it could actually do for like a demo you know just for getting a song idea down there i know it's over it was over from the start i mean i've definitely heard worse recordings so my final summary is that no matter what sort of processing you're doing and whether you want to end up doing vocoding or saturation whether you're you know processing for a trap beat or a pop song i like to separate into those two stages cleaning and balancing the vocal and then adding all sorts of crazy creative effects and usually if you clean up the vocal and control its dynamics first it makes doing all of those crazy effects easier because you're usually sort of running into those effects more consistently which can make them a little bit more predictable so thank you very much for watching thanks again to david for providing all these wonderful vocals for us and i hope to see you in the next one bye for now