Pro Audio Files

How to Create Vocal Stutter Effects with Ariel Chobaz

Transcript
Hello, everybody. I’m Ariel Chobaz, and many of you might know me from engineering, recording, and mixing a lot of the Nicki Minaj records, and today, I want to show you one of the things that we were able to brand throughout all of her albums, and a lot of her features, and that is the stutter effect.

Now, we definitely weren’t the first ones to invent it or anything like that, but we definitely took it to another level, and I kind of want to show you how I do that, how I approach it, and it’s the same for every song. Whether you’re doing Hip Hop, or Dance, which I’m doing in this case, or whatever else you’re doing.

So first off, I have a song here by Marie Monti. She’s a French artist. She’s really incredible, if you get a chance to check her out. What we want to do is we want to put — I had notes to put a stutter at the second — going into the second verse, and then also something on this last little pre-section, or this drop section right here.

So the first one is going to be here. So first a stutter. What I’m goig to do is just listen to it now for a second.

[mix]

Okay. Okay, so what I’m going to do is create another track here. I’m going to call it “Stutters Verse.” Now what I’m going to do is basically, take my grid and then put it down — I usually go to 64. The smallest that it goes. Put that on Grid. Oops, I’m hitting the nudge button. Forgive me, you guys. We’re going to go down a 64th. Now the next thing I like to do is basically preview the section that I’m going to stutter.

So in this case, it’s going to be somewhere in here. Probably this actually.

[vocals]

That’s pretty incredible, because it has such a sharp sound to it, and you kind of want to have a sharp sound. I’m going to edit these ins and outs a little bit.

[vocal sample]

It’s already sounding pretty good. Let’s just say for example, I was going to do another section. I’d put it back into Grid mode. Let’s say here.

[vocal]

Now, when I’m previewing it, I’m just trying to listen for what makes a pleasant sound, and what will sound good in a stutter, so you kind of just put it back into Slip mode, and then play with the in and out points when you have the approximate size you want. It’s usually going to be one or two of these blocks.

[vocal cut]

See, to me that sounds better. It’s a very sharp, very quick, [emulates stutter].

[vocal cut]

And you can see, it’s not quite on the grid, but it’s pretty close.

So going back to our first one, it already has a very sharp attack.

[vocals]

So I’m just going to grab this. I mean, it sounds great. So what we’re going to do is copy that, and then bring it down to our stutter. I’m going to copy it over. What I’m going to do is just create a little crossfade, make it sound nice. That’s pretty darn good.

Okay. So in order to create the stutter, all I’m going to do is copy it over. I’m going to move it over to — boop — and then another one, and another one.

Now, I’ve been doing this so long, I just do it by eye sight, because I know this is — the length of my region is about two 1/64ths, so I’m going to create that space in between each one, right? Two of these.

Now, as we play it down, we can mess with it and do different things. I like to get a few of them, just so we can kind of hear what’s going on, and then we can hear what we have so far.

[vocals with stutter]

Also one thing you want to do to clean it up and make it sound a bit better is chop off all that extra stuff at the beginning. So already, I’ve got a pretty good stutter.

[vocal stutter]

Now, if we wanted, you know, we could make it slower by muting every other one, right?

[extended stutter]

So that’s a slower stutter. I’m just trying to show you guys examples here. You know, if you wanted to play around with it, you could — I don’t know, do something like extend it out. You know? And just experiment with it really.

[vocals]

That’s kind of cool. It’s got more of one, less of the other. Let’s hear it in the mix.

[mix]

I think it’s okay, but I think for this guy, I’m going to stick to these quick, sharp stutters. So that’s going to be like this.

[vocal stutter]

Now, the key to doing these is you want to put what level we’re on, so that way it builds in energy and doesn’t sound so static. So we’ll bring it down a little bit and see how that sounds.

[crescendo stutter]

Perfect. Then lastly, what we can do is just do a quick left and right automation. I like to go left, right, left, right, or just keep it in the center. So for this, let’s go ahead and do left, right, left, right. So we’ll pan these guys out. Right? Then we’ll pan these guys over. Let’s hear how that sounds.

[panned stutters]

Perfect. Okay. One more trick that I like to do is sometimes, just do a quick roll off. Now, you can either play with the automation or not. Let’s just see how that sounds if we do a little roll up. Let’s see.

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[filtered stutters]

Alright, I think that can sound good. We won’t do it so extreme, but let’s just add a quick automation on that. Why don’t we just go there. Boom and boom.

Now.

[filtered, automated stutters]

Okay, so now it’s building in volume, it’s also building in energy, because we have more frequencies coming in. We might have to turn it up just so it gets heard in the mix, but let’s see how that’s sounding.

[mix]

There. Now I’m going to keep it pretty subtle, but it’s just something fun, and it smooths out that transition, and makes it a little more interesting going into the verse.

[vocals, then full mix]

Okay, so let’s find this other section.

So we’re going to do some kind of stutter effect in these pres to change it from the first time around. So let’s go ahead and listen to it now.

[song]

Okay, so I think for this one, what we’re going to do is do a longer stutter. I think that’s what I’m hearing.

[music]

Okay, so let’s go ahead and cut out all of the extra stuff here and hear what we’re actually dealing with.

[vocals]

You can hear I’ve got a lot of effects going on, but what I think I’m going to do is reduce the sides here and get something a little bit more manageable. That sounds pretty good to me. It’s kind of more on beat. And you usually want to go in even numbers, right? So this one is at length of four, so that way you know you’re going to have an even, on time stutter, right?

So let’s copy that, and let’s just bring it over. Alright. We’ll do a few of these just to hear how it sounds like.

[vocals with stutters]

Now that, obviously is too much. Let’s just see if we did this. Let’s hear it in the mix.

[mix]

Okay, that could work. I think what I’m hearing is something quicker, like this.

[song]

That. There, that sounds much better. So again, what are we going to do? We’re going to put some volume rides here. So let’s bring these down five, bring these down ten.

[mix]

That just makes it a little more subtle. Makes it come in smoother, and again, gives it a lift.

[vocals]

Alright, so we have some clipping. So let’s just quickly go in here and just add a little fade out. That way it’s smoother. There we go. Okay.

[mix]

Alright, so I’m going to go to my lead, and I’m just going to do the same thing. So I’m going to take a length of four… Three, four, like we did before. And let’s just make sure it’s right.

[vocal slice]

It sounds awesome. We’re just going to copy it and paste it, and let’s see how it sounds.

Now in this case, I actually like with a little bit of clipping. It makes it a little sharper, it makes the edits more obvious.

[vocal stutters]

So I’m going to leave it on this one, and then again, let’s just turn this down. Turn this down even more… And then see what we have, right?

Alright, let’s hear that in the mix.

[mix]

And there you have it. So it’s the same for any stutter you want to do. Just getting your grid really tight. Either 64 or the 32. Try to keep the stutters even, right? So if you’re going down 64ths, just make sure you’re taking one, two, four, eight for example, and then just make sure you have even spacings between your stutters, and then just play around with it by ear and see what sounds good.

I’ve tried a lot of stutter programs, and to me, doing it by ear, kind of hearing it in your head and then trying to create it is always going to work out better if you’re a control freak like I am.

So anyways, I hope you guys enjoyed it, and I’ll talk to you guys later!

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