How to Enhance a Vocal by Automating Clip Gain

Transcript:

Hey, what’s up guys, David Glenn of davidglennrecording.com and theproaudiofiles.com.

I’m coming at you with a vocal tutorial. I’m sitting over a whole outline and notes galore on a new training course I’m putting together — all things vocals. Mixing vocals A to Z with my walkthrough, the things that I’m gonna do to clean it up, etc. — then stylistically, I’m gonna pull in Hip-Hop vocal, Pop vocal, a Singer-Songwriter, I’ve got a live Gospel vocal.

But I’m going through this and I’m working on a video. And I typically use clip gain in Pro Tools to clean up phrase by phrase, section by section, to help what gets sent into the compressors to be a little more level, a little more balanced so that high points can kind of come down a bit. Just to make the compressor’s job easier and that’s been a process of mine for awhile. But I was working on this and something I thought of was Dave Pensado on Pensado’s place, there’s an ITL where he talks about mixing vocals and he brings up Christina Aguilara I believe, and how much character and emotion she puts at the starts of her phrases and the ending of her phrases.

I started thinking, you know, compression is great. I love compression, but I came across this technique, I started wiggling the mouse a bit, and it kind of hit me. One of those moments that I was like wow, I gotta share this and see what other people think. I’m not even saying this is the way to go. I want this to be a conceptual discussion, what you think about it, how you like the vibe of it. I’m gonna hit play. This is the phrase we’re working with.

[vocal phrase]

I’m gonna put a break point right here. I’ve got the smart tool open, if you don’t know the, got the hand if you hold Command and it’ll pop open so you can add a break point. I’m gonna put one at the high point there, I’ve got one here to prevent anything to the right of that breakpoint from being affected by this move. I’m gonna add one here in-between, and then watch, I’m just kinda pulling up the sustain of that note.

I’ve done that with vocal automation before, but doing it with clip gain, there’s something that as I started doing it just sounded sweet. So you can make someone real articulate and go through and boost some of their phrases.

[vocal with clip gain]

I don’t have any compression. This was Harry late night in the studio one night I think he pulled a U87 into the control room. He’s got a MIDI keyboard. And that’s it, so. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Leave some comments. This to me was just was a sweet little trick to pull up sustain. You can come in here, fatten it up a bit.

[vocal with adjusted attack and sustain from clip gain]

Yeah, no not that, so — you win some you lose some. But, let me know what you think. The starting, the ending of phrases, how important that can be to the character and emotion of a performance. A vocal, could be for guitars, could ben for anything really. I’d love to hear what you think, so feel free to like, subscribe, leave some comments in the section below and don’t forget to check out davidglennrecording.com and theproaudiofiles.com and we’ll catch you on the next one.

David Glenn

David Glenn

David Glenn is a producer/engineer/musician based out of Orlando, FL. Credits include: Pablo Villatoro, Blanca Callahan (Group 1 Crew), Aimee Allen, and more. Learn more and get in touch at davidglennrecording.com.
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  • Amin

    Sounds good and the visual feedback makes it really easy to work with but sonically what’s the difference with automation?

  • nige108

    I do this all the time on vocals guitars allsorts. As you said it smooths it out before it hits the compressor which I think gives a better more controlled vibe to the track. It’s better than volume automation because it you can still use the fader volume with out it being locked into your automation. I use the volume automation at the end of the mix just keep the vocals from getting buried in the more congested parts of the song.

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