Producing Vocals with Vocal Presets: A Comprehensive Guide
Vocals are the first thing that people listen to when they hear music.
And if they’re bad? They turn it off!
If your song features mediocre vocals, you can say sayonara to that listener because chances are they are skipping your song.
Don’t let them skip your song! Make sure your vocals sound amazing! I’m not talking great, I’m talking outstanding! In this article, we’re going to break down how exactly to achieve a blow your mind type sound without any production knowledge at all–the secret lies in vocal presets.
“You don’t need any production knowledge at all to get great sounding vocals!” -Mattie
What are Vocal Presets?
Vocal presets you say? Yes. Vocal presets. Vocal presets are pre-made templates you can on put your vocal tracks. With one click of your mouse you vocals can go from garageband wannabe demo quality to professionally sounding. Often times, professional producers make these preset packs to sell and distribute. A good preset pack saves time, creative decision making, and a lack of production knowledge.
People using presets can quickly use the same plug-in chains as professional producers without having any production knowledge at all. Artists of all levels use them so they can focus on the creative aspects of songwriting and music making.
Choosing the Right Preset
Without having to worry about plug-in selection or sound design, choosing the right preset becomes the most important decision to make while using them. If you’re not happy with the sound it’s as easy to change as clicking on another preset! But following a step-by-step process can make the whole thing easier.
Here’s one that we regularly use in our songs!
Determine your desired vocal sound
- Consider the genre of your music
- Listen to other vocals you like to get a sense of what you’re after
Explore available vocal preset options
- Test out the preset you have
- Apply them to your vocals and listen to the track as a whole
Select a preset that fits your vision
- Choose the preset that most closely matches the vocal sound you’re aiming for
- Make sure the preset complements your song’s genre and overall production style
Customize the preset settings
- Tweak the preset parameters to better suit your specific vocal recording
- Experiment with different settings to find the perfect balance
Listen and revise
- Listen to your mix as a whole and note how the vocals fit in
- Make any necessary adjustments to the preset settings or overall mix
Remember, as a music producer, it’s essential to experiment with different presets and settings to develop your personal style and preferences. As you become more familiar with presets and tools you have, the process becomes easier. Also remember that it’s never too late to go back and adjust different parameters!
Advantages of using vocal presets in mixing
Presets offer a variety of different advantages for the producers that choose to use them. It’s really no wonder why producers of all levels choose to use them in their productions
Here are some of the advantages using vocal presets provides:
- Streamlined workflow
- Consistent results
- Customizable settings
- Enhanced focus on artistic aspects
- Polished and professional sound
Presets make it easy to click and get different sounds for a mix. Changing the vibe of the vocals is as simple as choosing a different preset!
How to Use Vocal Presets Effectively
Even with a myriad of vocal presets, learning how to use them effectively can be the difference between a hit song or a “skipped” song. To get the best out of your vocal presets, here are some thoughts to keep in mind while producing your music:
Don’t Over-process – When using vocal presets, it’s important to find a balance between too much and too little processing. Find the goldilocks zone! Though most vocal presets will already be fairly balanced, this is important to consider! Too much processing can result in lifeless, flat sounding vocals while not enough processing can leave your track too muddy and indistinct. It’s really about the balance!
Adjust Preset Parameters – Vocal presets will get you 80% of the way there and they do it fast! But the best of the best producers all strive to get the absolute best sound they can! And that means customizing and adjusting the preset parameters to fit your song! Understand the basics of what the presets do and then spend time adjusting them!
Experiment – Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings or even different presets. Treat the DAW as your canvas and Picasso your way into a hit through experimentation. Some of the coolest sounds have come from accidents. You never know when you’ll find the perfect sound hidden beneath a few tweaks!
Organizing and managing your presets library
Organizing and managing your preset library will keep your mind focused on what matters: creating music. Having to deal with installing, finding, and searching for presets you have on your computer defeats a huge reason for having them in the first place–ease of use and speed!
Take a few minutes to organize your library on your computer before diving into the more creative aspects songwriting requires! Your brain and your watch will thank me later!
Balancing presets with manual adjustments
Although vocal presets are awesome for getting started, they’re not the end all be all cure to every vocal track. They will do the heavy lifting for you and quickly narrow down the vibe and style that you’re after, but they won’t be able get you the absolute best results possible.
In order to do that you need to manually adjust the parameters to fit your specific vocal. Every single vocal track that you record is different and deserves a different plug-in recipe. Things don’t have to be too drastically different for parts recorded in the same room, with the same singer, on the same day, but tracks can sound different even with all those variables controlled.
To get the best sound, adjusting the plug-ins in the vocal chain to account for these subtle differences will give professional results.
Combining presets for unique vocal textures and effects
Another way to use vocal presets is to combine presets and their effects to get something truly unique. Most vocal presets are designed to work with one recorded track. Adding multiple presets in a row can give sounds new life and add interesting textures to the voice.
Use this technique sparingly and tread with caution. Adding multiple presets on top of another can quickly suck the life out of a vocal performance through overprocessing.
Always go by the ol’ adage: if it sounds good, it is good! Trust your ears!
Popular Vocal Preset Plugins and Software
This article is meant be a comprehensive guide to vocal presets, but instead of providing all of the best presets here, it makes sense link to a more comprehensive article that we’ve written on the topic. Popular Free Vocal Presets. These presets are all free and are great starting point before diving into more expensive options
Here are some of the presets covered in the article:
- Baywood Audio’s Free Vocal Sauce Starter Pack
- Music by Mattie’s Free Vocal Preset Pack
Tips for Mixing Vocals with Presets
There are a lot of factors to get right to get the best sound on your vocals. Here are a few of the tips we recommend following!
Importance of a clean vocal recording
Having a clean vocal recording is the most important part of any audio production project. Without a clear and pristine source, it’s impossible to create an amazing sounding mix. The better your vocal recordings are, the easier it will be to use vocal presets and achieve great results with minimal effort. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re not happy with the sound of your raw vocals, then no amount of processing or effects can save them!
Using automation to enhance vocal dynamics
Automation is a powerful tool for adding life and dynamics to vocal tracks. With automation, you can control the levels of certain elements within a track and can emphasize certain words or phrases. This technique can be used for both mixing and mastering purposes, allowing you to create great vocal performances!
Reference other tracks
With so many choices to choose from, deciding on a direction to take with your vocals can be overwhelming. Some of the easiest ways to check if your vocals fit the genre and style of song you’re trying to make is by listening to how professionals have mixed their vocals. You can compare your vocals and presets to the those of the professionals!
Referencing tracks can also provide you with inspiration for your own projects and give you insight into different production styles.
Mixing vocals with vocal presets can help you take your audio production to next level. However, when you’re so close to your mix it’s easy to get caught in minute details. Asking a fellow audio lover or producer to take a listen to your mix can give a bird’s eye view of what stands out about the vocals.
Feedback on your mixes is an essential part of creating professional sounding audio projects. With feedback from experienced producers, engineers and artists, you can ensure that your mix sounds great and has all the elements necessary for a successful release. If you’re looking for a free 30 minute consultation, you can book one here!
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Even with professional sounding vocal presets, vocals can still fall short. Sometimes it’s because of a bad vocal performance and sometimes its because the preset doesn’t compliment the singer well. We’ve compiled a list of the 9 most common vocal problems and how to avoid them in a separate post. Here are some of the highlights and mistakes we talked about
- Poor gain staging: Not setting the correct input levels during recording, leading to distorted or noisy vocals.
- Ignoring room acoustics: Recording vocals in untreated rooms, resulting in unwanted reflections and room modes in the recording.
- Over-compressing: Applying too much compression, causing the vocal to sound lifeless, squashed, or over-processed.
- Not addressing sibilance: Failing to control sibilant sounds (‘s’ and ‘sh’) using de-essing, causing harshness or excessive brightness in the mix.
- Overusing reverb: Applying too much reverb, resulting in a washed-out vocal that lacks clarity and focus in the mix.
- Not automating: Failing to use automation for volume, effects, or other parameters, leading to inconsistent vocal levels or dynamics throughout the song.
- Relying solely on presets: Depending solely on presets without customizing them for the specific needs of the vocal, resulting in a generic or ill-fitting sound.
- Neglecting vocal timing: Failing to address pitch issues with vocal tuning tools, causing the vocal to sound off-key or out of tune with the music.
- Poor Vocal Mixing: Not achieving a proper balance between the vocal and instrumental tracks, causing the vocal to be either too loud or too quiet in the mix.
Mixing vocals with vocal presets can be a great way to take your audio production to the next level. Using vocal presets, you can quickly and easily create professional sounding mixes that will stand out from the crowd. Not only do these presets save you time, but they also give you access to a range of different sounds, allowing you to experiment fast!
Don’t be afraid to use different vocal presets; they might just give you the sound you’ve been searching for! Keep on making music! And keep on producing!
This article is a comprehensive guide on how to use vocal presets to take your audio production to the next level. Plus find out about common mistakes and how to avoid them so that you create high-quality music!
Thanks for reading! If you still need help, check out my Free Vocal Presets for Logic Pro X that will get your vocals sounding amazing in no time!!
Check Out Our Other Articles!