My Workflow For Comping and Tuning Vocals

Back in the day, when there were only 24 tracks to record to, we used to save one track to put the vocal on. We had to make some pretty critical “last minute” decisions on whether to keep a “pretty good” performance or try for “the Grammy” performance.

That was pretty AWESOME!… can we do it just one more time? – producer to singer

Rachael Gillis

Sometimes it worked in our best interest, sometimes we were a little too optimistic and recorded right over the better performance. 🙁

Now that we have DAWs that record an almost infinite number of tracks, we’ve developed a better way of taking the pressure off of both the performer AND the producer.

What I usually do is prepare at least three tracks to record the vocal to.  I usually label them:

1-Singer’s Name

2-Singers Name and so on…

I put the number before the name so that I can easily identify which take it was.  If you put the number after the singers name, then you usually have 01_05.wav to sort through.  I just find it easier to put the take number before the name.

Tip: Always name the track before you record.  You don’t want a bunch of tracks called Audio 1 Audio 2.  When you have a high track count session, believe me, you’ll want to see recognizable names and take numbers to choose from.

After the tracks are named and all the routing is correct, just get the singer to sing it three times.  You can get three takes as performances (from top to bottom) or you can get each section individually.  Sometimes I’ll get the Choruses first and then gravitate to the verses and Bridge after the singer is more comfortable.

Then, just pick out the best sections, lines or even words to make up the best performance.  The singer should feel no pressure because you are not punching a word here and a syllable there.  You should feel no pressure because you will have at least 3 takes to choose from.

I hope this article helps you become a better engineer!

Kevin