This article will be revolving around the subject of Audio Editing Software used for processing your vocals after you’ve recorded them. We will discuss the following:
Reasons for Using Audio Editing Software
Audio Editing Software Product Review-Audacity, Cool Edit Pro, Cubase
Main Tools used for Processing Vocals
1.Reasons for Using Audio Editing Software
After you have your lyrics down on paper and your microphone ready, the next thing you got to have is an Audio Editing Software. This software is basically a program on your computer, which allows you to record your vocals and then process them, all done in the comfort of your chair.
A few years ago this kind of software wasn’t as common as it is now, but because of the boom in the Entertainment Industry and the high cost of recording in a proper studio, The Audio Editing Software was created.
The result from that creation was awesome. Many home based studios sprang up in no time and by using this software they were able to cut down costs, stealing alot of the up and coming artists, who were recording in the professional studios at the time.
In due time, the software complexity evolved to such a degree that it’s now competing with the studios and the facts show that it’s winning. All the midi workstations, mixing consoles an so on, became digital and while the studios had to pay money for each of its devices and their maintenance, the Audio Editing Software incorporated all of them digitally, becoming an “all-in-one” type of product.
A rapper who is serious about going in the rap industry has to have a basic level of knowledge about Audio Editing for many reasons.
-First, if you know nothing about Audio Editing, if you go to an engineer and ask him to do something, you won’t be able to tell him exactly how do you want your voice to sound, which might reduce the quality of your song.
-Second, If you want to become a good rapper, you need practice. This practice is likely to come from you doing a large volume of songs, recorded and processed at home, with your microphone, on your computer, so you can eliminate your drawbacks, polish up your benefits and track your progress. You would need an Audio Editing Software for that.
2.Audio Editing Software Product Review-Audacity, Cool Edit Pro, Cubase
There are many kinds of Audio Editing Software. Some are expensive, some are free. Some provide us with flexibility, others are more rigid. I decided to present you with those three programs, because I have used them and I can talk from my personal experience and because they are widely used within the rap community.
Audacity is a completely free software. You have to pay nothing to use it and you can download it straight from here. The program is simple and easy to work with. The configuration of all the menus is not confusing, so they are quick to learn. There is a video which shows you around and introduces you to the program’s settings and features, if you find it hard to start.
However, this program does not allow you the freedom that the other, more advanced programs give you. It’s pretty rigid, the effects are limited in numbers and in variety. The whole process of recording your audio in Audacity is anything but flexible.
Audacity is good for the rappers, who are just starting off and who don’t care about editing their music, but only recording it and improving their delivery. Because of the lack of effects, you can truly see how do you sound and if you can improve your recordings without using effects, when the time comes, when you will add all kinds of effects on your voice, you will sound amazing.
- Easy to use
- Low System Requirements
- Low level of complexity
- The recording process is rigid.
- Poor variety of effects
Cool Edit Pro
Cool Edit Pro is a bit more flexible than Audacity. It has a much bigger number of effects and you can easily change the appearance of your workspace. It is a multi-track platform, which means that you can have separate recording of multiple sound sources to create a cohesive whole.
Simply said, you can have more than one channel to create your song on. It has alot of presets, which you can just load and use, meaning that this software does not require you to have a high level of knowledge on Music Editing.
However, unlike Audacity, you have to read or watch a tutorial, if you want to learn your way around the program. Also, the presets are not really enough if you want to create that studio quality. You need to tune in your effects in a way which suits your voice. Cool Edit Pro does not provide that fine tuning option.
- Large Variety of Effects
- Simple Interface
- Multitrack Platform
- No Fine Tuning Option
- There is a mandatory Learning Period
Cubase is the “all-in-one” type of software. It is simply a platform, with which you can go through the whole process of making music. Starting from the creation of the instrumental, to recording your lyrics and finishing up with editing and exporting the audio in the format of your choice.
It’s simply a studio, right on your computer screen. It has all the instruments needed for making a sick instrumental and all the effects for making your voice blend in with the track smoothly, but if you think that’s not enough, new plugins, effects and so on are being created and released as you’re reading this.
However its not all roses and pussy. This software is really complex and you need to read alot of tutorials and watch alot of videos in order to begin to understand and use it. Even if the interface is flexible and susceptible to changes of your choice, it’s still confusing when you see it at first. Plus Cubase is really expensive, since it’s a high end product and its a heavy platform, which requires alot of HDD and a decent computer.
Bottom line is that this is the software used in most home based studios, because of its complexity, flexibility and variety of features, effects and instruments. This is my choice of Audio Editing Software and I’m using it now.
I’m still learning how to process my vocals the way I want to, but it’s not easy. You learn everyday. I suggest that you read some tutorials and learn as you go, because you would find it impossible to work with that program if you think you can rely only on your common sense.
- All-in-one platform
- Fine Tuning
- Wide variety of effects
- Malleable Interface
- A mandatory learning period
- Expensive and heavy
3.Main Tools used for Processing Vocals
There is a large volume of different effects you can use to edit your vocals in a way, which blends them with the instrumental. However there are some effects which are considered to be the foundation of the audio editing process and they are:
Compression is used to “level out” or smoothen your recording. Your voice has its frequency. When you increase it, you produce a frequency peak and when you decrease it, you produce a slump. The compressor reduces the volume of loud sounds and amplifies the volume of the quite sounds. You can control the process of compressing by manipulating its four components-threshold, ratio, attack and release time.
The threshold is the limit that you can put on your voice. If the frequency of your voice exceeds the threshold, the compressor comes into play, by reducing the frequency with a ratio of your choice.
The ratio is basically the strength of the compressor. The higher the ratio, the more controlled your voice sounds. This restricts the frequency increase in your peaks. For example, if you have your threshold on 10db and you create a frequency peak of 20, the ratio will determine by how much the peak should be decreased. If the ratio is 10:1, this means that your peak, instead of 20db will become 11db, increasing it only by 1, hence the ratio 10:1.
-Attack and Release time
The Attack time is how quickly the compressor reacts to the frequency peaks. The higher the Attack time, the slower the compressor reacts.
The Release time is how fast the compressor returns to unity gain, or simply how fast it lets go. The higher the release time, the slower the compressor returns to unity gain.
Equalization is used to sculpt your voice in a way, which makes it blend in with the melody. Equalization is a tool which manipulates the features of your vocals. Features like brightness, vocal presence and clarity. Equalization is a graph. On the y axis(vertical) are the dB levels, going from -30 to +30. The straight line passing through the graph is the condition of your natural voice, without manipulations from the Equalization process.
The x axis(horizontal) has a set of frequencies, starting from 0, ending with 20K(20 000). Each frequency is responsible for a certain feature of your voice and by increasing the dB level(x) of that frequency, you increase the effect of that specific feature.
For example, 5KhZ(5 000 frequency) is responsible for your vocal presence. Increasing the dB level of that frequency, increases your vocal presence. I will share with you a very valuable source now. This is a Frequency Table. It shows you which feature, corresponds to which frequency. I recommend that you save it, or print it, because I don’t know for how long its gonna stay there. It’s a really good source for the ones who are just entering this delicate matter.
The Reverb is used to add richness to your voice. It’s essentially a series of delayed signals, making your voice seem “larger” and more spacious. It pretty much gives you control over the echo it creates, depending on the environment. There are different presets like hall, room, plate reverb etc. Each produces a different reverb, because each of them is a different environment itself, which produces a different echo.