You are here

Clip Gain

The Secret To Smooth Vocal Control By Mika Sellens
Published September 2023

Screen 1: This Pro Tools screenshot shows the typical end result of using clip gain to control levels within a vocal phrase. Gain adjustments range from ‑0.9dB to +6.9dB.Screen 1: This Pro Tools screenshot shows the typical end result of using clip gain to control levels within a vocal phrase. Gain adjustments range from ‑0.9dB to +6.9dB.

Most DAWs give you the power to control the volume of recorded audio on a per‑clip level — and with this power comes immense creative potential!

I’d like to talk about clip gain. It’s a subject that, on the face of it, may seem a little dry. But clip gain has grown to become one of my favourite creative production tools, and I’d like to talk about why this is.

My music production journey began with experimental electro‑acoustic sound work. Computers didn’t have the processing power they have today, and dynamics had to be controlled using more rudimentary tools and effects. Much of my work involved hours of painstaking volume automation, carefully shaping a finished piece by combining pieces of recorded audio.

Fast‑forward to the present day, and in the work I do with artists as a producer, engineer and mixer, something of this early sensitivity to volume levels has taken hold in my production techniques. The best example is probably my use of clip gain in vocal production.

Vocal Clips

Vocals are the heart of any song. They engage the listener emotionally with the song and hence the record. I like vocals front and present and prominent in the mix, and I like them sounding smooth and utterly beautiful.

As much as I’d like every vocal take I record with an artist to be perfect (and getting a good take and capturing a great performance is certainly the starting point), most vocals require some comping and some dynamic control to make them ready for repeated listening. And it is at this point that clip gain comes in. I’ll make no apologies for being a Pro Tools person through and through in my examples, but the techniques I’m going to describe are readily applicable in most DAWs.

The process begins with vocal comping: adjusting the clip gain of the takes I’m choosing for...

You are reading one of the locked Subscribers-only articles from our latest 5 issues.

You've read 30% of this article for free, so to continue reading...

  • ✅ Log in - if you have a Subscription you bought from SOS.
  • Buy & Download this Single Article in PDF format £1.00 GBP$1.49 USD
    For less than the price of a coffee, buy now and immediately download to your computer or smartphone.
  • Buy & Download the FULL ISSUE PDF
    Our 'full SOS magazine' for smartphone/tablet/computer. More info...
  • Buy a DIGITAL subscription (or Print + Digital)
    Instantly unlock ALL premium web articles! Visit our ShopStore.

Claim your FREE 170-page digital publication
from the makers of Sound On SoundCLICK HERE

Buy Related Tutorial Videos