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Prepping Vocals In Cubase | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By John Walden
Published September 2022

This set of three audio example MP3s are provided here to illustrate the key ideas discussed in the main 'Prepping Vocals In Cubase' article from SOS September 2022.

Cubase 12 Mix Preparation For Vocals Using VariAudio Example_01.mp3

This first audio example illustrates the use of the Volume Smart Control within VariAudio and contains two sections as follows.

(a) For reference, the lead vocal after comping the best take and removing any breath noises, etc., but before any processing within VariAudio. Note that the vocal has no dynamics or ambience processing applied (it’s presented dry) and a sparse drum, bass, piano backing track is included to provide some musical context.

(b) the original vocal doesn’t really require a lot of volume automation/dynamics but, simply to illustrate the use of the Volume Smart Control, it has been used to gradually increase the volume of each Segment within the first two lines of the part.

Cubase 12 Mix Preparation For Vocals Using VariAudio Example_02.mp3

This audio example illustrates the use of the Warp Start and Warp End Smart Controls and contains three sections as follows:

(a) The unprocessed vocal (and backing track) for reference.

(b) The complete vocal part with minor timing adjustments made throughout to place word transients more closely on the musical grid. The VariAudio editing performed here took just a couple of minutes for the whole part. Of course, these sorts of timing adjustments may, or may not, be musically desirable, but the example illustrates that modest timing variations can easily and rapidly achieved. There are one or two spots where the processing is more audible and you could either undo the processing on the Segments involved (via the VariAudio Functions drop-down menu) or spend more time finessing the results to produce a smoother result.

(c) The first two lines have had more extreme timing adjustments applied. In particular, the first line has had the final word (‘made’) shortened, while in the second line, the last word (‘fade’) has been extended. The first of these changes is fairly transparent and was achieved by isolating the sustained (vowel) portion of the word in its own Segment and shortening this. The second example perhaps works less well. Again, the sustained (vowel) portion of a sung word forms the most obvious element to time-stretch and, while the bulk of the additional sustain added via VariAudio might be usable, the end sound of the word shows obvious artefacts, although further editing might allow you to overcome these. When lengthening sustained sounds within a sung vocal using Warp End, you may also need to use the Straighten Pitch Curve Smart Control to reduce any vibrato the singer used as this is often timed to the original tempo (and therefore length) of the phrase.

Cubase 12 Mix Preparation For Vocals Using VariAudio Example_03.mp3

This audio example illustrates the use of some of the pitch-based Smart Controls and contains three sections as follows:

(a) The unprocessed vocal (and backing track) for reference.

(b) The complete vocal part with minor pitch correction adjustments made throughout with the Scale Assistant and Snap Pitch Editing used to assist the editing process. This mostly involved simply quantizing each Segment’s pitch centres to the correct scale notes. a few Segments had further changes applied to adjust the vibrato or tilt the pitch curve slightly. The editing took just a couple of minutes to complete for the whole part.

(c) VariAudio’s various pitch-based Smart Controls were used in a more creative (and, in places, extreme) fashion to manipulate the melody of the various lines within the part. As can be heard, in some cases, the results are fairly transparent and could easily be used within the context of a full mix. In other cases, I have deliberately pushed the technology further and artefacts become much more obvious (but without getting into the realms of deliberately pitch-glitchy vocals). The ability to make these sorts of melodic changes in a transparent fashion is very much dependent upon the original source material and, in particular, how your singer transitions between notes when singing legato. For maximum control over these types of edits, breaking a legato phrase into a greater number of Segments — and combining timing (Warp) changes with your re-pitching — can be useful.

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