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Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Lesson 23 of 29

Vocal Editing

Joey Sturgis

Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Joey Sturgis

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Lesson Info

23. Vocal Editing

Lesson Info

Vocal Editing

Like so I want to talk a little bit about just briefly about editing this stuff I'm not going to go crazy into the vocal editing but I am going to show you a couple things stephen that was awesome by the way yeah great job there's a lot of love coming in from the chat room people want to start a band with you what? Tell us the name of your band open fire open fire open fire dot bandcamp dotcom does right not you you're all wound up screaming thank you got the energy and the way we have any questions so far that we could take before I move on let me check okay let's see here ah is there a high pass filter switch on the mic? Ah, or you do use that? Yes. Okay from locals all the time I just like to yeah I don't like anything under one hundred hertz on vocals I just I don't see a point in it so I always turn it on it also kind of helps fight that proximity effect if you do get some of those little plo sieves in there and uh you get like this bass boom like the proximity effect it helps get...

rid of that it takes takes it out do you guys have any questions good, we got one more question you want take one um are you recording with the gain reduction compressor are you just inserting it to hear the dynamics cleaner seeking out a room? Is it right so we did not record the game reduction okay? We just have it as an insert on the track and that's just so what? Because I'm monitoring through q base I do everything in the box and I monitor in the box as well so the microphone comes into the computer and what gets recorded is just a microphone signal going through the pre amp and then into the interface that's what you're recording and then after that it's going into the into the mixer and hitting the game reduction plug in so if I wanted to I could still adjust it differently ah the faa and we do that because I don't know exactly how I'm going to mix the vocals until later so I just have kind of a generic starting point and then I'll go back in and actually tighten up all the little settings as we go along and so anything else just asked if you're going to record harmonies there weren't on this on this track I notice but yeah just tryingto that's ah that's one of the interesting things about the song is that there isn't any harmony in it you would think that there would be right because it sounds so big but honestly it's just the fact that we combined so money uh takes and just so many you know different like there's ah there's tracks where he's saying it really rough and then there's ones were saying really clean and then like somewhere he like was far back from the mic and all those when you combine them all together it sounds really huge but yeah, we don't have any harmonies for this song so if there were some harmonies in the song yes, absolutely we will talk about how to uh well we'll talk about when to add harmonies as well but first I do want to just briefly cover how to edit this a little bit uh now you've got two different ways of doing pitch correction you've got auto mode and graft mode I like to use auto tune of auto tune to me is like the best pitch correction software there is uh I don't like melody line I've tried it it's just weird to me so starting with uh pitch correction what you want to do is uh track the pitch first because you have to tell opportune what the original pitch is so you turn track pitch on then you hit preview and it will play the entire take through auto tune and an auto tune will record the pitch for for all the parts oh the faa is from ah ah well ah ooh ah wait whoa yeah way ah will say you ah and I know that's ah it's always painful to have toe yeah here in an isolated is always a bit of a this is yeah this is the soundtrack to the producer's life sitting around and listening to this stuff on solo but that's part of the process so I'm not actually going to go into graph mode for this but I just wanted to show that like you can go in the graph mode you can you congrats your pitch and then you can go in and actually draw what you want to be instead but just for the demonstration purposes of this I'm just going to do auto mode so when you're in autumn o and you kind of need to know what the key of your song is and it'll try to correct the pitch close as possible to that key uh I think I'm pretty sure it's going to be a g sharp minor let's check it out oh the faa is found man ah ah well ah ooh ah no way are sounds right to me so now that I have figured out what the key is I'm just gonna hit process I'm gonna actually listen to what it did and if there's any mistakes I'll probably just correct and spot corrected the faa found man ah so that's weird that I yeah so I'm gonna go back in and open out of tune again on the same take and then this time, I'm gonna graph it again. Oh, hey is found man ah ah, well ah ooh ah wait! Whoa! Yeah! Whoa! Yeah. Ah, well, say you ah, uh, all right. So I'm just gonna go through and tighten up anything that auto tune got wrong this little saying at the beginning. Oh, and I'm going to actually cover more of this and a bonus. I think I'm gonna do like, a bonus video for this or I'm going to go into the extreme detail about editing vocal. All right, so I think I fixed all the little things process. Now, wait. So at this point, I would probably if I was producing the song I would be I've got my main melody down. We've got some doubles that sounds pretty powerful. Um, depending on the song at this point, I would start figuring out if I want to add harmonies. Now, one way you can do this. And this is a really, uh, efficient way toe to show or even try coming up with harmonies is using a synthesizer. Um, so I like to go in and actually just add a sense track like this, and I like to use, um, a sense that sounds like this. Theo reason why is because it's the it's actually closer to human voice because you can make it do pitch bends and kind of vibrato and things like that? So if you want to convey a complicated idea on your not the best singer in the world, you can actually program it with mickey and then you can show it to the vocalist to get your idea across um so I can go through it can actually hit player here and I can go into my scent and find that same note actually draw that no, I could find the harmony just by moving around on, you know, on the piano roll and by doing that you can write melody lines and then aiken you know, convey that to the vocal say hey try singing this and I don't have tio I don't have to be a good singer to do that so look so you noticed that uh like when he hits this note right here man it actually starts lower than it ends man so you can do the same thing on the synthesizer with a pitch bends like this faster when I show the harmony to him I could be like, hey, it goes like this on then he'll know that he needs to do a little a little dip there there's actually one of the beginning as well like that one too almost every note yeah and then if we were adding adding a harmony to the song I could mute all these takes like this and be like okay tried you know he goes out into the vocal booth and I say try this and there you go I think that makes the process of figuring out harmony's a lot easier um I don't like using a piano because a piano's actually a percussive instrument it doesn't work like the human voice at all so the synthesizers is a lot easier to work with you can also add the vibrato um by using the modulation articulations so if I got a modulation and actually start teo raise it on this note you'll hear the vibrato kick in so I could tell him like hey, I want you to have like vibrato on this note and he can actually hear what that would sound like play it back so it's really useful tool for demonstrating vocal ideas to who you know to the guy you're working with um let's talk a little bit about uh editing timing so let's check out the screens that we recorded thing I think you just made the band a hardcore band yes over mid range with your voice it's awesome I never thought I'd hear the song like that um all right cool so we're going to cover a little bit about uh the fanatics so um if we look at like the chorus for example we see these shapes of the vocals and we also have our grid. You might be wondering how how do you actually put vocals on time like, what is the process of doing that? Well, the first thing you need to understand is the phonetics of how vocal sounds work, I'm gonna open this up and and show you all right, so if we actually zoom in, we can see that the first note is pretty close to the to the bar, and what I'm using right now is called the sample editor, so when you click on a piece of audio and you hit the enter key, it takes you into the sample editor, and this just allows you teo, if you've got these different tools in the left hand side that you can work with the audio, so I'm using a tool called free warp it's in the audio warp section, so if you click on audio warp and then click on free warp, it turns your mouse into a warping tool where you can click and drag things around and as you do that you can basically stretch and shrink different pieces of audio, so I'm gonna grab the beginning note, which is fairly simple to see and just put that right where I wanted to start now this is where the fanatics kick in because you have to know what certain vocal sounds actually look like in order to know where to put it on time. Now you could sit here and and play back the little sounds and start to figure out what they look like. So when he says if it starts with this shape, which is the f sound and then when he says when he kicks into the word with the vowel sound, it looks like this guy, eh? So it's got to that word has to sound that has the f sound and then the south, eh? Now what I found is, um, it makes more sense to have the f in front of the in front of the beat and the valve on the beat. See if you did the f after the beat like this, it would sound late. I'll show you how. Oh, hey, wei needs a music with us. Okay, so now that sounds like laghi and way behind time. So now let's, try it in front of the line. The sounds in time. So this when you do it like this, it's usually sounds late. Oh, and then when you put it, the constant sound before the vowel sounds in front of the beat. It sounds on time, so if I actually go through and start to look at those sounds, I can I can start to kwan ties the vocals by warping the various points and you just learn this with time you have to listen to a lot of different vocals and look at a lot of different vocal tracks to kind of know so that I know that this is an m sound because you can see how the pattern becomes more regular when he closes his mouth and starts humming to make that sound and then when he opens his mouth again for the vowel you can see that the audio changes shape and so I know that's where I want to put my edit point and move in on time ah ah well teo teo wait wait e wait we'll say you notice I also like I just have the drums and on ly the vocals that helps you to hear the timing too oh wait from aa will wait wait wait you right so after I get the mainline basically edited to how I want it I would have to copy our why I'd have to do that for the other uh doubles as well which is usually a lot of work that's where we spend most of our time editing vocals but if you like if you zoom in and you see it's off a little bit so basically you would want your doubles as faras editing goes you want your doubles to match your main as close as possible um I usually just do it manually so I would just time or every single vocal track um kind of the same thing with screaming vocals accept it just looks different is it one of those things like you don't trust computers that you don't use vocal line everything exactly yeah yeah good quote good question I hate vocal line and I hate trusting computers so I think that just makes sense with my whole course is basically just do everything manually because it'll you want to do things right so you gotta do it yourself. Um yeah do we have any questions from the chat we do for refrains of courses is each instance unique or do you just reuse the best take if so, do you do anything to make each instance sound a little better more organic like do you ever re use phrases or things like that? Um in the doubles or later in the song I think just maybe on your main vocal line or on doubles I guess well, I'll cover the first thing which is I mean, I don't know if this is what he's asking, but do we copy and paste? Of course absolutely so record one version of the course that's awesome and then wherever else the chorus happens in the song just copy and paste the awesome one there and then ah occasionally we'll go and like figure out how do we make the last course more interesting ok, maybe we replaced this note maybe we add a new tagline maybe we put additional harmonies you start to add and remove from the main idea which is that you know you've got that awesome chorus and then you start toe modify it as you use it throughout the song and then as faras um the other way which is like you know what I copy and paste this top one down here no you need each take needs to be one hundred percent unique otherwise it'll it won't create the whiteness effect of that year that you're trying to achieve I think that answers this question but I'm not sure yeah okay um develop device wants to know hey joey game reduction playing can your game reduction flagging abused within a group or is it better to use on each track like per track? Good question it's designed to work for each track in each individual track the reason why is because it's supposed to react to the voice each each instance is designed to react a one voice so if you were sending two voices into the plug in, it probably would sound kind of weird because it wasn't designed to do that however I have people emailing me all the time say, hey I put your gain reduction on my drums and sounds cool so there's definitely no rules, you know, just do what you like here is what it sounds like on these drums, theo, you can even, uh, with a gain reduction deluxe. Um, you actually get this mix knob, which allows you to do parallel compressing. So if I aiken compress the crap out of drums like this but then I could just blend that with this knob. Theo that's kind of cool feature. That's cool. Yeah, I'm jordan lesson on auto tune back when you're doing auto tune ah, what do you typically set the r? The retune speed too. What do you say? So if you're using the auto mode, I don't like the automotive cause once again it's letting the computer make choices for you, but just to save time I did. I did the autumn odin the demonstration? Um, I think that there's actually, uh, there's kind of a cool technique with that, you can take the auto mode and put the retune speed on four hundred, and if you do that, it'll just barely tuned like a couple of notes that are really far like the ones that air farthest away from pitch it'll just, you know, try to tune those, um and then you can actually make multiple passes so you can pass the vocal through at four hundred retune and it will correct a couple things, then do another pass and it will correct a couple more things and you can actually every time you make a pass, you listen to the vocal again and you can hear how much of it how much it's affecting the pitch and it will just do it in very small amounts. Um, now, if you wanted, like, the t pain effect, then you would use the retune speed of zero, which would make it sound like this and you've gotta have it in a key. Otherwise, it doesn't sound that cool, not as funny without a key. Oh, hey, from the thing that where and just like that, you made thirty million dollars. Now, if you're using the other way that I was talking about, let me show you that the slower retune speed is going to sound more now natural. So if you'll slow this all the way down to four hundred way, you look right here where the says the word hold this is how much pitch change is happening, so we're on four hundred you can see that not a lot of pitch changes happening watch weii now if I'd speed up the region's being put on zero it's going to go crazy whoa well, so you can actually watch that and see how much you're changing the original pitch if you want to go really safe with it, just put it on four hundred and you're not going to really destroy the original performance at all you're just going to stay like slightly corrected. Awesome um, do you usually retain marcello wants to know do usually retune vocals like right away, so after it's recorded, do you just dive right into retaining, right? Um, it depends on who you're working with because some people have kind of like a, um oh, joe, when they do vocals, they like, get into it like you saw when he came in here, he was kind of still amped up from doing the vocals, so if you're sitting there editing a vocal and the vocalist is just standing there, like waiting for you to get done, they might lose their mojo and then now they're going to have, like, a bad performance. Yeah, so you've gotto communicate again, communicate with your vocalist and say, hey, do you mind if I do a little bit of editing in between parts and and just tell them to be honest with you and they might say, hey, actually, I would prefer to just signal sing the whole song first and then have you edited afterwards, and so if that's the case, then you've got to do what you gotta do to get the best uh performance thatyou can awesome you got a question um have you ever worked with any singers that you've just kind of decided you didn't even need to use auto tune for any parts of their song? Yeah, absolutely and I'm willing to mention them by name because we're speaking very positive positively about them I actually recorded the song with lights familiar with her she has an amazing voice and her pitch is perfect so the song that I recorded with her we didn't we didn't edit it yeah so there are people out there that can sing perfectly but it's pretty rare um so lots of questions about why use outta tune over mela dine or q basis stock plug in why why is that? So I don't like the built in pitch correction in q base because basically because the way that they've set it up on dyken show it to you it's just really kind of awkward to work with so let me take this one it's called very audio so you click on pitching warp and it scans the vocal and that puts all these weird bars around and then you can like click on the bar and move it up and down and pitch if you want like this but the reason I don't like this is I want to like if I wanted to draw my own correction there's no tools I'm pretty sure there's no tools to do that. Yeah, so like, all you can do is just move the bars around that it gives you and if you wanted to like, do your own like if let's say we needed to the transition from this note to this note if we want to change that shape like we have no way of doing it, all we can do is just, like, move stuff around. But if I don't like redraw house seep, this pitched curve is I can't do it with this tool. So that's why? I don't like that uh, q base one also don't think it sounds very good. This is what it sounds like, oh, hey, from ah, like, I'll change the note and listen to it it's from an ah, it just sounds kind of cheap to me, and I know that with with otter tune in particular, the algorithms are very, very well done and it's ah, if you're good with the editing and you do the the right at its, you're not going to be able to tell that you ever edited it and that's that's the main ideas, you don't want people to know that you're they changed it, you're just trying to get the voice to be more on pitch and opportune helps you do that in a more natural way. Now, some people get really carried away without a tune and do it to the point where you, you know, it just sounds like a robot, but I don't like to do that. At least I tried not to. I have people all the time on the internet say, well, your vocal sound really auto tuned, and I I don't try to do that. I'm just trying to correct the pitch so cool. James will munson now, is it a good idea to edit the vocals to a click track on ly? I do this and it helps a lot, or it definitely helps, yeah, I'll let you do that I liked I wanted to demonstrate it with the drums because the thing with the drums is it's realistically, all the beats that are actually in the song, the thing with the click is a click is going to show you every beat that, like every possible, be right, but there might be situations where the groove bounces in and out of different beats, and it skips certain beats. And so you don't necessarily have to have your every single part of your vocal lining up with every single click of the song, because there's instances where the drums air relaxing. And so if you actually do your quantities into your drums then you can hear what is going to be heard in the final version of the song so you're adjusting it to the wax and wane of what's going on versace just doing it stark like to a click yeah does that make sense yep yeah so it is a good idea to definitely have a reference track because you know how else are you going to do it? You could do it by sight excuse me but it's better to do it with with drums or with something else as a reference to hear it okay uh marcel wants to know how do you prevent doubled vocals sounding like they have phase issues um you wanna have them be close in time but also be close and pitch if you if you have them too far off then it does start to sound real faizi eso you would probably just I would err on say having the vocals do better take or taking another look at your editing because if you don't get it close enough it will start to sound kind of nasty I could probably show you like if I take these two takes that he did way to play this part uh will say jew fred so it's important to realize that right after that these tapes aren't exactly the same there close enoughto go where we want them we want to use them but the fact that they're not the same is the reason why we actually did it, because if they were exactly the same, that it wouldn't create the whiteness effect. So since we have a little bit of pitch fluctuation, as well as timing slightly, it allows the vocal to sound bigger. Now, if they were so close and so much similar, it wouldn't. It wouldn't do the effect of making it sound bigger, making it sound wider. Now, if you go too far out of that zone, you're going to start to get weird shit like this. Ah, well, okay, yeah. So there is definitely a fine line of when it's in the pocket and when it's out, and you just have to use your ears to know when you've hit it.

Class Description

Joey Sturgis is the producer behind some of the biggest names in metalcore, including Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, and I See Stars. His style is one of the most sought after sounds of the last decade and in Studio Pass he’ll show you how he produces it.

There is no magic bullet to Joey’s sound. It’s simply the combination of a million little decisions that add up to something incredible. In this class – for the first time ever – Joey will demonstrate his entire process: pre-pro, engineering, mixing and mastering, from A-Z. 

You’ll learn:

  • Writing and arrangement tips that take a song from good to great
  • Recording, editing, and mixing tips for guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths
  • How to get stuff to sound loud, super clean, and tight

Joey is a hands-on engineer – he’ll talk about how he works with bands to develop their writing and ideas so they are working with the best possible raw material. He’ll show you the specific signal chain he uses for mixing guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths. And he’ll give extra focus to vocal tracking, editing, tuning, compression, and effects.

If you want to transform your recording and engineering process, don’t miss your opportunity to learn from chart-topping metalcore producer, Joey Sturgis.

Class Materials

bonus material with enrollment


What is Vocal Production

Autotune Pitch Correction Modes and Tools

Understanding Pitch Graphing

Timing and Quantization

Vocal Mixing

Separating Lead & Background in Mixing

Mixing Harmonies & Adv Production Technique

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I have been following Joey's work since the early Prada days... This is one of the best discussions any producer has ever contributed to digital audio. I love the amount of transparency. He simply reveals everything and guides you on a very wise path on how to become a in-the-box producer like him! Turns out, the answer is -- a ton of hard work! Plus, this has to be the best use-case on his own awesome and super-affordable plugins. I have watched almost every popular producer/engineer workshops and have also sat-in on Eddie Kramer, Alan Parsons and Quincy Jones producer workshops and believe it or not... This is the best one yet.

Adam Train

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the bands Joey records. The only reason I bought this class was because I enjoyed the Periphery one so much. Joey takes modern production techniques to the absolutely extreme. He takes punch-ins and editing to a level where it's not even funny any more. If you're looking for tips on recording and mixing in general, this class is not for you. If you're looking for editing tips to see how far you can possibly push the strive for perfection, this is pretty spot on. If you're a beginner, don't take this class to heart - Joey's workflow is borderline psychopathic - go and get the Periphery session instead. If you've been recording for a while and you're looking to see how far editing can take you, it's worth a look.

a Creativelive Student

Easily one of the best investments I've made. There is so much information here that you'll have to watch it multiple times to really catch everything. Looked up to Joey Sturgis for a long time and this is literally a dream come true to get a behind the scenes look into his talent. He delivered the material in a very understandable fashion and was extremely clear with all his examples. I love creative live =)