Ok so let’s face it, this is not the most exciting part of music production or in any industry for that matter. It is however, highly necessary if the aim is to achieve a much cleaner and professional sounding recording.
As a general rule, the less experienced or less rehearsed you are before recording in the studio, the more time will be spent on the editing process and the more expensive it will be to complete your recording. This is why we always like to prepare our clients as much as possible and suggest to them to rehearse as much as they can prior to their recording sessions. See some great tips for pre-recording preparation here.
There are many areas that make up editing a song and I will discuss them below in the order I like to work through them:
Comping or composite takes refer to when you edit a bunch of takes together and choose the best parts of each take to use as your main track. This is an essential part of the editing process. For example, recording 5 vocal takes of a song and picking out the best parts of each vocal phrase or word to use for your lead vocal. This is a good way to select the best sound you want for each section of the recording. Comping can be great but also use it wisely. For example, if you record 15 takes of a vocal part it will take a long time for you to comp 15 takes as opposed to 5 takes. You can create more work for yourself if you go overboard with it. More difficult sections of songs may require 10 takes or so (like a guitar solo etc, unless you are Joe Satriani and 1 take should be ok lol) but this isn’t a great habit to get into for the majority of your editing. Check out this video here for great comping advice.
- Time Correction
This is where we correct the timing of the instrumentation and/or vocal parts. If you all parts are performed to a tempo then this is made a lot simpler as you can snap a lot of parts to the grid in your DAW. Quantising can help with this but it takes practice to use it properly. If you are going for a more natural live sounding song you may only want to time correct a small amount of instrumentation or vocal (that are obviously out of time) by hand to give it that natural feel. If you want it all perfectly in time then recording to a click and snapping all parts to the grid is essential. Another great technique here is to use ‘Nudging’ to get surgical with your timing edits and to help with humanising virtual instrumentation. Check out ‘Nudging’ here.
Note: Time correction needs to be done before using any pitch correction.
A great video on using Flex Time in Logic X can be found here.
- Strip silence, trimming and noise reduction
Of course, there are always parts of recordings that we don’t want. This is where trimming, strip silencing and noise reduction come in. You can trim audio regions to get rid of unwanted noise. ‘Trim at Playhead’ is a great fast way of doing your trims. Strip silencing is an automated way to trim out all the dead air between wave forms on your audio region automatically, provided it is set up correctly. For a great video on strip silencing click here. This is also a good time to snap to zero crossing as it will help you minimise any existing pops or clicks. Other ways to reduce noise are certain noise reduction plugins. Izotope’s RX8 is great for this. Especially for reducing unwanted static ambient noise. Better yet, to avoid this, make sure you are recording as noise free as possible in the first place. A sound proof room if possible, good quality mic pre amp’s, audio interface, mic and cables will all help.
This is also a good time to ‘Join or Consolidate Regions’ as it will help with any further timing movement of the regions. If some parts of regions just cannot be fixed, then another alternative is to loop regions that are working well.
- Fades and batch fades
This is a very important part of editing to get desired results without any unwanted noises coming through. Fades and cross fades will help a lot, especially when joining split audio regions together, you’ll need to cross fade them to avoid pops and clicks coming through. Something to help speed up your work flow is batch fades. This is when you fade many regions at the same time, which helps enormously when working on a track with many layers. Check out this vid on fades here.
- Pitch Correction
This is commonly known as Auto Tune. In Logic X it is called Flex Pitch and there are many variations of it like Melodyne, Waves Tune Real Time etc. Antares Auto Tune being the industry standard. This is great software for correcting small errors on pitch or for making it completely effected like the T Pain style of pitch correction often heard in RnB and Rap. Autotune is found on almost all pop records these days. If you are singing and only slightly off in pitch then this software is excellent as you can hardly tell it’s in use. It does however change the natural tone and character of a voice. This is why I personally use it as little as possible in my own recordings. To see a great video on using logic x flex pitch, click here.
So that’s our advice for editing. We hope this helps you on your recording journey! Don’t stop researching here as this is only one opinion. To find more great tips on editing head here.
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