Monday, June 13, 2011

Smoothing Out Homemade Vocal Pads

If you’ve ever attempted to make a pad by sampling yourself singing various notes, you’ve probably discovered that it’s a bit more difficult than you had imagined. One of the main reasons for this is that sustaining a note with a tone that is clean and even enough to loop smoothly doesn’t come easy to all but the most experienced singers. However, there is a rather easy way to get around this problem. Sure, you could go the Cher route and autotune it, but I think this takes away the organic quality that makes sampled voice pads sound so nice. Instead, we can make use of reverb sends to “smooth over” any inconsistencies and get a nice, atmospheric sound at the same time.

Go ahead an record yourself singing “ahh” at the note of your choice. Be sure to sustain the note for as long as you are able to give yourself the most raw material to work with when it comes to looping. Now, on the channel your voice has been recorded to, send the signal to a bus/effects return with a 100% wet value. Assign a long, lush reverb to the bus. What you’re aiming for here is to be hearing nothing but the reverbed signal. Now, bounce the audio down again with the reverb, being sure to give enough time for the reverb tail to decay.

The reverb should help to “smear” any tonal inconsistencies in your performance and give you a lusher starting point from which to construct your pad. You can now look for a smooth loop point, assign appropriate envelope and filter settings, and design your pad to your liking.

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