Processing Vocals Part 3 – Tuning: Thoughts on Auto-Tune

Do you know where you were when you first heard Auto-Tune in action? I do. Kitchen table. Cher came on the radio. My first thought was, “Hey, that’s neat!” Years later, I don’t think it’s so neat anymore. The word “overused” comes to mind.

Cher, T-Pain, and the like have certainly exploited the hyper-tuning capabilities of Auto-Tune, but that’s not the purpose of this article. Yes, you can use Auto-Tune as an over-the-top effect, but what about using it as an engineering tool? Is it cheating?

I’d love to know your opinion. Be sure to leave a comment below. I’ve thought through this a lot over the years and talked with many an engineer, and I’ve formed my own opinions on the matter, so here’s what I think.

Processing Vocals Part 1 – Recording the Vocal

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions on processing vocals. Folks are asking for a step-by-step guide for getting a good vocal sound — from actually recording the vocal all the way to the finished mix.

This is a great topic. After all, for most music styles the vocal is the focal point of the entire song. Who cares if the drums, bass, and guitars sound amazing if the vocals are lame, right?

So…I think it’s time for a little series of articles on vocals!

Recording the Vocal

Before jumping into EQ settings and effects plugins, we need to take a step back and make sure we get a good vocal recording to begin with. There’s this annoying tendency among a lot of recording engineers to just capture the audio as quickly and thoughtlessly as possible, then say, “I’ll just fix it later with plugins.”


Video: Using an Instrument Track to Build Background Vocals

Background vocals. They can make such a big difference in your music. However, a good background vocal takes some planning, especially if you’re doing a three- or four-part harmony. 

It’s best to figure out the arrangement before you begin recording. Otherwise, you’ll end up recording eight tracks of BGVs, only to decide that you don’t like the note choices. Suddenly you’re back at square one.

In this video I show you how to use an instrument track to build great background vocals. And yes, in this video I’m using Logic! You may have read my article on why I use Pro Tools, but for this video, I dug through the archives for a song I recorded in Logic that showcases this particular technique.

The same concept applies whether your on Pro Tools or anything else. Enjoy!


Check out my other videos here.