How To Record Vocals In Logic Pro X

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Hey everybody, In this article I’m going to give you my take on vocal recordings in Logic Pro X. More specifically vocal recording for a typical pop song.
Logic is known for its amazing midi capabilities but it also offers a few cool features when it comes to audio recording and editing. Comping in logic is one of the coolest features. I seriously can’t go back to edit any other way.

Quick video guide, keep reading for more info

So this is how I do it.

1. Creating a great basis for a vocal recording session.
2. Choosing the best takes using comping.
3. Fixing the timing.
4. Pitch correction.
5. Work with B vocals, doubles, and harmonies.
6. Importing all the vocal channels back into the main project.

So let’s start

1. Creating a great basis for a vocal recording session.

First I open a project specifically for the vocal recording session. I usually prefer to have the vocals recorded on a clean project and not on the song’s main project. It gives me a clear view of what I do and it also helps the computer work more flawlessly and glitch free.

Then I create the setup for a full vocal session. It means that I open all the needed tracks with most of the plugins already on them. The tracks are as follows:

A. Lead Vocal
B. Lead Left (Double)
C. Lead right (Double)
D. B Vocal Left
E. B Vocal Right
F. Monitoring channel
G. Playback Channel (Stereo bounce of the playback)

After that, I choose the main basic plugins I want to use for the recording session.
Usually, the plugins are EQ & Compressor. During the recordings, I use the plugins with the shortest delay time because I need them to react to a real-time signal.
>> Best EQ Plugins For Vocals
>> How To Use A Compressor On Vocals

In 90% of the times, I like using Logic’s own EQ & Compressor for that.
The signal is being recorded on the engaged channels but played thru the Monitoring Channel.
This way I can use the same plugins and have the same sound for all the recording session.
When I playback the recordings I hear the recorded signal going thru the plugins that are open on each of the channels. I also add a reverb & delay sends if needed.
>> These are my favorite Delay plugins

That’s it, we have all the takes we need for the lead vocal and a few takes to choose from on each of the other channels. Now we are ready for my favorite part, THE COFFEE!

You must let your ears and brain rest for a while to regain your strength and your ability to concentrate.
Sometimes I even save the post-recording stage for the day after.
Note: after I finish recording, I make a backup of the whole project to another hard drive.
DO IT BEFORE THE COFFEE and thank me later.

2. Choosing the best takes using comping.

In this stage, I start with listening and working only on the lead vocal while all the other channels are muted. The reason for dealing with the lead vocal first is because this channel is our guide for all the other vocal channels. Yeah, this is common sense but I guess I still feel the need to point out the obvious.

When the lead vocal will be ready, all the rest of the channels will sync to it in terms of take selection, timing, and pitch. So that way we can get one strong and accurate vocals wall pushing the front row of the song.
This is a general rule of thumb for a lot of pop genres.

So, I like to divide the song and work on each part separately. I start with the first verse in most cases even if the song starts with a chorus. This gives me a sense of a fresh and new beginning.

I start with listening to the whole verse and then I listen to the first sentence on all of the takes and choose the one that sounds and feels best to me. After that, I listen to the second sentence and then the third and so on.
That’s basically the whole process of choosing the right takes for each part. Before I “Flatten” the whole track I always open a new channel and copy the whole open comp on it and then hide it. You can never know when you’d want to go back to it.

3. Fixing the timing.

This is the part where you want to get rid of all the takes you didn’t use and leave only the chosen once. On logic this option is called “Flatten” and it is located inside the comp’s menu.

Now you are left only with the regions you’ve chosen. This is the right time to start tightening the timing.
I usually turn on the click for this part and listen to each separate region by itself to make sure it is exactly synced to the playback and click. 

I love this part because I have a huge thing with vocals sitting on the beat with perfect timing. On this opportunity of working on the separate regions, I make sure that there are crossfades between them, placed on silent parts only. It is very important not to cut breathing noises and little natural sounds in the human voice.

After I have the whole channel done I consolidate it or how it’s called in Logic, “Bounce in place”.
This will take all the regions and export them to one long file. Before you do that make sure to place a small region part on the exact point where the song begins on the grid. That way after you’ll have the lead vocal file no matter if it moved by mistake, it’s starting point will always be on the grid and in sync with the song.

4. Pitch correction.

Ok, in terms of tuning and having everything right on the money I consider myself a complete FREAK. I like everything to be in perfect pitch but still sounding very natural and human. This is a very demanding task. Of course, I can just throw an Autotune plugin on the channel which I commonly do but this is only for the online tuning part of the vocal. Some of the heavy lifting are done with offline tuning before the signal even goes to the Autotune.

In Logic Pro X there’s a feature called Flex Pitch. This is very similar to Melodyne in nature but is embedded in Logic’s audio engine so it is much more flexible then Melodyne in my opinion. I must add the as for this version, Melodyne’s algorithm still sounds a little bit better than Logic’s Flex Pitch. So you can choose whatever is best for you. I find that if using lightly, Flex Pitch sounds just as good as Melodyne so it’s good enough for me.

Remember, the offline tuning must come before the online tuning in the signal chain.
But I always do the offline tuning while the Autotune is working on the channel in a relatively slow response time and every once in a while I turn of the Autotune to get a sense for what is going on with the signal just with Flex Pitch activated.
This allows me to find the perfect sweet spot between offline and online tuning.

After I finish with the tuning and pitch correction, I bounce the track to a clean channel once more to print all the process I did with Flex Pitch on the offline tuning. This way I can turn off the Flex Pitch option and save my ass from possible glitches in the future.

So what do we have now? We have a PERFECT VOCAL TRACK ready for the mix.

5. Work with B vocals, doubles, and harmonies.

This part is usually like the second born child, this is much less stressful for me. Now all I have to do is to make sure I choose the right takes out of all the doubles and harmonies in relation to the lead vocal.

I do it pretty fast and it always comes out perfect. every once in a while I need to fix the timing for specific parts but it’s not a big deal. On these channels, I only use online tuning. One Autotune plugin for each channel with the right settings and it works like magic.

All the extra vocals are going to one bus channel on the mixer so that way I can control it’s levels and automations in one strip.
Of course, I also do ‘bounce in place” to all the B vocals to have them organized in single files and not have every channel scattered across multiple files. So that way I have one final vocal file for each channel.

6. Importing all the vocal channels back into the main project.

Now that we have all the vocal channels, tunes, timing perfected and organized we can import them back into the production’s main project and continue to mix the song.

We do it by opening the main production project and importing the vocal channels from the vocal recording project. Easy.

Thank you for reading.

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