The Ultimate Guide to DAW Vocal Production for Beginners

6 min readFeb 24, 2024


DAW Vocal Production

Are you a beginner looking to take your vocal production skills to the next level? Look no further than this “Ultimate Guide to DAW Vocal Production for Beginners.” In this concise but comprehensive article, I will break down everything you need to know about using Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) to produce stellar vocal tracks. From selecting the right software and setting up your workspace, to recording and editing vocals with precision, this guide covers it all. If you’re a singer-songwriter or an aspiring producer, mastering DAW vocal production is essential to your home studio productions.

Choosing the Right DAW Software for Vocal Production

Here are 3 top choices of DAWs to consider for vocal production: Ableton Live, Pro Tools, and Cubase. Each of these programs offers unique features and capabilities that cater to different preferences and needs.

  • Ableton Live: Known for its user-friendly interface and creative tools like Warp Mode, Ableton Live is a popular choice among electronic music producers. It allows for seamless integration of audio samples and MIDI instruments, making it ideal for manipulating vocals in real-time.
  • Pro Tools: Widely regarded as an industry standard in recording studios worldwide, Pro Tools offers advanced editing capabilities and professional-grade plugins. It is perfect for vocalists looking to achieve polished studio-quality recordings with ease.
  • Cubase: With a focus on musical composition and arranging, Cubase is a versatile DAW software that provides comprehensive tools for vocal production. Its intuitive workflow makes it suitable for both beginners and experienced producers alike.

Consider your specific requirements, budget, and workflow preferences when choosing the right DAW software for your vocal production projects. Whether you prioritize ease of use, technical precision, or creative flexibility — there’s a program out there that will suit your needs perfectly.

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Setting Up Your Workspace for Optimal Vocal Recording

  1. Audio Interface: Before you start recording vocals, make sure your audio interface is set up correctly. This device will help convert analog signals from your microphone into digital data that can be used by your computer.
  2. Microphone and Pop Filter: Choose a high-quality microphone that suits your voice and singing style. Additionally, use a pop filter to reduce unwanted plosive sounds caused by air hitting the microphone when pronouncing certain words.
  3. Headphones and Home-Made Vocal Booth: Invest in a good pair of headphones to monitor your recordings effectively. Create a homemade vocal booth in a closet using blankets or soundproof materials to improve the acoustics of your recording space.

Understanding the Basics of Recording Vocals in a DAW

  • Getting Levels: Before recording vocals, make sure that the levels are properly set to avoid distortion or clipping. Adjust the input gain on your audio interface so that the levels hit around -12 dB to -6 dB on your DAW’s meter.
  • Setting up a Headphone Mix: Provide the singer with a comfortable headphone mix. This mix should include their vocals and any backing tracks they need to hear for timing and pitch reference.
  • Recording Takes: Encourage multiple takes when recording vocals to allow for flexibility during editing. It’s better to have options than be limited by only one take. Make sure each new take is clearly labeled for organization.
  • Feedback: Offer constructive feedback during vocal recordings without being overly critical. Positive reinforcement can help boost confidence and improve performance quality. Remember, creating a supportive atmosphere will result in better vocal recordings overall.

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Mastering the Art of Vocal Comping, Editing, and Tuning

  • Vocal comping:
  • Combining the best takes to create a flawless vocal track.
  • Select snippets from multiple recordings and merge them seamlessly.
  • Vocal editing:
  • Fine-tuning the timing of vocal phrases for precision.
  • Adjusting when each word or note comes in for a professional result.
  • Tuning vocals:
  • Correcting pitch imperfections without altering the natural sound.
  • Utilize pitch correction tools to enhance vocal performance subtly.
  • Track cleanup:
  • Removing unwanted background noise to ensure clarity.
  • Eliminating clicks or pops that may distract from the vocals.
  • Creating smooth fade-ins and fade-outs for professional transitions.

Recommended Tools and Techniques for Editing Vocals

  • Vocalign is a powerful tool that helps align the timing and pitch of multiple vocal tracks.
  • Autotune, Melodyne, and RePitch are popular choices for correcting pitch issues in vocals, giving them a polished, professional sound.
  • Revoice Pro can help you further refine your vocal tracks by creating doubles and harmonies from a single lead vocal. Revoice Pro incorporates both VocAlign and RePitch.

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Tips for Mixing Vocals Like a Pro in Your DAW

  • Slap Delay: Add depth and dimension to vocals with slap delay, creating a sense of space without overwhelming the main vocal track.
  • Long Delay: For a more ethereal sound, experiment with long delays that blend seamlessly with the lead vocals, enhancing the overall atmosphere of the track.
  • Reverb: To give vocals a lingering deep sustain, try using dark plate reverb to create an immersive effect that complements the mood of the song.

Tip: Reduce treble and bass frequencies on delay and reverb using HPF and LPF filters or treble and bass shelf EQ. Most delay and reverb plugins have a built-in EQ.

Finalizing Your Vocal Production: Exporting and Sharing Your Tracks

  • Limiter: Before exporting your mix, consider adding a limiter to the mix buss to ensure consistency in volume levels. This will help prevent any unexpected peaks or distortion in your final product.
  • Versions: When exporting your vocal tracks, consider creating different versions such as a vocal up version, an instrumental, an acapella, or even stems for potential remix collaborations. This allows flexibility for various uses of your vocals in different projects.
  • File Sharing: Once you have finalized your vocal production exports, you can share your tracks with others by uploading them to platforms like WeTransfer or Google Drive. That way collaborators or clients can easily access and download the files for further use.

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Also read:

Choosing the Right DAW for You: A Guide for Singer-Songwriter-Producers

What Is The Easiest Free DAW To Use For Beginners?

A Comparison Guide of the “Big 4” DAWs: Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Logic Pro, and FL Studio

Hey, I’m Futch — Music Production Coachand Ableton Certified Trainer

I’ve been teaching audio engineering and music production for 35 years.⭐️

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