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Riding Vocals with Vocal Rider

Feb 15, 2010

Vocal riding is something we all do in the finishing stage of a mix. We move the vocal fader up and down in narrow or broad strokes to make sure the vocal is always level, always present – to make sure it’s never too soft or too loud, and sits in the mix just right, even when the backing tracks change. We write these fader movements to an automation track, and the final result is (hopefully) a polished, professional mix. The problem is that the vocal riding process is time-consuming, and, frankly, not very interesting.

Now, you can let Waves Vocal Rider do it for you—automatically.

So How Does Vocal Rider Work?

It’s simple: Insert Vocal Rider on your vocal track, hit play, and immediately you will see the fader moving, leveling the vocal in real-time, with no latency, and no need for a pre-scan.

You can fine-tune Vocal Rider’s behavior in the following ways:

  • Adjust the vocal target, to set the sweet spot.
  • Set the vocal sensitivity to make sure the plug-in differentiates between vocals and bleed.
  • Designate the idle location, where the fader should rest between phrases.
  • Set fader movement attack time.
  • Define the range, the boundaries that limit the fader movement in each direction.

The Vocal Rider Difference

Leveling a vocal with fader movement is not the same thing as simply compressing it, since compression often changes its character.

One cool feature of Vocal Rider is its ability to ‘listen’ to the backing tracks and react to changes in their levels. This is important because if the chorus of your song is louder than the verse, you’ll probably want the vocal level raised accordingly. Simply feed your backing tracks into Vocal Rider’s side-chain input, and adjust the Music Sensitivity control to react to changes in your playback level.

Another useful feature is Vocal Rider’s ability to write the fader automation, as it allows you to make manual adjustments to the automatic riding if so desired. Simply automation-enable Vocal Rider’s fader, activate Vocal Rider’s Write mode, and let it play through the track one time. At that point, you’ll have an automation lane for Vocal Rider’s fader track that includes all its automatic movements. Now, switch Vocal Rider’s automation setting back to Read, and the fader will move according to the written automation, and you can manually adjust the fader at any spot you want.

Vocal Rider also includes a Live component for use in WavesLive MultiRack Native as well as Venue D-Show consoles. It includes a ‘Spill’ control that differentiates between the vocal and stage noise, for better tracking and performance. This makes Vocal Rider a powerful tool not only in the studio or for broadcast, but for live shows too.