Pro Tools

Reverse Vocal-Transition Trick

Objective:Create a sweeping ear-candy effect for segueing into a vocal.

Background: Sometimes the first note of a vocal can enter the mix like a sharp slap to the face. This can be a good thing . . . or not. Assuming the latter, this trick might be just the remedy your song needs.

Step by Step: You’ve heard this on hit songs, now you’re seven steps away from adding it to your bags of tricks.

1. Isolate a word or syllable from the vocal track. The most obvious candidate is the first word of the song.

2. Paste it into an empty track.

3. Insert a reverb plug-in on that track, select a cavernous patch, and set the wet/dry balance to 100-percent wet. Solo the track, and adjust the reverb to taste.

4. Now record it! One method is to send the track’s audio through an output bus to a receiving track whose input bus is set to the same channel. Or you could bounce the file to disk and reimport it as a new audio track. Whatever the case, allow plenty of record time for the reverb tail to fade out.

5. Select the newly recorded audio file, open the Reverse plug-in from the AudioSuite menu, and click Process.

6. Trim unnecessary audio from beginning and end of file. Align the reversed file so the peak of the swell butts up against the entrance of the first note of the original vocal. For a more dramatic and pronounced effect, you might want to draw a fade-in, as shown.

7. You can drive it home by putting a kick and crash on the downbeat. Some words or syllables work better than others, so experimentation is the key. Don’t stop with just the first vocal note. This can also work well for verse/chorus or chorus/verse transitions, bridge segues, you name it. . . . Have fun.

• If you’re looking for a treasure trove of pre-fab transition effects, check out from Ilio — a top-notch sample CD packed front-to-back with transitional sweeps, swoops, fills, and effects.