When dealing with the V-Vocal editor in Cakewalk SONAR, it’s important to know these helpful hints. For the past three weeks, I’ve been recording vocals, and I make no claims of being a singer. So the results often require lots of clean-up.

I tried figuring out V-Vocal on my own, but it’s a quirky tool and unstable to boot. I can’t count the number of times my computer crashed while I was using it. If you just look at it wrong, it craps out. Despite that inconvenience, it did work incredible wonders on my voice.

But to get to that point, it helps to know the subtleties of V-Vocal, which isn’t really spelled out in the documentation. In addition to adjusting pitches, V-Vocal can fix modulations (like vibrato or warbled notes) and smooth out portamento. That attack a little sharp? It can be flattened out. That long note a bit shaky? It can be tamed.

But the proof is in the results. Last summer, I recorded a whole bunch of vocals, and I hated just about all of them. Only one song, "Speechless", managed to sound good at first shot, and few others had promise if only some obvious mistakes could be masked. Everything else was crap.

After reading up on some of V-Vocals features this past weekend, I tried them on a song I recorded a year ago titled "Without Nothing". Listen to the original take, without editing.

I’m flat on more than a few notes, and I’m even late coming in on the second verse.

Now listen to the edited take. That’s how the melody is supposed to sound like.

In addition to fixing the pitches, I also added some compression to give the vocals an even level. V-Vocal doesn’t address rhythm, but some creative use of duplicate audio clips and cross-fading certainly helps. For the second verse, I nudged the mistimed part over, then found an overlap with a vowel on a duplicate clip where I put some cross-fading. Without re-recording anything, I managed to extend one note and re-time another. You can hear it on the isolated vocal track, but with a music background, the transition is masked. Actually, V-Vocal does fix rhythm, and it’s a lot easier than messing with spliced clips.

If I were a real singer, I’m sure this kind of doctoring would be mostly unnecessary. But I’m not a singer, and I need any help I can get. Doctoring my own voice to sound as it should goes a long way in helping me rehearse the song correctly.