Sometimes when mixing a track, you might wish you could go back and ask a singer to deliver a different kind of vocal take. Whether things are a bit off-key, or you’d like a smokier (or cleaner) vibe to a performance, singers aren’t always available for additional takes.

Thankfully, the suite of plug-ins included with Auto-Tune Unlimited allows for nuanced fixes to vocal performances that would have been science fiction a couple of years ago. Aspire is one such tool, allowing you to analyze and increase or decrease the “vocal breathiness” of a vocal with natural-sounding results.

Aspire is the world’s first vocal plug-in for modifying a voice’s breathiness independently of its harmonic content.

Vocal Breathiness Explained

Breathiness can be tricky for a singer to dial in through performance alone. But sometimes, it’s just what you need to add some grit and character to the voice to really take the track to the next level.

Berklee Online breaks down what makes a vocal performance “breathy”

The Sound of Moving Air

To get an understanding of how vocal breathiness affects a track, let’s listen to an example with a pop performance with the vocal soloed.

Now let’s hear it in the mix with the instruments:

It’s not bad, but adding some subtle coloration in the timbral quality of the voice can make it less “shiny” and more “smoky” or “raspy.” In this case, I can use Aspire to dial in the breathiness on the vocal to taste.

Here are the settings I used for this vocal:

You’ll notice a few controls, so let’s take a closer look at what Aspire is doing here. First off, I’ve set the Voice Type to “soprano”, which is the range of my singer. Since I’m using Aspire to add breathiness, I’ve put the plugin in Increase mode. Aspire can also be used to clean up a performance that is too raspy. I’m going for something subtle, which is where Aspire truly excels. In Increase mode, Aspire also has an extra EQ available so you can sculpt the sound of the “breathiness” totally independently of the rest of the vocal. Here I’m using the EQ for a bit of a bump around 3500 Hz, which is a “sweet spot” for this singer.

Now, let’s listen to the vocal with Aspire:

Listened alone, you can clearly hear the affect, and it may even seem a bit off-putting at first. But keep in mind that I’m working with a full track, not a solo performance. I want the vocal to stand out a bit and have some more character. Let’s hear how it sounds all together in a complete mix:

That’s more like it! Now the vocal grabs the listener a little bit more, without drastically altering the vocal with a compressor or a transient designer.

Aspire Unlimited

Aspire lets you dial up vocal breathiness to give your vocals a sultry sound, or dial it down to remove any huffing and puffing. If you’re ready to explore the possibilities with Aspire, download a free trial of Auto-Tune Unlimited. Available through subscription, Auto-Tune Unlimited comes complete with Aspire, all of the AVOX plug-ins, every current edition of Auto-Tune, and more. It also offers the lowest cost-of-entry to access the most comprehensive collection of pro vocal effects ever offered from Antares. Just click here to start your subscription, or try it out for 14 days at no cost.