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Doubling is the recording technique where you duplicate a performance as closely as you can on a new track and mix that back against the original track.
The result of doing this is you get a natural chorus effect and it thickens up the parts in question.
Another benefit of doing this is when you are mixing using the LCR technique, you minimise the audible loss of objects that are panned.
Think about sitting in a car where you you are listening to a recording which has drums, bass, rhythm and lead guitar and a singer. The drums are stereo panned, bass center, singer center, rhythm guitar panned left and lead guitar right. In front of monitors that probably sounds just fine, but in your car, you are going to be going "where is the lead guitar" and your passenger is going to say "there's rhythm guitar on this?" due to things being panned away from them and the acoustic properties of the vehicle environment.
Doubling things however now means that you can pan the guitars and still have separation while also making sure there's some of each on each side of the spectrum.
Doubling was traditionally done on vocals to help bring them out of the mix, but in genres like metal doubling guitars can be a hugely effective technique and enable that wall of sound type of production.
I posted this in this group because we all record our own stuff and submit to projects. If you think about the net effect of doubling you can make your submissions that much more appealing in a easy simple way.
When I track, I try and always do doubles unless it's a lead (harmony leads excepted, of course).
It's really easy and doesn't have to take that much more time: as you develop your part and record it, take an extra 5 minutes to go back and duplicate it. If you tend to develop things in chunks, e.g. figure out a verse, then the chorus, etc. it's even quicker.
Try it out on your own tunes and see what you think.
Clear and concise Thank you for this.
How do you use the doubled parts in a mix ..... both panned to the left [in the case you describe] or something else?
I would pan one left and the other right. Then you hav a subtle chorus effect and it widens and fills out the mix.
I do this out of habit now. All my song templates are setup with doubling in mind. Its definitely the key to a thicker guitar sound. I've even used it for clean picked parts with the same benefit. I'm also a big fan of LCR mixing, although I try not be dogmatic about it.
It's very cool but better suited for rock geetar
Something i like to do on single note lines , is doubling the track an octave higher and both same pan
It has a cool effect
I'm using that technique on my last 2 reggae tracks if u wanna check
I think the effect of doubling is effective on any style and almost any instrument - even drums. think about those bands with 2 drummers.
I think the application of it in LCR is definitely a win in metal, etc where you want that big guitar sound. But any 2 like instruments in unison together can really sound great. It's why you have instrument sections in orchestras right?
I do the same with trumpet ... it really thickens the sound
What is the LCR technique ?
left center right - a panning "style" I guess, really where you commit to full spectrum panning on your tracks. None of this "20%" pan left stuff, lol.
Pffff it was obvious , i'm stoopid
nah - the first time someone ran that by me...I googled. :D
do you ever double with bass guitar? same way?
You could - low frequencies are harder tho since the waves are much larger - so any phase issue will be more pronounced. You will more often find people using a slight flanger on bass to fatten it up.
Panning can mean a lot of things vis-a-vi mixing. Like anything else, the more you learn, the more subtly you can manipulate the various aspects of a standard basic mix. Things like panning, EQ, levels, and stereo field modulation.
It can mean, for example, Rhythm Guitar Left One - 65% left, and Rhythm Guitar Left Two - 35% right. These values can be adjusted to account for the placement and relative loudness of the lead guitar, which might also be panned, for example; 65%, but to the right. This gives you the full effect of two, doubled, stereo rhythm guitar tracks, but places them slightly left of center/center. Such a set up would have the advantage of remaining static (requiring no further adjustment), once you got everything set up the way you wanted it.
Also, stereo panning can be used with doubling to control/enhance the footprint of a doubled track in the mix. You could, for example, set one track to pan left 65%, with no stereo widening, and the other to pan 25% right, with moderate stereo widening, and the broader, deeper footprint of the second track will create width and weight through the middle of the mix, with accents from the rhythm guitar a little further to the right.
You can also, and most mixers typically will, adjust the EQ for each of two or more doubled tracks separately. One can emphasize highs and have more edge and attack on one track, for example, while EQ'ing a second, doubled track, played with the same core tone set up, to be fatter and thicker through the middle. If you have three or more "stacked' tracks, this customizing of EQ can be extended as far as you like, with the caveat that it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain a clean sound the more you stack performances. Human imperfection progressively builds in difference with each new track. You'll hear this as a deepening of the "chorus" effect that doubling naturally creates. With three, four or more repetitions of a performance, this chorus effect will become too pronounced... over-resonant. That is unless your rhythm player has Neil Peart type precision. A good way to try and minimize this effect is to play back and play along to those previous recordings that you want to keep. Then, keep working your current track until it is tight to the one (s) you already have.
These are just a couple of things I've done with doubled tracks that I thought of after reading Sriracha's described set up. You can vary stuff in all kinds of ways. As your skills deepen and develop, you can let the music speak to you. I, for example, often keep the drums and bass closer to the center, with the bass sometimes even mono and right down the middle, and then add a little width to the lead vocal. This is different from what Sriracha described. Either approach is technically correct. There are a myriad of other approaches, both gross and subtle.
The proper set up depends on the song.
Lead guitars, and especially solos, can live near the middle of the sound wall too. I have often set the pan on a lead solo to say, just 30% the opposite of where the rhythm guitars are panned, then would revert the panning on the lead guitar back to wherever it was set generally after the solo ends. This can mimic something like the kind of sound you get when you go hear a band live, and the lead guitarist kicks in the afterburners on his rig for the big solo. His back line amp, a full Marshall stack, happens to be sitting just to the right of the drummer, and so when he revs up his rig for the solo, his sound ramps up nearer to the center in the mix rather than farther to the right (off-setting the rhythm guitars), where the lead guitar track plays during the bulk of the song.
Just some fun stuff that came to mind after reading this cool thread.
or you could just cheat and use a Mimic effect or similar... but as that doesn?t allow panning easily, it?s more for live with stereo amps... for metal - try and use different sounds for doubling - makes the frequency spectrum even thicker!
I've found that using different tones for the doubled tracks makes it sound unbalanced. So now I'll do L and R with one tone, and then another L and R with a different tone. So it's a total of four tracks for the two tones. It's more work but I think it results in a well rounded thick tone.
I can add... Doubling with different guitars, pickups, amps, effects always works. Even if its the same tone using different EQ like a mid cut on one side and mid boost on the other makes things better. :) just my opinion.
Thank you for the info here! Very helpful! PS: Could you duplicate a guitar track and nudge one of them slightly out of sync to create the same chorus effect, or would this sound not so natural? I'm guessing this has been tried by some? :)
Not really. It's the slight variations in the performance that are producing the sound you're looking for.
Thank you Steven!
What Steven said, with more words (I was asked this same question in a different thread yesterday):
So the problem with taking an exact performance and doing it that way is you end up having phase issues where you will either increase or decrease the combined amplitude of the tracks.
Think about the very simplest example - a sine wave. Take a sine wave and duplicate it - you end up with twice the amplitude on the peaks. So louder. Now, slide the second wave along its axis and as you move towards the next null point where the wave crosses the axis, the amplitudes will start to cancel each other until you have zero - no sound.
What you *can* do is duplicate the existing track and then use a tool like Melodyne to change the timings and pitches across the whole track slightly. But even that isn't as good and still will likely have issues.
There's plugs out there that can emulate this effect. George Martin started the trend of machine doubling for John Lennon (who hated doing doubles) by taking the original track John sang on and then bounced that to another tape machine that was in a different room connected by analog cabling. The latency introduced by the sheer distance between the machines and the analog cable inefficiencies produced a slight double. There's a ton of plugins that reproduce that.
But nothing is as good as a true double.
Yes, you can, but the effect is different. There may not always be a double available to the mixer. So, if the purpose is to reinforce a hard-panned instrument to the other side, then a small delay works well for this.
For instance, the rhythm guitar is hard panned Left, but you want more presence in the Right side than reverb offers. You can send the rhythm to a delay which is hard-panned right, set to a single repeat, with a short delay like 30ms. There are additional FX you can add if this causes phasing issues when the mix is played back mono. Start by adjusting the delay time, a few ms may be all you need. Alter the EQ of the delayed signal, flip or rotate its phase, add a subtle (or not so subtle) chorus to just the delay.
I wouldn't call this a "wall of guitar," which can only be achieved through recorded doubles or more. All of the above advice is spot on. I just wanted to add that synthetic double is still a viable tool when absolutely necessary. This may be especially necessary for novice players. If it took 10 takes to make one decent comped take, then it may not be easier/faster to just have the musician record an additional layer.
Another trick to fake a double can be to use a repeat of the same phrase from elsewhere in the song. For instance, if the rhythm guitar plays the exact same thing on chorus 1 and for chorus 2, you can use 2 to double 1 and vice versa. However, doing so may require timing adjustments which brings its own set of challenges. Timing adjustments are more likely necessary for free-tempo (player controlled) recordings than strict-tempo (metronome/grid controlled) recordings.
One more trick can be flip-panned reverb. Where the stereo signal sent to the reverb FX is reverse panned than the source tracks. The modulation and predelay of the reverb FX can perform the same function as delay method. The strongest reflections will be on the opposite side of the stereo field than the source signal and will allow greater amounts of reverb to be mixed in without smearing the source as much. You may want to do this trick as a special reverb fx separate from your main. Try this method with a small-medium room preset with more predelay than would be typical/realistic for this type of reverb preset. Then feed this reverb into your main reverb like you would with an actual doubled track.
I repeat: NOTHING beats having actual doubles. But, tricks can be used as a last resort. Getting it right at the source is always better than these mixing tricks. But, never forget to EXPERIMENT! You might surprise yourself with something unexpectedly special!
flip panned info copied and saved on my note pad.
I knew of it but never tried it, now I know how.
thank you Kentuckian
Cool! I hope you find the tips useful!
I would recommend using a phase checking plug if you try this - it's very likely that you will have phase issues, delay or no delay. YMMV
don't know if I have a plug to check phase, I might.
I really need to sit down and study that subject, I will google vids
in the future about it.
now back to shoveling the 4 inches of wicked slush outside
before it turns to ice tonight.
Heads up, its coming your way.
Haahaaha Take that!
may cats rain upon your house
I take that over the actul crawling from under situation
Awww just saw it's ''no pants shoveling'' in the Chi today
Don't get here as much as I'd like these days, so pardon me if I follow up here. The OP will appreciate all the extra info and tidbits we've generated, at any rate.
I agree that there is no substitute for true doubling. Like any other skill one uses to produce music, however, the results will equate directly to the amount of work you put into making doubles beforehand.
- How much practice do you put into playing the track in question to a drum track, or click?
- Did you take time to play along to a recorded track before trying to do the double?
- Were you patient while recording, refusing to take the first or second take just to expedite things?
Laying down takes for doubling is a fine case for building a Frankenstein track from multiple takes of the same performance, as opposed to trying to capture the full track in one take.