Sound Engineering & Recording

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Redfish / Tony Gee 8 days ago
Does anyone have some tips for 'thickening up' lead vocals. The ones I am experimenting with are NOT multi-tracked. I also use logic pro - so ideally would prefer to experiment with their stock plugins. Really - I just want to learn. Any tips or advice welcome. Thankyou - Red


   

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Redfish   commented 8 days ago


something like this? https://www.sageaudio.com/blog/mixing/how-to-thicken-your-lead-vocal.php#:~:text=Use%20temporal%2C%20tuning%2C%20and%20low,and%20augment%20the%20original%20signal. or this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpoUiddaGgQ (there are so many videos and advice on the net it is difficult to know where to start and if there is a systematic approach to doing vocal processing - of course - I suspect it is just experience and personal preference in the end)

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Pailwood   commented 8 days ago


There is not one way doing that. It depends on the recording and type of voice. But basic I will put bit compression and EQ on the main vocal track. And create a vocal bus with has a reverb etc. And then duplicate the main vocal track. This has some nice tips and tricks> https://www.musicianonamission.com/vocal-thickening/

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Redfish   commented 8 days ago


is there a decision tree that people can use to help limit the choices depending on for example: - the type of voice - the recording - genre? etc?

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GoYeah   commented 8 days ago


Among several methods, the parallel compression is usually a go-to method for thickening vocals. Either duplicate the track and on the duplicate, insert a compressor and squash it until it is well compressed. Blend in this new track slowly rising up the level until the lead vox sounds thicker/better. Or send the signal to an FX channel with a compressor on it, do the same as above after. Then send those tracks to a vox-bus and apply EQ, De-esser, and a little compression again, lightly to have the lead-vox as you wish. You can then use 2 sends, one for Delay and another for Reverb ... :)

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Redfish   commented 3 days ago


why is this called PARALLEL compression? Just because the same (parallel) track is given a more hefty compression treatment? or is there another reason for calling it PARALLEL compression?

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Doomism   commented 3 days ago


You're routing the dry signal parallel to the original on a new track or bus, where you apply most of the compression. There are some finer details here https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/parallel-compression

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ragin9rfan   commented 3 days ago


The benefit is that with the unaltered signal allowed onto the sub-buss(important to set up if you aren't already) all the transients are allowed to flow along with the smashed-by-compression signal(blend in to taste) so the end sound isn't squashed and has life. This is MOST important on the Drums Sub-buss. You don't want to do EVERY technique on every track, these are tools to add life when it isn't all there from the recording side. Just remember you can't make up for really poorly recorded tracks with tricks, so EVERYTHING starts there.

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Doomism   commented 8 days ago


The things that spring to mind are, fake a double take with a slight delay and perhaps with a different EQ of a duplicate track and mix it in with the main vocal. Or parallel compression can work. You could also overdrive the vocal on another channel and blend it back it a little bit to bulk up the original. This is after trying Compression and EQ on the vocal track to start with. Very Short time echos, can add something too, (where the time is so short it's not heard as a delay) Like you say, depends on the source and the style of track/vocal. What are you working with?

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Doomism   commented 8 days ago


Them links have some good ideas. The yoootooob video mentions pitch too, which is worth a pop. It all points to one thing. Make a parallel track that sounds THICK, then blend in to taste with the original track.

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Redfish   commented 8 days ago


this is the track https://www.kompoz.com/music/collaboration/1085682/file/1101796 I've kinda lost my way tbh. Just so many great suggestions and tips .... Do you already know what you are going to do when you get a vocal track? Or do you have a few options or a workflow that you always stick to until you get the result you want? maybe thats part of my problem ... I dont know what I'm aiming for and why (the why is important)

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Doomism   commented 8 days ago


Ah, I was checking this collab out pre vocals. Great to hear a voice on this! Are the guitars etc final? I thought it had a sort of Alice in Chains vibe going on. But it has a sort of playful offspring meets led zep edge too. Might be worth listening to reference tracks, if you had something in mind. The voice naturally sits well above all the lower mid range chunk from the backing, which helps. It sounds pretty good to be honest. I think knowing what you want helps, because as with all this mixing lark, you could take different approaches. Sometimes, if I'm lost, I try a few different treatments and A/B/C compare etc and then do a version thats a bit OTT and bold, just to cleanse the pallette and see if anything interesting pops out.

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Doomism   commented 8 days ago


Workflow for me. Get the source good within the mix, EQ, compression, EQ again maybe. If I'm thinking I want beef, I'll look at parallel compression etc. Works well on less Rocky music too, if you're subtle with blending it. If you're lost. Go bold, try something wild and see what happens. You might hear something interesting. Check out Kush on YouTube, I've heard some good advice from him lately. And his voice will caress your eardrums and give them a little massage at the same time.

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Redfish   commented 8 days ago


I was thinking like Budgie - remember them? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54H3EUAzpVg

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Doomism   commented 8 days ago


https://thehouseofkush.com/blogs/museletter/benchmarks-for-killer-vocal-mixing Check out his YouTube channel.

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FLStudioNick   commented 4 days ago


This video might help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zivNT2cV8KM

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liljoe6string   commented 4 days ago


im sure this has been covered above, but ive always heard if you run a delay set short short you can get a phat vox ((((: ps im not sure exactly on the setting prob in the 200ms and lower range with hardly any repeat.. anywho something like that.

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liljoe6string   commented 4 days ago


OH just thought of an old bass trick one badazz bassist used he would take his bass track copy it to another track.. one he would pan hard left the other hard right this would in affect make the track centered like you would want bass or vox but would give it big size.. (((:

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Hotjams   commented 4 days ago


Google vocal thickening, lots of ways to do this. Lots of how-to videos all over the net.

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tbase2000   commented 4 days ago


I tend to do verses center heavy with a doubled vocal tracked for thickness. Since this isn't your option a short delay could help. I use a vocal double vst on pretty much everything. Go subtle or go big. It uses delay and phaser to split things wide if you want. Great for chorus sections. Dont forget good old chorus also. I use cubase but the stock plug has very useful presets that combine delay and chorus. A third short delay can be found in verb settings pre-delay. Have fun.

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ragin9rfan   commented 4 days ago


So I read through the entire thread so I wouldn't say something already said, and I'm surprised nobody mentioned saturation. Digital is cold as ice, so you have to "warm" up your tracks with saturation plugins to get that thick sound. That, and another good trick is to stack 2 compressors "back-to-back" with the first in the chain with a slow attack(adjust release to match the groove, or set to Auto if available) and the second comp with a fast attack. You can use light compression settings on both since you have twice the control of the signal. The other thing most people miss is the gain staging phase of mixing. You have to see those meters moving to get the best possible sound from each track. If the signal level is too low you won't generate the harmonic content that gives you the "analog" sound/fatness etc... Hopefully these ramblings make sense? Best of luck!

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Hotjams   commented 4 days ago


A very good addition to this post!!!!

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ragin9rfan   commented 3 days ago


Hope it helps someone here....

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Hotjams   commented 3 days ago


I learned something new from this post, so it helped me. Thank you.

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ragin9rfan   commented 3 days ago


Awesome! The compressor idea is pretty standard, but for any track that you want to really bring forward in the mix it's really effective(snare, kick, VOX, lead guitar etc....) The saturation is key to removing the brittle highs you get with a digital recording. Digital seems to grab the fundamental frequency, but not much of the harmonics(and sub-harmonics) of the signal, so the saturation plugins mimic how analog amplifiers create these harmonics in the process of making the signal bigger in amplitude(just a silly electronic term) and create the "warming" effect. What really makes the difference is the multiple instances of analog emulation(track,sub-buss,mix buss etc.....) to the signal.

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LithiumChris   commented 3 days ago


You guys have a good thread going. Before I went dormant, I was getting together 2 flavors of each effect in my VST collection: clean (i.e., non-saturating/non-coloring) and coloring. For lead vocals and things that you like to sound bigger and pop out of the mix, I like using the saturating/coloring ones and was using these in my vocals chain: >EQ: Voxengo Overtone GEQ (particularly for boosts in that "airy" region >5KHz) I was also starting to play with Tokyo Dawn SlickEQ. >Compressor: Tokyo Dawn Molotok - adds saturation as it compresses. I also liked Ferric TDS, a tape saturation emulator. >A little Saturation Knob on vocals would help too if the EQ and Comp didn't quite produce the result. Then use the clean effects on the bedtrack instruments so that they're more inclined to blend instead of pop out. I was using Nova GE for all of my clean EQ'ing and of course for any multiband or dynamic EQ'ing. Doubling/chorusing vocals comes with risk of making the lead vocals indistinct (great in some cases, bad in others). I recall using mid/side EQ at least once to push the background vocals and reverb off to the sides to keep room in the middle for the leads. I also got pretty hooked on Wavesfactory Trackspacer (best $50 I ever spent on audio toys) to dynamically make room in the mix for lead vocals when needed. Also for wider, bigger vocals I suggest having a gospel choir and a stereo mic on hand...

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Redfish   commented 3 days ago


Good idea .. Brian Blessed lives down the road ... he should have some big vocals ..... hmmmm

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ragin9rfan   commented 3 days ago


I've been getting great results using Softube's Harmonics Analog Saturation Processor and the Chandler Zener Limiter during my "Mastering" of the track. Slate's VCC is actually adding saturation as well if you are hitting it hard enough(use your ears to determine that!) so there's plenty of it(saturation) out there. I have never owned or played with Logic so I'm no help there. Once you start hearing your tracks with saturation at several stages of the process added you'll wonder why you hadn't done this long ago. Drums sound fatter and the cymbal crashes won't make you cringe. Hahaha! Have fun!!!

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Doomism   commented 3 days ago


Good shout. Red mentioned Budgie as a reference, which being 70's is going to be oozing analog vibes. Something which digital on its own is missing for sure. There are some excellent ideas here.

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Doomism   commented 3 days ago


Which begs the question, are there stock saturation plugs on Logic? I can't remember from memory, it's been a while since I used it.

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Redfish   commented 3 days ago


The standard Logic compressor can be used to mix compressed with non-compressed signal - simple - but you cant EQ the compressed track

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sriracha   commented 3 days ago


Warren Huart has a great technique he uses. He takes the vocal track, bounces it to stereo and copies it 3 times so he has the original mono (hopefully) and 4 stereo tracks. He puts the waves doubler2 on each of the stereo tracks, setting the direct out off, and then on the Detune, sets voice1 -3 and voice2 +3 on the first, voice1 -6 and voice2 +6 on the second, voice1 -9 and voice2 +9 on the third, and voice1 -12 and voice2 +12 on the fourth, and then puts them on a bus and blends those in subtly to the main vocals bus to lift the vocal out. Well worth trying. That mixed with GoYeah's note on parallel compression will really bring a vocal together.

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Hotjams   commented 3 days ago


Lot's of good videos from Warren. As always a "marvelous" time.

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Redfish   commented 3 days ago


Thank you all for great advice and ideas. I have had a ball testing out some of these ideas - I've learnt loads of stuff. And I feel, it's only by 'doing' that you learn and get a real feel for what seems to work or not. Thank you all for these great suggestions - Cheers - Red

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Hotjams   commented 3 days ago


I agree. You don't really know it until you can do it and apply it to different situations.

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Redfish   commented 3 days ago


I have had a blast trying out some cool ideas and suggestions from Billy, Joey, Jeff, Tony, Nicholas, Mike, Luc, Richard. I haven't tried them ALL out yet .... but at least half of them ... and some are definite keepers. You can hear some of these ideas tested in some of the mixes that I've posted this weekend. https://www.kompoz.com/music/collaboration/1085682/files Cheers All ..... its people like you that make Kompoz such a great place to hang out, learn and have fun.