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Double Tracking Vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by JSL, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. JSL

    JSL Guest


    Has anyone had any experience with this?

    When I try going it instead of giving a fuller sound it just kinda sounds like a chorus effect or like a really bad toilet sounding reverb, not like one full voice as on some tunes Ive heard that have double tracked their vocals.

    Ive tried dropping the volume on the second track but it doesnt seem to quite to the trick.

    A friend of mine says I should pan one track hard left and the other hard right and move them out of phase a fraction, I havent tried this yet as Im not convinced vocals should be panned hard left and hard right.

    Does anyone else have any suggestions or ideas?

    Cheers in advance for any help people give :)

  2. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    If I do this, I generally compress the background tracks and then pan them left/right - to minimize the chorus effect (unless that's what you want)

    I would try 2-3 tracks on a bus for each side, compress considerably 6:1+ and you might get more of what you're looking for.

    From my experience this is tough to do well unless you've got good vocal tracks to begin with.

    Moving them out of phase may give you more chorus problems, but it can work and sometimes is a nice effect if L and R are off by a few ms.

    Experiment and good luck.
  3. GregP

    GregP Guest

    I'm no pro, but here are a few more things I've stumbled across in my meanderings:

    - I find the same as you, that literally "doubling" a vocal is giving me a chorusy effect. So, I triple the vocal, with one of the new tracks panned a bit left and the other a bit right.

    - I make sure that my prominent vocal has a significant amount more gain than the ones 'copying' it, so that the ear still focuses on the main one.

    - hard sounds and sibilances ruin the illusion. I go in, manually if need be (though if you're handy with the right tools-- I'm not-- you might be able to automate it a bit better) and fade out those sounds. Since the main vocal is still more prominent, you don't notice any weird drops in level for split-second (literally) things like taming plosives.

    Other than the usual vocal advice, that's about it. Not scientific and maybe kind of a 'hack' way of doing it, but it seems to work well!

  4. jonnyc

    jonnyc Guest

    The problem is you aren't nailing your vocals. If you're going to double track and you don't want the chorus effect you'll need to be tight, like singing in a choir. Most people I try to do the doubling effect with can't get it, they're just too sloppy. Now I'm recording a former choir singer and she can nail her doubled tracks, in fact her waves look identical and man it makes her sound so freaking sweet. If you want you're doubling effect to sound good then get it tight, hit your notes and words exactly when you're supposed to.
  5. GregP

    GregP Guest

    That's probably also very true. :hihi:

    I'll never be that guy. Well, never say never... but not likely ever. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to work with a real vocalist sometime.

  6. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Distinguished Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:

    I'm working with a singer who won't even let me single track his voice. He want's minimum of four tracks. But he can nail the tracks pretty well. There are variations and differences between them but we don't get any phasing or choursing. We also effect the hell out of the vox so that can hide some of the problems.
  7. Oats

    Oats Guest

    yeah that chorusing is just pitchy vox. i try to get a main vox that i like and then do the double a phrase at a time to get it right. then i pan it slightly and ride it in low with the other vox. i really like doubled vox!
  8. Oats

    Oats Guest

    yeah that chorusing is just pitchy vox. i try to get a main vox that i like and then do the double a phrase at a time to get it right. then i pan it slightly and ride it in low with the other vox. i really like doubled vox!
  9. innerbooty

    innerbooty Guest

    I was going to post exactly this question just now. I'm encountering exactly the same problem - weird phase/flange issues, and also a nasty increased emphasis of bad room sound. I like the toilet metaphor! I've double-tracked myself a zillion times in the past without this phenomenon. But recently with clients in the studio I've been having problems getting it to sound good. I can see how the pitch thing would create a flangey effect if it's slightly off, and I've definitely been getting that. But what I also notice is this exponentially increased room sound. This would make sense if there were some room sound, but I record vocals in a very dead corner of the control room. The whole control room is pretty dead, so I can't figure out why it suddenly sounds like a bad room echo when I add a second track...

    Any thoughts on this...? Thanks - Steve
  10. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    What you're probably hearing is less room than preamp "honk". This, to me, is the best reason to own good preamps. Great preamps sound great as they layer. On a single track many things work pretty well to excellent, even the budget ones. More and more layers through the same pre can create a whole lotta yuck.

    The other issue is that even though the corner of your room is "dead" there are still physical acoustics and room modes that cause comb filtering. If you're recording vocals into a corner you're also probably creating some double reflections that are wreaking havoc on your multitracks.

    Just a guess without hearing the problem, but I never record vocals into a corner.
  11. Hardtailed

    Hardtailed Guest

    It can be the preamp, it can be the room, it can be both. Anything that is not perfect will simply get exagerated as you pile tracks.
    Just like the hiss on a 4-track wasn't so bad on a single track, but after filling up every tracks and bouncing down a few times, the hiss became unbearable.

    To be honest, I don't have that much experience with vocal double-tracking, but I do double-track guitars very frequently and the trick is usually to have slightly different sounds for the doubled (or tripled, or "quadrupled" part). Like tracking the main part with a LP and the double with a Strat, or using different amp, or just playing the parts differently. Layering the exact same sound doesn't add any additionnal quality imho, but it does sound good when both parts are panned hard l/r.

    The two tracks have to be almost identical yet just a little different, it's that little difference that makes it sound bigger.

    I guess with vocals, you might wanna experiment with different mics for the doubled part, or a different part of your room, or singing at a different distance from the mic, or applying different EQ or effects.

    If you mix milk with milk, you get... milk. But if you mix milk with chocolate, you get: chocolate milk!
  12. Oats

    Oats Guest

    i agree that it could be the pres or the room adding up as you stack the vox. a good pre never hurts-- my has life improved considerably since i got my neve... (the other links in the chain-- mic, converter etc don't hurt either...). good luck solving the riddle-- when u get it right u will look back on this and say to yourself, " why didn't i think of that?"-- i know i did....
  13. jonnyc

    jonnyc Guest

    Just noticed something you wrote. "I record vocals in a very dead corner of the room". Is your mic in the corner with you singer singing into the corner? If this is the case then that could be a big problem. You'll get all kinds of bad reflections recording in a corner even if it is treated. You probably don't record this way but just thought if you did it could solve your problem by turning your vocalist the other way, facing out of the corner.
  14. 8th_note

    8th_note Guest

    Another trick is to do some serious eq on the extra track(s). Try rolling off the highs and lows leaving just the midrange. You have to experiment but this can reduce some of the unwanted chorusing effect while keeping the fuller sound.
  15. twon

    twon Guest

    have you tried just mixing two mics together that were recorded from the same take? or is this completely unrelated.... being a live sound guy with no recording experience i dont really know... but thats my 2 cents
  16. dpianomn

    dpianomn Guest

    not to try and twist the subject from the technical aspect of recording doubles, but don't forget to use your ears! listen to some old elton john, beatles or any stevie wonder records--the doubles are often out of tune and time, (though not grossly) and that's what makes them hip. then again, all those guys could sing :lol:

    making something absolutely perfect with vocalign and autotune can often suck the life right out of a track. just my my .02
  17. My voice is not the best, so double tracking will sound worse than a single track. The very slight variation in pitch is extremely noticable. BUT, if you triple or quad track, then it sounds much fuller. Also, as mentioned above, you can then pan, compress and effect to taste.
  18. NotWalters

    NotWalters Guest

    ....."The problem is you aren't nailing your vocals...."

    That's the correct answer. Here's a real life example for you....

    Put on your disco shoes and pull out a copy of the BeeGees 'How Deep Is Your Love". Listen to it with headphones. Now...listen to it again, word by word, line by line.

    I heard the 2" multitracks of that song down in Miami at Criteria years ago(actually 2 slaved machines). The lead vocal on that song is quadrupled...more in some places.

    Quadrupled...and more.

    And every track was brought up on the faders at mix. Sometimes words are punched in..sometimes entire lines. The entire lead vocal is layered and layered with the same part. If you're really listening...really well...you can study what's going on there and you'll hear the fatness that comes from what Gibb did on that track with doubling...er quadrupling.

    Listen to it long enough, and you can hear many of the layers. A great lesson in the art of doubling a lead vocal. No ddl's used, no effects. Just the voice and the mic.

    Of course, Barry Gibb is an expert at singing along with himself..which he should be after 40-50 years of practice.

    There are some other real interesting songs I've heard multitracks on where the lead singers double or triple their part and THEN overdub 3 or four tracks of them whispering the words along with the main vocal....whispering! Such a cool effect on the mix. You wouldn't even know it unless you heard the multitracks.

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