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Double tracking vocals............

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by MISTERQCUE, Apr 30, 2001.

  1. MISTERQCUE

    MISTERQCUE Guest

    Most of the songs I've written and recorded are done featuring instrumentation in mind
    (since I can't sing to save my own mothers life). I play mostly Jazz/funk, R&B etc and my recordings consist heavily of 4 piece horn section keys,gits,drums with a horn usually playing the melodic portion of the jam.
    N-E way, this past Saturday,this 14 year old kid came over and and BEAUTIFULLY sang some made-up lyrics to 1 of my songs. I mean this kid was REAL GOOD!
    I am now in the process of writing lyrics and removing the melodic horn track and replacing it with the kid's vocals.
    The problem;,what this youg man lacks in mic technique,breath control and experience,he makes it up in controlling his dynamics,powerful vibrato skills and low to upper midrange vocal depth.I want to record his vocals on 2 separate tracks (for some sort of wierd "stereo" mixing).On vocal track 1,I will provide a little "room 'verb" out front of the horns,BUT, how do I get vocal track 2 (of which I want to dab a lil 'verb-delay)to "sit" on the back of the horns with out "getting lost" and in front of the gits and keys,yet maintaining vocal clarity? in the mix (Think Earth,Wind &Fire or better yet Tower of Power).
    Should I pan horn tracks hard left and right
    and have vocal track 1 in center while vocal track 2 panned slightly to left? Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
    Thx
    Mr.Q

    (Hope I made any sense here)
     
  2. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    There are no rules in this, so I can only tell you what I typically do. I'm also not privvy to hearing it, and that could totally change the decision making. Ultimately, no matter what, you have to do what works the best.

    That said, I try to keep everything out of the middle that I can. In a typical rock/pop mix, the only thing in the middle is the kick, snare, and vocal. I don't want anything to be competing for the vocals space in the middle of a stereo mix. This enables me to mix the instruments louder and make the mix bigger. Remember, when you break it down to mono, everything in the center will appear louder. So everything works to your advantage in this approach.

    When I get a tape with a vocal double on it, the first thing that I try to determine, is whether a single vocal is somehow not strong enough on its own. A double evens out tone. It's analogous to a woman using pancake makeup. It covers flaws and evens tone. Unfortunately it also covers natural beauty.

    If there's an emotion that I'm getting out of the single vocal that dissapears when I put in the double, I don't use the double. Sometimes I'll use the double in only one section (say the chorus) as an effect, or to even out the tone of the vocal in the chorus if it doesn't seem to provide the required emotional lift on its own.

    I almost never play with the placement of the main vocal (other than an effect for a section) It's pretty rare for me to play with the placement of the vocal double. But there's nothing wrong with that, and sometimes it gives you the best of both worlds. A natural beauty, and an evening of the tone. I make that judgement by what works the best for the singer and the song. I also make that kind of placement decision by the arrangement.

    When I start a mix, I move things all over the place in the stereo field until everything has its desired place. If I feel the shaker is competing with the hat, I'll move it to the opposite side of the hat. Sometimes I'll switch sides of the guitars because it works better with the drums, or something else in the arrangement.

    From reading your post, it sounds like the kid doesn't need a double. Bad mic technique isn't a reason to double, IMO. You can always comp his vocal take to another track doing rides on the vocal to compensate for his poor technique. Compressors are very useful for this too (as you know).

    Hope this helps.

    Mixerman
     
  3. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Originally posted by Mixerman:
    There are no rules in this, so I can only tell you what I typically do. I'm also not privvy to hearing it, and that could totally change the decision making. Ultimately, no matter what, you have to do what works the best.

    That said, I try to keep everything out of the middle that I can. In a typical rock/pop mix, the only thing in the middle is the kick, snare, and vocal. I don't want anything to be competing for the vocals space in the middle of a stereo mix. This enables me to mix the instruments louder and make the mix bigger. Remember, when you break it down to mono, everything in the center will appear louder. So everything works to your advantage in this approach.
    Mixerman
    That's what I do too, but I noticed that you didn't mention the bass. Do you move it to one side or leave it in the center?
     
  4. MISTERQCUE

    MISTERQCUE Guest

    Most excellent advice mixerman!!
    The reason i wanted to double up the vocal tracks is to provide some kind of "lower-end
    presence" that's missing on vocal track 1 as his voice is somewhere mid-rangy! I figured if I use a lil' comp'ing,a dab of chorus and a tad of eq boost of about 6dbs to make up the kids lack of lower range,I'll be able to provide a decent doubling effect using track 2 to make up for any lack of "vocal maturity".(did I make any sense? :) )
    ORRRRR should I simply concentrate my energies on track 1 DRY during recording and
    WET track during mixdown!!
    I have the young man recording thru an AT4033! This kid is gonna be real good!
    Thx again
    Mr.Q
     
  5. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Yes, the bass is almost always in the center when I mix.

    Interestingly, I did do a project recently where I panned the bass, but in that instance the bass player played more like a guitar player. It's also important to note that I split the low end and the high end of the bass and left the low end in the middle, and allowed the high end to act like a panned guitar. It worked well, as it kept it out of the vocal, but didn't destroy the foundation of the mix.

    I don't think it's a good thing to mess with the foundation of a mix (the bottom) by panning it. At least, I haven't come across a situation yet that has called for that.

    Mixerman
     
  6. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    hey mixerman, how do you do that spliting high and low stuff on bass, and what crossover freqs do you use?

    --owen
     
  7. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Cool. I have been playing with the idea of borrowing a bunch of crossovers and trying them out instead of EQ- i.e., don't turn frequencies down so much as make them go away, or effect/pan/whatever them differently. A handful of 2- 3- and 4-ways could do some interesting things in a mix- I just don't want to buy them....

    Originally posted by Mixerman:
    Yes, the bass is almost always in the center when I mix.

    Interestingly, I did do a project recently where I panned the bass, but in that instance the bass player played more like a guitar player. It's also important to note that I split the low end and the high end of the bass and left the low end in the middle, and allowed the high end to act like a panned guitar. It worked well, as it kept it out of the vocal, but didn't destroy the foundation of the mix.

    I don't think it's a good thing to mess with the foundation of a mix (the bottom) by panning it. At least, I haven't come across a situation yet that has called for that.

    Mixerman
     
  8. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    I didn't use a crossover. Just compressor's and EQ.

    For the high-end, guitar-like part, I compressed drastically with a 165a, boosted upper mid frequencies, filtered and cut some of the super low frequencies then panned it hard left.

    For the low end I used an La2a, cut the high end, and upper mids allot, and boosted the subs. I put that in the middle.

    Like I said, this is one instance of this in years. I would only reccomend this approach if you come across an artist or band in which the bass player plays like a guitar player.

    I decided upon this solution because I would listen to their previous records, and I always felt like the middle was mucked up. And it was. This solved the problem.

    Mixerman
     
  9. JasonCrouch

    JasonCrouch Guest

    MISTERQCUE:

    a few questions for you as well

    1) Besides the 4033, do you have any other mics that may have a figure of 8 pattern?

    If so, you can record the vocal in M/S, using the 4033 cardiod as your Mid - which will stay in the center - the Side will be the fig of 8 that you use, and will add width to the mix, a selectable width - that is also mono compatible. Decoding M/S can be done with some rudimentiary patching on your console. Are you familiar with M/S at all?

    2) what are you mixing on?

    If you are mixing on a DAW, there are easier ways of M/S decoding.

    3) what do you have for FX? You could try to wet just the Side, although I haven't tried that yet - but why not give it a whirl?

    this seems to be the easiest thing to try to get a vocal that has a deep image in the soundscape. Yet you are lucky enough to have a good sounding voice to start with - let us know what you end up doing.

    take care- Jason C. Crouch
     
  10. MISTERQCUE

    MISTERQCUE Guest

    Thx Jason!
    That's what I'm trying to accomplish using
    that technique.
    Besides the AT,the other mics I have in my small arsenal is a Shure KSM32, RODE-nts NT 1&2,A used AKG C3000B, and a bunch of SMack 57's and 58's (which I basically use for overheads and amp-mic'ing) I record to 2 XT's and 2 LX's ( I'm old school, gimme 2" tape and ADAT's & I'm happy).
    I will go with the AT for mids and angle 8 the NT1 or would I be better off using the KSM (Which is my fave mic). Originally,I recorded the kid on 2 tracks; track 1 dry and track 2 with some 'verb/dely and panned slightly left-center.I incorporated the limiters on my comps to control any bleed from each mic and slightly comp'd only Track 1(Which is/was the MAIN vocal track) a Lex
    for signal processing and other gear like the DSP1000 etc, etc, etc, (Truly,dedicated
    gear-addicted junkie!)
    However, your advice sounds like what I sonically envision of how the vocals s/b placed. We go back in Saturday nite.
    Please, ya' got anymore FREE advice, hook me up.
    Thx guys!!!!! :)
     

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