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Sidechaining vocals for a tighter sound?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by JohnTodd, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I've heard mixes with lots of layered vocals that sounded with a precision I think humans are unable to obtain. I know a well rehearsed group can do awesome things, but these recordings were so precise as to be "machined", sort of a "dynamics-tune" instead of "auto-tune".

    I was hoping to incorporate this effect into my mixes to tighten my backing vocals. Would this be accomplished with side chaining? Could I use one of the vocal tracks to be the "guide" so the others can be gated or expanded out in perfect sync with the guide?

    I know so little about side chaining. Never done it before. Tried some experiments but couldn't make much of it.

    What do you think?

  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well, with Melodyne you can alter both the pitch and timing/duration of each note. I've been using it on a CD by a volunteer church group - not much professional training - not enough practice together to sound like pros. Melodyne makes it easy to tighten the pitch - pretty darned transparently. And you can can move, stretch, shorten notes to tighten the timing. Again, there are artifacts sometimes, but I had tried other pitch correction programs before and this is the only one that I've been willing to buy.

    It's a very deep program and I learn more about it every time I use it. I have the "Editor" version which does polyphonic material like piano and guitar. As I have been working on this choral material I've been coveting the "Studio" version ($350 more). That allows you to edit multiple tracks simultaneously - so you can just visually line them up and adjust the timing. Cheating. Haven't brought myself to spend the money yet.

    I don't see how you are planning to use sidechaining to tighten a vocal group. I guess if you triggers a gate to the person who cut their notes off fastest? Not sure how you plan to make this work?
  3. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I was thinking of using, for example, the the 1st soprano (single voice) as the trigger for a gate located on the vocal bus.
  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    My first instinct would be to assign the vocals to a submix group, compress each one aggressively, mix them with the lead loudest on down to the quietest one and then compress the bus a fair amount with the threshold a bit above the quietest voice.
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I think that's a very good point. Even vocal groups from "back in the day" (think Manhattan Transfer) used a lot of compression to get a very even blend. They took care of the pitch and the time, but compression can take care of the level.
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    When you say "sidechaining" do you hope to modulate the dynamics of the back-up singers with the "envelope" of the soprano?
  7. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Yes, exactly! That's what I should have said! Thanks, MB, you got right to it.
  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I've never tried that with vocals. Sure did that using a VCO tuned down to the kick drum range and ran that through a gate that was triggered by the "real" kick drum.
    This should work for you as long as you're gating. If you're thinking of doing this with a compressor, it won't be the same thing. Any peaks in the "modulating" vocal track will drive the compressor's gain reduction higher, resulting in lowering the the output ogf the compressor...capiche?
  9. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Capiche. I'll give it some more effort...maybe my settings were just way off.

    I'll keep you posted.
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Queen didn't use any software. The Radio Stations top 40 jingle vocalists never used any software. But yeah, I still have a rack of 8 KEPEX 1's . Then you can do exactly what you want to do. They offer an external key input which can all be linked together and Chained from a common source or reference. And in your explaining the reference, a person could accomplish this even with 1 of these types of devices. Not everything has to be done in the software domain. Converters are good enough these days that you can leave and reenter a couple of times. The ancillary device may impart its own acoustic signature of some type in the process however. For instance, my older units were essentially an early 1970s transistor design which included a slight "mush" factor. And that could frequently work to your advantage. A lot of our digital stuff and software came about from its older analog analogy.

    Altogether now! One and a two and a...
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  11. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Caruso didn't use any microphones. If his ghost walks into my studio and wants to record, I promise not to use Melodyne...though he might be a little pitchy after being dead for so long.
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    That's right, no microphone for Caruso. Those recordings did leave a little to be desired. But hey, you couldn't get closer to a straight wire than that. Completely organic no artificial ingredients of any kind except for that horn. We'll be going back to that when the Earth's magnetic field pitches by 90°. I mean shouldn't we be worried more about how the magnetic field is going to affect our audio? What we really need is some better R&D into better sounding acoustical recording systems and playback systems, to also help us lower our green footprint. I mean I remember when it was a big deal when George Massenburg wanted to create a preamp utilizing transistors powered from 40 V rails. And at this year's show, there were preamps with output transistors on 90 V rails. Now this might be better audio but at what cost to the environment? I mean isn't this like putting high powered V-8 engines in every car on the road? Just because technology allows for it? Okay, okay, so I'm just as at fault since I leave the redundant power supplies on all the time on my NEVE console even though it's no longer used for presidential broadcasts on the TV network. So I'm just as at fault as all the rest. Yeah by that new stuff before it's all gone. Somebody is still going to have to record some songs when the next great depression hits...come on the radio. And we'll be at the ready since everybody will be out of work and we'll have all of the recording stuff still (since we won't be able to sell anything anyhow). I'm out of work and at the ready.

    Mx. Remy Ann David

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