what are some popular effects to get that big vocal sound?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by EricIndecisive, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    when listening to a lot of songs, the vocals, especially in the chorus, sound natural but at the same time unnatural. they fill a lot of space and sound different enough to keep a lot of interest and focus on them. here are a few examples...

    Fuel - Shimmer (fast forward to 1:00, you can hear the difference when the mix gets big)

    Third Eye Blind - Never let you go (40 seconds in, the 'never let you go' and chorus sounds much more full)


    Or maybe I am wrong. Maybe it's all just EQ, compression and some reverb? I can't figure it out. That's all I put on my vocals and they sound flat and boring to me. I have heard much better recordings than I can get from people with less equipment (though mine is nothing great either). Any tips appreciated.
  2. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    ugh i am an idiot, i thought i was in the vocal section. i'm sorry
  3. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    The Fuel song is doubled (possibly tripled) vocal parts.

    The second song isn't any different as far as the technique used...

    The chorus in the 3rd Eye Blind song is just that (chorus - not the effect), the different guys singing backups.

    Think of it this way - one guitar usually sounds like the one in the break of the 3rd Eye song, add a few more, one hard left and one hard right playing roughly the same passage and it's going to sound 'full'. Nobody can sing (or play) exactly the same thing twice with the same exact timing - it's the variation in the track - for - track singing / guitar playing / etc. that does it.

    Tip - record more than one take of your vocals / guitars / keys...
  4. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Re: what are some popular effects to get that big vocal soun

    Well, if your vocal is sounding boring to you there is something that is not right, a vocal should be exciting and alive.

    Getting the right sound to make your ears happy takes more than meets the eye.

    I know I started with a sure sm58 in my parents basement. At the time I had a good time with working with what I had, mostly since I only had a little bit of time once a week when they were gone to really open up and let it all out.

    Sometimes doing the same thing over and over does not do it for you. I know from my own background that getting the right sound has its place.

    Ya know, vocals are something very personal. All of us that have had plenty of experience with mixing and coming up with ideas have our favorite techniques.

    Seems to me that many new songs use groups of tracks that fade in and out at various times. Its easy for some songs to use more than 100 tracks.

    Of course to some of us thats total overkill, and not even possible, but it certainly is being done. It can be done very subtly that its a very distinct sound. It gives the main vocal sound some air in the background.

    Its really hard for one to tell exactly what is going on in a mix unless your familiar with the territory.

    Just remember that your first take is always usually the most important. Either you nail it or the energy is just not there.

    So, here is what you can do to get some real inspiration:

    Take a vocal class at your local community college, you'll get out of your environment and learn technique that will open you mind on how to get more out of your voice.

    Part of learning how to sing better is learning how to warm your voice up so that you can reach those parts you want without losing the energy and expression you got in your head.

    Anyway, there's my two pennies worth.
  5. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    Thanks for the comments guys, I appreciate it. To be honest, other than harmonies, I have NEVER tried doubling or tripling my vocal track. Maybe I should try it! I have done this for guitar tracks, but for some reason I still can't get the forwardness that I hear in so many songs, even with 4-6 guitar tracks.

    I just imported the Fuel song into Audition to compare it to one of my mixdowns. Nearly everything after it gets big is maxed to the top in the Fuel song, it sounds BIG and LOUD. Maybe that's part of the reason I'm not happy with my mixes?

    Also watching the frequency analysis, it seems that when only the guitar is playing, the frequency is rolled off at 16k hz. But then the vocals come on and you can see the chart go up to 18k hz. Is this how they separate the vocals from the rest of the song?

    jammster - I'm like you, I have to wait till my house is empty before I record vocals haha, but when they are gone, all hell breaks loose. I close all the windows to make sure the neighbors don't hear me lol. I definitely do need to sing better, but the part that sounds boring to me is the recording, not necessarily the performance. Like I listen to a real mix, and then my mix, and ask questions. Why does their track sound more full? How does it stand out so well from the mix but you can still hear all the guitars so well? This guy can't sing in real life, did they use a pitch corrector on his voice?

    Maybe I'm being foolish to think I can get a near professional sound out of my NT2-A, 57 / 58 and firepod. But from what I see around here, it's my mixing skills that are the problem!

    Thanks again, and I will experiment.
  6. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    That's because everything now is brickwalled to the max.
  7. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Frequencies in the upper limit you're talking about (16k - 18k and beyond) are at the point where they're almost out of your hearing range, if not completely. Has nothing to do with separating the vox.

    you need to look up the freq ranges of different instruments.

    Then, learn where the complementary freq's are versus those that are going to overlap and 'cover up' the range of the instrument you want to mix in (i.e. those in your vox) and try mixing with that in mind.

    We've discussed this at length numerous times here, try a search on frequencies...
  8. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13 Active Member

    Try doubling your tracks. You'll notice a difference. It may seem a bit weird to you to hear your voice 2 or 3 times on a track though. Takes some time to get used to it.
  9. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Google ADT (Automatic Double Tracking) for more on doubling vox...
  10. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Thats pretty funny bent.
  11. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    bent - how do they get everything to 'brickwall' without the mix sounding distorted? i found this on the issue of frequency theory:


    WOW i never thought about it being so straightforward! Just make the puzzle pieces fit.

    i also read about the ADT on wiki. Very cool how the nature of analog allowed it to create an inexact copy whereas you can't do it on digital. It was also fun reading how they came up with the flanger name.

    I'm done school after this semester and reckon I'll have a bit of time to practice more recording and vocals then. I have been experimenting a lot with direct in guitar, I think I like it quite a bit!
  12. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Same track, doubled, with a slight delay... isn't that the formula for comb filtering?
  13. lyrical99

    lyrical99 Guest


    I am completely new to recording and am just starting to experiment with Audacity. Does anyone have any advice on doing the doubling or tripling of vocal tracks on this program or just in general? Since it is practically impossible to sing or play the same part in exactly the same way twice, I am trying to figure out how one would go about doing this without copying the same identical performance track and playing those together since this wouldn't change anything at all. This is what "doubletracking" is right? A walk-through on the steps for doing this would be great....
  14. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Yes Lyrical,

    First of all, don't copy your parts for double tracking.

    Double tracking is done to get the effect of adding another part to what you already have.

    Now the level of the additional part can be soft, or can be panned differently with another "doubled" vocal, its really up to your judgement.

    Yes, it is true that the performace will never be the same, and simply copying the track data and delaying it will only produce a delay type effect, flange, phase, ect... you get the idea.

    I would say the most important thing about recording the vocal is to get a good take. If the energy is there it will help to bring out the best in the takes to come.

    So when your double, triple, quadruple, ect.. tracking its more important to get the emotional energy into the take, don't worry so much about being exactly the same, unless that is the effect your aiming for.

    Also, try mixing the tracks at different volumes. I tend to like the sound of doubled tracks lightly in the background, mainly because raising the volume can bring out the differences to the surface of the mix.
  15. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Yes, you guys are on it!

    Now go record and post some samples!

  16. lyrical99

    lyrical99 Guest

    hmm good point about mixing the tracks at different volumes...

    So what you're saying is that when people double or triple the same vocals the point is to get almost a "chorus" effect?
  17. lyrical99

    lyrical99 Guest

    Good point about recording at different volumes...I'll have to try that.

    So what you're saying is that when recording double or triple tracks of the same vocals the idea is that it will produce a "chorus" type of effect?
  18. lyrical99

    lyrical99 Guest

    oops sorry didn't mean to do that twice...my computer is being weird
  19. Audiophile76

    Audiophile76 Guest

    one key point for recording vocals, or.. big commercial-sounding vocals, anyway, is proper gain structure... and that does not mean cranking everything up.... i don't like doubling vocals as much anymore, i like to use a well sculpted and tonally diverse set of background vocals that i group or bus to a channel and add some cohesive processors and effects, automate to taste, then slide under the lead vocal and automate again to add excitement and emphasis on certain phrases.
  20. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Your not exactly recording at different volumes as much as mixing at different volumes. Doubling can add a chorus effect if that is what you want. Generally the idea is to enhance harmonic content. Subtlety is louder than blatancy.

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