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Doubling question

I don't want to wear out my welcome with too many questions but I had such good luck with my last one I'm gonna post another one.

My greatest recording discovery of the last few months (and maybe it's really just a cheap trick) was to take a vocal track, duplicate it, shift it forward slightly in time, then pan each track all the way to either side. It's great, I can't believe the improvement in the fullness of the sound.

But now I want to do it on EVERYTHING and I end up with 2 tracks for every take, it makes working with the arrangements a lot more difficult, and I have to assume I'm making the computer work a lot harder playing back a bunch of extra tracks.

I figured there must be a way to do this without literally copying each track, but it proved more difficult than I thought. The hard part seems to be splitting the track to the right and left channels and being able to shift one side in time differently than the other.

I finally managed this by putting a stereo delay on a mono track, setting one side to delay and the other to not delay, but to my dismay it didn't sound very good. Which surprised me because I think I was accomplishing the same thing as copying, panning, & shifting the track manually, just inside the plugin itself.

So that's the question in way too many words. Is there a good way to achieve this double track trick with a plugin or some other audiophonic tom-foolery that is currently over my head? It seems simple enough and makes me wonder if this might be a really dumb question.


jimminy Sat, 08/22/2009 - 12:54

Hmmm, really? Never thought about that, I'll have to try it and see how it sounds, I'm guessing not as good. The thing is, don't most people have stereos now-a-days? I know I usually record for stereo. Seems like saying, "yeah that Testerosa really moves, but when you want to pull water skiers, just see how it floats". I'm sure my thinking here is flawed, so no offense.

I guess I should have mentioned that I don't have a really killer microphone collection, or killer anything for that matter, and especially vocals sound a bit lackluster, so I'm always trying to get more punch and this really did the trick. Maybe I'm just asking the wrong question.

soapfloats Sat, 08/22/2009 - 17:42

One reason to check your mixes in mono is that a lot of "house" sound systems are mono. That's clubs, etc.

I always check my mixes in mono for another reason - things fall out sometimes. This mono check will reveal flaws that stereo may conceal.

I'll explain - in mono, you don't have the benefit of separate channels, so you hear if different parts are stepping on each other - frequency-wise, level-wise, etc.

If it sounds good in mono, it will sound better in stereo.

BobRogers Sat, 08/22/2009 - 18:20

A couple of things for you to look up: [=""]artificial double tracking[/]="http://en.wikipedia…"]artificial double tracking[/] and [[url=http://="http://en.wikipedia…"]comb filtering[/]="http://en.wikipedia…"]comb filtering[/]. Comb filtering is the price you pay for double tracking the way you have done it. You have to make the call about whether it sounds better overall.

By the way, if you get into the habit of doubling and tripling everything you will create a "[[url=http://[/URL]="http://en.wikipedia…"]wall of sound[/]="http://en.wikipedia…"]wall of sound[/]" (to coin a phrase). The danger is that you might go crazy, grow really bad hair, and murder a beautiful showgirl.

soapfloats Sat, 08/22/2009 - 23:06

song4gabriel wrote: still cant beat recording 2 takes and panning left and right.

Do you have issues w/ variance in performances?

This is something I want to do more of but the few times I tried, the above-mentioned issue made things a little distracting.

I've had more success w/ guitar but vocals tend to be more upfront, making the differences in attack/release problematic.... attack more than release of the notes.

song4gabriel Sun, 08/23/2009 - 01:02

for vocals it takes a but more discipline. for main vox a trick i use is:

record a main vocal, try to do a real good take, performing as you really want it to be. then bounce to mp3 or wav or whatever the song thats being worked on with the one vocal take. take that mix into your car or wherever you like to listen to music. then play it over and over and sing it. eventually you will sing to it exact (just like you would to one of your favourite songs).

then i go back to the studio and redo the doubled vox by singing along with the original. voila! 2 vocal tracks that are exact (or pretty damn close)

sometimes you may need to fade or trim down attack/release consenants on the 2nd take so you do not get that problem you speak of

hope it helps

mallardduckman Mon, 08/24/2009 - 17:27

Food for thought...

I do a lot of hip-hip recording. Some of the guys I record are not so tight in their doubles. A few months ago I discovered your trick of using the same vocal track and panning it to either side and off-setting it. Sounded great!

Then one of the guys wanted a performance CD, without the main vocals but with the doubles. No problem. I muted the main vocal but kept the hard-panned, off-set doubles.

Went to the show, had to leave early in their performance. :(

Soapfloats is absolutely correct, club sound systems are in mono and those backing vocals sounded horrible. I mean, embarrassing!

Take the time and get the singer/vocalist to do proper, real doubles.

jimminy Fri, 08/28/2009 - 10:13

I just thought about this so haven't tried it, but reading your posts I got to thinking (again not sure this is correct), but isn't the reason that the duplicate and offset method sounds bad in mono is that it's an exact duplicate, so when summed sounds bad?

If so, I wonder if using something to first alter the duplicate somewhat, like maybe mess a bit warping the timing, pitch, or doing something with that throat modeling tool Antares makes, or something along those lines. Slight enough to fool the ear when summed, but not enough to really notice any serious wackiness.

Of course this defeats my question of finding a simple way to throw an insert on a single vocal track to accomplish my goal of sounding better than I am, but maybe useful. Or if I'm just too lazy to record a second track.

Maybe I should go back a step. Is there a typical way to take a mono track and bus it to 2 mono tracks so I can pan and effect each differently? I say typical because I use Cubase and probably everyone here is in Pro Tools, so maybe some method that is platform independent. I can only seem to bus to group channels.

jg49 Fri, 08/28/2009 - 13:07

Cubase LE
You can route the track into to as many FX tracks as your application allows, I've never used more than four. Each of those tracks can have up to eight effects assigned to them and all can be panned individually and this will allow you to choose how much (%) of the wet version you want to bring back into the mix. You also have the choice of copying any track to a new track thus ending up with two identical tracks. The FX track flow allows you to mix both wet and dry. So essentially you could do both, two tracks each panned differently with FX tracks underneath supplying various amounts of the effects as well as dry.
"but isn't the reason that the duplicate and offset method sounds bad in mono is that it's an exact duplicate, so when summed sounds bad?" Jiminy

I'm no expert here but if I understand correctly it has to do with the effect Bob linked you to: Comb Filtering. Basically and someone please correct me if I am wrong here by time shifting it you are creating what most recording engineers are desperately trying to avoid in the recording process, phasing. When we have two mics recording the same source at different distances the sound reaches the second mic ms later. When played back the resultant waves cancel each other out to some degree, in a perfect example where the waves are 180 degrees out of phase they cancel completely, result no sound at all. In things that are slightly out of phase the cancellations occur in smaller "notches."
I did read the Wiki link that was posted but it was full of the equations that I am sure speak volumes to mathematicians, and I won't mention any names, BOB, but for those of us who managed to get great grades all the way through Calc 1 but have not used any of that stuff since....well lets just say I suffer from CRS (can't remember sh*t.)

I have yet to find some secret formula to improve vocal recordings, there is one tried and true method. A great performance, recorded in a great room with a great mic, that works everytime. I have worked with pro singers who can dupe a track effortlessly I am certainly not among them, my phrasing is never that precise, my tonality never identical. Reverb and some judicious delay being the only masking I can live with, but to each their own.

jimminy Sun, 08/30/2009 - 15:04

Haha! I knew it was just a matter of time.

A great performance, recorded in a great room with a great mic, that works everytime

Great, I have non of these. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to resort to trickery. Necessity is the mother of invention.

SO, wouldn't altering the original using one of the methods I mentioned before have the effect of eliminating the possibility of phase cancelling? CRAP, I could just try it and quit asking, but I have been too busy, maybe later today.

As for the effect send thing in Cubase, what I figured out is to take the track with the audio and pan to one side, add an effect track panned all the way to the other side, then add the effect track to a send slot in the first and there you go. This at least gives me a track I can alter and pan around. Works pretty good. I don't seem to have the option of busing to effect tracks directly.



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