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Vocal Doubling--Other FX?

I've recorded some vocals which sound good, but they just don't stand out in the mix, even though they're panned dead centre, and everything else is panned out.
I saw Inside Edition on ABC last night, where the host (Deborrah Norville) recorded a track with dance producer/remixer Junoir Vasquez.
He made the biggest deal about how evey artist, including divas like Whitney Houston, sound terrible until they are doubled, or even tripled.
What is he talking about? Is doubling simply having the vocals playing from 2 tracks simultaniously instead of one? Is there a delay?
Is it actually a plugin or effect? How can I make my vocals (which DO sound good) sound stronger, more present?
I use Cubase VST.
My mic is an AKG C1000S
I use an ART Tube Pac preamp/Compressor



crazy_guitar Sat, 12/29/2001 - 19:40

To double a track, have the singer sing the same vocal performance twice on diferent tracks, then mix them together to have a more powerful performance. But be careful, start by having the "second" track at least 50% in leavel, compared to Track "one",(or less) otherwise if the double is very noticeble, the vocals will lack of intimacy. You can use this trick, on backing vocals too, and guitars. I'd bet, 99% of records out there have doubled vocals, and guitars. Its a real art to make them sound like its only one track, for that it depends on the artist a lot too.

Ang1970 Sat, 12/29/2001 - 20:43

Hey, that's what Junior V. likes, and it certainly works for the style of music he makes (practically invented for that matter). But that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do for every person on every song in any style.

There are several ways to get vocals to "stand out" in a mix. Each different approach will yield different results.

Varying degrees of compression (or even limiting) can be used to push the vox up "in your face".

EQ can be used to enhance mid and upper mid frequencies, which can help the vox "cut through" a mix.

My favorite is to use mic placement, mic selection, and mic preamp selection to get the vox as close as possible to what it should sound like in the mix.

Post some examples of vox you like, and maybe we can suggest some methods used to get that sound.

Guest Sat, 12/29/2001 - 21:18

On certain styles, like your typical Jennifer Lopez record, doubled vocals are a standard device. On choruses they may even be quadrupled or more. But it is not appropriate for every style of music.

You did not mention if you are using compression. A decent compressor set properly can keep your vocals at the right level relative to the mix so that they sound always audible and/or powerful.

Also, it seems that the weakest link in your admittedly low budget set-up is the C1000. It may be very difficult to get the sound you are looking for with that mic. There are so many cheap large diaphragm condensors out there now, it may be worth it to audition a few and see if that makes a significant difference. I'm betting almost anything you try would be an improvement.

coldsnow Mon, 12/31/2001 - 08:44

I started out with an Art preamp as well. That preamp sounds decent in isolation, but the problem I had with it was getting vox to stand out in the mix as well. Do you have any other preamps?

Hey Crazy,
Do you use the same pre / comp / mic on the second vocals or do you try to make it sound different?

anonymous Mon, 12/31/2001 - 14:32

Ok, the Michael Jackson thing was a joke, I know my limitations.

Once in a song i record 5 voices:
Two of them double with the same Configuration(panned L20 / R20), other one whispered, another speaking instead of singing and the other channel singing away from the microphone; and the result was crazy but I feel it bigger and more present than the other songs from the same singer.


I'm sorry MASTERNFOOL can you explain me what does mean MIX GINGERLY??
my english is not that good.

anonymous Tue, 01/01/2002 - 14:38

If the vocalist is strong doubling may not be needed, but in general I like doubled vocals for the rockish type stuff I work on, especially in choruses/bridges.

The trick is to have the doubled take be sung almost identically to the main vocal. If you have a vocalist who ad-libs alot this means his doubled vocal needs to have the same ad-libs. Have the doubled vocal mixed at a level below the main vocal, so that your ears still focus on the vocal that's out in front. Depending on the vocalist you may need higher or lower levels on the doubled vocal. I usually mix them both panned center.


osmuir Tue, 01/01/2002 - 15:14

you can, in some circumstances, get REALLY cool vox effects by having inexact vocal doubles.

listen to modest mouse [up records/now on sony]. the lead singer has all these amazing fucked up doubles. their album "the moon and antarctica, btw, is AMAZING production wise [and they are a great indie band].

also: the rickie martin trick [on a daw]
copy the track 2 extra times [3 total vox tracks].

extra #1: pitch shift up 3% or so, push back 25 ms or so.

extra #2: shift down and forward.

stir gently. full full full. i like to put my reverb here too, w/no compression [comp on lead vocal].


mixfactory Wed, 01/02/2002 - 07:41

I would have to side with Ang on this one. I mix lots of pop/rnb songs and rarely do the producers double the leads, except if its a thin voice. But if the singer has a great tone, than your job is just to capture it(it sounds like you've done that). When mixing though, the secret to get great vocals to stand out, is to setup the right dynamic chain happening. Sometimes its going to have to be (2)sometimes (3)on different faders. Then according to the parts o the song,you use a combination. Most of the time it can be a solid state chain, sometimes a tube/Neve thing, what ever gives the vocal the excitement. I have a couple I use and usually they are 95%, and then I tweak it. Go light on the effects though, unless they are part of the song. For choruses its obviously different, but that's another story all together.

anonymous Wed, 01/02/2002 - 08:32

Hi y´all, nice posts, but there´s one thing more important than all of your technical suggestions: check the arrangement! if there are instruments sounding similar (frequency) to the voice like guitar or organ or something, don´t use them at the same time as your lead vocals. use them for fills, solos, whatever. At least lower the level or pan them out of the middle. and be careful doubling the voice. mostly you loose more presence and intimacy than you win.

if the arrangement is OK, the rest is easy: you need less compressor, EQ and other effects on the lead vocals. and everybody will love you for your fantastic sound ;)

greetings and a happy new year



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