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Member for

21 years 2 months
Hey gang . . .

Talk to me about double tracking vocals.
What is your approach?
How do the big boys handle this?

My understanding for major label type sessions,
is that one vocal performance is the "main" one
with a second nearly identical performance in the
mix as well, only down lower in volume, maybe 30
or 40 percent or so to help "fill in" the vocals
and make them sound huge and stand out.
Also, do you like to double track only the chorus
or the verses also?

Take this hypothetical scenario . . .

Say for example you just got hired as the engineer
for the newest, hottest newly signed major label
band who does "flavor of the month" type heavy
new rock.
(your sort of a Ben Grosse or Brendan Obrien wanna be, and this is your big chance to make a name for yourself)
The record label expects you to help "make hits"
for this new unknown band.

Do you double track all the guitars? Do you double
track all the vocals? What's your approach?
OR . . . are none of these decisions up to you
because the producer will be making all those choices?

Are there any engineers here who regularly work
on major label sessions like this? Anyone been
in this scenario before?


Thanks in advance!


Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 04/15/2002 - 10:27
My opinion: just double track the choruses, not the verses and don't overdo it. You might want to do multiple mixdowns, some with doubletracked vocals and some without. Then play them for a variety of people and get comments.

I've found that people react to doubletracked vocals very differently...

My situation: I recorded an album in 1996 in which every word was doubletracked except for one song due to time constraints.

After the CD release, the singer loved every song but cringed when he heard the one song without double vox. He strongly regretted not taking the time to double track that one.

My brother, an avid music fan but not a musician, later commented, "why do the vocals on that one song sound so much better / clearer than the other songs?"

A few months later, a musician friend commented, "your album sounds great but those double tracked vocals are irritating. It would be better if you didn't do that on every song."

Keep in mind: all of us in the studio thought they sounded great! They were perfectly *ON* and turned way down in the mix!

So be sure to get opinions. Listen to other's perceptions because even if you love it, others might find that it makes the vocals less distinct.

Also, listen to the first track on the newest Vigilantes of Love album "Summershine." The verses are doubletracked. Wouldn't you agree that this is a bit irritating?


BTW - here's how we did our doubletracking if you're curious. Get 2 takes that are perfect matches. Assuming you're saving your takes on unused tracks this should be no problem. Record them all as leads or potential keepers so as to get them as close as possible. Turn the doubled part way down in the mix (like 20% of the original) until you can just *barely* hear it, then pan it slightly (2:00 or 10:00) to the left or right. Your milage will definitely vary.

Good luck! Kate

Member for

19 years 11 months

Ted Nightshade Mon, 04/15/2002 - 11:37
Almost always when I hear doubletracked vox, I check to see if the singer is so weak that the effect was employed to bolster their voice- usually so!
I love the idea of capturing a *sense of occasion*, and with so many overdubs these days, the lead vocal is often the only thing that the listener can really glamourize as "being there then".

My favorite- the first Doors album, where everything is doubled with stage whispers. Spooky! :eek: :eek:

Member for

20 years 4 months

planet red Tue, 04/16/2002 - 10:41
Most likely if its for a major label release of a heavy type band, you can double track everything, then you'll send it off to some big shot mixer and he'll sort thru all your tracks and make it sound like everything else out there. Noticed how almost everything heavy in the last couple years has sounded exactly the same?

Member for

19 years 11 months

Masternfool Fri, 04/19/2002 - 10:44
I am working on some mixes now where we double tracked most of the main vocs, While I'm mixing I'm bringing the second voc almost down to nothing during the verses and pulling it up for the chorus where the singer wasn't as strong on the low notes..just use whatever it takes to make the mix work! best

Member for

20 years 8 months

Dave McNair Sun, 04/21/2002 - 19:19
In my opinion, vocal dbl tracking is one of the most classic effects. It either works for the song/singer/band, or it doesn't. When it sounds appropriate, I use the shit out it, sometimes a 50/50 blend. When it just doesn't sound right, or the band hates it, fine, don't waste time on it. I classify vocal dbl tracking in to 2 types: the super tight-is-it-chorus-or-what, used by Boston/Peter Cetera/ Most of the Current Interchangable So Called Rock Bands, or my favorite, the Beatles/Stones/Old Elton/Who, kind of loose but who gives a fuck cause we are too cool to waste our time perfectly lining up vocals, type of sound.