Discussion in 'Vocals' started by pweaver, Apr 12, 2002.

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  1. pweaver

    pweaver Guest

    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!
  2. dongrocker

    dongrocker Guest

    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
  3. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Active Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    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:
  4. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    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?
  5. Masternfool

    Masternfool Active Member

    Dec 3, 2001
    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
  6. droog

    droog Active Member

    Nov 3, 2001
    from a psychoacoustic point of view, double-tracked vox sound, to me anyways, like the singer is out of focus
  7. crazy_guitar

    crazy_guitar Active Member

    Nov 28, 2001
    Planet Red, that's because 50% of the heavy bands on the radio, have been mixed by Andy Wallace lately, and the other 50% want to be like him.

  8. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    Yeah i know. Thats what im saying. just listen to something he's done, make it sound like that, and the label will be happy.
  9. drumsound

    drumsound Active Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Bloomington, IL
    Do what sounds best for the song you are working on. Just because you have x number of tracks available doesn't mean there has to audio on each one! :roll:
  10. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    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 $*^t out it, sometimes a 50/50 blend. When it just doesn't sound right, or the band hates it, fine, don't waste time on it. I classify vocal dbl tracking in to 2 types: the super tight-is-it-chorus-or-what, used by Boston/Peter Cetera/ Most of the Current Interchangable So Called Rock Bands, or my favorite, the Beatles/Stones/Old Elton/Who, kind of loose but who gives a ^#$% cause we are too cool to waste our time perfectly lining up vocals, type of sound.
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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