Doubling vocals

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by cathode_ray, May 7, 2007.

  1. cathode_ray

    cathode_ray Active Member

    May 3, 2007
    West Palm Beach
    How do "YOU" do this? When I try to double, it's real obvious it 2 takes. I'm not a great singer but competent enough to come close - they just don't merge...
    Is most doubling just track "copy and delay"? How do you pan them?
    How much value in 2 actual(as opposed to virtual ) tracks.
  2. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    I personally double voice (or guitar, etc) to get that sound - the obvious two takes ... the nuances that each take has adds to the overall mix. I've never had great luck copying and pasting, then delaying/nudging the track - mainly because I like the obvious doubled sound.

    Are you trying to double the entire track, or just parts?

    Panning depends on where it fits in the track, where you want the song to go, etc. It's subjective if you ask me.
  3. arnieguitar

    arnieguitar Guest

    Well, The Beatles sure did it well.
    Most of their early hits were all doubled vocals.
    I've never done it, but isn't it just singing along with your original part as closely as possible?
    I mean, just monitor through the headphones and record on another track using the same setup?
  4. 1000heads

    1000heads Guest

    what i've found to be cool

    when doubling voices, a singer/vocalist/mc can harmonize with themselves, giving themselvesa wider spectrum of sound.
  5. Seedlings

    Seedlings Active Member

    Sep 13, 2005
    Kansas City, MO
    If you can actually get one great take, I'm impressed!

    One thing you might try is to take that one great take, copy it, and on that copy add a phaser or flanger effect. Pan one hard right and the other hard left. Used VERY sparingly it's cool.

    I like cool.
  6. cathode_ray

    cathode_ray Active Member

    May 3, 2007
    West Palm Beach
    Singing harmony is easy. It's the unison voices I struggle with. The slightest variation in pitch causes modulation. If I get it right it causes adulation(LoL).
    I guess when you're as accomplished as J. Lennon it's a bit different. But also didn't Emerick(or N Smith) devise an auto-doubler early on?
  7. It's timing issues more than pitch issues that bother me in doubling vocals. Twisted Lemon makes a free VST side-chain gate/expander called SideKick, and it might improve your results to set the best vocal take as the key with a slowish (30 ms, maybe) opening time. This way you won't (theoretically) hear any of the doubles until the main one kicks in.

    I say theoretically only because I've had some consistency issues with the plug-in, but this could be user error more than programming.
  8. CombatWombat

    CombatWombat Active Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Portland, Or
    I really love the sound of doubled vocals...on the right music of course. I have had good results doubling my own vocals and panning hard left and right for that big, obvious double tracked sound, but when I try to mix my doubled vocals down the center for a more subtle sounds pretty bad.

    Any advice for mixing doubled vocals panned center? I know it pretty much comes down to the quality of the performance, but I'd appreciate any tips.
  9. pollysix

    pollysix Guest

    A couple of things re: doubling vocals

    - Doubling is different from harmonies. A standard way to do it is: double the lead (i.e. union), and then add harmonies seperately.

    Some tricks for good doubles:

    - "Real" doubles sound better than copy-paste ones.

    - Watch it with your "fricatives" and "plosives" etc. ...i.e. sing the lead how you sing it, but for the double hold back or omitt sounds like T, P, F. an example of this would be with a phrase that ends in the word "want"---the lead pronounces the "T" but the doubling voice just sings "wan". This is way if you're double isn't bang-on, you won't hear two voices pronounce the "T" sound.

    - If you're not so confident with your vocals, you can always sink the double into the background afterwards, or even triple it. If need be you can apply pitch correction to it and it won't be as noticable because it's in the background.

    - I've always found that it helps to have the playback level of the original lead vocal be slightly louder when I'm tracking the double---that way I'm like a backing vocalist: shadowing the lead voice and making sure I blend in rather than strike out new turf.

    - Finally, doing good doubles just takes practice. You need to know your material, but also have a mental map of the original performance that you're doubling--where the main breaths are, any little frilly bits. Spend a bit of time listening back and singing along with the lead track before you attempt it.

    Good luck.

    Oh yes, then there's the whole question of aesthetics and when it sounds best to use them... but that's another kettle of fish.
  10. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    8) you need to listen to the original vocal and sing along with it until you have down the nuances of the performance, then sing and try to get it as close as possible. If you are having trouble getting certain places close, try doing several takes of the double and then comping them. You can always copy and paste passages from the original vocals as needed, but a new version sounds way more cool.
  11. Dozer

    Dozer Active Member

    Nov 21, 2006
    Home Page:
    pollysix hit it right on. Most people have problems with the fractives and plosives, If your trying to get the original and double right on, the plosives and fractives will be difficult to get right on.
    But with practice, you can only get better of course.

    I Overdub my main vocals in all my track. I keep them at the same level
    (I dont bring one down about 6 decibels or so, which is one method)
    One Take to the Left about 5% and the Overdub of me saying the same thing to the right about 5%

    Take a listen to one of my tracks on my myspace page, link in my sig
    , all vocals are overdubbed. "ALL"
    If I record a vocal, I do at least one overdub. But my overdubs are so similar, one may think I just added some delay or something.
  12. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    About the headphone level thing. Experiment! I have worked with many artists that have better pitch when the headphone level of first vocal is lower than their monitor level during that take. Yet I have also had singers who seem to like it exactly opposite. Most times when the pitch is off, I try shifting their monitor mix until they start hitting the pitches. The human ear is very complex and how a singer hears the music, 1st vocal and themselves greatly affects their ability to hit the notes. Most people are not conscious of this, which makes our job a little trickier. Sorry but there no quick fix, everyone is unique. You will have to experiment with the levels and see what works for you.
  13. cathode_ray

    cathode_ray Active Member

    May 3, 2007
    West Palm Beach
    " Most times when the pitch is off, I try shifting their monitor mix until they start hitting the pitches. " Thanx !

    Yes, I seem to have better luck by listening to myself(pull phones off 1 ear) sometimes. I don't have comprehensive monitor capabilities...
    I expect REAL GOOD singers don't have this problem ...
  14. pollysix

    pollysix Guest

    Yes, it's easier in general to sing on key when you can hear a bit of yourself in the room. I often wear the headphones half-on on both sides (I find it weird not hearing the stereo). But as people above said, it's all a matter of what works for you---every singer is so different.
  15. DRDLKS

    DRDLKS Active Member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Doubling anything is a performance. Once you get a good solid track down that you like. That really only becomes your starting scratch track that the vocalist or guitarist will follow.

    So after you get that first scratch. Have the vocalist doube that. Then if that one is better dump the first and move on to doubling the new Scratch. Keep doing this until you get 2 near perfect performances. THis shoul donly go on for about 5-6 times.

    The singer will learn the small tweaks and turns he/she made and actually become better and better because of it.

    Also you can pan R or L and go that way or go center with both and just drop the send track under the first. Just to thicken up the track. Put a nice simple delay or reverb on that send track to make it sound bigger

    Or do a single and just ignore the troubles =)
  16. ORSUP

    ORSUP Guest

    This came from an idea that I read about in another post, NOTE this is NOT my idea just in case anyone thinks I am plagiarizing:
    Recording software makes it easy to make copies of a track. Well keep your lead vocal put and then make 3 copies of it. On one track, label it “vocal-hi-end” and roll off everything under 4Khz. Label one mid and label one low end and set Eq appropriately. Then smash the living crap out of each one with compression. Blend them to taste. Usually the vocal-hi-end is useful for adding air, but experiment. There are no rules.

    Also there are a number of plug-ins that really to an exceptional job at doubling vocal track without making it sound stale. The one I use is by Antaris and it's called the DUO Vocal Modeling Auto-Doubler. It really does a great job...Good Luck.
  17. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2007
    dude that was my idea!

    No, wait a minute, whutnit?
  18. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    What you described is not doubling, but a technique called "exciting compressor". It was pioneered by Motown engineers,
    by multing the track, compressing it heavily, adding 6 dBs of 4k, and adding to taste will bring it above the music.
  19. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2007
    Do those steps still work to that effect even in a digital domain?
  20. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    Here's the exact way, I use it all the time in Protools!

    The Motown 1960's Exciting Compressor

    With the Motown mix approach there were problems. If you wanted the lyrics to be heard you had to use a lot of compression on the vocal so that the the softer words could still be heard over the higher-level music. In addition you boosted the "presence range" (around 5 kHz) with an equalizer. The only problem with this is that it took the life & natural dynamics out of the vocal.

    Lawrence Horn came up with a brilliant idea. He took the vocal and split the signal so that it when to 2 console channels. Before the vocal signal went to the second channel, it went through a compressor. Now he had two channels of the vocal - one compressed and one uncompressed. On the uncompressed vocal he added very little with the equalizer and he added the reverb. On the compressed channel, he compressed the h**l out of it and added a ton of high-frequency equalization. What he would do is bring up the "natural" channel to full level to get the basic natural sound on the vocal. On the other compressed and equalized channel, he brought this up just enough to add excitement and presence to the vocal sound.

    The result was nothing less than amazing. In the mix the vocal sounded very natural and bright. None of the music ever "stepped on" the vocal and you could hear each and every syllable in the lyrics. The vocal never got lost.

    Using The Exciting Compressor.

    I don't know if anyone at Aphex knew anything about this technique - BUT - the purpose of their product and the older Motown technique seen basically the same. As you try this technique out you will find it works for other instruments as well. Often the frequency of EQ needs to be changed for the instrument. The vocal works well with tons of 5kHz to 8 kHz added to the "exciting compressor;" guitars work better with 3 kHz - 5 kHz and bass guitars work better with 800 hZ to 1.5 kHz.
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