Producing Great Vocals

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Boombastix
Posts: 900
Joined: 18 May 2018
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post 01 Dec 2019

Creativemind wrote:
29 Nov 2019
I have 3 questions regarding this.

Vocal processing chain....

Compress, EQ, De-Ess then Reverb.

1) You would add the compressor, EQ and De-Esser as inserts wouldn't you and then Reverb as a send? how does having 3 effects as inserts and reverb as a send effect the order, reverb needs to be last but would it be added as a send?

2) Regarding EQ, would you leave the EQ untouched until after the vocal was recorded then cut / boost what you needed after or apply before? I'm inclined to think EQ after as you wouldn't necessarily know where needed cutting or boosting right?

3) What about layering vocals?
I say, you can do a conservative hi pass on the recording (around 100Hz), but then set it as a standard so you always do it. It is about being able to go back and fix something and have the identical sounding raw vocals. You can EQ before and/or after compression. I use a LA style compressor with another behind it. LA may hit 6dB the second 3dB. If you need more it is better to fix it in the audio file in the sequencer. I normally put dly+rev as inserts on my vocal bus. But tune+eq+comp on each track. Has a bit to do with qty of tracks, needed processing and cpu. If you have big de-ess issues, you may need to educate the singer to sing with quieter esses, something good vocalists do, especially for the backups. Automate when neede, eg between verse and chorus so the levels fit each section. You may want different reverbs for chorus and lead, but you can do as sends if you want.
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NekujaK
Posts: 614
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Location: USA

Post 01 Dec 2019

Creativemind wrote:
29 Nov 2019
1) You would add the compressor, EQ and De-Esser as inserts wouldn't you and then Reverb as a send? how does having 3 effects as inserts and reverb as a send effect the order, reverb needs to be last but would it be added as a send?
You could put reverb as an insert, but there are a couple of important benefits to having reverb as a send: 1) by sending multiple tracks thru a single reverb, it helps to create the impression that the instruments and vocals occupy the same "space". Of course, there may be reasons to have different reverbs for different tracks, which can still be accomplished via sends to different reverb units. 2) it's more CPU efficient to send multiple tracks to a single reverb instance, as opposed to having having multiple reverb inserts.
Creativemind wrote:
29 Nov 2019
2) Regarding EQ, would you leave the EQ untouched until after the vocal was recorded then cut / boost what you needed after or apply before? I'm inclined to think EQ after as you wouldn't necessarily know where needed cutting or boosting right?
I prefer to let the vocal get recorded raw so I have maximum processing flexibility in the DAW, but if there's a problem with the recording environment or with the vocalist, EQing the recorded signal may make sense. Many mics and preamps have a low-cut switch that filters out low frequencies. This is particularly helpful to negate proximity effect or any rumble that might be present. Personally, I would avoid pre-EQ unless there was a compelling reason to do so.
Creativemind wrote:
29 Nov 2019
3) What about layering vocals?
I'm not sure exactly what you're asking, but here are some things to keep in mind:
- If you're talking about doubling the lead vocal... this is a common technique to thicken the voice, and I also find it helps create a better-sounding vocal when working with an inexperienced singer, or a singer whose tone isn't fully developed. Doubling can be achieved thru chorus and other doubling effects, but it's always better to have the singer actually perform the parts instead, if possible. This will yield a more natural sound. When recording the second part, the singer should hear the first part and try to match it as closely as possible. One technique that I occasionally use if a singer has recorded a large amount of vocal takes, is simply to make a duplicate of the vocal track and then comp the two tracks differently, so each track's comp uses different takes. This won't always work, and you may need to adjust the timing of some phrases in the Slice Editor so the tracks match, but if the vocalist is unavailable to record the double, it's a possible solution.

- For background vocals, a general rule of thumb is to double every part. This will create a thick smooth sound, and enables you to pan the backgrounds left/right so they don't collide with the lead vocal. But this also depends on the style of music you're recording. Doubling the backgrounds is great for pop, rock, and any song that has a big multipart background, but for more intimate harmonies, especially with a duo (think Everly Brothers, The Civil Wars, Avett Brothers), you wouldn't double the harmony.
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