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Thread: Handy vocal mixing "trick".

  1. #1
    Ford Van's Avatar
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    Handy vocal mixing "trick".

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    I have had a few people ask me how a certain "effect" was done on some vocals that I mixed. Basically, it is a little "sweetener/widener" type of effect, sort of like chorus, but without the same "obvious" pitch and warble artifacts.

    I used to get that effect with the Dual Shift preset on a Eventide H3000. Since going into the box, I sort of forgot about it. But this morning, noisedude asked how I got that effect, and I told him he needed a $1200 box (used!) to get it! LOL He was a bit disappointed. But, I figured there SHOULD be a way to get it on the computer, so I set out to see what I could do.

    Mind you, this is a very subtle effect, and it isn't the right thing for ALL vocal tracks. I take no responsiblity if you use this on an opera singer that paid you a dozen cookies to mixer her recital!

    So, what is this "effect"? Simply, it is a stereo effect that pitch shifts one channel up 12 cents, and pitch shifts the other other channel down 12 cents, then uses a delay of about 25ms. The effect, again, is very much like a chorus, but not quite as obvious.

    To do this effect, I used Sonar 5. But, just about any quality application should have similar functions available. Basically, you only need a Pitch Shift function, and a Delay. I did have some versions I did with the Sony (Vegas) Pitch Shift plugin, but decided to use the stock Sonar 5 effect.

    Here are the steps to make it.

    1 - Copy your lead vocal track twice and make two new tracks.
    2 - Pan one track hard left, and one hard right.
    3 - Insert a delay set to 25ms, with no feedback (repeats) on each track. Instead, you could assign both tracks to a stereo subgroup and insert a delay on the subgroup (this is what I did).
    4 - Pitch shift one track UP 12 cents (this would be .12 semitones).
    5 - Pitch shift the other track DOWN 12 cents (this would be -.12 semitones)

    I mention the .12 because some pitch shifters go by semitones instead of cents (the Cakewalk one goes by semitones, but the Sony product went be cents). 100 cents equals a semitone.
    Sorry, I am making a big deal about this, but it is important that you get the pitch setting right! A 12 semitone change would not be so good!

    Simply, you are done. Mix to taste! I usually start out with the subgroup volume all the way down, then increase it's volume until I can JUST detect it's effect on the vocal. NO MORE THAN THAT, otherwise, the effect will get a bit squirly.

    One thing you may notice is that the lower frequencies on the voice might start to get a bit "cloudy". To fix this, simply insert a high pass filter before the delay, and set it to at least 400Hz, maybe even higher. The higher you go, the more translucent the effect becomes.

    Another little trick is to send the effected signal to a reverb (I did that in these examples).

    Vola! You have a nice little effect that will sweeten and seem to "widen" the lead vocal. The lead vocal will just seem to sit over the mix a bit better, and not sound so "plain", yet, you don't have an obvious effect either! Many people will just not quite know what is cool about the vocal, just that something is.

    Here are some audio examples. These are via the "Export>Audio" function via Sonar 5. I left these as .wav files so as not to have the effect mucked up in any way by mp3 compression. The "mixes" were increased by 4dB via the L3, and dithered from 32 bit float to 16 bit using UV22 HR via Wavelabs.

    Here is the vocal, with no pitch effect.

    http://www.phoenixlightandsound.com/...itch/GEVox.wav

    Here is the vocal with the Dual Shift effect, but the effect is about 5dB louder than I intend to use it.

    http://www.phoenixlightandsound.com/...iftObvious.wav

    Here is the vocal with the Dual Shift at the intended volume.

    http://www.phoenixlightandsound.com/...xDualShift.wav

    Here is the mix with NO Dual Shift.

    http://www.phoenixlightandsound.com/...itch/GEMix.wav

    Here is the mix WITH Dual Shift.

    http://www.phoenixlightandsound.com/...xDualShift.wav

    To tell you the truth, I would have probably did this mix quite different if I was going to use this effect. I basically just called this mix up and added the effect just to see what it would do to it. So, this may not be the best place to use the effect, but it was a good song to show how the effect will effect the vocal, even if it might be a bit inapproapriate.

    Enjoy!

  2. #2
    NL5's Avatar
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    Ed, that is badass - simple, but something you wouldn't just "experiment" and figure out.

    Thank you!
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    Ford Van's Avatar
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    I think the Eventide version has a bit more "character" to it, but this seems to work alright!

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    Cool technique. Thanks, Ford.
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    Well, I just tried it - couldn't be easier, and it sounds fricken fantastic!
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    nice trick that I've used in the past too but my preference it to just double track. It's the anomolies between the takes that make them sound less processed while standing out more....and a bit cheaper that a $1200 box.

    Also, personal taste but I didn't pan hard when I used this method YMMV

    oh...and the lexi mpx100 does some nice stereo pitch + delay patches for a lot less that the H3000

    Something else I hear in a lot of music these days is a vocal being copied to a seperate track and wrung through an autotune then that being brought up under the main vocal
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    Interesting stuff, Ed. i'm gonna try it on one of my tracks later. Can't hurt, but I don't sing as well as the girl.
    She has a pretty voice.
    Thanks, man.
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    Ford Van's Avatar
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    Totally different effect LemonTree. I have used that too. Not even close to the same (doubled track and autotune track)
    Also, I have not found another "box" that sound even remotely as good as the H3000 for this effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ford Van
    Also, I have not found another "box" that sound even remotely as good as the H3000 for this effect.
    What about the Eclipse?
    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -B.F.

  10. #10
    djclueveli is offline Dedicated Member
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    how do you do this without making the vocals phase when switched to mono because i did this and when i checked it in mono it phased.

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