How do you record nice lush vocal harmonies?

TAE

All you have is now
This is way lush...This one was the impetus for me trying to get my one man show live recorded decently...still miles away but ..Would love to know his set up but he is not talking...He has done quite well since this went viral...

 

assman

Member
I don't want to be the rain on the parade, but have you thought about using a computer to record with? It's a lot easier and way more possibilites are available. But I'm sure you know that. But at this point even Steve Albini admits that he wishes he'd learned how to use computers years ago--his life would be a lot easier, but tape is his thing, and will remain so now forever. And, how does one break a mic cable? Stand on it and then pull the connector off? I had one stop passing sound just a day ago and found that the solder joint on the cold leg had broken loose, so I soldered it back and that was that. Then the hot leg on the other end broke loose as I was testing it, and I went back and soldered that. Now it's back in service. I never moved the end connected to the Audient 880--it just worked itself loose. Not the most expensive cable, so it happens.

I started recording music in 2013 on my computer. It was good and all, then I bought my first four-track in 2018, and I just couldn't let go of the rough and hazardous sonic qualities that cassette has. Double tracking on tape always surprises/pleases. It always sounds different.

Turns out it wasn't the XLR cable but the little impedance transformer that I use (audio technica cp8201) that was broken. I opened it up and soldered the wires and now it works! I knew something wasn't normal as I never broke a guitar cable before and took good care of them.

Anyways, I'm liking the videos but I guess I should have been more specific about the vocal sounds I was going for. I was talking about late 60's stuff, ''wall of sound'' type of vocals harmonies. I'm really interested in how they produced those vocals. I recorded a track recently that has a small part in which there are vocal harmonies. I'm getting closer to that sound, and it's due to the fact that I have recorded more vocal tracks (6 in total). I have noticed that it makes a huge difference when doubling on one vocal note; I would usually probably have 2 vocal tracks with two different notes, creating the harmony, but it sounds way better when double tracking the base note, and the other notes too. basically just having more tracks sounds better to me.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Why when I make lush harmonies with multi tracks, it does layer on tape different than the DAW? Much more ..lusher on tape with layers of voice. Like they are smeared together.
 
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TAE

All you have is now
California Dreamin' was dope.
Thanks man...I'm telling ya that Voicelive harmonizer is awesome...It is pretty cool to have a full set of 4 back up singers at your beck and call at a moments notice...Here's a link to Edgar Winter / Danny Hartmans "Autumn" where I was just starting to figure out how to do the two mic thing ..basically sound like harmonies all the way through.. Doing the solo thing and having those harmonies there is quite economically efficient from a time and energy point of view and so fun to have as a tool as I am working through how I will perform a tune. I've done a few Beach boy tunes and they are kick ass in my self absorbed deluded universe opinion.
 

pj11

New member
Queens method of layering harmonies, especially on Rhapsody, consisted of Fred, Brian, and Roger all singing the same part together. Triple and/or double tracking that part and bouncing them down to one track. Erase the previous takes and repeat the process for each part to the point the tape was wearing out. The intro was all Mercury overdubbing himself.
Even though the old 4 track cassette recorders were advertised by saying you can do what the Beatles did on Pepper, they fail to mention that they did it on 2 inch tape which will allow for more bouncing etc. without degrading the quality or squashing certain parts/instruments. Found this out the hard way but figured a process that worked for a decent recording. But it was a lot of work compared to what you can do digitally now. But I still have the X-26 and listen to some of those old demos once in a while.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
When doing tracks for a carpenters show I recreated the harmonies 2 bars at a time - and in some songs there are simply stacks and stacks of them. amazing planning.
 

Papanate

Active member
Thanks for this reply! There are very interesting ideas in your post! For this little album I told myself I would only use my four-track cassette recorder, as I was looking for a grittier sound, but I also have a teac a3340s (I'll have to buy more tape for that one).
How odd - you are looking for lush harmonies with a gritty sound?
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
Computer recording makes it so much easier when you are not limited to the number of tracks you can work with. With my mediocre voice, I will double each backing part, sometimes more than 2 per part, if I think I didn't hit notes quite right on one of the takes. Then when mixing I will pan one partially left, the other partially right. I will do all the pans a little different, so L25%, L20%, L15%, R17%, R22%, R27%, etc so that each voice sits in its own space. Depending on the song itself, I may add EQ to the group folder to give some 'air' to the backing vocals, or the opposite, take away a little high end. I usually will put a small amount of compression on the whole backing vocal group folder, too.
 
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