Pop Female Vocals Techniques

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Pop Female Vocals Techniques

Post by DrummerMan » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:20 pm

Howdy all!
I'm working with a female pop/soul singer now, which is awesome but is a bit of a departure from my usual experience and I'm looking for any ideas of effects or techniques typically used when mixing/processing these kinds of vocal tracks. I'm not so much wanting to copy what everybody else in the world does, but if you know of some standard approaches it might give me something to play around with and use as a jumping off point. I may end up not doing much at all but I'd like to see what happens with some experimentation.

Thankfully, this singer is very much in tune and rhythm so I'm not looking to "fix" things really, and I'm leaning more toward the "dry and in your ear sound" than wet with verb, though I was just thinking about some long (like half measure) delay ideas today that I might try out.

I can listen to similar stuff out there and get some general ideas but I feel like there's some specific things, like use of chorus effect, that I don't seem to be emulating very well. So, any cool tricks you feel like sharing, let 'er rip!!

Thanks!
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:39 pm

1.- Eventide 910 type harmonizer, setup as a Stereo return.
Left channel is only +0.1 cent up in pitch, right is only -0.1 cent down in pitch. No delay, 100% wet, mix to taste.
2.- Chorus, set up as Stereo return. But only on the choruses, to fill out the voice during that part of the song. Slow rate, med to high depth, adjust parameters to taste for the song.
3.- Longer reverb on verses, further back. Shorter reverbs for chorus, and a little more of it, again filling up the voice sound in the chorus. Bring the voice UP in the verses, and back it off a little in the chorus, so the effect fill the stereo image a bit more. It makes for a fatter voice there.
4.- Do the exact opposite than 3.
5.- Set up a looooong reverb that has a flanger before or after it, and only use it to accentuate any long vowels "oohs and ahhs" that the singer does. Instead of adding the normal reverb there, you'd add this one instead, and turn down your normal long reverb a bit. Used subtly, it makes the voice carry longer and more mysteriously than with normal reverb. Her voice will fully blend into the track at some point.
6.- Delays. Instead of reverbs during the verse. Set up three delays, short, medium and long, and blend them to create a reverb effect. Set some modulation on the longest delay, so it changes, Also. set the send of the longest delay so it only triggers on loudest words, To do this, use a gate with fast attack and sloooow release, so it lets through the voice as naturally as possible. Set feedback to emulate reverb on each delay.
7.- Send a check or money order to my address when the song hits #1 on a chart.

Cheers
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Post by DrummerMan » Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:12 am

1-6 is some great advice. Thanks Nick!

:wink:
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Post by vvv » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:24 am

Great stuff, Nick.

I seem to recall #1 as being referred to as a, "vocal spreader" ...
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Post by The Scum » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:38 am

I seem to recall #1 as being referred to as a, "vocal spreader" ...
Or with 3 to 5 cents, we call it "Ozzy."

To the OP: Is she's truly consistent, try some double tracking. Sometimes an entire section, sometimes just a word.

I'm also into having a send to a delay with a momentary pushbutton, so I can catch words with the space echo. Very effective for a little extra emphasis, or on the last word/syllable of a line.
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:40 pm

Nick Sevilla wrote: 5.- Set up a looooong reverb that has a flanger before or after it, and only use it to accentuate any long vowels "oohs and ahhs" that the singer does.
i call this "the pearl jam trick". first note of the second verse in 'even flow'. i use this extremely sparingly and as often as i can, if you know what i mean.

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Post by losthighway » Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:35 am

Nice ideas people. I've got nothing to add other than appreciation for how this is still a "learning place" for me.

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Post by lyman » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:18 am

There are several videos at Pensado's place about vocal mixing, you can search episodes: http://www.pensadosplace.tv/category/into-the-lair/
Seems like he mixes a lot of pop/modern sounding stuff too.

And not specific to female (or pop) vocals, but I've been messing around with the "swarm" vocal technique. Doesn't work on everything but it's fun. Here's a video somebody made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocbrUpxu4Hc Caution, christian rock content. :twisted:

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Post by JWL » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:33 am

I'm not too into pop music, but I think Tony Maserati is a master at mixing it. This explanation of his use of multiband compression was fascinating:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s3yU14xpJ8

I realize the vocalist is not female, but this is an interesting technique in the context of pop production/mixing....

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Post by drumsound » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:31 pm

Nick Sevilla wrote:1.- Eventide 910 type harmonizer, setup as a Stereo return.
Left channel is only +0.1 cent up in pitch, right is only -0.1 cent down in pitch. No delay, 100% wet, mix to taste.
2.- Chorus, set up as Stereo return. But only on the choruses, to fill out the voice during that part of the song. Slow rate, med to high depth, adjust parameters to taste for the song.
3.- Longer reverb on verses, further back. Shorter reverbs for chorus, and a little more of it, again filling up the voice sound in the chorus. Bring the voice UP in the verses, and back it off a little in the chorus, so the effect fill the stereo image a bit more. It makes for a fatter voice there.
4.- Do the exact opposite than 3.
5.- Set up a looooong reverb that has a flanger before or after it, and only use it to accentuate any long vowels "oohs and ahhs" that the singer does. Instead of adding the normal reverb there, you'd add this one instead, and turn down your normal long reverb a bit. Used subtly, it makes the voice carry longer and more mysteriously than with normal reverb. Her voice will fully blend into the track at some point.
6.- Delays. Instead of reverbs during the verse. Set up three delays, short, medium and long, and blend them to create a reverb effect. Set some modulation on the longest delay, so it changes, Also. set the send of the longest delay so it only triggers on loudest words, To do this, use a gate with fast attack and sloooow release, so it lets through the voice as naturally as possible. Set feedback to emulate reverb on each delay.
7.- Send a check or money order to my address when the song hits #1 on a chart.

Cheers
That's like a mini clinic right there! :^:

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Post by jgimbel » Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:58 pm

JWL wrote:I'm not too into pop music, but I think Tony Maserati is a master at mixing it. This explanation of his use of multiband compression was fascinating:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s3yU14xpJ8

I realize the vocalist is not female, but this is an interesting technique in the context of pop production/mixing....
Fascinating is absolutely right. I've often had some specific words in a vocal track where there is an offending frequency, and in some cases I've used an EQ with that frequency reduced and automated it on only for those specific words, but it's not the most elegant solution. The method in this video feels like a much less jerry-rigged way to do it. Thanks for posting this.
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Post by DrummerMan » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:39 pm

This is all some pretty cool stuff. I've been going through those videos and slowly trying some of these things out. Don't have an Eventide Harmonizer but I seem to be getting some interesting results by just using the standard Logic Pitch Shift and Tape Delay Plugins setup similarly. Cool Sounds!
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:16 am

Part Deux:

8.- Put a DeEsser in the insert before your reverb. Keep the reverb bright, so the DeEsser only DeEsses harshy stuff, like cymbals and lead vocal esses. You can now use more of the reverb in the mix, and the stuff you wanted to be brightly reverberated, will still be bright.

9.- Pick one instrument and make it bone dry. No time effects at all. Use it to accentuate a part of the mix that otherwise might have been boring. I usually pick parts of an instrument that contain either the melody or a counter melody, and use it sprinkled where there are no vocals. Hint: You might not need it as loud as you would otherwise to make it pop out, simply because it is already dry, it will automatically be IN FRONT of everything else.

10.- Create a new lead vocal or main melody instrument track by duplicating it. Take off any EQ or change it's EQ to make it sound different than the original track. Then, reverse the FIRST word / note / lick of the track. Like the first word of a verse, chorus, etc. MUTE everything else that you don't want to send to your: New Auxiliary track for the effect of this reversed track. Send a good level to this new aux track. I like to use a swirly reverb, like a reverb with a chorus after it, if it has no modulation in the plug in, or with excessive modulation if it does have it. Sometimes an interesting delay. RECORD ONLY the return of this auxiliary track.
Then REVERSE this resulting 100% wet effect. MUTE the duplicated reversed track, as you don't actually need it in the mix. Now the tricky part. You'll need to line up the very LAST sound with the original track's FIRST sound. This means you have to move the reverb to the left until the very END of the now reversed effect ENDS EXACTLY where the original normal track starts. Instant kooky reverse reverb effect. And the good thing about this method, is that you can make the effect as long and weird as you want. With plug ins that do a "reverse" effect, you usually only have a short effect as maximum possible. I thank Radioheads' bass player Colin Greenwood for teaching me this one many years ago. Those guys are mad geniuses.

Cheers
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Post by drumsound » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:47 am

Nick Sevilla wrote:Part Deux:

8.- Put a DeEsser in the insert before your reverb. Keep the reverb bright, so the DeEsser only DeEsses harshy stuff, like cymbals and lead vocal esses. You can now use more of the reverb in the mix, and the stuff you wanted to be brightly reverberated, will still be bright.
I de-essed a reverb just yesterday to keep it from being to splatty.
Nick Sevilla wrote:9.- Pick one instrument and make it bone dry. No time effects at all. Use it to accentuate a part of the mix that otherwise might have been boring. I usually pick parts of an instrument that contain either the melody or a counter melody, and use it sprinkled where there are no vocals. Hint: You might not need it as loud as you would otherwise to make it pop out, simply because it is already dry, it will automatically be IN FRONT of everything else.
I think this is why I'm NOT a pop guy. I'll usually only use reverb on one or two things in the mix, sometimes so minimally that people think it isn't there.
Nick Sevilla wrote:10.- Create a new lead vocal or main melody instrument track by duplicating it. Take off any EQ or change it's EQ to make it sound different than the original track. Then, reverse the FIRST word / note / lick of the track. Like the first word of a verse, chorus, etc. MUTE everything else that you don't want to send to your: New Auxiliary track for the effect of this reversed track. Send a good level to this new aux track. I like to use a swirly reverb, like a reverb with a chorus after it, if it has no modulation in the plug in, or with excessive modulation if it does have it. Sometimes an interesting delay. RECORD ONLY the return of this auxiliary track.
Then REVERSE this resulting 100% wet effect. MUTE the duplicated reversed track, as you don't actually need it in the mix. Now the tricky part. You'll need to line up the very LAST sound with the original track's FIRST sound. This means you have to move the reverb to the left until the very END of the now reversed effect ENDS EXACTLY where the original normal track starts. Instant kooky reverse reverb effect. And the good thing about this method, is that you can make the effect as long and weird as you want. With plug ins that do a "reverse" effect, you usually only have a short effect as maximum possible. I thank Radioheads' bass player Colin Greenwood for teaching me this one many years ago. Those guys are mad geniuses.

Cheers
HOLY WOW that's sounds like some crazy fun. Someday, I'll be sitting at the console, searching for this post and then taking 2 hours to comprehend it, and another 3 to implement it.

And it will be GLORIOUS!

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Post by ott0bot » Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:35 am

damn Nick...ask and thou shall receive, indeed.

one other thing I thought I'd mention is adding some overdriven really subtle reverb on chorus' if you want some more impact. I recorded a track for a band that asked my wife to add vocals. I mult'd the signal while tracking to a sound workshop 242a and used line amp to attenuate the signal and manually shoot off the end off the syllables to the verb unit. I cranked the input and only mixed in a touch of verb, then only recorded the wet signal. I ended delaying in just a tad and blending that with the original. It gave it quasi tape saturated sound with a lot of bite, just a touch of verb. you could so this with a saturation plug in on an aux and just automate the send send to a room verb set 100% wet too...but doing it live with hardware was more fun.

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