distorting the vocal

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twitchmonitor
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distorting the vocal

Post by twitchmonitor » Fri Jul 18, 2003 3:11 pm

I've been sort of suspicious of the whole "distorted vocal" thing ever since the Strokes. It's kind on most albums I hear these days, it seems. Anyway, I finally gave in and did me some experiment last night. I put up a 57 and dimed the input and output of the pre (Studio Projects VTB-1), and tried running it through first a RNC and than this junky DOD rackmounted comp/de-esser unit that I have. Playing with different ratios and gain settings got me a handfull of ok sounds, but nothing great. Would it work better with a tube mic? A LDC? Is there a particular way to set the comp? should I back off the gain on the pre a bit? run the signal through my TEAC M5 board and mess with it there before hitting Pro Tools?

Or is tracking clean and roughing it up in the mix a better plan?

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by fireproof » Fri Jul 18, 2003 3:31 pm

Hey
I like to use a super cheap mic into a mini marshall or fender amp.
one of those 25$ battery operated plastic amps.
mic the little amp with something good.
you can also run your headphone mix output into one of these amps when you mixdown and send vox or drums or whatever into it.


Adam

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by the velour fog » Fri Jul 18, 2003 4:21 pm

sparklehorse uses a stereo bar, with one mic going to a boss distortion. find the distortion level you want, record both. mix to taste. works real well.
"Set Phasers to Extra Slow."

twitchmonitor
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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by twitchmonitor » Fri Jul 18, 2003 4:30 pm

thegunshyboy wrote:sparklehorse uses a stereo bar, with one mic going to a boss distortion. find the distortion level you want, record both. mix to taste. works real well.
I'm not sure if that's a typo, but just to get this straight.....put up two mics next to each other, run one to a pre and then tape and the other into a pre and then the boss and then tape and record to two separate tracks? or do I not need a pre if I'm going into the boss? Man, I wish I paid more attention to those technical articles I read about impedence right about now.

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by the velour fog » Fri Jul 18, 2003 4:35 pm

i'm not sure what "they" do...i just use a 57 straight in, and then the other mic (mine's from the shack) to the boss pedal and straight in. you can run it through to one track or two...just depends on how much you like to make decisions. not the most professional way i'm sure...but then i'm not the most professional.
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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by fireproof » Fri Jul 18, 2003 4:52 pm

Hey
when I worked with PJ Harvey she turned me on to the little marshall amp thing..she said she learned it from her friend Mark (sparklehorse)

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by mysteriousmammal » Fri Jul 18, 2003 4:52 pm

SansAmp on mixdown.

Shure Green bullet into a Realtube or Rat and into a Pignose or other practice amp for the "CB" tone. Mic the amp.

Neve 1272 Cranked gain into as many compressors as you got.

If recording it distorted, dynamics or crystals work best.

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by black ark » Fri Jul 18, 2003 5:06 pm

Would it work better with a tube mic? A LDC? Is there a particular way to set the comp? should I back off the gain on the pre a bit? run the signal through my TEAC M5 board and mess with it there before hitting Pro Tools?

Or is tracking clean and roughing it up in the mix a better plan?

get crazy. punch holes in things like speakers and mic diaphrams. plug in EVERTHING and randomly subtract... how can there be a WAY of doing this?

maybe a better question would be:

"what have you done in the past to create distortion?"

or a worse question. as many posts as stars in your eyes...

toy megaphones.
two mics.
passion.
anger.
motown.
james brown (to da bridge!)
eric b and rakim (one of my favorite distorted vocals).
underwater.
headphones.
small speakers.
smaller speakers.
crystal mics.
telephone mics.
wax paper on a comb.
contact mic on a snare, sing into it.
oi oi oi!
swallow the mic.
press the mic against your throat.
mexican radio.
howlin' wolf.
leadbelly.
johnny rotten.
be mean to the mic.

just have fun!
:wink:
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maintenance free."

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soundguy
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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by soundguy » Fri Jul 18, 2003 5:34 pm

Do you want cheap sounding distortion over EVERYTHING? just use a fuzzbox or a sans amp or sometthing. If you want something usable, find a mic with high output and just overload the input transformer to whatever preamp you are using. Its not all that hard, and if you do that, you get the full saturation of the transformer which yields a HUGE sound compared to that thin strokes thing that has become so popular.

dave

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by Professor » Fri Jul 18, 2003 5:45 pm

Seems that Tom Waits bought a Radio Shack electronic bullhorn (actually shows up in the album credits) and sang through it into a microphone for a couple of tunes including Hang on St. Christopher.
Other than that it seems to me I can get distortion any time I have the mic pre turned up too high and the someone sings too loud. For the sake of protecting a potentially great performance by being killed by too much distortion you could always split the mic output to two preamps, record one clean and the other pushed into distortion. I agree with Dave that a transformer will yield a richer sounding distortion that the thin stuff. You can also just record clean and add the effect in mixdown by taking the line level vocals into the mic input on a preamp - that ought to drive it into distortion, just don't turn on the phantom power!!!

-Jeremy

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by djslayerissick » Fri Jul 18, 2003 8:03 pm

its much better to add the distortion during mix down than record it. just like any other mixing decision (eq, compression, effect, etc.), you cant "solo" the distorted vocal track and decide how much distortion is right - you've got to hear it in the context of the mix.

some good ole fuzz box (just *little* bit) really brightens and livens a vocal. especially a whisper, a breathy voice, or any gruffness at all. and deep voices. but be really careful and high, whiny, or girly voices - often that sounds like absolute crap

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by phat-ass » Fri Jul 18, 2003 9:02 pm

I'm getting sick of the distorted vocal thing. It's the new vocoder/autotune.

phat

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by @?,*???&? » Fri Jul 18, 2003 9:07 pm

Ditto on the Shure Bullet when tracking. Place it next to the expensive mic when you're tracking the vocal and print it to a separate track. Open that track whenever needed in the mix.

Ditto on the Sansamp too. Great for distorting ANYTHING. Rackmount version or Pedal variety.

Done the small Marshall head too during mixing. Those with the DI output are really useful.

Done alot of tracking with various megaphones and small handheld units too. Varieties of filtered sounds are always cool to consider.

Have had success running the blank track adjacent to the vocal track on tape into a mic pre and cranking the gain and then using that track at various points in the mix. Picks up the head crosstalk and gives an enormous tearing- almost dynamic related/created. Real ripped woofer sound. Cool for the right thing.

These days, I can't live without the GRM Tools plugin for Pro Tools. The filter is nothing short of amazing.

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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by tactics » Fri Jul 18, 2003 9:43 pm

phat-ass wrote:I'm getting sick of the distorted vocal thing. It's the new vocoder/autotune.

phat
It's like gated reverb in the the 80's.Sounded good at the time.
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Re: distorting the vocal

Post by djslayerissick » Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:11 pm

i dont agree. i dont think it will be the next "gated reverb" has-been. bands have been using this effect from the beginning.

thats like saying - "distorted guitars?!? bah... hendrix mastered that and played it out decades ago... that stuff is dead and gone."

i've been working on a mix for almost a month now (off and on) trying to get everything to sit properly. the trick was using varying amounts of distortion on all 5 tracks of vox, re-amping the bass to put tons of distortion on it, and taking out everything below 170hz on the guitars.

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