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Adding Body to a Lead Vocal: Using a Detuned Double

When producing “Let’s Go Fishin'”, it became pretty clear that the vocals needed a bit of a boost. They were well performed, but just needed that little extra “body” in order to make them shine.

Ever felt this way? It’s pretty common, but it’s always a struggle to figure out what to do about it. Take a look at this tip, from Nashville Demo Production v1 and take a look at how we got a great lead vocal sound.

Doubler4Dean: So we’re going to using Waves Doubler4. It’s a doubler that gives you a lot of flexibility. I’ll try some different presets – maybe “chorus” would be a good start. It’s got a nice chorusing sound to it. To the right here is an equalizer, you can use one if there’s one in the plugin, maybe like a low pass or high pass filter. Cut out the high frequencies so that it doesn’t sound like a crowd of people. The highest frequencies are easiest to tell when something is delayed or doubled, and we don’t want it to be obvious that we are using this effect. I don’t really want to hear any of the “s” “t” sounds. EQrolledoffSo that’s sound pretty good.

Adan: So by filtering off all that high end we remove some of the lack of distinctness that the lead vocal would have cause if you would have a bunch of really close delays, you gonna get this unclear sort of sound happening and that’s going to make the vocals less distinct. So by rolling off a lot of that high end like you’ve said, not hearing the “s” and “t”, you’re getting to a point where you’ve got just a clean sound with a little bit of doubling but it’s really only in the lower frequencies.

Dean: Yep! I’m even going to change some of these settings here that are unique to this plugin, I’m sure there are other similar settings in different plugins.

EQrolledoff But this is just changing the pitch and depth of the variance. This is why I like this plug-in, it makes each one of these “dots” unique, so that is not a simple double or simple chorusing effect.

These dots are the pitch center, so you can move the entire pitch. With the depth and rate control, you can actually add a type of “vibrato” to each individual dot, creating a really cool sound.

The graph to the left is the panning of each dot. I’ve got them panned hard left and right.

Alright, I think we’re ready to test it out. As we start to add this in, I’m going to turn the doubled track all the way down.

I’ll solo both this vocal sound and the original vocal to blend them together.

It’s adding a lot of body to it but I’m starting to hear one on the right that kind of sticks out, so I’m just going to find which one that is and move it in a little. We don’t want to hear distinct doubles, just added warmth and body.

Nice. So now if I “A-B” test it, you can hear there’s a lot of difference in the overall vocal sound when you add this doubler track in.

That’s basically the approach of doubling a vocal. Once I get that set, I usually print that to a new track.
You can hear that it has a lot more body to it. It’s something that’s very subtle, but if you take it out, you certainly miss it.

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