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Getting "synthy" R&B vocals
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Moraha
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#1
23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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Getting "synthy" R&B vocals

I have an artist that wants me to mix his tracks to get his vocals sounding "synthy". His examples were Usher's "Here Goes My Baby", "DJ Got Us Fallin In Love", "Without You", and Nicki Minaj's "Starships".

I understand that they record in high end studios with top notch equipment but is there something other than the hardware that's being used on these vocals? You can hear it pretty clearly on Usher's backing vocals. You hear sort of a robotic sound especially when he drags his vowels.

Using Autotune gives a similar sound but doesn't sound as clean as these songs. I've also tried parallel distortion but doesn't sound too great.
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23rd October 2012
Old 23rd October 2012
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the plugin you're looking for might be melodyne? are you familiar with it?

here's an example of crazy-melodyned vocals, if this is the sound you mean:

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24th October 2012
Old 24th October 2012
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The backing vocals on that Usher track sound like they have subtle chorus effect as well as auto-tune, used in a not-overtly obvious way.

The main vocals definitely have some gentle autotune (slow to trigger), you can hear they are smoothly compressed and also have a lot of 'air'. You might want to play around with the EQ on the high frequencies to try and get that 'whisper' sound, I think perhaps that's part of what he means by 'synthy'.

The Maag EQ plugin with the famous air-band might be worth demoing to see if that helps.
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24th October 2012
Old 24th October 2012
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Just to add, parallel distorting sounds like a factor in that Nicki Minaj track, especially the chorus. And I think in both a subtle (almost indiscernible unless you listen for it) but very open reverb is used to smooth out the sound of the vocals.

As well as the airiness they're also pretty thin EQ-wise, but the compression and reverb give the impression of more thickness.
Moraha
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24th October 2012
Old 24th October 2012
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I haven't used Melodyne yet....I know that Autotune has a coloring effect on vocals. Is Melodyne's effect stronger than Autotune?

MmBuddha...I can't seem to find a good chorus plugin that wouldn't make the vocals sound like a flanger was added to it. I'm thinking that Usher's vocals are mostly from the mic/pre that is used. It's that graininess that he really wants me to go for.

Anybody else have any opinions or ideas?
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24th October 2012
Old 24th October 2012
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Just do the best you can with what you have. If you want to purchase Melodyne for a few hundred bucks, i think its well worth it.
Quote:
Is Melodyne's effect stronger than Autotune?
I have melodyne and i use it allot when mixing vocals. As far as being "stronger" yes and no. It depends on how you set it up.

If your chorus plugin is sounding like a flanger, then you need to set it up differently, so it sounds like a chorus. A Chorus FX can be made to sound like a flanger and a Flanger FX can be made to sound like a chorus when set up properly.

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24th October 2012
Old 24th October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moraha View Post
I haven't used Melodyne yet....I know that Autotune has a coloring effect on vocals. Is Melodyne's effect stronger than Autotune?
Melodyne is more flexible the Autotune. If you're good at it you can tune vocals pretty aggressively with Melodyne before it even becomes noticeable. Other people should correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression in my limited experience with serious mixing engineers working in pop, R&B, and even indie music these days is that Melodyne is the plug-in of choice for mixing engineers to tune vocals, because it is more flexible than Autotune and has more transparent-sounding algorithms than any of the alternatives. You definitely want this plug-in if you're mixing pop vocals.
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