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What is your default vocal plugin chain?
Old 19th April 2019
  #1
Deleted 5edf3fa
Guest
What is your default vocal plugin chain?

I know all songs/singers are different and require different treatment, but what is your default chain that you later tweak to vocal-specific needs?

1. EQ (hi-pass, some 350Hz and maybe top boost?)
2. Compress.
3. De-ess.
4. EQ again ?(boost top).
5. Compress.
6. De-ess
7. Stereo delay? Doubler? Slap?
8. Reverb?

/my head is spinning.

I got to a point in my project where I recorded vocals and although singer's dynamics and pitch are almost flawless I just can't make them sit in the mix quite right. I thought it'd be easy, watched some youtube videos, but it ain't easy. In fact I can mix a 40-track song to what I hear as a very good result, but vocals... just don't obey me.

Would love to hear your techniques and try different approaches.
Old 19th April 2019
  #2
Quote:
but what is your default chain that you later tweak to vocal-specific needs?

1. EQ (hi-pass, some 350Hz and maybe top boost?)
2. Compress.
3. De-ess.
4. EQ again ?(boost top).
5. Compress.
6. De-ess
7. Stereo delay? Doubler? Slap?
8. Reverb?
WOW, that is so overkill from my experience, but if that works for that particular vocal track in that particular mix, then its not.
But there are no default settings for every single vocal track.

Every vocal track I have mixed, i have used different effects and plugins. Why you ask? This is why:
1.) Every vocal is different
2.) The same vocal in 2 different songs will sound different
3.) Every room the vocal is receded in will effect how the vocal sound.
4.) Moving 1/2" away or closer to the mic changes the sound
5.) You use effects according to the mood you want top portray for that song
6.) Depending ion the vibe and feel you want, you can add countless plugins form any source to get your sound
7.) Personnel preferences play a big role on what effects you add to each and every song
8.) The other instruments in the song effects how the vocal sounds in that song

This is just 8 i popped off in 10 seconds. There are countless more reasons on why you do not use all that stuff you listed for every single vocal track.
Every painting is not painted the same. You use different colors, different brushes, different stroke styles and techniques. The same goes for audio production.

When determining what to use for your vocal chain, you first need to do these things:
1.) Listen to the vocals in the mix
2.) Let your ears, knowledge of your tools, and personnel preferences decide what you need to use
3.) You use effects depending on the specific feel of that particular song. You would use different plugins to portray sadness as you would if you wanted to portray another felling or vibe.
Old 19th April 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 
kennybro's Avatar
in
U87>5024, N72 or Grace101>LA2A>DAW

out
Almost always a HP, but no default chain.
Whatever is needed, sometimes nothing else.
Old 19th April 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
I don’t have a definitive vocal plugin chain as each recording is different but there are three plugins that I turn to the most often:-

NI VC-2a
PSP E27
LiquidSonics Illusion

When I need to de-ess a vocal I use TDR Nova GE.
Old 19th April 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
 

All this is why my Master Default answer, is to have someone else record me(!),
for anything "important". I'm not as gifted at multi-tasking (to put it mildly), as the other respondents already on this thread.

Plus the "elephant in the room", especially for a naturally loud singer (like me),
is it makes any room recording issues-all the more glaring.

But for having fun and learning, i enjoy the included simple/nice sounding plugins/effects, on Multitrackstudio. Even Audacity (gasp!).
Chris
Old 19th April 2019
  #6
Deleted 5edf3fa
Guest
Can't believe you guys just use completely different combination of plugins every single time because the song is "different". Come on, share. Most instructional videos on youtube always kind of put the same basic stuff, eq then deess and compressor or vocal rider there. These are essentials. I'm asking about essentials, not your trademark secrets.

EQ->Comp->Delay with deesser somewhere in there seems like a barebone starting point.

Help aspiring musicians here.
Old 20th April 2019
  #7
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
RVox doing a tiny bit
MJUC doing more in 3rd (silver) mode
Fab Filter Pro DS
Izotope Nectar Elements for a little clarity, maybe some comp and "space" if needed
digital EQ as needed to fit track, right now using Cockos ReaEQ (free plugin)

some kind of plate reverb, chamber, spring reverb, if needed in the track. Maybe H Delay if delay is warranted.

this is a very typical chain for me. Sometimes there are minor changes or substitutions.
Old 20th April 2019
  #8
Lives for gear
 
thismercifulfate's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuieve View Post
Can't believe you guys just use completely different combination of plugins every single time because the song is "different". Come on, share. Most instructional videos on youtube always kind of put the same basic stuff, eq then deess and compressor or vocal rider there. These are essentials. I'm asking about essentials, not your trademark secrets.

EQ->Comp->Delay with deesser somewhere in there seems like a barebone starting point.

Help aspiring musicians here.
Well you’d better believe it! A de-esser isn’t essential, neither is delay. I’ve done at least a dozen mixes since I used either one on a vocal. Sometimes I don’t use an EQ either. How is it essential? Do you even know why are you using EQ? I’ve never used a vocal rider plugin. The first thing I do after or sometimes during comping a vocal is adjusting the clip gain. Sure it takes more time, but you will not get a smoother or more exact form of dynamic control from any plugin. And volume automation (post-plugins) is also essential. I use compression for tone and texture more than for controlling dynamics. I use saturation as an EQ of sorts and compression.

Don’t put too much stock into YT instructional videos. Anyone with lots of time on their hands (like bedroom producers) can make those. Or someone who’s gotta pay their due for a plugin endorsement. But the cats who are killing it are way too busy for such things. Just something to keep in mind.
Old 20th April 2019
  #9
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XKAudio's Avatar
 

Like said above. Always different.

One thing that always happens is vocal riding before effects and maybe a bit after fx. Each word, each “S”, each plosive. After which the necessary treatment becomes more obvious.
Old 20th April 2019
  #10
Here for the gear
 

It differs of course, but 90% of the time if have this, in this order:

- Fabfilter Q for surgical stuff
- 1176
- LA2A
- Broad stroke EQ, like a pultec.
- DeEsser (Fabfilter or Pro Tools’ own)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
janjaal's Avatar
Well i got slate vcc on everything on my mixes.

So slate vcc (neve). Tone
Uad studer. Level the signal
Uad nseq2 (tube). Frequency adjustment
Uad la3a. Clean dynamic control
Waves rdesser. Upper frequency adjustment

I parallel pre to uad 1176 white. Give a bit of weight.
I send to reverb and delay channels separately
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Most of the time, mine looks like this:

1) EQ (usually either FabFilter Pro-Q or an SSL E-Channel emulation to add a high pass filter, gently cut any harsh/muddy areas and usually a bit of a presence boost)
2) De-esser if needed (FabFilter Pro-DS - sometimes multiple instances where I'll run one in wide band mode and the other in split band mode)
3) Compressor #1 (UAD 1176 or similar to catch peaks)
4) Compressor #2 (UAD LA-2A or similar for gentler smoothing)
5) Saturation if needed (usually Softube Saturation Knob)
6) Delay (either Waves H-Delay or Soundtoys Echoboy)
7) Reverb (almost always a Valhalla plugin, either VintageVerb or Plate - delay and/or reverb could either wind up as aux tracks or just as an insert on the vocal track depending on the song)

Some extra things I might throw in would be a specialty EQ in between 1 and 2 like the Maag EQ4 (for boosting air or sub frequencies to taste), or an instance of the UAD Studer A800 as the very first insert (if I'm adding one to every track). I may have multiple reverbs too depending on the vocal. Sometimes, I'll also put the Nugen Audio Stereoizer plugin in between 4 and 5 and just apply it lightly to frequencies above 2k.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
proxy's Avatar
 

I don’t think that as a mix chain is crazy. CLA influenced?

Riding levels with a fader to level the vocal a bit *before* hitting such a chain has helped me. It always sounds more natural to me and allows dynamics processors to do less “fixing” and more tone/movement/attitude shaping.

As I track the vocals too, I have to say, the biggest variable that made things easier for me was a quality mic. For me it was a quality tube mic.

I imagine the environment where your vocals were recorded is potentially a factor. If the voice recording sounds like it exists in a weird space, I find I’m always swimming upstream and can’t get it to fit in a mix right.

I suppose one other factor might just be that there isn’t a space in the arrangement big enough to ensure ample focus on such an important ingredient. Typically vocals are the centerpiece and should feel highlighted. And clashing of frequencies in key parts of the frequency spectrum caused by other instruments competing for the same space can make the vocal sound a bit hazy. And in that way, it always feels “on top” of the other instruments, or “underneath”, but never properly balanced.

My basic vocal chain is often, but not always:
Fader Riding
Subtractive EQ
De-Esser
LA-2A
1176
Enhancing EQ

That will get sent to delays and verbs, and sometimes parallel compression. Fairly standard.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 5edf3fa View Post
I know all songs/singers are different and require different treatment, but what is your default chain that you later tweak to vocal-specific needs?

1. EQ (hi-pass, some 350Hz and maybe top boost?)
2. Compress.
3. De-ess.
4. EQ again ?(boost top).
5. Compress.
6. De-ess
7. Stereo delay? Doubler? Slap?
8. Reverb?

/my head is spinning.

I got to a point in my project where I recorded vocals and although singer's dynamics and pitch are almost flawless I just can't make them sit in the mix quite right. I thought it'd be easy, watched some youtube videos, but it ain't easy. In fact I can mix a 40-track song to what I hear as a very good result, but vocals... just don't obey me.

Would love to hear your techniques and try different approaches.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janjaal View Post
Well i got slate vcc on everything on my mixes.

So slate vcc (neve). Tone
Uad studer. Level the signal
Uad nseq2 (tube). Frequency adjustment
Uad la3a. Clean dynamic control
Waves rdesser. Upper frequency adjustment

I parallel pre to uad 1176 white. Give a bit of weight.
I send to reverb and delay channels separately
Clips?
Thanks, Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 5edf3fa View Post
I know all songs/singers are different and require different treatment, but what is your default chain that you later tweak to vocal-specific needs?

1. EQ (hi-pass, some 350Hz and maybe top boost?)
2. Compress.
3. De-ess.
4. EQ again ?(boost top).
5. Compress.
6. De-ess
7. Stereo delay? Doubler? Slap?
8. Reverb?

/my head is spinning.

I got to a point in my project where I recorded vocals and although singer's dynamics and pitch are almost flawless I just can't make them sit in the mix quite right. I thought it'd be easy, watched some youtube videos, but it ain't easy. In fact I can mix a 40-track song to what I hear as a very good result, but vocals... just don't obey me.

Would love to hear your techniques and try different approaches.
I've always just do a mic into preamp into recorder, with a compressor most often thrown in. And never anything beyond that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
ccg
Gear Maniac
 

Nothing is standard. It's a good day when I don't have to EQ a vocal. A lot of vocals end up with a touch of Crane Song Phoenix on them at the end. It can work as a very mild de-esser and give it just a little something extra.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Hi Pass from 100hz
Rvox - gate only
UAD 1176 - fast attack, fast release
UAD Fairchild 660/670 or CL1B or El Rey - slow attack, slow release
Fab Filter ProQ3 - surgical, removing specific frequencies 1khz+
UAD Pultec MEQ-5 - usually adding a bit of body and slightly cutting low mids
UAD Pultec EQP-1A - for air 12/16khz boost

finally running parallel compression using the UAD LA-2A
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
I feel you can be petty generic and use the same chain over and over again. Depending on the genre it depends on how hard I'm hit the compression. FX varies allot more.

I always trim vocals to keep them fairly at the same level. With acoustic music, allot of trimming, basically smooth compression before any compression

Chain when I've recorded :
Neumann m269c, CS Spider

Fabfilter, some lowend cut, maybe some 2khz cutting depending on vocalist.

HW: 1176 into CL1b

The glue parallel compr
Slate distressor, just a finalizer really 2-4dbs

VOX Bus:
SSL .10 attack auto release
Waves linmb
CLA vocals (schh its pretty good actually)

+ fx
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Nut
 

Someone else’s vocals - who knows, especially depending on the genre and whether it was sent to me after being recorded with a mic and room I’m not familiar with (there’s a wide range of those. I’m not a professional)

My vocals-

UAD neve or v76 in unison slot
Pro Q 3
UAD Distressor or 1176
UAD precision de esser if needed
UAD 1073/boz hoser/bx nseq2 if I want more eq
Usually Pro C 2 or bx

Saturation somewhere in there if I want more. Usually Oxide tape, black box, or just driving a preamp plug-in. I move the saturation around sometimes, depends on the dynamics of the recording and where I want it relative to the compressor(s)

Alternatively sometimes I use UAD Voxbox which replaces a few plugins. I actually like precision de-esser better than the one in voxbox though. More flexible and so smooooth

Anyway that’s just my take on it. Lots of people here know better (and are better) than me when it comes to this
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Nut
DeEss first. Even though compression later will sort of bring the esses back up, you don’t want the vocal compressor reacting to them, have to get them ducked with automation as well.

So DeEss on the audio track, into an aux. so you can automate into:

Corrective EQ
Compressor
Dynamic EQ (optional,)
Colour EQ (boosts.)

The dynamic eq is for midrangey boosts, 400-2000, where you might want to add some amount but every once and a while certain words might get honky and those would pass the threshold and get ducked back.

The other eq is for the 6k - 12k boost that most people do. Usually 8k or 10k is nice.

That’s my default. Have been using soothe sometimes also, before the initial compressor.

After that you can print that, saturate the **** out of it in a variety of ways, and use something like devil loc or a high ratio compressor to create a parallel track to mix in subtly. Depends if the music is distorted like rock, or not. Heck you can use tape saturation too, it depends on if you think it fits the music.

That’s what I usually start off with doing. You can do like 5 billion different things to a vocal.

P.s. after automation is done, send from a “send,” (not the output,) of the aux to other auxes, where you can individually create reverbs delays and widening efx.

My default starting point is one medium length verb with the length sort of timed to the song, and another one with a very different length, (much shorter or longer,) but with a micro pre-delay also timed to like, 16ths or 32nds. Something under 200ms.

Then one delay, try just starting with quarter note delay. Try also ducking it with a side chained compressor, with the key input also coming from the original processed vocal on the first aux track.

Then finally, a fourth fx track with the same vocal just hi-pass the bejesus out of it, (up to like 1-4K,) and then use a pitch widening plugin. That sound toys h3000 emulation is great if you have it. Then compress the crap out of it so it sits really well. Try side chain compressing also, mostly if you choose to add reverb or more of a delay to it; but it can get really “pop,” sounding though so it depends if it serves the song.

So THATs my default everything. Cheers.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 

If you want to really minimize de-essing...
Try an Oktava 319 sometime, or a U67 style microphone. 441 or RE20, for dynamic vocal mic.
Also on a quality ribbon ala 44 or 4038
Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Inserts:
Stock studio one eq
Waves sibilance
Cla76
Cla2a
Schepps73 and/or puigtec

Sends:
Cla76 and/or D16 Frontier (parallel comp)
Decapitator
d16 repeater (short/slap) and/or Izotope doubler
D16 repeater (long)
Abbey Road Plate
Waves Hverb

Group bus:
Oeksound soothe
Waves SSL bus comp
Stock studio one limiter and or ozone

Softube Tape on Studio one's Master MixFX
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Head
 
Mark Alpine's Avatar
Autotune (x3), without it I sound like crap.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlane View Post
DeEss first. Even though compression later will sort of bring the esses back up, you don’t want the vocal compressor reacting to them, have to get them ducked with automation as well.

So DeEss on the audio track, into an aux. so you can automate into:

Corrective EQ
Compressor
Dynamic EQ (optional,)
Colour EQ (boosts.)

The dynamic eq is for midrangey boosts, 400-2000, where you might want to add some amount but every once and a while certain words might get honky and those would pass the threshold and get ducked back.

The other eq is for the 6k - 12k boost that most people do. Usually 8k or 10k is nice.

That’s my default. Have been using soothe sometimes also, before the initial compressor.

After that you can print that, saturate the **** out of it in a variety of ways, and use something like devil loc or a high ratio compressor to create a parallel track to mix in subtly. Depends if the music is distorted like rock, or not. Heck you can use tape saturation too, it depends on if you think it fits the music.

That’s what I usually start off with doing. You can do like 5 billion different things to a vocal.

P.s. after automation is done, send from a “send,” (not the output,) of the aux to other auxes, where you can individually create reverbs delays and widening efx.

My default starting point is one medium length verb with the length sort of timed to the song, and another one with a very different length, (much shorter or longer,) but with a micro pre-delay also timed to like, 16ths or 32nds. Something under 200ms.

Then one delay, try just starting with quarter note delay. Try also ducking it with a side chained compressor, with the key input also coming from the original processed vocal on the first aux track.

Then finally, a fourth fx track with the same vocal just hi-pass the bejesus out of it, (up to like 1-4K,) and then use a pitch widening plugin. That sound toys h3000 emulation is great if you have it. Then compress the crap out of it so it sits really well. Try side chain compressing also, mostly if you choose to add reverb or more of a delay to it; but it can get really “pop,” sounding though so it depends if it serves the song.

So THATs my default everything. Cheers.
Esses are usually, technically, much lower in amplitude than other singing sounds in general, so in fact they are getting "less" action from the compressor.

Maybe some T's and P's are quite loud.

I like de-essers with time based spectral graphs because you can "monitor" with your eyes what's getting de-essed. This is why my favorites are the Pro-DS and the Waves Sibilance
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
Gear Nut
 

This is mine. I compared it to a vocal stems of billboard 100 tracks and it is the same quality in my opinion.

Manley Ref c > 1073LB > CL1b

Pro-Q3 (Cutting unwanted frequencies)
PRO-DS
CLA-2a
SSL-Chan
(Rvox)
C6
Decapitator
SSLFusion (Analog drive a bit, EQ 20khz boost for the sheen, HF Compressor doing a little work)
Pro-Q3 (Cutting the lows again and small adjustments)
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