The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Let's talk about vocals and double tracking!
Old 7th November 2002
Here for the gear

Let's talk about vocals and double tracking!

Hey Charles, hey gang,

Let's talk about rock vocals, male and female.

Do you believe in double tracking?
If so do you double track only the chorus or the whole song?
Do you run the Lead vocal loudest then put the double track
at about 50 or 60 % of that? (which I thought was the norm)

I sure hear alot of double tracked vocals on the radio.

I painstakingly edit the composite lead vocal and the composite
double tracked vocal by hand, phrase by phrase to get them
as perfect as possible, and still hopefully preserve the emotion.

Does anyone else do it like this? Using the old fashioned slow
method? It takes me hours and hours! I use playlists to audition
every phase and choose the best ones.

Charles you mentioned that you like Vocalign . . . does this help
you with creating double tracked vocals?

How do you choose when to double track and when not to?


Pete Weaver

Like Incubus or No Doubt?
Old 7th November 2002
Gear Addict
mixer's Avatar

used to do a lot of doubling in the prehistoric days...especially on disco albums. mostly because the singer either needed to be fattened up or needed pitch i use it for effect...recently i have been using vocal align...set for minimal accuracy..i want the difference in the performances there for the a string section if you perfectly align all the violins and make the pitch the same you wind up with one violin.
Old 7th November 2002
What ARE the various options on VocAlign BTW?
Old 7th November 2002
Gear Addict
mixer's Avatar

vocal align has a fexibility setting ...five of them...basically is controlles how exact the alignment is between the guide and dub tracks....1 being the closest alignment and 5 being the loosest (that work never looks right)for vocals 4 or 5 setting gives me the best double sound...not to tight and the individual performance comes thru.....recently used it on sax doubles and trips....on that i used the 3 setting for a little tighter alignment..its great because you can really capture different performances and timbre and unify the takes....
Old 7th November 2002
Gear Addict

I think it is amazing. BGV stacks, harmonies, doubled gutars...if it needs tightening it works mucho voodoo.
Old 8th November 2002
Lives for gear

Hi Charles
I was wondering how you mix vocals, in particular BV's.
What sort of plugins do you use and in what order?
Do you buss them and compress that?
What about placement and reverb/delay?
How about differences between lead vocal and bv treatment?

Thanks so much for your timeand knowledge you've been dishing out.

Old 9th November 2002
FX smörgåsbord user
Charles Dye's Avatar


Yes, I do use vocal doubling. Often in choruses, but that's not a rule. Could be anywhere the vocal sounds like it needs to be thicker or fuller, and often to help it stand out from a dense backing track.

There are essentially two types of vocal doubling for me. There's the kind where the double is down about –6dB from the lead as a subtle enhancement. If you were to mute it you would definitely miss it, but when it's in you don't necessarily hear it as a double either. The other kind is an obvious effect, and it's where the lead + double are at the same level. Can sound pretty cool, but can also be cheesy if overused.

I prefer VocALign to hand editing any day. It saves hours + hours.
Old 11th November 2002
Here for the gear

Voc Align is our friend......
Old 11th November 2002
Here for the gear


A question about how you personally, use Vocalign . . .

If you want to have a double tracked vocal in the chorus,
Do you have the singer do several takes and choose which
one aligns best? Or is that not necessary? Do you have the
singer just sing it twice and then Vocalign does the rest?
How close does the singer have to be for Vocalign to do a good job?

Also, do you use Vocalign on double tracked guitars as well?


Old 12th November 2002
Here for the gear

I know it's not my question, but i thought i'd answer anyway. We never use voc align on a double of the same singer, if he/she is singing the same part in the same register. Only if that singer is signing a harmony to him/herself. The reason is it produces a very noticable chorus effect. (unless your going for that) We typically use voc align to align different singers.

Note: we also very often have a different dinger double the lead track instead of the original singer for the same reason. If you mix it -6 db down you don't notice the different voice, but you get a great texture without the chorus effect at all.
Old 12th November 2002
FX smörgåsbord user
Charles Dye's Avatar

Dr. J + Pete,

Dr. J's answer is pretty much what I do.

I will normally double a singer to themselves by punching it, or comping it until it aligns, but VA-ing it normally creates a kind of mettalic sound.

Thanks J
Old 12th November 2002
Here for the gear

Charles and J . . .

Thanks for your replies.

Let me run this by everyone and get some input on it . . .

This question specifically concerns an instance when you want a
lead vocal which is double tracked verbatim for a full sound.
No harmonies.

In another thread I posted a mix I just did using alot of Charles'
techniques from the HDL series in Digizine. In that song I double
tracked all lead vocals in the following manner . . .

First, I had her sing the song top to bottom about 12 times
(in several different sessions over a few days).

I then auditioned each vocal take phrase by phrase throughout
the song and pasted the best performance moments into a
composite vocal track . . . which took hours.

Next, I repeated the process only now I was listening for the
phrases in each take which best synced up with the main comp
vocal, trying to make it sound like one thick voice.
It was painstaking and it took many hours.

This is the only way I know of to have a composite double-tracked
lead vocal. It takes many hours.

Isn't this the way vocals on major label projects are done?
Is there a better or faster way?

Old 13th November 2002
Here for the gear

Well Pete, I can't speak for Charles, but don't usually take that much time. There are probably a million different takes on this, but here's what we do.

First, our singer generally knows their material before we let them in front of the mic. If it's a local band, they'll listen to us regarding that issue. If it's an established group, they're usually pretty good already. We do each song in sections. We label Lead Vox verse, Lead Vox pre-chs etc.... We track and use one of two methods. Either 5 direct passes, and move on, or keep tracking until we keep three good takes. (we use destructive record over top of takes until we have a keeper)

We then edit after the artist leaves. We usually track after 3pm, so the previous nights edits usually take place in the daytime. By the next evening we know if we need to re-do anything, or if we're good.

Using this method, we usually get one singer completely done per day. That's leads, back up's and "floating parts".

As far as doubling and aligning, it sounds like you may be making it harder than it needs to be. Granted occasionally we'll do the "8 hour edit/comp session” But only for a specific purpose.

I would say per 3:30 sec song, we take probably 1-3 hours max per full-length track doing the comp, running it through a Pitch Doctor or Auto Tune (if necessary), then Voc Aligning. (and we only Voc Align back up's to the lead. (Never the Lead to anything else)

Again, we seldom use a signer to double themselves. When we do it's usually in a chorus, and leveled down at least 6db from the original, and we do NOT voc align it. (it can make it to chorus effected). Usually when we need to fatten a vocal, we'll simply use a delay plug, or a second signer.

Also you don't need to make syllables line up, unless it's wayyy off, just a good performance. Voc Align will sync the track to the lead very well. Just make sure your regions are as close to the same length as possible.
Old 13th November 2002
Lives for gear
Curve Dominant's Avatar
Is there a better or faster way?


There is a faster way.

Better? Your mileage may vary, but here goes...

I'm producing a 10-song CD with a female singer right now. Generally in these songs, I like to triple the lead vocal in the chorus to make it hang better in the mix. Here's what I do:

In the edit window,
1) Select the chorus lead vocal, hit command + copy,
2) Open 2 new audio tracks,
3) Paste the vocal to both of those new tracks, starting precisely where the original started (using grid mode)
4) Nudge the first new track forward by 500 samples or so,
5) Nudge the second new track forward by 1000 samples or so,
6) Group these two new tracks, and pan them left and right about 60%, give or take to taste,
7) Lower their volume to about 60% of the lead vocal, give or take to taste,
8) Open insert plugs on these two tracks, and insert De-Esser/1-band EQ to try to surgically remove any nasty frequency buildup that will inevitably occur when resorting to such chicanery,
9) Hold your breath and pray that "golden ears" are not your targeted demographic.

File this technique under "Stupid Newbie Tricks."

The funniest thing about this technique: It works. When the chorus comes in, the vocal widens and thickens nicely.

The trick is to find that PRECISE number of samples to nudge by. Too few, and you get a weird phased-out sound. Too many, and you get a bathtubby-sounding slapback reverb. Some experimentation required here.

Then there's how you mix it in: It should be almost imperceptable, but noticable when you mute it.

Once you get this system down, it's fast. For one entire song, it takes me a few minutes to execute this move.

Is it "pro?" I dunno about that; we'll find out shortly, I'm sure.
Old 14th November 2002
Here for the gear

Hey Curve Dominant that sounds like a real time saver . . .
everytime I've tried something similar I get terrible phasing,
but I've never tried it your way . . . I'm gonna defiinitely try that!


Old 14th November 2002
Lives for gear
Curve Dominant's Avatar
Hey Curve Dominant that sounds like a real time saver . . .
everytime I've tried something similar I get terrible phasing,
but I've never tried it your way . . . I'm gonna defiinitely try that!



If you're getting the phasing, you're not nudging enough.

There's a VERY fine window between too little time nudging (the phasing) and too much (the bathtubby slapback). It's a matter of finding that window. It may vary from one singer to the next, the tempo of the song...experimentation is key.

BTW: I also do this to instruments that I want to blow-out to stereo. I'll double the instrument, nudge it forward by 1000 samples, and pan the two tracks out. For some reason, I've found 1000 samples to be the magic number for this technique, but your mileage may vary somewhat.

Good luck, and don't tell anyone you're doing this! Very bad!
Old 19th November 2002
Here for the gear

Hey, great topics here. Charles, a big muchos gracious to you for contributing like this, both here and in the Digizine, My hand hurts like hell from scribbling down so many pages of notes, but I think my mixes will thank me. I had just wanted to chime in on the doubling issue, and ask a question about using delays vs doubling a lead Vocal. A guitarist, I have found over the years that doubling a part creates a glassy, smoother 'sheen' of a sound as many of the nuances of a take seem to get covered over by each other. I don't know if that's an entirely accurate way to put that but it's a sound we all know. Usually, I much prefer to use delays, or something like charles' dual-eventide trick (though as an LE user I don't have the DPP-1) as this both thickens the sound, and retains the 'grittier' feel of the original part. Now, I'm finding the same preference for vox, though I'm sure this just depends on the singer, and the material. With my current project, which has a male singer with lots of cool inflection and character in his voice, I find that I, and he as well, dislike the sound of doubling on him. So, the question is, what are some of your guys fave techniques for fattening a vocal, especially a chorus, other than doubling?
I know, Charles, that the installment of HDL for next month's DigiZine deals with this issue, so maybe this could be considered literary foreshadowing......
Old 19th November 2002
Gear Head
John Sayers's Avatar

In the OLD days I used to make a copy of the vox and then modulate it in a delay so it's changing pitch slightly. add to taste.

Old 19th November 2002
Lives for gear
groundcontrol's Avatar

Originally posted by John Sayers
... and then modulate it in a delay so it's changing pitch slightly
and here lies the master's touch...
Old 22nd November 2002
Here for the gear

I double only in selected weak spots or when there is a pitch problem that never gets nailed.

Same singer- no harmony, down more than 6db from main voc- sometimes EQ'ed a bit more than the main to take lows down- pump up mid-highs.

For the double I either do it the hard was as described at the top of this thread


I may use autotune:

If its not already on the main I'll may send the main thru auto tune set to the key of the song timing paramerter tweaked ( usually around #7). Record to a new channel EQ as above and use as double. May need to delay a small amount if any phasing becomes apparent. I make the double a little bit wetter than the main in the mix.

If the main voc is already autotuned I may reset the timing parameter of autotune and run thru it again.
Record to another channel EQ/delay as above and see how it sounds.

Since the double is lying way back - just re-enforcing the main-
I dont find any of the potential autotune artifacts to be a problem here.

The auto tune loop ( I use the hardware version as Im working on an AW4416)) also provides some small delay upon re-recording and its converters do give some differential warmth/flavor to the Vox versus the main.

I need to check out the VocAlign.

Hey - this forum has really perked up since I was here last.
Nice to see.
Old 25th November 2002
Gear Maniac
dynamike's Avatar
maybe obvious

when syncing up backing vox, you put voc align on the backing vox track(s), but then how do you tell it to sync with the lead vox?

or am i way off?
Old 25th November 2002
Gear Addict
mixer's Avatar

you use the original track as the reference and sync the doubles to it...
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread Starter / Forum
Cojo / Electronic Music Instruments and Electronic Music Production
brill bedroom / So much gear, so little time
Mike Jasper / So much gear, so little time
Mike Jasper / Q+A with Fletcher and Eve Anna Manley

Forum Jump
Forum Jump