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Ella Mai chain...
Old 16th April 2019
Here for the gear
Adam Peter Shinn's Avatar

Ella Mai chain...

I'm really digging the vocal sound Ella Mai has on her debut album.

Especially on songs like...

"Boo'd Up"
"Shot Clock"

A darker sound (especially compared to other modern r&b/pop songs) but full/fat and smooth in the midrange, and still present. Like warm butter on a stack of pancakes LOL.

I know Jaycen Joshua mixed, but from other mixes he's done, I can tell a major variable has to be the way it was recorded.

Anyone have any insight on the chain and technique?

Pretty pretty please?
Old 28th April 2019
Here for the gear
Adam Peter Shinn's Avatar

Old 29th April 2019
Gear Maniac

Originally Posted by Adam Peter Shinn View Post
If ur asking for a specific chain, no one is going to be able to give you a correct answer. Otherwise, there’s plenty information on the internet of popular vocal chains used on r&b artists.

It’s likely a Neumann or C800G, I want to lean more toward C800G because that’s just the professional standard these days. Then most likely going through a 1073 style pre amp, and for a compressor a LA-2A or CL-1B.

Again this is all speculation, there’s really no saying exactly unless you have like super power ears. So much processing goes on from start to finish in the mix that it’s pretyy hard to make out what was being used in the signal chain.

I’m only really familiar with Jaycens vocal chain on The Weeknd’s song, Reminder, where he openly talked about his vocal chain in the box. But Ella Mai’s vocals are so dry compared to The Weeknd’s which makes it quite hard to compare.

As for the vocal chain he used on The Weeknd’s reminder, it went something like Fabfilter pro Q to cut the lows and he does a low shelf around 300-500 to clean up the low mids, then an Rvox, which Jaycen speaks very highly of, the mcdsp multiband compressor, and Air EQ for some air.

His vocal chain for Ella Mai is likely quite different but some things you can take from him is he loves rvox, he doesn’t like to use a deeser, he prefers to use automation instead.

But as for the Ella Mais vocal chain is sounds pretty dry and clean, not much going on, doesn’t sound like it would be very hard to achieve. Hardest part would be getting the signal chain she likely used recording, which is likely very expensive as most pop artists are.

And an even harder part would be finding a girl as talented as she is. Her performance sounds top of the line. there’s not many artists out there who can sound that good. Please understand the important of a good performance, it far outweighs any of the importance of engineering.

You can have the most expensive, greatest vocal chain there is, but if the performance sucks, none of that matters. A C-800G isn’t going to turn of a bad performance into a good performance. Neither will rvox, fabfilter, or Aireq. None of these things can enhance something that is never there to begin with

Anyways, back to ur question,

Just watching a bunch of Pensados Place in the box videos will give you a good idea of the signal chains these guys use in the box. If you don’t know, Jaycen came up under Dave and uses many of his techniques to this day.

The biggest famous trick is using a parallel compression with the CLA-76 blue face and L1 limiter, then blending the parallel and the main signal together, often sending them to the same bus to process them together. I’m personally not a fan of this specific chain for parallel compression.

there’s many other great ways to use all these techniques with many different tools. My best advice would be to experiment. It’s better to experiment and find what sounds best to you than chasing other engineers tips and tricks. Find something that is unique to you and sets you apart from the rest. One thing you don’t want to fall into is trying to sound like someone else.

At the end of the day, none of this stuff is rocket science. None of these guys are magicians. Most of the magic ur hearing is coming from the performance of the artists themselves, not the engineer.

Most pro engineers are just cleaning stuff up, and enhancing things until it sounds good. None of these guys are very technical and a lot of them don’t even know what some plugins are doing, they just know it sounds good from experimenting. Especially the guys working in the hip hop/r&b world. So just keep experimenting man, you’ll never hit a gold mine if you don’t search.

You have to realize most of these pro’s “techniques” came from them constantly working and trying new things to search for something that will give them a better sound than they had the day before. They’re learning and expirmernig every day just as much as you or any other engineer. Nothing is perfect and everyone is learning, even professionals.
Old 5th May 2019
Here for the gear

considering she is signed by mustard I would say sony c800g + tube tech. He always makes sure he makes music in the best and ideal studio environments from what I observed about him.
Old 13th May 2019
Lives for gear
One thing is certain, that sound is only achievable with stellar room acoustics and no noise.

If you don't have the ability to do that, I think you can forget about vocal chain haha.
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