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Distortion techniques for lead vocals
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
maxhype's Avatar
Distortion techniques for lead vocals

I love distortion on lead rock vocals and would like to utilize the technique on some upcoming productions. However quick experiments with my Culture Vulture and guitar pedals have yielded poor results. Amp sims have generally sounded awful. Not as easy as it sounds to get this right.

My favorite band for this technique is The Dead Weather. They bring rich distortion to the voices of Jack White and Allison Mosshart that is effortless, never harsh, and every word remains crystal clear. I've read that they use guitar amps for vocals but to my ears seemingly avoid amp noise. I've found nothing more specific on their approach. Perhaps they are simply using high end guitar amps on mild settings? I don't have any amps around to experiment at the moment.

Anyone with ideas, knowledge or techniques to share are appreciated
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Head
YMMV, but i find that distortion on vocals works best when used in parallell. Whenever i try to distort the whole track it always feels like it's either too much or not enough, and parallell processing helps with that.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

If you want to start at the source...
The voice itself, you may want to look up Kenny Tamplin and James Lugo, on vocal distortion techniques.
Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
+1 for parallel distortion! guitar pedals, plugins like the klanghelm ivgi or Scheps 73, sansamp bass DI, anything works great with this technique.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
If you're feeling really saucy, put the voice(s) on an aux send and pump it out to an actual guitar amp and mix IT. Then you're doing the parallel thing AND not using things you have already decided don't sound right.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I’ve had bad luck with guitar distortions as well.

I’ve found that ‘analog emulation’ plugs work better for me. Saturators, preamps and especially tape emulators pushed hard work much better in my world.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Parallel track through a pedal via reamp, or using a Radial EXTC, or line in on a mic pre slammed, or Soundtoys Decapitator work well for me.

From Vance's q/a here...

"the "dead weather" vocal sound came about because I brought my Ampex H-1390 (as a "scratch vocal sound.. ha!)and pluged it into Jack's Deluxe Reverb mic'ed with a 57, into a 1073, add liberal amounts of 1176 and record.. She is in the room with the band so all that bleed is part of her sound.."
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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vernier's Avatar
Summit Audio TPA-200B does it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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gainreduction's Avatar
 

Devil-Loc in parallell.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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have been using some crappy waves plugin (emulations of guitar pedals) to get a singer of a tango orchestra a retro sound one can hear on albums from way back... - sounds like your grand dad's 78rpm's!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
I've tried many, many devices and methods for this and have found the holy grail for vocal distortion: Elektron Analog Heat. You can dial in some very sweet sounding velvety distortion that to me sounds like going thru an RCA OP6.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Clip/Sat?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Depends on the type of distortion you're after but sometimes I'll record with a megaphone and mix it with the vocals, even a small one will do the trick, no plug in will get close.
Or mult your signal to a super cheap compressor like an Alesis nanocompressor, that thing distorts like no plug in too.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
KingsX's Avatar
 

Interested in this subject as well.

I am currently playing with my Fostex R8 reel to reel - can you get a nice analog distortion for vox by over saturating tape?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
Set up parallel processing for your vocal track on the paralleled track use a light distortion but also compress to hell and back. Try and use a very colorful compressor too.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Just hire Tom Waits, or simply use a TLM 103!
Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
have been using some crappy waves plugin (emulations of guitar pedals) to get a singer of a tango orchestra a retro sound one can hear on albums from way back... - sounds like your grand dad's 78rpm's!
Holy Tangelo Batman!
Any clips?
Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction View Post
Devil-Loc in parallell.
This what I use. Put a Gate before it so you don't get all the breath and mouth noises.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 
XAXAU's Avatar
 

HPF + LPF into Analog Heat
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
maxhype's Avatar
A lot of great responses so far, thanks! I'm intrigued by the amount of different approaches.

For anyone not familiar with The Dead Weather here is something typical:



It seems the consensus with pedals or plugins is parallel processing. However regarding The Dead Weather apparently they weren't even re-amping but plugging a vintage dynamic straight into a guitar amp? Sounds like a Jack White thing to do. Thanks @ Maggot Brain for that info!

@ Rob Coates @ XAXAU I'm intrigued - are you using the analog heat in parallel? Any recorded examples?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Oh man, the Analog Heat has gotten my attention as well now... Does it take normal line level? It does seem like a lot of menu diving, how is the workflow?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Nut
 

I like the UAD Culture Vulture for this.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
the distortion-vocal on I am the Walrus was done with a cheap Talkback mic and overdriven mic preamp.... G.Emerick RIP
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 

For vocal distortion I keep coming back to reamping through a little Pignose practice amp. It's solid-state, but it has IMO just what the doctor ordered.

Lately I have also been getting good results with Soundtoys Decapitator, which has much broader range of sonic 'options'.


One thing I have not seen mentioned yet is how some singers generate an acoustic distortion by using a hand-held mic and 'cupping' it like a harmonica mic.

Another thing to try is parallel miking - using a Green Bullet or a Copperphone mic taped to the actual vocal mic.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Decapitator. which has a parallel blend setting. I often have a light limiter beforehand to make sure vocal going in is nice and even.

FWIW the distortion on Arctic Monkeys' "Favourite Worst Nightmare" album's vocals was primarily the Echo Farm plugin...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Btw, was just thinking . .vocal distortion is one thing I'll never try, lol.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
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bowzin's Avatar
Saturation plugins. There are many excellent ones now. The most flexible I've come across is FabFilter Saturn. Just turning up the default preset is usually an improvement. Or it can be super complex and powerful as needed.

Also tape machine plugins are basically in this same category of adding nice saturation.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZEF View Post
the distortion-vocal on I am the Walrus was done with a cheap Talkback mic and overdriven mic preamp.... G.Emerick RIP
They used an AKG d19 at abbey road for talkback, not exactly a cheap mic.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
interesting, didnt know the mic model...

foudn this posted too
>>>Recording The Beatles
wherein Geoff Emerick is quoted on page 466 saying that is the distictive overloading of the REDD47 (a modified V72A premp) that gives it the particular fuzz effect...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Variety of Sound Vintage Broadcast Limiter
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