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voice harmonies Analog Processors (HW)
Old 12th September 2011
  #1
Gear Nut
 

voice harmonies

after googling on voice harmonies i found two that i think it sounds pretty good. They are the TL Helicon Voiceworks and the DigiTech vocalist live 5. i'm looking for more of a natural voice harmonies, and i think the DigiTech is better in that way. can somebody give me some recommendations, ups and downs, on both of these devices? if there are other that sounds better than these two can you write them down for me. i don't do live singing. i would love to grab one in my studio and process it into pro tools.
Old 12th September 2011
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
i'm looking for more of a natural voice harmonies
a person who took their craft (singing) seriously would probably do the vocal harmonies "manually"
Old 12th September 2011
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by LimpyLoo View Post
a person who took their craft (singing) seriously would probably do the vocal harmonies "manually"
Yep. If you want natural, the old-fashioned way (singing) is probably the best way to go.

But, if one wants to work the system, here's an idea: create some robo harmonies from different lead vocal takes and then mix and match the not-quite-matching harmonized tracks derived from the different lead vocal takes.
Old 12th September 2011
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LimpyLoo View Post
a person who took their craft (singing) seriously would probably do the vocal harmonies "manually"
i know that, but most of us aren't pop stars.
Old 12th September 2011
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Yep. If you want natural, the old-fashioned way (singing) is probably the best way to go.

But, if one wants to work the system, here's an idea: create some robo harmonies from different lead vocal takes and then mix and match the not-quite-matching harmonized tracks derived from the different lead vocal takes.
i don't like robo sounds. from what i heard the digitech is pretty close to natural. this is version 4 though.

Old 12th September 2011
  #6
Gear Nut
 

sounds good right?
Old 13th September 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
i know that, but most of us aren't pop stars.
Practicing vocal harmonies is fun, and you learn a lot about what you can do with different melodies and progressions. It's worth at least attempting it.
Old 13th September 2011
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
i know that, but most of us aren't pop stars.
That's OK, because more than a few pop stars -- including the 'best' female country vocalist from a year or two ago -- can't sing very well, themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
sounds good right?
What's good? Sounds pretty fake to me. But, you know, we live in a time when most of the music on the radio is pretty well totally fake. We're told, over and over, that today's audience likes fake. And, clearly, some utterly obvious and really distracting sore-thumb pitch correction hasn't got in the way of a number of country and pop hits over the last decade.

Not to mention fake-for-its-own-sake tuning-as-effect, a la Glee.

But, if you're asking, yeah, sounds fake. Real harmony singers don't all dip and bob and weave in unison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unitymusic View Post
Practicing vocal harmonies is fun, and you learn a lot about what you can do with different melodies and progressions. It's worth at least attempting it.
This is my thinking. It's not the same as stomping a pedal, having a device suss out what chord you're playing on the through-routed guitar, and supply robotically 'perfect' harmonies, of course. Some folks probably won't want to go to the trouble of doing it the 'hard' way. And, of course, if someone is going to do the MIDI-lounge singer thing, then some kind of robo-harmonizer is probably going to be necessary for those Queen covers...
Old 13th September 2011
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
i know that, but most of us aren't pop stars.
I guess one question would have to be, then why do you want to pretend you are?
Old 13th September 2011
  #10
Gear Maniac
I highly recommend the voice live 2 (TC helicon) if you want a more natural sounding harmony then the digitech IMO.

I demoed both heavily when i started playing at a local bar and went with the voice live 2. They both do a good job at following the input and making harmony based on the notes you play but I thought the digitech sounded a lot more mechanical and unnatural then the voice live 2.

The voice live 2 will even follow you very closely if you don't give it an input source to follow and really really well if you set the key. You can also hard tune if you so choose.

Now that being said i know you asked about using it for recording....

I made some youtube videos for fun using it as a direct input source for my vocals (I am NOT nor do i claim to be even remotely decent at mixing/DAW stuff) I used the voicelives compression, e.q., harmony going straight into a Zoom hn4 with cubase 4 (super low end) for all my youtube videos with really no touch ups or plugins so they are rough.

The link below is an example where i'm punching on and off the harmony and I think the harmonies sound pretty natural. All my vocals are a direct input from the voicelive in all my vids if you want more examples. I would image if you actually knew how to mix and record, had some good equipment, you could make the harmonies work for you

fender4593's Channel - YouTube
Old 13th September 2011
  #11
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Ron Vogel's Avatar
 

The problem with that stuff is you end up singing TO the box...or better yet singing what sounds good through the box. Some harmonies won't plain work through those things (think dissonant type stuff). I was able to develop my harmonies over the course of a year or two...not too hard if you understand piano basics. I like to work out my vocals...transfer the melody to piano, then figure out what chords work with the song. Then I break down the vocal parts to the notes of each chord; can actually be quite fun.

I can see that being useful for the one-man-band thing at open mic nights...
Old 13th September 2011
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
That's OK, because more than a few pop stars -- including the 'best' female country vocalist from a year or two ago -- can't sing very well, themselves.
yes, it is OK. practice makes perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
What's good? Sounds pretty fake to me. But, you know, we live in a time when most of the music on the radio is pretty well totally fake. We're told, over and over, that today's audience likes fake. And, clearly, some utterly obvious and really distracting sore-thumb pitch correction hasn't got in the way of a number of country and pop hits over the last decade.

Not to mention fake-for-its-own-sake tuning-as-effect, a la Glee.

But, if you're asking, yeah, sounds fake. Real harmony singers don't all dip and bob and weave in unison.
they sound good to me. at least it's not wobby like autotune cuz that's faker. here there is no robo and wobby so it's good imo. lol.
Old 13th September 2011
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
I guess one question would have to be, then why do you want to pretend you are?
there is nothing wrong doing over dub. just that u can never make it perfect like that. like the other guy says, a lot of pple are faking it on the radio and pop albums. it makes them feel good i guess.
Old 13th September 2011
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fender4593 View Post
I highly recommend the voice live 2 (TC helicon) if you want a more natural sounding harmony then the digitech IMO.

I demoed both heavily when i started playing at a local bar and went with the voice live 2. They both do a good job at following the input and making harmony based on the notes you play but I thought the digitech sounded a lot more mechanical and unnatural then the voice live 2.

The voice live 2 will even follow you very closely if you don't give it an input source to follow and really really well if you set the key. You can also hard tune if you so choose.

Now that being said i know you asked about using it for recording....

I made some youtube videos for fun using it as a direct input source for my vocals (I am NOT nor do i claim to be even remotely decent at mixing/DAW stuff) I used the voicelives compression, e.q., harmony going straight into a Zoom hn4 with cubase 4 (super low end) for all my youtube videos with really no touch ups or plugins so they are rough.

The link below is an example where i'm punching on and off the harmony and I think the harmonies sound pretty natural. All my vocals are a direct input from the voicelive in all my vids if you want more examples. I would image if you actually knew how to mix and record, had some good equipment, you could make the harmonies work for you

fender4593's Channel - YouTube
sounds good and pretty natural. :D are they default presets?

i also think the digitech can achieve the same result and alot cheaper. i will have to think about this for a bit.
Old 13th September 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
It is not so hard to sing harmony in the studio.
I do it and I am a terrible singer(and cant harmonize live)
Just find the harmonies on the keyboard or guitar,record it and sing along.
I have to take out all other vocals when I record or I end up in unison.
Try doing some oohs/ahhs with straight triad chords(root,3rd,5th) and you will be loving it
The machines are great for gigs,but there is nothing like stacking up your own voice to give you that warm fuzzy feeling(and sound)
Old 13th September 2011
  #16
Registered User
I have a couple of TC VoiceLive2 boxes. I got them for live use, and they turn out to be very cool studio boxes. They can be used digital via s/pdif at up to 24/96. This is the only way to use them, because the mic preamp is very noisy. (They have a limited edition version where they say they have improved the preamps - I don't know how good they are).

For live use, I drive them with an API A2D, because I care. A lot of people wouldn't bother - i'm probably being fussy for live use.

The auto harmony thing is a bit of fun, but frankly I don't recommend this. The best harmonies come from playing the exact midi notes that you want. It's the only way to get pedal tone harmonies and weird stuff.

This isn't easy - you need to take something that can output audio and midi, and I hate to use unreliable laptops so i'm still looking for the perfect solution...
Old 13th September 2011
  #17
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
sounds good and pretty natural. :D are they default presets?

i also think the digitech can achieve the same result and alot cheaper. i will have to think about this for a bit.
yes, all the harmonies I've used are default setting with no tweaking on the VL2. In fact I only use preset #2 called "up a third" bc i like it and works for me and I go with what works....

I will say the following. When I tried both pedals "live" the digitech sounded much more mechanical and unnatural then the VL2 through the PA. That was through a PA with added reverb and added warmth from the PA which really helped both pedals sound better and more natural. When I record with VL2 it clearly sounds a little more digital to me then when i play live. So i would suspect the digitech would be even worse?? but I'm not claiming to have recorded it so i can't say for sure. just my 2 cents. Hope it helps
Old 13th September 2011
  #18
Registered User
The VL2 is very tweakable ... you can do robotic if you want, but you have a lot of options to humanize the voices, and make it very natural.

I would avoid presets totally ... make something that suits your voice. Even a simple thing like choosing whether to formant shift up or down a bit can have a big effect on the final result.

Some other things i've found out the hard way:

Bringing in harmonies or FX tends to aggravate any feedback-prone system. You may want to use a compressor after these boxes. In theory, you could program in the appropriate level decreases instead, but a compressor/limiter isn't a bad idea anyway ...

You need a mic with ultimate noise rejection - otherwise, any extraneous noise or leakage gets pitch shifted/harmonised too.... very ugly.

I've got Crown CM311 mics (wired & wireless versions) which are fantastic, patented noise rejecting mics. AKG have recently acquired them - I really hope their intentions are honorable, because AKG headset mics are crap and there is nothing like the CM311. The noise cancelling feature is a bit like noise cancelling headphones - it works. And you can sit the mic on your lips and scream, and it still sounds good.
Old 13th September 2011
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
there is nothing wrong doing over dub. just that u can never make it perfect like that. like the other guy says, a lot of pple are faking it on the radio and pop albums. it makes them feel good i guess.
And that's why their stuff sounds like plastic poop probably as well. As has been said so many times, flawless and perfect are not the same thing when it comes to music. Flawless is boring, and it's the bane of modern music. The biggest musical genre today seems to be Artificial.
Old 13th September 2011
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
And that's why their stuff sounds like plastic poop probably as well. As has been said so many times, flawless and perfect are not the same thing when it comes to music. Flawless is boring, and it's the bane of modern music. The biggest musical genre today seems to be Artificial.

YUT.
Old 13th September 2011
  #21
Registered User
Artificial has been around since Les Paul invented multrack recording and varispeed and artificial echo, etc, etc ...

Bit too late to whinge about it now ...

The humanizing parameters in VL2 can be very convincing ... I think you could fool many engineers on a simple harmony ...
Old 13th September 2011
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
[...]
they sound good to me. at least it's not wobby like autotune cuz that's faker. here there is no robo and wobby so it's good imo. lol.
Yeah... I didn't mean to suggest that it sounded bad, actually, just that, particularly toward the end of that vid clip, you can hear the tell tale lockstep of robo-harmony.

Certainly, just because it sounds 'fake' doesn't necessarily mean it sounds bad -- in fact, I was pretty intrigued the first time I heard robo-harmonies back in the early 80s -- and I've had some fun with them myself, at times, although the only place I've got them to 'work' to my taste was in a house/electronica context... while, on the other hand, to my ear, obvious tuning artifacts (the sore-thumb corrections that some engineers, particularly in Nashville, apparently have thought for much of the last decade that you can get away with) really, really make my skin crawl, so I hear you there. (And then there are fake harmonies on top of obvious tuning. ) For what its worth, I don't have a problem with tuning that isn't obvious -- but I appear to think more stuff is obvious that at least some folks.
Old 17th November 2011
  #23
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play/record's Avatar
 

These types of processors are best appreciated in a live setting especially in a situation with just one singer, but you must be careful not to go overboard with TOO MUCH harmony/doubling etc or, though it might sound good, it will sound ridiculous coming from one singer.
Using effects judiciously, what a concept... Just enough to thicken and pad out the hooks and choruses, maybe a small bit of doubling on some verses, not a lot. If you sound good without it, with the right amount of this stuff and used in the right places, you will sound really good. But, do yourself, your band and everyone that listens a favor - first sound good without it.
Old 17th November 2011
  #24
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TurboJets's Avatar
The TC unit and the Digitech unit are both useful. I had the chance to demo the first rackmount Helicon for a few weeks courtesy of a local dealer that asked me to take it home and check it out. $700? at the time I think.

I thought it was very cool but as others have indicated, nowhere really near the impact of a real human voice.

What I discovered though was the ability to record the harmonies completely wet, study them, learn them, and practice them so I could record them using my own voice rather then the chip-generated signal.

I suck at figuring out harmonies to sing, my brain just doesn't work that way. So these new cheaper pedal versions are at least cool for sonically illustrating the possibilities that you can learn and practice with. The ultimate goal being to record your own natural voice in the end.

Most of today's harmonies used during the verse sections of songs are tucked way in the background underneath the lead vocal, used as an incredibly effective tool to sweeten the main vocal and add color, texture, and something just super-interesting to what might be an otherwise lack-luster sound. I love the effect to be honest. But I do enjoy when these harmonies sound more like a human voice than a digital chip-generated effect.
Old 17th November 2011
  #25
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Crash's Avatar



I used the TC Helicon Voice Live (Gen I) on these two tunes. These tunes needed something to help out the vocal track and since the singer no longer lived around to do any more tracks, I gave this a try. There are other tunes on the project where I used it as well but these were the most obvious. It is not the real deal but in my opinion, it does a pretty good job, especially since it was the only option 17 years down the road.

I can't comment on the Digitech but posted these just so the TC could be heard in the hands of a hack like me.
Old 17th November 2011
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grace24 View Post
after googling on voice harmonies i found two that i think it sounds pretty good. They are the TL Helicon Voiceworks and the DigiTech vocalist live 5. i'm looking for more of a natural voice harmonies, and i think the DigiTech is better in that way. can somebody give me some recommendations, ups and downs, on both of these devices? if there are other that sounds better than these two can you write them down for me. i don't do live singing. i would love to grab one in my studio and process it into pro tools.
the term for these devices isn't vocal harmonies. vocal harmonies the RESULTING SOUND of when vocalists sing in harmony together, or the resulting output from one of these devices.

the devices themselves are typically called vocal harmonists. because they artificially create harmonies.

just wanted to point that out - if you call a store or ask anyone they might be confused with the wrong title for the product.

cheers
Don
Old 17th November 2011
  #27
Registered User
I wish to buy a vocal harmony, and a pound of your finest lyrics ...

I'd call them a harmony box. "Harmonist" might confuse a banjo mart employee too ...
Old 18th November 2011
  #28
Gear Addict
 
kerouac's Avatar
A friend of mine has one and I played with it a bit. Neither of us are very good singers, so the results weren't very good. I recently recorded an Iron & Wine cover that had harmonies and I learned and performed them myself. Took about an hour to finally get some that were MOSTLY in tune, but they still sounded better than the pedal.
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