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#206323 - 06/14/13 07:48 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ?
Joe V Offline
Expert

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 1017
Loc: NYC
Hi,

As a guitar player that would like to start singing sometimes along with my playing of classic rock and pop tunes, I picked up a helicon voiceworks hardware box.

I was wondering, as a player's guitar sounds have effects processing that is obvious to guitar players (e.g. Eddie Van Halen has his distortion/delay/phaser-flanger sound, Hotel California solo has it's L.Paul dble hum distortion-phaser/thirds sound, etc.),
do singers also have effects processing on there voices that are obvious to musicians that are good with vocal effects ?

For example, the groups Abba, Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Chicago are some of my favorites - are there distinctive vocal effects that characterize their sound ?

Also - are there any sites where the particular parameters (for example, Voiceworks settings or PG Effects settings files) are shared for the purpose of saving time for fellow musicians looking to emulate the sounds of classic bands ?

Thanks in advance,
Joe


Edited by Joe V (06/14/13 07:49 PM)

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#206327 - 06/14/13 10:25 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
SILVERBACK Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Great Lakes - USA
Hi Joe... Just about every answer to any question regarding recording technique starts "Well, it all depends..." We have a lot more effects, etc. available to us now than we did back in the day.

So much of what they accomplished was through doing the simple things well. My best advice is listen to the vocal you want to copy - listen to it time and time and time again. I use headphones when I really want to pick something apart. Listen for vocal delay and reverb and slapback and doubling. They had great mics, live reverb rooms and Gotham plates...

Without going on for a few hours here, I'd also suggest you check out the Recording Revolution material on YouTube... You'll find a lot of great material there.

http://www.youtube.com/user/recordingrevolution

Regarding your purchase and use of the Helicon Voiceworks hardware box, I can't help you specifically with it as I
don't use pitch or vocal correction. It's not that I don't approve or like the tuning effects, I just haven't gone there - yet!

For success with vocals you'll need clean recordings: proper levels, sibilance control (de-essers) and light to medium amounts of compression/limiting...

Get that much right and then you can play with adding vocal "special effects" plugins all night long.

You may or may not want to follow this vocal chain:

The vocal mic (condenser or dynamic, it's all up to you and your wallet) placed 8-12 inches away from your mouth using a pop filter placed between the mic and your mouth...

It's best to hang the mic above your head pointing downward from above so your vocal plosives (b's, p's, etc.) are not being blown down directly into the mic - this is a lot easier to do with a large diaphragm mic like the Neumann U87,67,47, or their clones - or any mic designed to "hang" down from above.

If you can't manage the downward hanging thing with your current mic, try to "duck" your plosives by moving your mouth slightly to one side or the other as you sing a plosive into the mic. Always use a pop filter, buy one or make one. A Google search will give you several methods on how to make a pop filter.

The mic signal should then go into a stand-alone preamp if you have one (if not, your digital interface or board will provide the preamp duty).

Then I generally add a bit of compression or limiting to keep any signal clipping out of the picture before I put the signal "on tape".

Here in the digital age you must be sure you don't clip (overblown) the signal... These days I usually aim for the -12 neighborhood when tracking. (In the analog days we often red-lined all the way up to +3 on the 0VU meter scale going after tape saturation. It's been tough for me to lose that red-light mentality!!)

Other than the compression/limiting, I'd suggest you record the vocal signal "dry" without any other effects.

After you get a dry, dynamically-controlled and otherwise well-recorded vocal track "on tape", then you can experiment
with your effects as you seek to emulate the classic sounds.

The biggest mistake most fledgling engineers make is adding too much reverb, too much compression, too much whatever, etc... Long ago I was instructed by my boss to "set it where you think it's right, then back it down several clicks."

Regarding the classic Abba, the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees and Chicago recordings, I'm pretty sure they all used Gotham
EMT 140 plates as part of their vocal chain of effects - the plates were the standard vocal effect back in the day (if the studio had the space and the $$$)... As the art of recording progressed, compression, limiting, chorusing, flanging, etc. all came into the picture.

Some studios had live reverberation rooms/chambers back then - The Beach Boys and BeeGees recorded at both GoldStar and Capitol Records studios - both studios had great live reverb rooms that brought them a lot of business. Capitol still uses their live room(s) - actually they have 8 live rooms buried 20+' underground). They were designed/constructed by Les Paul in the early 50's and are still going strong.

Both plates and live rooms give the warm, dark reverberations to vocals that so many classic R&R tunes have... I love the sound. Of course the real deal sounds better, but the plug-ins are getting pretty damn good. And of course the "old fart factor" is in play here - things were always "better back in the day" - right?

Today there are some decent plate plugins out there both for sale and for free (I like the TAL Plate II - a VST freebie.) Regarding plate plugins... Play with the pre-delay amounts... and try rolling off the highs - I generally EQ shelf my plate returns to ban 1k and above... It's a matter of taste. Ask ten engineers a question and you'll get eleven answers...

Live doubling of vocals is a nice effect if your singer can do it... Brian Wilson was a master.

...or try duplicating your vocal track and sliding it 10-20 ms later than the original, then blend it back into the mix to fatten the vocal sound...

Parallel compression is a nice effect (make a duplicate track of your vocal and squash it mercilessly with compression, then blend it back into your mix with the original...)

Back in the late 50's and early 60's we used a lot of slapback echo on vocals by feeding a vocal track loop into a tape machine and routing the recorded, delayed signal back into the mix... The speed we ran the "slapback" machine at (1 7/8ips, 3 3/4ips or 7 1/2ips) determined to amount of vocal delay and "slap" fed back into the vocal effect return buss.

Many digital delay plug-ins have "slapback" simulations you might want to play with... (early Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis,
right through to the 1970's Hollies' tune "Long Cool Woman" all used the slapback effect...)

I could go one here Joe, but I'm getting the feeling you asked me what time it was and I'm giving you directions on how to build an atomic clock.

So... most importantly get your vocal right at the source; then have at it with your effects plug-ins... and don't go overboard with the effects in the mix - unless that's your intention...

Good luck!
_________________________
just an old analog dog tryin' to learn new tricks...

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#206331 - 06/14/13 10:34 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
MountainSide Offline
Expert

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 1038
Loc: Lake Keowee, South Carolina
Joe, there are hundreds of preset harmonies available in many genres for the following Helicon products: VoiceLive 2, VoiceLive Touch 1 & 2, VoiceTone R1, D1, Harmony-G XT, Synth and Create XT. Unfortunately, I don't think the VoiceWorks is included in these. There is however a free editor for the VoiceWorks that may be of some help in putting some of these together. See the Helicon site for details

I personally use the VoiceLive Touch series and am working with a guy over in England beta testing an improved editor for the Touch series that has separate control screens: one optimized for live use and another for studio use. This software will integrate with the over 700 presets currently available for this line of harmonizers.
_________________________
Win10x64, Intel i7 7700k@4.6Ghz, 32Gb RAM, 2x1Tb HD, 500Gb NVMe, BIAB 2018v520, RB 2018v5, MOTU 828MK3 audio, MOTU Midi Express, Yamaha DX7II, TX802, Motif XS Rack, Roland Fantom XR Rack, Oberheim Matrix 1000, VoiceLive Touch, Kontakt 5.8, SampleTank 3.7

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#206410 - 06/15/13 02:57 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: SILVERBACK]
ROG Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/12/11
Posts: 2588
Loc: York, England
Hi SILVERBACK and welcome to the forums.

I completely agree with all the advice you've given Joe.

You've obviously been around recording for a while and I'm sure your experience will be really useful here. At the very least it won't just be me remembering the VUs banging against the end stops and endless sub-mixes when we'd run out of tape tracks!

ROG.

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#206473 - 06/15/13 10:03 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: ROG]
SILVERBACK Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Great Lakes - USA
Thank you ROG... You are indeed not alone in the analog daze memories.

I am truly amazed by BiaB and all the digital advances that have been made. I guess the old days were what we had to endure to get here!! - All the fun we had to participate in was just a by-product!!

I still have some old cutting blocks and razor blades just in case!
_________________________
just an old analog dog tryin' to learn new tricks...

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#206476 - 06/15/13 10:38 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
Pat Marr Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 7525
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Welcome Silverback! If you are anything like ROG (and it appears you are) then we are lucky to have somebody with your experience here.

I look forward to hearing any contributions you might make to the forum, whether musical or informational.

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#206493 - 06/16/13 02:22 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
bupper Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 03/25/09
Posts: 123
For Abba, they doubled, tripled & sometimes quadruples their takes & combined them, that was their sound. Not just vocals either, every instrument was done the same way

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#206508 - 06/16/13 08:12 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: SILVERBACK]
stratocaster Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/15/06
Posts: 599
Loc: Denmark
I would really like to try the TAL reverb, but I must be doing something wrong, when trying to install the DLL. I get a warning that it isn't a proper VST file ???
Which of the files is the right one when I have Win7 /64bit OS and RB 2013 ?

Strat

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#206532 - 06/16/13 11:18 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
Sundance Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/30/08
Posts: 4215
Silverback,

Welcome to the forum! Great post. Thanks for the tip on the reverb, tried it - sweet.
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Josie
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#206560 - 06/16/13 01:59 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
rharv Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 18920
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
Quote:

things were always "better back in the day" - right?


um, no.

Tape degrades over time and with use. Many hours of work in the 70s & 80s is lost, only good for remembering how the song went at best. Plus everything took longer; you had rewind between takes!
Syncing tape was a pain ..

Try getting the same sound from an analog synth on two different nights in two different locations. Those markers on the sliders/knobs were approximate at best once voltage started changing at all.

I, for one, like the reliability of digital.
_________________________
Make your sound your own!

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#206563 - 06/16/13 02:41 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
ROG Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/12/11
Posts: 2588
Loc: York, England
Lighten up rharv. I think if you'd quoted the whole sentence -

Quote:
And of course the "old fart factor" is in play here - things were always "better back in the day" - right?


you'd see that SILVERBACK is just displaying a sense of humor.

ROG.

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#206616 - 06/16/13 08:16 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: ROG]
SILVERBACK Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Great Lakes - USA
Right you are ROG!

My ex didn't get my sense of humor either.

There were great things about analog, there are great things about digital... Beyond that statement, I'm too old and life's too short to carry that debate any farther.

Rharv made a good point - I have hours of my work from the 60's, 70's and 80's that's gone bad, turned into powder.

In the early 80's I had a National Vice President of Sales look me square in the eyes and tell me that his and all other all brands of VHS tape would display a pristine recorded signal "forever". (Nope..)

I have a friend that's a Master Archivist with one of the of the biggest American university historical collections - their policy is to backup all digital files to new media every 5 years.

Ya never know!
_________________________
just an old analog dog tryin' to learn new tricks...

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#206617 - 06/16/13 08:36 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: stratocaster]
SILVERBACK Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Great Lakes - USA
It could be your 64 bit setup... Is your DAW 64 bit? I do not know if TAL offers 64 bit plugins. I use the Windows 7/64 bit OS, but I run a 32 bit DAW and use 32 bit plugins... the TAL plugins work fine for me.

I have just exhausted my knowledge base on that issue. Good luck!
_________________________
just an old analog dog tryin' to learn new tricks...

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#206625 - 06/16/13 10:58 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
rharv Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 18920
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
I got the sense of humor part. I'm lightened up (been a good day)
Didn't mean to come off so negative.

Silverback,
I agree with your archivist friend, about every five years it is time to back things up again .. but compare the cost of disk space (and time backing up) to the tape days!
We live in very cool times.


Edited by rharv (06/16/13 11:11 PM)
_________________________
Make your sound your own!

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#206629 - 06/16/13 11:36 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: rharv]
SILVERBACK Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Great Lakes - USA
Yes indeed rharv, we do live in wonderful times for so many, many reasons... (Like many of my fellow humans I am a cyborg, walking about every day with artificial parts (2 titanium hips in my case) - a generation go I'd have been confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my days.)

A lot of the "good old" analog days consisted of hour after hour of mundane tasks that I don't miss either... I've got about three years of my life tied up in rewind time alone! (then add degaussing, head adjustments, bias calibrations...)

I can only wonder where it'll all be in 30 years
_________________________
just an old analog dog tryin' to learn new tricks...

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#206682 - 06/17/13 06:34 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
rharv Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 18920
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
I was talking with my parents last night about their parents and all the wonders they saw in the 80 years they were here.
1927 thru 2007 .. wow, the changes that occurred.

I hadn't even thought of the medical advances. Glad to hear you are so much better off because of it.

I had started typing about remembering how looong it seemed to take to rewind sometimes to do another take, but thought I would be drifting down that 'negative' mode again so I can relate. I get a certain giggle coming on when I'm ready for another take now and the singer needs a minute to catch his breath and get a drink of water. Much different than when everyone in the studio was waiting for the engineer (usually me) to be ready for the next take.

Rewind, hit play .. nope, back a little more .. oops, now ahead a little .. OK ready to go!
Now I look at a screen and see the chorus I need with nice little markers and I can 'jump' from spot to spot. Record one take after another onto new separate tracks using a loop... with no rewind time .. recording bliss!
_________________________
Make your sound your own!

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#206684 - 06/17/13 06:41 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
ROG Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/12/11
Posts: 2588
Loc: York, England
I can easily get nostalgic about going into the studio late at night when everyone had gone, in order to start a mix, sitting there with a large coffee and a Mars bar and basking in the warm glow from the VU meters. Magic!

Then I remember what it was like when you tried to bring in the last track - the one with all the scratty bits and pieces stacked up on it 'cos it was the last available tape track. Possibly six or eight different short takes, all needing a different fader, EQ and effect setting and a desk with no automation. Aaargh!

Then another 30min charting and resetting the desk before you could lock up.

Just gotta be realistic, I suppose...

ROG.

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#206751 - 06/18/13 10:56 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: ROG]
Pat Marr Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 7525
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Originally Posted By: ROG
I can easily get nostalgic about going into the studio late at night when everyone had gone, in order to start a mix, sitting there with a large coffee and a Mars bar ....


hey, you just gave me an idea for a retirement business:
"MARR'S BAR"

wink

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#206791 - 06/18/13 08:10 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
rharv Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 18920
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
Put lots of caffeine and sugar in them and you'll do fine
_________________________
Make your sound your own!

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#207772 - 06/27/13 03:32 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Do some classic pop and rock vocals have 'hallmark' vocal effects that define their sound ? [Re: Joe V]
rockstar_not Offline
Veteran

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7417
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Back to Joe's question:

Slapback is probably one of the most distinct effects that was 'signature' to a whole era. Silverback's description was great.

Phil Collin's had what I would call signature effect on his solo vocal stuff after "In The Air Tonight" went huge. Not exactly sure what all was involved, but my guess is there was some doubling, delay, etc. involved to thicken his rather thin sounding voice (my opinion).

Lots of folks have used doubling for their 'signature' sound. Another, although less famous person, is Elliott Smith's vox - almost always doubled.

Nick Drake is another where it sounds to me like lots of doubled vocals.

Karen Carpenter is another if I'm not mistaken.

Enya got her signature sound in Orinoco Flow by using 'doubling' to the extreme; supposedly tens of takes were used, stacked on each other. Online article exists on that - just a second I'll find it. Ah, yes, there it is: http://enyabookofdays.com/articles/wm-tv04.htm

Look in there and Enya claims there were over 100 tracks of vocals that were layered for Orinoco Flow, probably her signature song.

Anyways, I would start by experimenting with layering multiple takes. Sorry, but I'm of the opinion that this is not a live effect or a 'push the preset' type of effect. There are attempts to do this in DSP, but to get the real deal, give the real deal a try. I'm always doing multiple takes of my vocals anyways. I just use those where I've done a decent job of hitting the timing between 2 or 3 takes and try stacking them, with some slight panning differences between them.

Then you have the over-used 'telephone EQ/distortion' effect on vocals - not sure it's a signature sound for any one artist.

-Scott

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