More and more, modern music productions encompass several music genres. This creates a thicker mix in which the vocals can be less prominent. When this problem occurs with synths, it can easily be fixed by adjusting parameters. But since vocals are “naturally” produced, this issue can’t be remedied the same way. In the following tutorial we’ll focus on doubling vocals with chorus, delay and harmonizer in order to bring them forward in your mix.
Often when mixing you will notice that the main vocal tracks are too thin to be able to mix down. If EQ changes such as Chorus/Reverb effect cannot solve this problem to your satisfaction, it is time to make the vocals thicker through doubling.
The effect of voice doubling is best achieved by singing multiple times. For the following tutorial we assume that the vocal track exists once i.e. has not been sung multiple times.
I. Wider using delay
Step 1: Create an AUX track (“Track > Insert new track(s) > New AUX bus”) under the vocal track and enter a delay in its plug-in slot.
Step 2: Set the delay time somewhere between 15 and 30 ms. Delay in this area still cannot be considered a stand alone echo. In addition, we set the mix balance fader to 100%, so that only the effect signal is present at the effect output.
Step 3: Now, send the vocal signal to the AUX path. If you separate the panorama of a vocal track and AUX track a little, you will notice how the vocals increase in width. Downregulate the effect signal in order to make the duplication less obvious.
II. Denser through doubling
Step 1: Copy the vocal object into a new track. By doubling the vocals track and placing one below the other, you will first achieve only doubling of the signal volume.
Step 2: Delay the doubled object first by a few milliseconds by simply dragging it to the right with the mouse in the arrangement.
Step 3: To get a natural result, insert a chorus effect into the doubled track, which will create a slight drift.
Step 4: You can also insert a delay here to intensify the drift.
Step 5: Finally, you can adjust the volume and panorama of the original track and the doubled track in such a way, that your vocals will have a natural breadth.
III. Split harmonizer
The split harmonizer effect is a well-known trick to add density and width to vocals. Two delayed copies that are slightly altered in pitch are used and arranged in the panorama to the left and right of the original vocals.
Step 1: Create duplicates of our vocal part on two new tracks.
Step 2: Fade the “Vox_DBL1” panorama to the left and the “Vox_DBL2” panorama to the right.
Step 3: Now, we want to slightly de-tune the copies. Next, open the object editor with a double click on the first duplicated vocal object and lower the pitch by 9-12 cent (100 cent = 1 semitone).
Step 4: Click on the other duplicated object and raise the pitch by 9-12 cent.
Step 5: Create a submix bus using “Track > Insert new track > New submix bus”. Name this bus “Harmonizer bus”.
Step 6: Now, we embed a delay as an insert into the “Harmonizer Bus” and set it as a single delay (without feedback) to 20-25 ms. Please make sure to set the effect to 100% wet.
Step 7: Route the outputs of both vocal track copies to this new subgroup.
Step 8: Finally, we mix in the subgroup signal of the main vocal track until the vocals have a pleasant drift and sound wide.
Step 9: Experiment with the pitch values and delay times for this harmonizer effect. An additional reverb embedded into the subgroup can open the vocals even more. Of course, you can also assign different delay times to the two vocal track copies; you can then do without the subgroup and control the two groups separately, adding different delay effects.
And one last tip: See what a high-pass filter set to 400 Hz placed before the delay does! Using it should make your vocals even rounder.
Have fun experimenting!