Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video Dual untimed vocal slaps, part of Audio Mixing Master Class.
- Timing effects to the track can really make them blend in, but sometimes it sounds a lot better if you go in the opposite direction. Here's a trick that will thicken those vocals in a novel way. First of all, let's listen to our lead vocal, soloed-up. ♫ Every day is a gift. ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live. - What we heard there is the lead vocal. There's a delay on it already and it has some reverb as well. So that sounds pretty good, but what we want is a thicker-sounding vocal.
So what we're going to do is add our delay. I've already done it, it's just this one right here. It's our vocal delay and it's stereo. But what we're going to do is just randomly pick some numbers between 60 and about 120 milliseconds. So I'm going to put this side at maybe, say, 74 and this one, we'll make it higher, we'll make it 108. So that's what we want to do. We'll add a little bit of slap as well, so we'll give some feedback here. And now, let's feed our vocal to it and hear what it sounds like.
♫ Every day is a gift - You can hear it's getting a little lighter now. ♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - We're not finished though. What we really want to do is make this even thicker, and a good way to do it, and to spread things out as well, is to modulate our delay. So we'll go to our chorus here, just in its default setting. Now let's have a listen. ♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - We'll listen to it bypassed and then I'll insert it midway through.
♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - And what happens is it thickens it up. It makes it a little bit denser and darker. And that's what we're trying to do, we're trying to make this thick. And that's a good way to do it. Now, we can go and we could make it a little crazier. We can have a higher rate and a higher depth, and let's listen to what that sounds like. ♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - And we really don't hear too much.
Actually, you know what we'll do, let's just bring this up a level. ♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - Listen in the track. ♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live ♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - We've given the vocals some life.
We've made it bigger and fatter. We're pan hard left and right. We don't have to do it hard left and right, we can just pan it out to the sides a little bit. Now listen. ♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - And that thickens it up as well. But usually, I like it when it's out in the sides as well. Make it as wide as is possible. ♫ Every day is a gift - We can also use this on background vocals as well, and I want you to listen to the backgrounds.
And, first of all, what we'll do is just listen to the way they are right now. ♫ Every day is a gift - And listen with a little bit of our effect mixed in. ♫ Every day is a gift - That's a lot more interesting. It's a lot bigger. Now, listen. ♫ Every day is a gift - Listen to it the way it was before. ♫ Every day is a gift - Sounds a lot better with the effect, doesn't it? ♫ Every day is a gift - Let's listen to the lead vocal with the backgrounds.
♫ Every day is a gift ♫ Every day is a lesson how to live - So what we've done is we've beefed up the sound of both lead vocal and the background vocals in a very unobtrusive way. It doesn't sound like an effect. And what we've done is we've used untimed delays, and up until this point we've been timing all of our delays. But sometimes it blends in too much, and what we really want is for that to stand out and if it stands out, it makes it a little bit thicker and denser.
So, that's the untimed slap trick. To make the lead or background vocals thicker, first create a new stereo delay channel. Set each side of the delay to a different random delay time, from 60 to around 120 milliseconds. Be sure not to time the delays to the track. Insert a modulation processor like a chorus, flanger, or pitch shifter after the delay in the signal chain. Set the modulation processor to multi-mono, then set the parameters for each channel differently with one having more depth and the other having a faster rate.
Add the delay back in underneath the main or background vocal channel.
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