Any Vocal Chain Suggestions?

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H20nly
Posts: 16079
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: The Wild West

Any Vocal Chain Suggestions?

Post by H20nly » Sun May 12, 2024 11:31 pm

I'm working on a set of EPs and have saved most of the vocal mixing for last. There are several reasons for this, but it mostly boils down to multiple arrangement changes (that keep altering the balance of the mix), adding ad-libs and/or sound effects (like ice in a glass, explosions, car wrecks), and the fact that our hardware vocal chain has been upgraded (more than once) and we are re-tracking a lot of the vox.

Our hardware chain is solid... A Manley Ref C to a Neve preamp (with Silk engaged and some very light compression) to an 1176 (set to only lightly kiss the incoming signal) into an RME interface. We're getting excellent quality recordings with no noise... and thankfully the vocals usually end up having to be turned down. The quality of the recordings is allowing a lot of freedom since "fixing" the audio and/or hiding imperfections (of the signal chain) is no longer necessary, which allows us to focus on other production and mixing tasks as it pertains to vox.

So now, where the challenge lies is that we have 3 vocalists, each with a different lyrical style (male rap/spoken word bass, male rock tenor, female R&B soprano/alto). We blend the styles by focusing on transitions - either based on the actual lyrics or by using various elements of the mix to smooth out or make sense of the contrasts.

That said, I'm wondering if any of you has any (in the box) vocal chain tips or suggestions you swear by for any (or all) of the vocal types above?

Currently I'm using SSL channel strips and setting the compression to around 3dB with a high pass starting in the ball park of 100 Hz (give or take based on how it sounds) and then using the volume fader for balance as the starting point... it's after this basic level where I'm curious about your choices. Thanks in advance for any tips, suggestions, or ideas

H20nly
Posts: 16079
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: The Wild West

Re: Any Vocal Chain Suggestions?

Post by H20nly » Wed May 15, 2024 2:04 am

geez. Let the Wayback Machine note: there’s still a place on the internet in 2024 where people don’t have an opinion :lol:

For posterity, my vocal chain is basically the SSL channel strip to a more surgical subtractive EQ (like Pro Q3) to a saturation plugin (like SSL’s, Fabfilter Saturn, or maybe Ableton’s Roar)… then EQ or compression (if needed) with the EQ after for additive purposes (“shine”)… lastly a DeEsser, if it still feels necessary

After that I route to the reverb send and route that over to a delay send/bus

I’ve been curious about using multiple reverb busses, so I can sidechain compression from the Vox, but with 3 lead vocalists that gets chin stroke-ish fast; hence this request for methods of other producers/mixing engineers that use Live

slow.robot
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2021 2:06 am

Re: Any Vocal Chain Suggestions?

Post by slow.robot » Wed May 15, 2024 2:57 am

I almost never use a set 'chain' for any track, since for me, every song is different enough that it's going to need its own specific approach. that said, there are a few effects I have on nearly every vocal track. most important for me is an LA2A comp right up front. an EQ of some sort, of course--usually an SSL 4000. rarely ever feel the need for something more surgical than that. at some point usually I'll have the Melda MAutovolume, and almost always a de-esser. I've used a ton of de-essers, and been let down by the vast majority. I swear by the Toneboosters one now--it's the only one I can slap on, where after about 15 seconds of tweaking, it's ready to go (if it doesn't already sound great right off the bat).

if I need something creative, I'll most likely be reaching for XLN's RC-20. the distortion is incredible, as is the filtering, the wobble, and the super-simple, but gorgeous reverb.

H20nly
Posts: 16079
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: The Wild West

Re: Any Vocal Chain Suggestions?

Post by H20nly » Wed May 15, 2024 6:26 am

Ok. Yes. Thank you.

I’ve been playing with the UA version of the LA2A while we’re kicking demos (mostly of the arrangement) back and forth. Definitely feels more helpful than not, especially if I gain match as closely as possible

What you said about DeEssing is what I signed up for. I’ve played with the Fabfilter DS a-lot. I waited what felt like forrrrever for the SSL one to go on sale, finally got it and was underwhelmed with the results …felt like the release was wrong. Never even heard of Toneboosters. Will check it out. Thanks

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