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regimenting backing vocals

Discussion in 'Studio Techniques' started by peterlemer, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. peterlemer

    peterlemer Senior member

    I have a lead voice and 4 layers of backing harmonies, all fairly close and unquantised.

    I'd like to tighten them up a bit and was wondering what techniques I could use?

    Currently they are all on separate tracks leading to Outputs 1+2.
    They have a tad compression, EQ and bus to reverb.

    As a new purchaser of Sonalksis, I could use some coaching on how to gate/sidechain the vocals so the backing voices all sing together? Is this feasible? I have rarely used gates except occasionally for kick & snare & would welcome coaching on where else they can be used.

    Alternatively I could quantise the voices using melodyne.

    Any feedback will be taken seriously :)


  3. waynie

    waynie New Member

    Why dont you just cut them to fit exactly with the impulses from the main vocal. It takes a bit of time....but that's how it's done.
  4. peterlemer

    peterlemer Senior member

    good idea, thanks

  5. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    I would either of those techniques, gating or chopping the regions. With chopping the regions you will need to find the best fade in fade out lengths for each region (they will need those).

    I think my preference would be to use the lead track to trigger the gates on the others.

    I don't know the Sonalksis gate, but in the Logic gate you would just choose the audio track with the lead part as the sidechain in the top right hand corner. With vocals probably not necessary to worry about filtering the triggering signal but no harm in doing so (click the monitor button and you will be hearing the triggering track if you want use the high cut and low cut, but as it's probably similar in tone to the harmonies, not really worth it)

    Then just set the threshold so you can hear it working, ie any vocal coming in early should now comes in at the exact point the lead triggers the gate to open.

    Then set the attack to make it sound less abrupt.

    Then listen for a vocal that hangs on too long, the lead will trigger the gate to close at this point, adjust the release (longer) if it's too abrupt.

    NB, I have an article on sidechain compression, same conceopt but with compression.
  6. Alan Branch

    Alan Branch Logic Samurai

    Def chop them by all by hand with the vocal track as a guide above them, you can always group them and enable editing but you will find you have to nudge certain parts back and forth so will have to toggle the group off & on.

    Don't forget you can often be quite ruthless on the BV's, removing breaths etc. Sub group all the BV's to one aux then compress as a whole.

    I wouldn't bother with any gating, by hand is best and quicker and you can be sure the gate won't be chopping words off, the vocal will be way too dynamic to set a gate and forget it without automating the threshold, by the time you done that you can just edit it.
    aim for a near perfect alignment, cut short ss's & t's or align them so then don't flam, and cut our all gaps , to reduce noise etc..
  7. peterlemer

    peterlemer Senior member

    thanks pete and alan - this is really a brilliant ad hoc uni!
    I have to apply all your suggestions, A/B them, follow pete's tutorial, A/B them some more - lots to do

  8. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    A disclaimer would be that I would really only use the gate when it is loads and loads of regions so that the other method might be too time consuming, but still worth knowing.

    It's great in the event that you rerecorded the lead part, all the harmony parts should then follow suit. It also may have issues as Alan said if the lead is too dynamic to be consistent. But then I often compress vocals a lot.
  9. peterlemer

    peterlemer Senior member

    > in the event that you rerecorded the lead part, all the harmony parts should then
    > follow suit

    good thought! In this particular project though, I would leave the lead 'free' in any case and choose one of the harmony parts as 'section leader'

  10. peterlemer

    peterlemer Senior member

    thanks everyone for your comments - my game is improving :)

  11. Pete Thomas

    Pete Thomas Administrator Staff Member

    I just thought I'd resurrect this thread as I have one word to add:

  12. peterlemer

    peterlemer Senior member

    ...sounds like you've been playing with it, pete :)
  13. artofmixing

    artofmixing New Member

    Slicing the backing vocals into words and/or syllables and lining them up with the lead vocals is good for tightening them up - if you find that after moving each word of a phrase to its correct position there are problems with the words being too long or short compared with the lead vocal apply some time compression/expansion to get them to fit perfectly.
  14. peterlemer

    peterlemer Senior member

    that sounds like good engineering :) thx


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