tricks to get nice friendly vocal clipping?...effective vocal distortion

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Lution, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. Lution

    Lution Member

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    I want to learn the trick to get some good vocal clipping, just past the point of it being clean and into a little distorted tone.... but still perfectly coherent.

    Here are some examples...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN8RBqW4JsQ

    i know this is a live track, but you can hear it on the chorus and on the second set of versus. Just over the edge. Muse vocals always sound this way, on the recordings and live. I really like it.


    here is another.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5BXYKl-YZw

    you can really hear it when Chris C digs in...

    anyone have any good tricks you can teach me?

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  2. bemymonkey

    bemymonkey Member

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    Muse actually use distortion for vocals a lot - not to be confused with input clipping. You can experiment with running vocals through your Big Muff or other guitar effects, but make sure you mix that with the dry, undistorted signal in order to preserve coherence...
     
  3. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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  4. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    If you're doing it analog, Sansamp on an FX send is the classic way to do this - Butch Vig actually gave it a credit on a record.

    For DAW, try "Camel Crusher" a VERY cool free plug-in.
     
  5. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    Korg A3 on an Aux is what I use, but I see no reason why a POD, or Guitar Rig, or any other amp sim pluggin wouldn't work. The secret is to blend it in parallel with the unprocessed vocal, otherwise it's too much like noise. EQ on the aux return can help tone down some 'fizzyness' too.


    Cheers

    Kris
     
  6. stump

    stump Member

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    Tascam 424 analog cassette recorder into your recording device of choice. Use it as a mixing board/ preamp. I run a vocal mic into the Tascam first and use the levels to warm it up and push it right to the edge and record the track to tape as well as into my digital deck. I've used this technique for instrument tracks as well and it helps with the "digital" factor.
     
  7. andybaylor

    andybaylor Supporting Member

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    I used a Tubescreamer. Worked Great!
     
  8. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    XTC used the Pod with vocals on Wasp Star, according to Andy P.

    I've never done this with vocals, but I think many of the above suggestions are possible ways I would go if I were to give it a shot... i.e. some distortion plug-in or hardware as a send during mixing, blending it with the clean signal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  9. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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  10. Lution

    Lution Member

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    So the consensus is to not push the vocal to tape, do it in post production effects?

    The strange thing is Muse sound the same live as they do in the studio with Matt Bellamy's vocals clipping nicely when he digs in and projects volume with his vocals. If I could find an effective way to do this straight away to tape I wouldn't mind at all.

    examples -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qwkbxh-0k0w studio

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-Poy8uNR1Q live

    Just so I'm clear on things. I don't want a bullhorn type of sound or the vocal to be distorted all the time. I only want the vocals to distort a tiny bit when the vocals dig in or get louder. Also, I want it to be recreated live, so a plug-in might work for studio, but not for live.

    I've only tried a Sansamp ( a Bassdriver I believe) once in the studio on a bass track. It sure introduced a lot of line noise to the track. I had to scrap that track and go straight to the board with the bass guitar. Are these typically noisy devices?

    Which Sansamp are you guys talking about? The Sansamp Classic?
     
  11. jammybastard

    jammybastard "I'm losing my edge, but I was there..."

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    I know MUSE's video director, I'll drop him an email and see if he has any details what they use live/studio.

    In the meantime if you want that overproduced sound I'd use a plug-in to you recording software.
    Any of the guitar programs will work, just adjust to your liking.
    One thing that's key is an envelope filter. Matt's definitely got some of that in the mix.
     
  12. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    Remember to use it on an aux, and blend it back in with the unaffected vocal. A further trick would be to send the track to your distortion box (whatever it may be) before it hits any compressors, and blend it back in with a compressed (but undistorted vocal channel). What this will do it make the level of distortion more sensitive to the vocal dynamics. If it's still too dirty, chain an expander in front of the distortion box. And, yes this can work live too...but you'll probably want in ear monitors since the distortion will add lots of gain to your vocal mic which could cause feedback.

    The sansamp that was most used on vocals in the mid-late 90's was that rack mount one (I forget the name, but they only made one product like that, and still make it today). Any dirt box should work pretty well though...PODs are pretty easy to come by, thats what I'd suggest.

    Cheers

    Kris
     
  13. JamminJeff

    JamminJeff Member

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    + 1 on Sansamp, used sparingly. Mix via send/s.

    Distressor = Bucks.

    External distortion effect via send/s.

    Good Tube Mic Pre with input gain set high. The right mic helps. Something that doesn't fall apart sonically when you get up on it.
     
  14. Lution

    Lution Member

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    I found this: http://board.muse.mu/showthread.php?t=11413&page=2

    read post #24.

    and this. http://musewiki.org/Microphones/Vocal_Effects

    Sounds like it's a Neumann KMS 105 into a really good tube mic preamp and in ear monitors.

    All of which I cannot afford right now. :(

    I do have a cheaper tube preamp that I can use with my Behringer B1 in the studio. I do recall getting something similar to what I was looking for accidently using these two one day in my studio. If this works, then I will look for a low-cost LIVE alternative.

    So I'll need possibly a good low-cost alternative to that Neumann mic.
     
  15. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    I listened to the clip. There's a lot of ways to get a similar sound, but to me that sounds straight up digital. I know it's live, but that doesn't mean there wasn't post processing on the audio. Plus there are plenty of bands that run things through computers live, so it could be a plug in.

    Anyway, a distorting tube pre, cutting too hot to tape, a stomp box, or a plug in can all get you close to that. You'll have the most control if you do what the others suggested and use the OD on an aux so you can blend it with the dry sound, and you don't need an expensive mic and pre to do it. As far as settings, think of it like a guitar amp- just set it so when you dig in you get a bit of a growl.

    One thing to keep in mind- the lower frequencies will distort quicker then the higher ones. This can lead to a boomy, sort of farty, bloated sound that's hard to EQ away after the signal's been distorted. So you might want to EQ out some of the bass and low mids before you hit it with the overdrive. This is more important when cutting live to tape (because you can't undo it later) but of course you can do it at any point with a DAW/plug in.

    As far as doing it live, I think it's a cool idea but I really don't know if it will come across to a live audience. But if you're set on it any stompbox that you can set for just a little OD will work.
     
  16. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    PSA-1 rack unit. It can be cool on a snare too but as mentioned, gotta do it in paralell. One vocal track running thru, or being processed by a dirt unit will generally sound pretty nasty from my experience.
     
  17. Anchorage42

    Anchorage42 Member

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    What it sounds like to me is what you hear in a lot of old motown/soul records, when the singer digs in pretty hard, you can hear the vocals break up. If that's the case, just turn your mic input levels up when you're recording so that your hardest/loudest notes just clip. That way, the rest of the vocals will be clean and the heady notes will be a little fuzzy
     
  18. Lution

    Lution Member

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    yep, that's exactly what I'm after! :AOK

    I'm thinking that a tube preamp set a little hot, or a pedal like a sansamp or overdrive pedal set to clip on just the loudest notes, or setting the mic input level a little hot, Anchorage mentioned, should get close to what I'm after.

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I will be trying several of them this weekend and let you know how it goes.

    jammybastard, I would love to hear if you find out anything from Muse's video director.
     
  19. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    +1
    but you may want to use the sansamp as an outboard effect during mixdown and not live during tracking. This way you have more control over the effect.

    A good free plug-in for this effect is camel-crusher or maybe fuzzplus2 for more extreme dist

    http://www.camelaudio.com/camelcrusher.php
    http://www.audiodamage.com/downloads/product.php?pid=ADF001

    BTW the old motown dist effect will be hard to recreate on a budget. Those singers were crunching through hi quality vintage tube preamps which pretty much could not be forced to sound bad. The prosumer quality preamps do NOT sound good when pushed into distortion.
     
  20. stereoaction

    stereoaction Member

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    for what you are describing ,you are definitely talking about pushing a pre amp in to clipping. and all preamp will sound different. it's not unlike a good guitar amp that is set to break up when you dig in or with hight out put pickups.

    in the bargain pre amp department, one that does this pretty well is the Studio Projects vtb1. try different mics too, as everyone's voice is different. I have heard GREAT results with a beta 57 on vocals. It is my live go to mic (at least for my voice). Listen to vocals ounds on the first Owsley record

    http://www.amazon.com/Owsley/dp/B00000I8TT/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1226945520&sr=8-3

    listen to "oh no the radio". I asked him about his vocal signal path, he said it was a beta 57 (yes 57) through a neve 1073. he tried many other more expensive mics and liked the B57. and hit the Neve hard. He's no slouch, Owsley’s first album was nominated for a Grammy, “Best Engineered Album”. Owsley, as the engineer of his own release, was personally nominated for his engineering work.

    obviously the SP VTB1 is no neve. but it's cool for the $. the net step up for a great mid price consumer level pre is the chameleon labs (which is a transformer design much closer to the neve)
     

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