Vocal Processors.

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20,523
I'm not a fan of vocal processors in live performance.

Somewhere around the turn of the century, the singer in my band used one. He'd drag it to gigs, sound men would be perplexed by it- and the singer really only used it like an effects pedal- adding chorus or flange to his vocals. Maybe it was a rough autotune thing that I didn't understand back then. I thought it sounded stupid- but I wasn't the one singing main vocals, and I sort of get that feeling insecure need to sort of cover up your naked vocals.

More recently, I was playing with a guy who had a harmony/pitch modulation/orchestral arrangement thing that he wanted on his voice all the time. Again, I thought it sounded stupid- he has a great voice, but he was enthralled with the sound. I'm relatively good at adding a girly 3rd or 5th on to stuff- but beyond that, I need to do a whole lot of thinking and practice-

More recently than that- another guy I've been working with for several years said "hey I got this really cool vocal doubler- you should try it out- it'll fill out your vocals..."

Am I the only one who thinks those things make your voice sound ghoulish? It sounds just regular awful if the singer is using one by himself with no other harmony vocalists- but 3 extra shades of vomit on a turd patty if you've got competent vocals, but you're adding artificial 5 part harmonies weaseled in there...
 

RicOkc

Member
Messages
3,539
I don't care for them either.

Like a lot of the young pop diva's that can't really sing depend on them or they wouldn't have a career.

There was the best example of someone using one of them on "Saturday Night Live" and it malfunctioned and you heard the singers real voice and the poor girl couldn't carry a tune in a bucket with the lid on it.

That was the end of her career!
 

Me Myself & I

Member
Messages
538
I don't like the concept of auto tune. Sing or don't.

However, so far as vocal effects goes, guitar players alter their clean tones with pedals of all kinds to get the right tone for a song, so why take issue with a vocalist doing it?
 

Turi

Member
Messages
11,048
I've got a TC Helicon Play Acoustic that has harmonies in it - they're cool for a chorus every now and then.

It's also got some pitch correction and hard tune thing that sounds cool - slapped it on with a high + low harmony for a cover of Joji's Glimpse of Us just now at my gig and it sounded pretty cool.

I've had it for this gig and my last gig, mostly for looping but the harmonies and whatever have been cool to mess with, very sparingly.

I don't like any effects on my vocals when singing, they throw me off too much. So they're getting used very sparingly and it's mostly to mix it up for the punters, not because I need to or want to hide behind some BS though I'm sure those types of folk are out there.
 

VaThump

Member
Messages
369
In popular music, "naked vocals" are rare. Instead, studio mixes run comped or punched-in vox tracks through eq, compression, reverb, and/or delay, with automated mutes and faders. (Doubling and whisper tracks optional.)

So, it's hard to justify a purist stance about vocal processing in modern popular music, where almost every element of the soundscape has been nipped/tucked, including vox.

OTOH, I'm not a fan of live mixes with the faders way up on typical harmony/autotune boxes run from on stage, mostly because of how they sonically mangle the stage spill.
 

Riffi

Courtney DIDN’T Kill Kurt!
Silver Supporting Member
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11,032
I like double tracking and a bit of verb, but yeh not an auto tune fan. Though Lil Weezy makes great use of it.
 

auralfeast

Member
Messages
824
I use a harmonizer in my band. I think it's fantastic. I mainly use it to throw two higher harmonies on top of songs like Already Gone, Dead Flowers, Baby Blue, etc. - the other guys can choose to sing with it to make some really fat, in tune harmonies. We do a song 16 Days by Ryan Adams where there's a faint, high harmony on top of the lead vocal and the harmonizer does it perfectly.
 

Fred132

Member
Messages
5,034
The Beatles, partically John Lennon in later Beatles recordings liked fatening up the voices by doubling the vocal tracks. It's nice to sometimes create a fatter, or thicker vocals.
They used vocal doubling on some of their early stuff, too. Although the doubling was done the old fashioned way. ;)
 

bugzapper

Member
Messages
2,237
I've heard them used well, and not just as a crutch for someone who is covering something up.
 
Messages
2,595
I really like vocal processors. I have an old Voicelive Touch that still sounds pretty great. I’ve heard them used live a lot. It can really enhance a vocal performance if done right.
 

hendrik7

Member
Messages
2,185
I'd always despised the idea of using harmony effects on live vocals. Always seemed tacky and cringey to me until I heard an artist from Faroe Islands called Eyvor open a live show with her song Mánasegl (look it up on Spotify if you will). She had some wild vocal effects, using some harmonizer and it sounded epic! Definitely opened me up to the idea of messing around with a harmonizer some fine day. I would never use a pedal like that to try and make it sound like I had some backup vocals however. That's still tacky and cringey imo.

Personally I'm happy with a compressor and a little reverb when I'm singing live. But effects like a doubler and a chorus are loads of fun too and can really thicken up your vocals. I don't see anything wrong with using that in a live performance. Most of the studio stuff we all listen to on the radio is heavily processed, including the vocals.
 

VaThump

Member
Messages
369
I don't care for them either.

Like a lot of the young pop diva's that can't really sing depend on them or they wouldn't have a career.

There was the best example of someone using one of them on "Saturday Night Live" and it malfunctioned and you heard the singers real voice and the poor girl couldn't carry a tune in a bucket with the lid on it.

That was the end of her career!
I'm curious who you have in mind here. Maybe Ashlee Simpson? But even that doesn't quite fit. She became SNL's most famous live-tech failure, when she started to perform her second lip-synched song for SNL, only to see it implode when the tracks for her first song were replayed.

Other pop singers have been criticized for their pitchiness on SNL, but I can't think of any who'd be described as having killed their careers as a result of autotune or vocal-processor debacles. (Heck, even Simpson performed on SNL again the following year to support the first of two follow-up albums, and she sang a role in multiple productions of Chicago.)
 
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wombat66

Member
Messages
3,836
I'd always despised the idea of using harmony effects on live vocals. Always seemed tacky and cringey to me until I heard an artist from Faroe Islands called Eyvor open a live show with her song Mánasegl (look it up on Spotify if you will). She had some wild vocal effects, using some harmonizer and it sounded epic! Definitely opened me up to the idea of messing around with a harmonizer some fine day. I would never use a pedal like that to try and make it sound like I had some backup vocals however. That's still tacky and cringey imo.

Personally I'm happy with a compressor and a little reverb when I'm singing live. But effects like a doubler and a chorus are loads of fun too and can really thicken up your vocals. I don't see anything wrong with using that in a live performance. Most of the studio stuff we all listen to on the radio is heavily processed, including the vocals.
Just listened to Eivor and really enjoyed the music. Thanks for the turn on.




vocal processing? sometimes it's cheesy and banal, sometimes it's enchanting
 

Nebakanezer

World’s Okayest Guitar Player
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,991
The problem with most bar band use of vocal effects foot pedals are that is a 100% wet and over saturated the vocals! It’s like early 80s guitar multi-effects processors all over again!
I have the same acoustic/play that @Turi uses (but it’s now making a ticking sound, like putting your phone close to the guitar’s pickup?) and it does a great job of letting you dial back the effects so that it blends in with the natural vocals, you just have to go in and edit the presets!
 

hillbillypolack

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
536
Just listened to Eivor and really enjoyed the music. Thanks for the turn on.




vocal processing? sometimes it's cheesy and banal, sometimes it's enchanting


I like effects...autotune, melodyne, vocoders, talkboxes, harmonizers, etc!
but in this context it would depend on the genre or song as to the appropriateness.

More than a little bit of Laurie Anderson in both of those.



Also, The Knife + Fever Ray does intriguing things with vocals, drop keys and effects



 




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