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How to give your vocals more edge with effects

Oct 132017

 

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    Adding effects to your vocals can help emphasize your point while giving your song a unique edge of its own. This can be done in many ways, from subtle to extreme and with moderation. Knowing when to use these effect will come with experience and preference. The overall benefit to applying effects to your vocals is that it gives your song(s) edge, uniqueness and helps you as an artist stand out. Whether you decide to take the subtle or extreme approach, in this article I'll be explaining how you can apply effects to your vocals to give your songs more edge.

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1-Distortion-Believe it or not this is one of those most wildly used effects engineers use in their mixes. Often referred to as saturation because it adds warmth to the audio. But in this case we are looking to have the effect stand out with some harshness, that can be soften with some reverb and a D-esser (if necessary). This can be achieved by copying the lead vocals, bringing the level of the copied track down so the overall volume isn’t too loud while adding a separate bus track that has the distortion plug in off your choice. A combination of controlling the distortion signal being applied to the copied track and the volume of the copied track will based on preference. But if you want a clean sounding signal mixed with the audio then you'll want to apply as much distortion as possible. See illustration below: 

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2-Filter effects-Now we've all heard songs where the vocals sound thin as if their being re played from a radio or tiny speaker. Well this effect can be applied to your back up vocals or adlibs of your song as well. This can be achieved with a hi pass filter Eq, you basically want to remove as much of the low and mid frequencies as possible. The target frequency mark for the hi pass filter will be around 1.86 KHz. This effect can be applied on small parts of your song to emphasize cadence.  See illustration below:

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3-sidechaining reverb and delay- This is a technique used to add clarity on instruments mainly synthesizers and vocals that have reverb and delay applied to them. The issue that occurs with reverb is it can often overpower individual instruments as well as the entire mix. The remedy for this would be to side chain your reverb and delay. You do this by adding a compressor at the end of your FX bus track of your lead vocal mix shown in the illustration below: 

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 You can mute the previous effects temporarily until you've reached your desired compression settings(optional). Once you've reached your comfortable with, enable the previous effects and adjust the threshold and release to your liking. You should be able to hear the effects being controlled and slightly pushed under the vocals. Remember to bypass and enable to compare the difference from before and after.

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