Blending effects on vocals is super common! Usually, a processed vocal won’t have just one reverb or delay. Instead, it’ll have a reverb and a delay, or maybe a couple reverbs layered with a couple delays, or it could even have a chorus and a delay that’s getting sent to multiple reverbs. Of course, it all depends on the situation and what the music calls for.
In this post, and in the video that’s on this page, I’ll be explaining my usual signal chain for blending vocal effects in a mix.
Widener/Chorus: Soundtoys Little Microshift
When I think about vocal effects, the thing I concern myself most with is making them wide and lush. A vocal that sounds super mono and down the middle is hardly ever exciting, and that’s where Soundtoys Little Microshift comes in.
This one is on pretty much every single vocal I’ve ever produced. It’s a super simple chorus plugin that only has 3 buttons, or modes, and one mix knob, making it pretty much impossible to overthink your settings. I usually just leave it on mode 2 and blend it to taste. A little goes a long way here, so make sure you don’t push it too far and leave yourself with weird, unrealistically-wide sounding vocals.
Delays: Soundtoys Echoboy
I’m usually blending different delay sounds when I’m working on a vocal. Lately, I’ve been using Soundtoys Echoboy for this, but sometimes I’ll use Valhalla Delay instead depending on what kind of mood I’m in.
When I’m blending delays I usually have a short one and a long one. The short one is much more subtle than the long one in that it’s a slap back delay with a super short millisecond delay time. Sometimes I’ll even make this a ping-pong delay to add a little bit more movement to the vocal. I’m usually trying to make the short delay work together with Little Microshift so that the vocal gets even more width, and I find that that works nicely because it’s widening the vocal in a different way.
The long delay is much more self-explanatory. It’s also way more noticeable in that you can hear the individual reflections coming from the delay, and I usually have it set to a note value that works well with the song’s feel. 9 times out of 10 I’m using a 1/4 note or 1/8 note subdivision, though.
Reverbs: Valhalla VintageVerb
I set up my reverbs pretty much the exact same way I set up my delays. A short reverb contributes to the vocal’s width while the much more noticeable long reverb gives the vocal more space. It’s very common for me to use a high pass filter after the reverb, as it’s really easy for the low end and low mids of a reverb to build up and make a sonic mess.
Although vocal dubs don’t really fall under the “effects” category, they’re pretty integral to my process of making sure my vocals are as big as possible.
For those who don’t know, vocal dubs are unique performances of a part that are used to thicken up the main vocal. Sometimes I’ll have a pair of vocal dubs where one track is panned right and the other is panned left. When I work this way I usually only have these kinds of dubs at certain parts that deserve emphasis like, for example, the chorus. I’ll almost always have a single dub panned right down the center for an entire song, though.
Processing wise, wide panned dubs almost always have the same exact insert chain as my main vocals. Sometimes I’ll compress them and/or de-ess them a little harder than my main vocals, but that’s only when they’re popping out too much. The same goes for my center dubs, but those always have an instance of Waves Doubler running at the end of the insert chain. This is me, once again, making an effort to add as much width as possible to the main vocal.
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