vocal effects hardware
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Old 24-04-2014, 12:19 PM   #1
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vocal effects hardware

first of all tnx guys for your help in all my other posts...i have-with your help-managed to almost compose my first track...the drums are there the bass in place, fx, leads, and i managed to find a guitar player and a vocalist :victory:...
so now we would like to get together and just start with some jamming on the track i made to see if we fit....
the ting is our vocalist does not have any experience with singing(but has an amazing voice color) or the hardware involved, so i would like to ask what are some good vocoders/distorsions for vocals? could you just go and use a guitar distortion?

we are deciding if it is cheaper to get hardware or to just get a pc.... what are the pros and cons of both? is latency a bigger issue when modifying voce than when transferring midi data(since i use asio4all i had no issues with the last)?

tnx again for your help untill now

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Old 25-04-2014, 04:32 AM   #2
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Re: vocal effects hardware

Latency is an issue if you're doing any monitoring through the computer (listening while you record). So, usually.

Honestly, what you need to consider is how good you are with a computer. If you have a hard time even understanding what latency is, and haven't touched your control panel, you'll probably be better served with hardware gear.

If you think your computer skills aren't that great, you might want to get a multiple fx box or two, a cheap mixer and something you can multitrack onto like a tape recorder or a digital recorder. One or two compressors are probably useful as well.

For a computer, you have the base cost of the computer (presumably you have one based on the icons) and the cost of an interface. For me, the main reason to use an interface is to reduce latency to <10 ms. Otherwise, I end up performing out of time. You can find an ok interface on ebay for around $50.

Honestly, if I was doing something with a live band of my own (such a loner I am) I would probably enjoy doing things just in hardware. It would be nice to just start recording with everyone, then spend an afternoon dicking around with cables and boxes and tapes and stuff like that. It sounds much more fun to me. However, as it's just me I do all of my mixing strictly ITB.

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Old 22-08-2014, 09:08 PM   #3
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Re: vocal effects hardware

Latency is a very big issue. If you are recording vocals with effects, a good singer will perform differently depending on the effect used. I have an outboard effects unit with digital io I use for vocal monitoring. If I want some VOX with heavy reverb, I will create a send track that sends audio to the unit for processing. This takes the burden off my computer, and eliminates any latency issues. Then, I'm free to use whatever hardware or software reverb I want in post processing.

What type of vocal distortion are you going for? Subtle or hard? As far as vocoding goes, you should refer to my previous paragraph. If your singers intonation will depend on the vocoding effect, I'd say it's best to use outboard gear because you won't be able to use a vocoder plugin while recording his vocals without terrible latency.
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Old 22-08-2014, 09:22 PM   #4
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Re: vocal effects hardware

If you have a low latency audio interface, latency won't be a noticable problem (vocoder, autotune, etc).
If you are just going with distortion, delay, flanger, tremolo, whammy, etc then hardware is much more fun IMO.

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Old 22-08-2014, 09:28 PM   #5
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Re: vocal effects hardware

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Originally Posted by Evelon View Post
If you have a low latency audio interface, latency won't be a noticable problem (vocoder, autotune, etc).
If you are just going with distortion, delay, flanger, etc then hardware is much more fun IMO.
That's not really right. The latency isn't introduced from the interface. Most audio interfaces are very low latency. The latency is introduced by the plugin processing the incoming signal. The plugin cannot lookahead, it must process in real-time. Things like reverbs and vocoders put a decent amount of stress on your processor and RAM. So, unless you have a lot of very fast RAM and a very fast processor, latency will be introduced. On my system, I have a recent gen MacBook Pro with 16 Gigs of RAM, I record to a SS drive, and I have a nice audio interface, but if I record vocals and through a reverb plugin on the track or a send, a noticeable latency is introduced. This makes it impossible to record.
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Old 22-08-2014, 10:50 PM   #6
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Re: vocal effects hardware

Some interfaces allow for lower latency than others.... Is what is being meant.
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Old 22-08-2014, 10:58 PM   #7
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Re: vocal effects hardware

Right, but if you are using audio effects to monitor a live vocal recording, the latency has nothing to do with the audio interface, it has to do with what i explained above. If you are recording vocals with and you have no effect on the track while monitoring, then there shouldn't be an issue. If you want to monitor your vocals with effects (listen to them as you record them), latency will be introduced on most PCs. That's why people have dedicated effects PCI cards for their systems and outboard effects. MOTU even has built in effects on some of their interfaces. This allows you to monitor a live recording with effects and without latency.
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Old 22-08-2014, 11:07 PM   #8
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Re: vocal effects hardware

Quote:
Originally Posted by andcunning View Post
Right, but if you are using audio effects to monitor a live vocal recording, the latency has nothing to do with the audio interface, it has to do with what i explained above. [...]
This is wrong, latency is also caused by your audio interface. A/D and D/A conversion cause latency.
Run audio through your DAW with a high buffer setting... latency.

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Old 22-08-2014, 11:13 PM   #9
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Re: vocal effects hardware

Ok, I didn't mean that there was no latency at all caused by an audio interface. There will ALWAYS be latency. I was trying to make it clear that the latency cause ITB will be what is noticeable. If you have a low enough buffer setting, and a decent interface, the latency wont be so bad that you can't record decent dry vocals. If you ad a reverb/vocoder/autotune/whatever effect on your track or as a return, then you introduce a very NOTICEABLE latency, one that will prevent you from recording a decent vocal track. This thread is about outboard vs ITB effects for vocal recording. Latency is the issue here, but not interface or buffer latency, it's latency introduced by the effects, so I was focusing on that.

I assumed everyone here had an understanding that there would always be some amount of latency when recording with any format. Latency, in this specific use case, only becomes an issue when it is noticeable.
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:31 AM   #10
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Re: vocal effects hardware

There isn't though. Most plugins don't give that type of latency. Maybe a ms here or there, but you probably wont notice an additional two. Apparently, there are even convolution reverbs with a low latency mode these days. A vocoder might give you a little more, but you generally can speak your lyrics and then vocode them after.

Pitch correction can give latency, but doesn't neccesarily need to. Generally, I don't do pitch correction until I have comped several takes first.

Anyway, back to the original question assuming he's still reading it. I've been doing a lot with vocals lately, and the more I do it, the more I find that vocals are vastly simpler to what I imagined.

As far as effects, you can go a long way with a compressor, an eq, and a decent reverb effect. If you want to correct for off notes, melodyne works pretty well, but if you comp takes carefully enough it might not be neccesary.

I wouldn't use any hard distortions on vocals, they seem way to obvious and annoying in a mix. Softer distortions can work well though, such as tube and transformer saturation. Transformer saturation in particular can make things sound a little err... old timey?

Anyway, I'm finding that the most important things to getting a good vocal performance are these -
1. Have some lyrics that are either fun, or mean something to you. It's hard to sing with expression when you are ambivalent about the source material.

2. Singing is about both pitch and tone. Listen closely to what singers do to stress a word or to unstress it. Some good examples of songs I've seen a wide range of this in are Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival, I am the highway, by Audioslave, Ruby Tuesday by the rolling stones, and Creep by Radiohead. Try (or have your vocalist try) stressing different parts of the lyrics, you can generally get more overtones if you open your mouth wider or sing louder.

3. Mic placement. I have basically one of the cheapest dynamic mics available, and a decent condenser. I have found I can get good recordings with either depending on where I place the mic. You don't neccesarily have to point the mic at your mouth. You might try pointing it at your forehead or chest or something. Or singing into the back of a condenser mic for backing vocals.

4. Comp your takes. This takes tons of time and practice. I'm still getting better at it.

5. Learn how to use multiple vocal takes for more variety to the sound. (I'm still working on this as well). Just one vocal take often sounds really weak, even with a nice reverb going on it. Try doubling the vocal line, either with a unison or a harmony. Or you could whisper it in another take, idk. There are all kinds of things you can do here. You could even harmonize with an autotuned version of yourself.

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