Blending vocal lines in a mix can be a difficult task. Especially if you’re aiming for vocals that sit on top of a mix and are clearly audible to the listener. It’s difficult to give advice on making your vocals sit perfectly in your specific mix, given that no two people sound the same and no two songs are identical. In this tutorial, we will focus on a technique that will make your vocals wider.
As usual, we prepared a short sequence in SoundBridge. It includes most of the elements of a full mix. Let’s take a listen to it.
From the above audio example, the main vocal is obviously pushed to the back of the mix. This is something we should avoid. Although its tone (after processing it with an EQ, compressor and other effects) is great, the stereo image of the other elements in the mix are too wide compared to the vocals. Generally, you’d want to fix that and make your vocals wider. With that in mind, let’s start by creating a new return track that we’ll use to process the vocals. On the newly created return track, we can add any plugin that creates the granular effect on vocals. In this case, we use Devious Machines’ Pitch Monster.
Using Granular Effect to Make Your Vocals Wider
We’ll be using Pitch Monster for this example. Let’s look at its interface.
This plugin has several modes and can be used with a variety of audio sources, but for this tutorial, and to make the vocals sound natural, we will focus on the “Granular” mode, which is highlighted at the top of its interface.
On the left, we can see the “Grain Rate” knob, which changes how quickly the engine slices the input audio into grains. Higher rates can give the signal a noisy or buzzy character. At lower rates, individual grains will be more discernible. Next, the “Jitter” causes the grain size to vary randomly and the “Wide” next to it expands the stereo field and will make your vocals wider. The dual high/low-pass filter allows you to change the tone of the processed sound and simultaneously remove unwanted bass and treble.
Furthermore, the “Pitch Spread” parameter on the right side of the interface detunes the individual unison voices by the number of semitones displayed below the knob. Just as the Pitch Spread will space individual voices out in pitch, Time Spread will space them out in time. The effect is rather like that of a delay, except that any changes to the voice pitch or other parameters will affect the delayed voices instantaneously.
Finally, on the far right, we can see a “Mix” parameter which controls the relative level of your original audio and the processed pitch-shifted output, followed by the master output parameter.
At this point, let’s apply the Granular effect to the main vocal by increasing the level of the return track feed into the vocal audio channel. We will first listen to the unprocessed vocals, and then the vocal processed with Pitch Monster.
Finally, let us hear the processed vocal in the context of the full mix.
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