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Hi,

so, my band has had a re-jig and I’m going to be doing BVs.  I’ve done this in previous bands so I’m just about competent, but I was wondering if there’s benefit in any “effects” on my vocals.

The Pa when we gig has some basics like reverb but I was wondering about compression? Worth getting a pedal so I can set it up to suit?  Any other advice?

cheers

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2 minutes ago, MrDaveTheBass said:

Be careful with compression on vocals as it can exacerbate feedback through your mic.

We've found that, bought a PA with compression as an effect and can't use it because it causes feedback

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Be careful with reverb because it pushes you further back in the mix.

If you want a pedal to go between your mic and the desk then the TC Mic Mechanic offers simple reverb / delay,  EQ / De-Essing and pitch correction with pre-sets. No harmonies.

 

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Careful eq is always the most important thing; rolling off a bit of bass is often useful to counter the mic's proximity effect, especially in the common 'lips-up-against-the-mic' scenario.

Apart from that...

Reverb on vocals in a live context is only really important if
    a) you're performing outside or in a particularly acoustically dead room, or...
    b) you're playing particularly empty/spacious music, or...
    c) you're playing a genre of music that is expected to have super-reverby vocals
 
Otherwise reverb often just tends to get lost whilst also muddying up the overall sound.

A bit of shortish delay with very little feedback is often better for achieving the effect that people usually try to use reverb for.
It's very important to be able to turn it off between songs though;  it doesn't work well for announcing the next song!

Compression is very useful for evening-out the level differences between the loud and the quiet parts of the singing - especially if the singer doesn't have the mic technique to do this themselves.
However, as others have noted already, it can worsen feedback problems if the singer is quiet, or if you're already struggling to get enough level on the vocals.

Other effects are mostly inessential candy.
Modern harmony-generating effects could bring a lot of added value, but I think it would take a lot of preparation and experience to really get them working well, even with the right gear.
 

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2 hours ago, NancyJohnson said:

We always use something called a pancake filter/VST.  It's a multiband compression plugin, just phattens up the voice and gives it a bit of grit.

Isn't pancake a modulation - or pan - plugin as opposed to a multi band ?

Edited by EBS_freak
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BV's add a lot to a song for very little effort, in my view. It doesn't need the same detail as the lead singer (but not a 'rubbish' sound, naturally..!). As with many things, 'Less Is More'. If in doubt, leave it out. Depends on the venue, but the tiniest spot of short delay does wonders, and having something like a sponge 'pop-sock' over the capsule can help keep the mouth just that little bit further from the capsule. So many folks seem to want to swallow the mic, whereby a little distance has much more musicality. You'll not be looking for volume (these are BV's, remember..? 'B' for 'Backing'..?), so no need to get up to feedback levels. Enough to be heard is plenty enough.
Hope this helps. B|

I almost forgot... Make sure you have a decent monitor, with appropriate levels set for yourself and the lead singer. Getting that to sound right for you both is at least half the battle. :)

Edited by Dad3353
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Less is generally more.

Compression on vocals, for a lot of people, is more hassle than it's worth because, as mentioned, due to the increased chance of compression. In short, if you do use compression, take it easy, especially on the make up gain. Also, you will need to have got rid of the hot nodes in the room - so a 31 band EQ on all the outputs (monitors and for speakers) is pretty much essential. If you are on an analogue desk, this is a lot of extra kit to be carrying around.

Reverb - works but you ideally need to cut the low end reverb... and the airy highs - the "Abbey Road" reverb if you will. Again, switch if off between songs - and be wary, too much adds muds. Realistically, you should turn it up so that it's just perceivable, and then maybe knock it back the tiniest bit. Too many people flood the vocals with reverb and it completely kills it. Listen to your fave music - and you'll tend to find that the vocals are a lot more dry from a reverb front than you would think. More often than not, a delay is preferable...

HOWEVER, if you do use delay, it needs to be beat matched... so prepare to tap tempo - or better still, have somebody else control the delays from the desk (tapping tempo). If you are playing to tracks, it's easier because if you tap accurately enough, the tap will stay in sync for the average song. Even better is if you can sync to a midi clock to control the delay rate.

In reality, what will do you best, is keep it simple! Get your EQ sorted - and sing in tune. And above all, get your mouth around the mic. The more your lips are on the grille and the louder you sing, the less issue you will have with feedback. That last tip will trump anything you can do on the desk or fx etc. 

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2 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

...And above all, get your mouth around the mic. The more your lips are on the grille and the louder you sing, the less issue you will have with feedback. That last tip will trump anything you can do on the desk or fx etc. 

Ha..! And I've just recommended the exact opposite..! :lol:

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3 minutes ago, Dad3353 said:

BV's add a lot to a song for very little effort, in my view. It doesn't need the same detail as the main singer (but not a 'rubbish' sound, naturally..!). As with many things, 'Less Is More'. If in doubt, leave it out. Depends on the venue, but the tiniest spot of short delay does wonders, and having something like a sponge 'pop-sock' over the capsule can help keep the mouth just that little bit further from the capsule. So many folks seem to want to swallow the mic, whereby a little distance has much more musicality. You'll not be looking for volume (these are BV's, remember..? 'B' for 'Backing'..?), so no need to get up to feedback levels. Enough to be heard is plenty enough.
Hope this helps. B|

Ha ha, very opposite advice to the one that I just posted! :P

Keeping your lips on the grille increases the bass in your vocal - which prevents vocals from sounding thin. You can EQ out excessive bottom end. The louder you sing and the closer to the capsule you get, the less spill from other instruments. Less spill, the better the band will sound - keep the cymbals, and amps out of the vocal mics and you'll have a better sound and less problems with feedback.

You may want to gate off backing vocals to assist with this... although you never want to gate the lead vocals. Mic choice can also aid - Audix for example are ace at off axis rejection... but conversely will punish you if you sing off axis and your mic technique is poor.

Windscreens (the foam) are generally for use outside where wind noise can be picked up by the mic. Pop filters are usually the domain of the studio and used with more sensitive condenser mics where there is a larger space between lips and capsule.

Just my take on it anyway!

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2 hours ago, Dad3353 said:

Ha..! And I've just recommended the exact opposite..! :lol:

Ok, out in the carpark, you two! 😄

In practice it's all contextual, innit?
In a loud rock band, where you're struggling to get enough vocal level without feedback, mic-to-lips is essential, as EBS suggests, with some bass rolloff to counter the proximity effect.
In a quieter context where feedback (and spill) isn't an issue, backing off the mic a bit will often give a more natural result, as Dad says.

Edited by paulbuzz
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I have the job of BV in my band and similar to OP I’m looking for a little assistance. I’m waiting on an  TC Helicon Touch 2 to be delivered which I’m hoping will add some harmonies to my backing and generally thicken things up a little. I will need to have a play with it to see if running off the rhythm guitarist, preseting the key or using the built in room mics works best to control the harmonies. From the YouTube vids I have seen, it appears to be a very capable bit of kit but apparently you need to control the gain structure to prevent feedback. 

I’m not planning on using reverb, compression etc on the Touch 2 as the XR18 will handle that. It’s just the harmonies and a vocal effects I’m interested in.

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1 hour ago, paulbuzz said:

Ok, out in the carpark, you two! 😄

In practice it's all contextual, innit?
In a loud rock band, where you're struggling to get enough vocal level without feedback, mic-to-lips is essential, with some bass rolloff to counter the proximity effect.
In a quieter context where feedback (and spill) isn't an issue, backing off the mic a bit will often give a more natural result, as Dad says.

We don’t need to take it out in the carpark... we’re groundhog buddies. 🙂

I get where you are coming from - bleed is bleed though, no matter how loud the band. And of course, if you are playing in venues where you are standing on top of each other due to the lack of space, the techniques I describe all help.

You’ll never get people complaining at a gig about non studio quality vocals - but you will feedback. Maybe it’s my ears but I never hear enough warmth and low end in vocals unless the singer is “on” the mic.

Anyway, just throwing it out there what I do. Experiment and see what works for your setup. There’s no right or wrong (within reason) when it comes to mixing. If it sounds good, it good.

I should probably mention that the best thing you can do to improve your vocals, is to go onto IEMs. Helps people to pitch without resorting to the crutch of a pedal. If people have confidence in their pitch, they tend to sing louder - and that’s better as you don’t have to run the gain so hard.

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1 hour ago, Silky999 said:

I have the job of BV in my band and similar to OP I’m looking for a little assistance. I’m waiting on an  TC Helicon Touch 2 to be delivered which I’m hoping will add some harmonies to my backing and generally thicken things up a little. I will need to have a play with it to see if running off the rhythm guitarist, preseting the key or using the built in room mics works best to control the harmonies. From the YouTube vids I have seen, it appears to be a very capable bit of kit but apparently you need to control the gain structure to prevent feedback. 

I’m not planning on using reverb, compression etc on the Touch 2 as the XR18 will handle that. It’s just the harmonies and a vocal effects I’m interested in.

I’ve no direct experience with that pedal - but if you are looking at thickening your vocal, the tiniest bit of chorus and saturation courtesy of the xr18 will work wonders. Saturation on vocals to add harmonic content is a very much underused trick in the book!

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7 hours ago, EBS_freak said:

I should probably mention that the best thing you can do to improve your vocals, is to go onto IEMs. Helps people to pitch without resorting to the crutch of a pedal. If people have confidence in their pitch, they tend to sing louder - and that’s better as you don’t have to run the gain so hard.

In keeping with this thread's spirit of presenting absolutely opposing opinions...

In my last band, we found IEMs had exactly the opposite effect: the singer could boost their in-ear vocal level way higher than they were used to, sang much more softly and so needed to be boosted in the mix - masses of feedback and loads of cymbal spill into her mic.

Hardly insurmountable but you need someone on board with the idea that the sound man can't magically fix everything at the desk. Bassists seem good at this, other band members' mileage may vary.

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15 minutes ago, Dankology said:

In keeping with this thread's spirit of presenting absolutely opposing opinions...

In my last band, we found IEMs had exactly the opposite effect: the singer could boost their in-ear vocal level way higher than they were used to, sang much more softly and so needed to be boosted in the mix - masses of feedback and loads of cymbal spill into her mic.

Hardly insurmountable but you need someone on board with the idea that the sound man can't magically fix everything at the desk. Bassists seem good at this, other band members' mileage may vary.

User error! 😛

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53 minutes ago, Dankology said:

In keeping with this thread's spirit of presenting absolutely opposing opinions...

Obviously, you'll need enormous space reverb and plenty of compression. I'd also be tempted to turn the vox and guitars right down, and the bass right up.

Hope that helps!

😎

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6 hours ago, Dankology said:

In keeping with this thread's spirit of presenting absolutely opposing opinions...

In my last band, we found IEMs had exactly the opposite effect: the singer could boost their in-ear vocal level way higher than they were used to, sang much more softly and so needed to be boosted in the mix - masses of feedback and loads of cymbal spill into her mic.

Hardly insurmountable but you need someone on board with the idea that the sound man can't magically fix everything at the desk. Bassists seem good at this, other band members' mileage may vary.

This happened with my band too - soon as IEMs were introduced the lead singer tended to back off from the mic too much, largely due to having too much of himself in the monitor mix. Drove our sound guy crazy.

From my experience in working with a lot of singers in function bands, the worst offenders for needing vocals way too loud are those people who have been used to solo work utilising backing tracks. They just get so used to having their voice so way over the compressed tracks, then get with a band and can’t make the transition. Their mic technique also tended to be hand over the sides of the mic grille and their mouth covering the rest of it....😡

Edited by casapete
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54 minutes ago, casapete said:

This happened with my band too - soon as IEMs were introduced the lead singer tended to back off from the mic too much, largely due to having too much of himself in the monitor mix. Drove our sound guy crazy.

From my experience in working with a lot of singers in function bands, the worst offenders for needing vocals way too loud are those people who have been used to solo work utilising backing tracks. They just get so used to having their voice so way over the compressed tracks, then get with a band and can’t make the transition. Thief mic technique also tended to be hand over the sides of the mic grille and their mouth covering the rest of it....😡

So as I said - user error!

Its like anything, bad technique needs to be unlearned - whether it's singing or playing.

IEMs aren't the problem - and I'll defend that to the cows come home. It's how they are implemented/used.

I will add into the conversation though, people that compress their vocals in their IEMs need shooting - as that does impact the way that you sing as you lose all sense of dynamics... and even with correct mic technique, if you start messing with dynamics, the singers ability to sing naturally will be impacted.

 

Edited by EBS_freak
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Cheers guys, some helpful opinions and pointers.

im not after adding harmonies via a pedal,  I think that has train wreck written all over it, but the tips to fatten things up, fill out the sound, are good.  Also get the compression/feedback point too.  Hadn’t considered that.

we don’t use IEMs but I always wore earplugs and found they created a bit of “natural monitoring” in that I could hear myself sing.

I think what I’m hearing is that less is more, get the eq right, and (try to) sing in tune...

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