Author Topic: Frost* Vocal Treatments  (Read 3527 times)

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Offline Rook

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Frost* Vocal Treatments
« on: May 31, 2012, 11:11:12 AM »
I love the way Jem textures voices on the Frost* albums. They tend to have a silkiness to them, almost a crunchiness, like a Neve preamp driven really hard. There is also often quite a lot of subtle (and not-so-subtle) modulation happening. Apart from one Frostreport, where Jem shows how he achieved the "underwater" effect, there is not a lot of info out there on how he went about that stuff. Anyone know?

How about it, Jem? Care to share some tips and tricks? Preamp and mic choices?

Cheers,
/R

Offline Pedro

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2012, 12:48:26 PM »
Interesting question...let's hope the Jemster can pop in and answer.

He's a bit busy at the moment....he and Blunders are at Sphere Studios today recording drums for the completely new set of jingles(etc.) that Jem and co (dayjob) are doing for Radio2. Exciting stuff.  :)
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Offline JimD

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2012, 12:56:25 PM »
There was some discussion on "the old forum" if I'm allowed to post them links here?

http://frost.informe.com/vocal-treatmen ... t1556.html

http://frost.informe.com/milliotown-voc ... t1801.html
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Offline E.S.

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2012, 05:18:58 PM »
Let's not forget great EQ skills to make the vox really stand out in some of these insanely dense mixes. :)

Offline Rook

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 05:39:22 AM »
Quote from: "JimD"
There was some discussion on "the old forum" if I'm allowed to post them links here?

http://frost.informe.com/vocal-treatmen ... t1556.html
http://frost.informe.com/milliotown-voc ... t1801.html

Fantastic! Thanks for that. I aways suspected there was a bit of a hacker ethic there, of using things in... well... not exactly the way they were designed to be used.

Quote from: "E.S."
Let's not forget great EQ skills to make the vox really stand out in some of these insanely dense mixes. :)

Hah. People who notice that are usually knee deep in mixing an album. Amirite? I remember after one particularly gruelling mix session finding myself wishing I could "roll the neighbour's dog off at about 6k so it would blend in to the background more and I could sleep" :/

/R

Offline gjstockham

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 12:53:07 PM »
There was discussion about this previously as mentioned, but I know that forums can be only temporary, and grabbed the information for future reference!  Here it is, and sorry for the long quote...

Quote
=================

In terms of Frost, I record them in a corner of The Cube behind an isolation screen.
It folds in half to form a 2 walled structure and I've got acoustic tiles behind that
so it forms a 3 and a half walled vocal booth. I stick a duvet over the top to form a
roof and I have to say that it works a treat.

I should care more about mics I know, but I'm a bit of a luddite about these things.
Well, in truth, I believe that when you've got music as dense and as loud as the
Frost stuff is, the actual vocal sound becomes a bit of a moot point. If I was
recording an album of piano and vocal ballads however, I'd be a bit more thoughtful
about mic choice...

But anyway, to prove the point, I started the album with a Blue Baby Bottle. That
broke, so I did the rest on a Rhode NT1. When I listened back, I actually preferred
the sound of the Rhode.

Since then, I've got a TLM 103 which is a great all round mid priced mic.

Once my vocals were done, I compressed the living sh*te out of them and rolled
everything off below about 600Hz during the loud bits. Again, I wouldn't do that
with a spoken voice piece, but the music's taking up so much of the frequency spectrum
that I try and keep vocals in as narrow a bandwidth as possible. Your brain thinks
it's hearing a full frequency vocal, but in reality it's actually eq'd pretty thin.

It's an old old old old old theory I know, but so many people don't do it and that's
to EQ according to the sound you're working with. For example, somebody might have a
piano sound and I bet that they never think to eq it in a mix. I always roll a ton of
bottom end off piano as it'll get in the way of the kick and the bass parts. You don't
need all that energy down there competing with everything else so just get rid of it.

Same for acoustic guitar, strings, vocals...all kinds of stuff. Especially vocals
actually, otherwise you get rumble, the sound of feet kicking the mic stand, all kinds
of stuff. It's amazing how much space you can free up with some selective eq-ing. For
rhythm acoustic guitar I filter it all the way up so the only thing you can hear pretty
much is the strumming sound during loud bits. It's the rhythm that's the important bit not
the chords. The chords are being taken care of with the piano or the electirc guitar. Your
brain thinks it's hearing all this stuff, but the reality can be quite different.

Anyway, back to the vox. Once it's recorded, I'll comp it and stick it through a variety
of plug ins depending on the circumstances. Automation plays a vital part in it all though.
I'm forever riding levels, EQ, compression ratios, attack and release times...that's why it
all takes so bleedin' long! Wink

A typical effects chain might be vox - Focusrite D3, McDSP Filterbank, McDSP MC2000, Waves
De-Esser, Digidesign Pitch (for a tiny bit of wideness)

Or : Vox - McDSP Channel G, Waves De-Esser, Digidesign Sci-Fi (add a little ring mod and
then automate it to follow the pitch of the vocal, you'll get a fabulous raspy undertone),
Sound Toys Pure Pitch (for a bit of formant drop) and maybe the Waves PS22 (automated to
f*ck with the phase of the vocal - I did this at the start of the "Only Survivors/Ghost of
Yesterday" section of Milliontown, it does my head in on headphones! Very Happy )

Other tricks include running a vocoder behind the lead vocal doubling the melody then mixed
in out of phase behind the vocal. Or having a subtle reverse reverb effect behind the vox.
Or using Clone Ensemble to create a football stadium of singing Godfreys (see the end chorus
of The Other Me)

Or putting the vocal through the Digidesign Pitch Shift audiosuite plug-in. Whack it up 24
semitones, then back down again to normal pitch, the artifacts you get are fabulously gritty.
 I did that with the vocal and the little keyboard riff on "Wedding Day" that used to be in
 the Toys section.

There's load of fun one can have with a vocal, a ProTools rig and a warped mind! Very Happy



===================
Hello mate,

EQ and compression are the 2 effects I use most of all. They're what makes a mix for me.

As a general rule for me, I have a medium attack (50ms-ish) and fast release (2-10ms) for
vocals, you'll get a load of "in your face" that way. And don't be afraid to compress really
hard especially if the vocal is very agressive. If you can get your vocals or mixes to "pump"
without sounding too obvious, I find you get a real sense of loudness without necessarily
having to resort to 2 mix limiting with a Waves L1 or an L3 to get the "squarewave" effect.

Also with vocal EQ, roll off anything under about 350Hz. All there is down there with vocals
is basically just ambient rumble, tapping feet, mic stand clonks and other stuff that will
get in the way of your mix compression. Your vocals will sound slightly thinner in isolation,
but in the mix they'll be absolutely fine. Do your EQ'ing at the same time as your compressing,
they really do go hand in hand. EQ first, then compress. Add lots of air to the vocals and
then de-ess before compressing. Also, depending on the voice, I find that a wee peak of a few
dB somewhere between 4 and 6khz with a tight Q will help the voice (especially male) cut through
better without you having to boost the overall level.

And use delay rather than reverb during busy musical sections. Delay takes up much less space
in a mix but your brain is still fooled into thinking there's lots of ambience there. If you
have something lke Line 6's Echofarm (it's all I ever use for delay), set it to to clock to a
dotted crotchet of your source tempo and keep the feedback percentage low. One or two echoes is
fine for most applications I find. But don't be afraid to automate mix, feedback and clock rate
depending on what you want to emphasise vocally.

Lastly, a great piece of advice I received once was to remember that things like reverb and echo
effects are just that - effects. Try not to use them all the time. You'd be surprised how often
you don't actually need them. For example on "No Me No You" and "Snowman" there's no reverb at
all on the vocals.

Lastly, and this is probably the best advice I can offer, if you're working with a DAW, look away
from the screen a lot when you're mixing and use your ears. Sounds obvious, but it's amazing how
distracting a screen full of bling can be! Wink

Offline Rook

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 01:07:16 PM »
Oh my, thats ruddy marvelous info, that is. Thank you so much for posting that. I had already saved the previous posts in an offline format, and shall do the same with this.

<claps>

/R

Offline Jem

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2012, 06:12:15 PM »
Quote from: "gjstockham"
There was discussion about this previously as mentioned, but I know that forums can be only temporary, and grabbed the information for future reference!  Here it is, and sorry for the long quote...

Quote
=================

In terms of Frost, I record them in a corner of The Cube behind an isolation screen.
It folds in half to form a 2 walled structure and I've got acoustic tiles behind that
so it forms a 3 and a half walled vocal booth. I stick a duvet over the top to form a
roof and I have to say that it works a treat.

I should care more about mics I know, but I'm a bit of a luddite about these things.
Well, in truth, I believe that when you've got music as dense and as loud as the
Frost stuff is, the actual vocal sound becomes a bit of a moot point. If I was
recording an album of piano and vocal ballads however, I'd be a bit more thoughtful
about mic choice...

But anyway, to prove the point, I started the album with a Blue Baby Bottle. That
broke, so I did the rest on a Rhode NT1. When I listened back, I actually preferred
the sound of the Rhode.

Since then, I've got a TLM 103 which is a great all round mid priced mic.

Once my vocals were done, I compressed the living sh*te out of them and rolled
everything off below about 600Hz during the loud bits. Again, I wouldn't do that
with a spoken voice piece, but the music's taking up so much of the frequency spectrum
that I try and keep vocals in as narrow a bandwidth as possible. Your brain thinks
it's hearing a full frequency vocal, but in reality it's actually eq'd pretty thin.

It's an old old old old old theory I know, but so many people don't do it and that's
to EQ according to the sound you're working with. For example, somebody might have a
piano sound and I bet that they never think to eq it in a mix. I always roll a ton of
bottom end off piano as it'll get in the way of the kick and the bass parts. You don't
need all that energy down there competing with everything else so just get rid of it.

Same for acoustic guitar, strings, vocals...all kinds of stuff. Especially vocals
actually, otherwise you get rumble, the sound of feet kicking the mic stand, all kinds
of stuff. It's amazing how much space you can free up with some selective eq-ing. For
rhythm acoustic guitar I filter it all the way up so the only thing you can hear pretty
much is the strumming sound during loud bits. It's the rhythm that's the important bit not
the chords. The chords are being taken care of with the piano or the electirc guitar. Your
brain thinks it's hearing all this stuff, but the reality can be quite different.

Anyway, back to the vox. Once it's recorded, I'll comp it and stick it through a variety
of plug ins depending on the circumstances. Automation plays a vital part in it all though.
I'm forever riding levels, EQ, compression ratios, attack and release times...that's why it
all takes so bleedin' long! Wink

A typical effects chain might be vox - Focusrite D3, McDSP Filterbank, McDSP MC2000, Waves
De-Esser, Digidesign Pitch (for a tiny bit of wideness)

Or : Vox - McDSP Channel G, Waves De-Esser, Digidesign Sci-Fi (add a little ring mod and
then automate it to follow the pitch of the vocal, you'll get a fabulous raspy undertone),
Sound Toys Pure Pitch (for a bit of formant drop) and maybe the Waves PS22 (automated to
f*ck with the phase of the vocal - I did this at the start of the "Only Survivors/Ghost of
Yesterday" section of Milliontown, it does my head in on headphones! Very Happy )

Other tricks include running a vocoder behind the lead vocal doubling the melody then mixed
in out of phase behind the vocal. Or having a subtle reverse reverb effect behind the vox.
Or using Clone Ensemble to create a football stadium of singing Godfreys (see the end chorus
of The Other Me)

Or putting the vocal through the Digidesign Pitch Shift audiosuite plug-in. Whack it up 24
semitones, then back down again to normal pitch, the artifacts you get are fabulously gritty.
 I did that with the vocal and the little keyboard riff on "Wedding Day" that used to be in
 the Toys section.

There's load of fun one can have with a vocal, a ProTools rig and a warped mind! Very Happy



===================
Hello mate,

EQ and compression are the 2 effects I use most of all. They're what makes a mix for me.

As a general rule for me, I have a medium attack (50ms-ish) and fast release (2-10ms) for
vocals, you'll get a load of "in your face" that way. And don't be afraid to compress really
hard especially if the vocal is very agressive. If you can get your vocals or mixes to "pump"
without sounding too obvious, I find you get a real sense of loudness without necessarily
having to resort to 2 mix limiting with a Waves L1 or an L3 to get the "squarewave" effect.

Also with vocal EQ, roll off anything under about 350Hz. All there is down there with vocals
is basically just ambient rumble, tapping feet, mic stand clonks and other stuff that will
get in the way of your mix compression. Your vocals will sound slightly thinner in isolation,
but in the mix they'll be absolutely fine. Do your EQ'ing at the same time as your compressing,
they really do go hand in hand. EQ first, then compress. Add lots of air to the vocals and
then de-ess before compressing. Also, depending on the voice, I find that a wee peak of a few
dB somewhere between 4 and 6khz with a tight Q will help the voice (especially male) cut through
better without you having to boost the overall level.

And use delay rather than reverb during busy musical sections. Delay takes up much less space
in a mix but your brain is still fooled into thinking there's lots of ambience there. If you
have something lke Line 6's Echofarm (it's all I ever use for delay), set it to to clock to a
dotted crotchet of your source tempo and keep the feedback percentage low. One or two echoes is
fine for most applications I find. But don't be afraid to automate mix, feedback and clock rate
depending on what you want to emphasise vocally.

Lastly, a great piece of advice I received once was to remember that things like reverb and echo
effects are just that - effects. Try not to use them all the time. You'd be surprised how often
you don't actually need them. For example on "No Me No You" and "Snowman" there's no reverb at
all on the vocals.

Lastly, and this is probably the best advice I can offer, if you're working with a DAW, look away
from the screen a lot when you're mixing and use your ears. Sounds obvious, but it's amazing how
distracting a screen full of bling can be! Wink

I couldn't have put it better myself.  ;)  :lol:

Offline Mouse

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2012, 04:42:13 PM »
That is really handy indeed. Thanks, gjstockham and Past Jem.  :)

Offline E.S.

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2012, 06:54:58 PM »
Quote from: "Rook"

Hah. People who notice that are usually knee deep in mixing an album. Amirite? I remember after one particularly gruelling mix session finding myself wishing I could "roll the neighbour's dog off at about 6k so it would blend in to the background more and I could sleep" :/

/R
Tell me about it.  :?
Especially if you're one of us weird bastards who mix as we go, so the mixing process starts even when the first bit is recorded. Just can't wait until everything is done to cut out that annoying frequency.  :lol:

Offline JakeWorrell

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2012, 07:01:11 PM »
Quote from: "Jem"
Quote from: "gjstockham"
There was discussion about this previously as mentioned, but I know that forums can be only temporary, and grabbed the information for future reference!  Here it is, and sorry for the long quote...

Quote from: "Past Jem"
Lots of clever stuff

I couldn't have put it better myself.  ;)  :lol:

oo err, it's all gone a bit back to the future. That was pretty close, the encounter could have created a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would have unraveled the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroyed the entire universe. Granted, that's the worse case scenario. The destruction might, in fact, have been very localised, limited to merely our own galaxy.

Yes I had to look that quote up.
"The longer the note, the more dread."

Offline RobRideout

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Re: Frost* Vocal Treatments
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2012, 05:57:17 PM »
Good lord, that's handy. Really inspired me to get mixing :)