VOCAL THICKENING (3 Quick Tricks You Need to Know)

In this video, you’ll learn my favorite vocal thickening trick that you can do in any DAW. I’ll also share two more quick tricks for creating a thick lead vocal.

A thin or weak vocal will ruin the rest of the performance. So knowing how to fix this issue could really save your ass!

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In this video you’ll learn my favorite vocal thickening trick that you can do in any DAW and I’ll also share two more quick tricks for creating a thick lead vocal, because a thinner weak vocal will ruin the rest of the performance.

So, knowing how to fix this issue could really save your ass.

But first be sure to grab my free vocal mixing cheat sheet.

There’s a link in the bio or on screen now.

Okay, so the first trick I want to share with you is called the Thick Reverb trick.

Now, a lot of videos you’ll see in YouTube about vocal thickening will talk about chorusing or Waves Doubler.

I’m going to show you in this video too, but a technique that I haven’t seen anywhere else is using reverb to change the tone of a vocal and make it sound thicker.

Let me give you a quick demonstration, so if I just create a new send on my vocal to create a new buss. I’m going to call this reverb and I’m going to increase that to zero.

On here we’re going to first add an EQ. I’m going to make this really thick by adding lots of body around 200 and we’ll play around with this in a sec but that’s a good starting point.

Taper off the low-end and maybe let’s reduce that top-end a bit.

Now, I’m going to load up a reverb. For this I’m going to use Logic’s new ChromVerb , which is awesome and we’re just going to go to something like dark room that sounds like it’d be quite warm, and then we’re going to just get rid of this because we’ve used an EQ plug-in already.

Now, let’s see how this sounds when I solo the vocal with this reverb.

So, it’s quite a dark warm sound.

This is the vocal on its own.

And in the context of the mix it sounds a little bit thin.

It sounds good. It does need more brightness as well, but quite often with female vocals if they’re singing in a high pitch you start to lose some of that warmth and body.

So, now let’s solo this again and bring in that reverb and listen to how it affects the tone.

And this is just another way you can shape the vocal into how you want it to sound is by using reverb as well as EQ on the vocal itself.

That’s adding quite a lot of body.

Now, if I was to do the opposite if I reduced that body and increased the top-end now listen to how it sounds?

Now, it’s adding air and it’s adding sibilants as well.

And let’s go back to warmth.

You can really hear how much warmth that’s adding to the voice.

So, this is a great way to thicken up a weak or thin sounding vocal without having to use EQ on the vocal itself, because sure we could try doing the same thing on the vocal. We could try boosting around here to make it a bit thicker and I’d probably do that too.

But this is just another way we can thicken up that vocal that sounds a bit more natural than just apply EQ directly to the vocal sometimes.

And normally a combination of those two EQ directly on the vocal and a kind of warm dark reverb is going to thicken that up.

Let’s listen in the context of the mix now.

So, now we just need to get to the point where we’re happy with the way the reverb sounds.

Now, this track hasn’t been mixed yet we’re at the balancing stage,

And the reason I’m taking up the vocal here is because normally when I’m prepping for a mix I am going through, I am checking the channels, I am adding gain staging I will spend some time on the vocal doing some subtractive EQ removing any room resonances.

I’m not trying to make it sound different, because if we’re soloing the vocal in this context and we’re just prepping the mix we don’t want to make it sound different. We just want to find any ugliness like room resonances or sibilance and try and tame that.

And often what I’ll do is fix these kind of issues here, because at this point it’s more about the production quality and the tone being not where I want it to be, so I am happy to do that in the prep phase if it’s a major issue.

Now, that does pose somewhat of a challenge in that we don’t have any of the reverb going on, so it sounds a bit unnatural but we could still experiment with maybe I think a plate is going to sound a bit more natural here. So, we can load up a plate and play around with that.

So, this is without that reverb.

And this is with.



So, we’re adding thickness but it’s quite subtle, it’s quite musical and it sounds quite natural.

So, now I’m going to move onto the next trick which is using Waves Vocal Doubler.

I find myself using Waves Vocal Doubler quite often on backend vocal groups if I want to give them a bit more spread and beef them out to make it sound a bit more choral.

But it works really well on second buss with the lead vocal sometimes and we can call this doubler.

Let’s solo that vocal again and I’m going to use Waves Vocal Doubler which is very affordable if you don’t have already. Don’t be scared off by this, because you can get it for $30 Wave sales bundled with a bunch of other plug-ins.

So, let’s use doubler 4 and let’s just leave it as it is that’s fine. The default setting we’ve got like detuned on the left, so basically what it’s doing is we’ve got multiple variations.

We’ve got the original down the center, and because we’ve got this on a buss we’re going to get rid of that.

And then, on the left hand side we’ve got one that 6 dB quieter. It’s got a bit of a delay and it’s detuned by 6.

And then, we’ve also got another one of the left that’s a bit quieter, bit more of a delay and bit more detuned and then the same on the right and you have graphical representation of it here.

Right now, only two of these are engaged that’s not going to sound quite dramatic, so we’ll give that a go first.

So, let’s just increase that buss then, solo this, and have a listen to how it sounds.

So, it almost sounds like chorusing. It’s got slightly different characteristic to a chorus and I’m going to show you how chorusing sounds in a second.

But we can just tuck this in underneath and as I bring this up the vocal starts sound thicker but it will also start to have kind of this nice shimmer to it and this nice sheen that fits really well in a lot of modern mainstream pop kind of tracks.

So, I tend to have it quite subtle. When we bring it up here it starts to get into that obvious kind of chorusing effect and I just tend to get to that point and back it off a touch.

Let’s listen in the context of the mix now, so this is without.

And with.

So, again it’s pretty subtle but it’s just adding a bit more thickness and a bit more interest. It just adds that kind of sheen as well where it starts to sound a bit shimmery and a bit more produced, but in a lot of situations that works really well.

Now, you can still do this trick if you don’t have Waves Vocal Doubler, because we can manually replicate this because it’s just a delayed and detuned duplicate.

So, I’m just going to show you one example of this, and then if you want to go and do four different versions like Waves Vocal Doubler then you can do that too.

But first we just need to create two busses and you can do this in any DAW the process is going to be similar.

So, now we’ve two more busses so we can do detune 1 and detune 2 then if we link them it’s going to make this a little bit easier. So, I’m going to send them to the same group and that just means when we turn the faders up and down they’ll both go together.

The first thing we want to do then is detune them, so we can go to pitch shifter and then we can pan this one to the left like so pan one to left one to the right, and then we can turn that group back on.

And we want to detune this left here by let’s say 6 sends, so if we solo this.

So, we’ve got left here we want to make 100 send mix and let’s do 6 sends.

And then, on the right here we want to do the opposite, so we want to do plus 6.

And then, also in Logic it’s pretty handy because we have a delay in the same plug-in of the pitch shifter.

In other DAWs you might have to add a second delay plug-in, but here we can just adjust this.

So, let’s try doing 4 milliseconds and about 4 milliseconds on the left or maybe a slightly different one and let’s see how this sounds, so we’ve got a delay and a pitch shift on each side.

So, it’s pretty drastic there but then we can do the same thing. We could bring this until we notice it, and then back it off.

And then, you can do it again with another two and you could detune them more and delay them more and just play around with that.

So, you can still do this without Waves Vocal Doubler that doubler plug-in just does the same thing just quicker and makes it a bit easier to shape that.

So, now let’s move onto the next trick.

And trick number 3 is using subtle chorusing to add thickness to the vocal.

So, I’m just going to do this directly on the channel and you can use any chorus; the one that comes with your DAW. If you don’t have one in your DAW TAL is a great free one which stands for Togu Audio Line Chorus LX this is a great free plug-in.

I’m just going to use the stock Logic one, so let’s get rid of that and solo the vocal and just listen to how when I bring this mix up just before we get to this place where it’s really obvious chorusing.

We have this kind of section where it’s just going to start to sound a bit thicker and it’s going to sound quite similar to Waves Vocal Doubler because it’s doing a similar thing once we combine the doubler where we’re combining the detuned delayed vocals we get this kind of interesting phasy effects and that’s what we get with the chorus 2 it’s just got a slightly different characteristic to it.

And this might be easy to hear if I disable that doubler, so let’s do that again.

So, you can hear that when I bring that back in it’s subtle but it’s doing similar thing. It’s sticking it up is adding that shimmer and when we combine that with the Waves Vocal Doubler.

So, we want it to be pretty subtle. It’s not meant to sound like an obvious chorus effect unless that’s what you’re going for and that’s fine if you’re using it creatively.

But in this context when we’re just trying to add a bit of thickness we want it to be quite subtle, so that old trick of brining up till you hear it and then backing it off until it’s just really nice and subtle.
And you just notice it when you’re bypassing you just kind of notice that something is missing when that plug-in is bypassed.

So, now let’s compare with and without all three, so let’s do this first as solo.

So, this is with no reverb, no chorus, no doubler.

And now this is with those effects.

So, now the vocal has a lot more body, it has a lot more warmth to that and we can now start to work with this in the context of the mix and as we’re shaping the vocal itself we don’t have to rely purely on EQ to try and add that body.

We can now add some top-end to make it sound brighter whilst keeping that low-end warmth and body.

So, let’s do that again in the context of the mix, so this is without anything.

And this is with.

So, when you combine those three tricks together you can really notice that.

I often find myself just using one or two of those. If there’s a particular issue then maybe you can use all three, but any of those tricks will work if you just want to beef out that vocal.

So, there you go my favorite vocal thickening trick with that EQed reverb, and then two more quick tricks for making it thick lead vocal.

Of course, there’s so much more that goes into mixing a lead vocal and I don’t have time to cover it here.

You need to make sure after doing this that you get the EQ right, the automation right, the compression right, delay reverb.

So, I put together a free vocal mixing cheat sheet and if you want to get all of that other stuff right as well as this every single time then go download that and it’s going to help you to make your mixes and your vocal sound professional because you can reference it when you’re mixing.

It’s completely free. There’s a link in the description or on screen now.

So, go to that page now to get that free PDF.

And then, I want to hear from you.

Which of these techniques have you used before?

Do you find yourself EQing and reverbs or do you actually rely quite a lot on using a chorus when you’re mixing vocal?

Leave a comment below, because I’d love to hear from you.

That’s all from me. I’ll see you again next week and remember Create Regardless.


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