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Vocal effects for live performances

Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 883Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
Not sure if this has already been covered, so here goes...

I recently did a room recording of a rehearsal with myself and another musician.
Her vocals were going direct into a powered speaker with very little onboard reverb and delay in the mix, and mine went through a separate powered speaker with about 10%+ more FX mix.
The end result was that her voice stood out clearly in the recording mix, while mine, even with more resonance, sat back a bit more than I'd like. Guessing it had to do with the difference in voice frequencies perhaps? I am also thinking that possibly the bit extra reverb made my vocals "sit back" in the mix.

What are your experiences with it, and what (and how much of it) do you run on your live vocals to keep them crisp?
@videoace @TommyM @Gypsysinger @streeter @Alyona @highmtn

PS - Gear: Sennheiser E945, TC Helicon VoiceLive Play, Peavey PR12 powered speaker




  • videoacevideoace Posts: 936Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @Furious_Phil Personally I don't use reverb in a live setting. Too much of a hassle when it comes to feedback, but I do use a delay, or sometimes use an echo. (Yes, they are different). When I do use a delay/echo, I like to use a quick short delay/echo.

    Live settings are different. When you are using effects live, you are also amplifying the effects. (The effects are now part of your signal)

    In a studio setting you are usually adding the effects afterwards (for vocals) to an already solid signal. (The effects aren't part of the signal)

    Reverb will create space, and soften the sound. Sometimes even when the reverbed vocal is louder than the clear it still seems lower, and more distant just because of the space the reverb created.

    Peace, Tony
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 12,965Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    More reverb or echo = a more distant sound. The vocals will be diffused. Dry = a very plain sound. Lots less feedback or mud.

    I like reverb and slapback echo in a live setting. Sometimes a longer delay for a slower song, but effects tend to make feedback issues a lot more difficult to control.

    My live setup has separate sends for reverb, echo, doubling, tap delay, chorus, and rotary speaker. Needless to say, that's a lot if you ever start using it all, but it's there if you want it.

    I tend to have the FX returns only go through my own monitor setup, often none in the front of house or other monitors. That way I can hear lots of it onstage, but it's not loud enough to be obnoxious to other listeners. If a lot of it is in my in-ear monitors, then there is little to no feedback issue with the FX. There is enough coming through my wedges that others can hear the slapback, and it's coming from one particular part of the room.

    If you want a sound to be more "in your face" then dry will do that. If you want it to be in a more spacious place, or further back, then you can drench it.

    Because you can't remove FX unless you have a dry version of the vocal or instrument, that's why you want to record dry. Once you print the FX onto the original channel, you can't lessen or remove it. If you add it later, you can do whatever you want to modify it after the fact.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 809Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Just wanted to say that i also noticed a while back with a few bands that too much reverb on the vocals will kill the definition. It blends into the mix so much. But usually just a little is a nice touch, especially when the room doesn't provide any natural resonance so to speak.

    I agree with @videoace that echo and delay can be a great option, they are indeed very different.

    Just experiment a little i would say.

    All the best,

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 883Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Excellent input guys!
    That's jives exactly with what I found; the vocal definition (ping) was subdued as compared to what I was hearing from what i knew was coming out of my pie-hole.

    Backing off the reverb to maybe 10%, and adding a little slapback Delay... and adding doubling only when I hit it for the choruses :smile:
  • videoacevideoace Posts: 936Pro, 2.0 PRO
    All you have to remember when adding effects is that they are to "enhance" your voice. If you look online there are great articles on how to get those sparkling dynamic vocals that will enhance the sound of your ping, and not hinder it.

    The one thing I don't think you realize (most don't) is in that little zoom box of yours (and all of the other DAWs), there is more technology than the Beatles had when they produced Sgt Peppers.

    Frequencies, and signals are some things you would like to, and probably enjoy reading about.

    Anyway try not to let the technology take away from being imaginative, and creative when it comes to mixing sound. It can be a pain as I'm sure you've been finding out lately ha ha.

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 883Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited April 27
    For sure, but in this instance, I am talking live sound.
    The processor is a TC Helicon VoiceLive Play and whatever amp/PA I manage to fanangle for this event.
    I am seriously on the hunt for a small PA system so I can at least remove the mechanical "Moving Target" from the equation.
  • videoacevideoace Posts: 936Pro, 2.0 PRO
    It's the same for live sound as well. It's all frequencies, and signals. That's what sound is.

    The difference with live is that you can't control the acoustic environment like you can in a studio, so you have to compensate with EQ, compressor/limiter, etc.......

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 883Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Of course, I agree... the theory is the same, just a different playground.
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 883Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    I ended up dialling in a subtle reverb and a slap back echo (compression and mild gate) for the main vocals, then added a doubling effect for the "HIT" button for a few of the choruses. When I got there I saw it was a wide open space with plenty of natural reverb, so I quickly turned off the reverb.
    It went superbly, and got allot of compliments, especially for my Bon Jovi-esque take on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" 😎
  • videoacevideoace Posts: 936Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Awesome. Sometimes less is more.
    For me, the more natural sounding it is, the better.
    I use effects too, and I try to make them "un-noticeable" to the listener, but also use enough to get that crisp warm tone.

    Good to see that you're getting a signature sound down for your vocals. I'm still working on it myself, but getting close.

    Peace, Tony
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 883Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @highmtn: I was finally able to confirm on the TC Helicon VoiceLive Play (say that 3x fast)
    that you can indeed use the 'headphone out' in conjunction with your XLR output to the PA mixer! So I will be able to do a poor man's in-ear monitoring after all!! :smiley: )

    I have learned that with the Sennheiser E945, you really have to keep your face in its grill or you'll get significant volume drop-off, so I'm pretty much relegated to staying put near my pedal board etc anyway, so a good set of wired earbuds and a stereo 1/8" extension cord, and I'll be running with the big dogs!

    I think if I can actually hear my vocal nuances over the band, I'll be able to really put the polish to it. The trick will be to adjust the headphone mix so I still hear the band, but boost the clarity of my vocals.

    Living and learning through "Iterative Development" B)
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