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Vocal effects for live performances

Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, 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




  • @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: 14,430Administrator, 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: 1,065Pro, 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: 1,255Moderator, 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:
  • 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: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited April 2018
    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.
  • 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: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Of course, I agree... the theory is the same, just a different playground.
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, 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" 😎
  • 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: 1,255Moderator, 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)
  • heybrayhayes7heybrayhayes7 Posts: 52.0 PRO
    edited September 2018
    Hey everyone, I’m very new & am still trying to practice correct pitch. I recently did my very first rehearsal/audition
    with my new band mates who discovered me singing 18 & Life on Facebook , & it was a lot of fun & went well, I just couldn’t hear myself at all really. So I was definitely sharp in some places, maybe flat in others. Hopefully I can get a better sense of pitch by practicing. We are a young band, although I am by far the least experienced member. The other guys have really nice instruments, so is it advised that I get an ear piece & things like that ASAP ? I still need to purchase my own amp & mic as well as the amp & mic we used the other day was equipment our drummer borrowed from his college. Thank you so much !
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,065Pro, 2.0 PRO
    If you need to hear yourself more clearly (which is crucial) you have to have the best monitor mix for yourself. So you need either a stage monitor, or an in-ear system, where you can create your own mix. Why not google those methods a bit? You will find what you are looking for.

    Just one safety tip if you are going to use in-ears: Make sure you get something that has a limiter built in, through which your in-ears can run. Some mixers might have them built-in, i am not sure. This limiter will prevent any unwanted volume spikes to protect your hearing.

    All the best,

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @heybrayhayes7, Was the reason that you couldn't hear yourself because the band was playing too loud for the PA system? Did you at least have a monitor pointed towards you? Are you able to increase the volume to the monitor?

    What I'd really suggest is to place a recorder out in the main area to capture what an audience would hear. Do the vocals stand out in the mix or are they totally washed out?
    If they are indeed low, and you can't bring up the PA volume anymore, then the band has to bring their volume down... Plain and simple
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Also, the TC Helicon VoiceLive Play is a superb processor, and allows for headphones while feeding the PA. You can even cut costs and go wired until you can afford to go wireless.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,065Pro, 2.0 PRO

    Does the Helicon have a built-in limiter? Just curious about the possibilities for it. Looking for some stuff myself now, might be forming a band soon!

    All the best,

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    I'll have to confirm that for sure, but I think that it does... you can directly control the mix level to the headphones independent of the output to the mixer.
  • heybrayhayes7heybrayhayes7 Posts: 52.0 PRO
    You are amazing, thank you so much for the quick reply. I am going to do everything you suggested & my thoughts would be that the drummer in particular was for sure playing way too loud for my tiny amp. Mine was all the way up. The equipment they lent me for that rehearsal was gear he got from his college, not bad but small.
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @heybrayhayes7 , Its good you discovered this now and hopefully they are receptive to turning everything down during rehearsals.
    That exact scenario was how I blew out my voice back in the 80's... Trying to sing like David Lee Roth and Klaus Meine etc in FULL VOICE into an under powered PA.
  • heybrayhayes7heybrayhayes7 Posts: 52.0 PRO
    edited October 2018
    Makes a lot of sense to me. & just to furthur that thought a little bit, I also love the 80s. DLR Van Halen rules. I’m a huge Sebastian Bach and axl rose fan in particular. Along with rob halford & Also lScott Weiland with STP & Velvet revolver but, I was definitely more sore than I have ever been in my entire life after that particular day because I was trying to sing/or scream over them. I’m just going to work on my own center of pitch so I’ll be good whether I can hear myself or not hopefully & ultimately getting a good in ear monitor system because I don’t see our drummer wanting to quiet down all that much seeing that his response to this was that we all need an expensive monitor system in the end game whenever we have the money. I would also consider him to probably be the biggest decision maker/boss or whatever in this band too haha. I believe he juggles 4 bands total. But anyway thank you so much for the feedback. This community is so cool, I’m so glad I stumbled across Ken on YouTube one day & he taught me that I could do more than just scream/growl with my
    Voice as I never initially thought I could actually get better at straight foward singing.
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @heybrayhayes7 : Seriously consider getting a TC Helicon VoiceLive Play for a processor!
    I currently use it to feed the PA, but also run a decent set of earbuds out of the headphone jack on the Helicon (with a 1/8" jack extension cord for a poor man's In-Ear-Monitor system!
    So I can hear myself just fine, and never feel the need to push my voice, even if my PA is under-powered.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,065Pro, 2.0 PRO

    But does it have a built-in limiter?!
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    I am not sure on that, one might expect that there would be for anything above a certain threshold...

    Be it as it may, I just control the IEM volume from the unit. Meaning that I just nudge it a little extra to hear my vocals clearly enough to attempt the nuances that normally get washed away in the mix.
    It also helps to reduce the overall band/stage volume a bit and in so doing helps me concentrate on my singing.
    As you can well imagine, if I can't hear myself properly, I tend to drift somewhat.
  • Goran123Goran123 Posts: 15Member
    As far as the effects go I would say that a bit of a reverb and delay will do. Nothing too much. 🔉

    Mic mehanic from TC sounds good to me from what I heard on a youtube.
  • @bentk Usually on units like that, the limiter, or limiter/compressor is going to be an effect in itself that can be manually adjusted.

    Peace, Tony
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,065Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Thanks guys, not very experienced with this particular kind of equipment.
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    The TC Helicon definitely has a compressor.
  • @Furious_Phil After thinking about it, you probably could have saved some money by using your Zoom R8 the same as the TC Helicon.
    The Zoom R8 has 30 preset mic settings (that can be editited), and 10 user patches to create your own. Then it has 30 stereo mic effects that also has another 10 user patches.

    I never thought of using it for live performances, but it's small, and light enough, and even runs on batteries.

    Peace, Tony
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Well #$$$#!!
    Oh well, it fits right on my pedal board and is powered by my Voodoo power supply. Its also less expensive that the R8 and much more rugged (Got both used).
    Really good point though, I can't wait till I get my house back to myself so I can actually relearn my studio :wink:
  • Speaking of............when do we get to hear something?

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,255Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited October 2018
    Perhaps sometime after my wife's sister's family move in to their own home in a month or so.
    They are currently residing in what used to be my studio area... I am currently not the master of my domain :weary:
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