Free Vocal Chain


Insert 1. Subtractive EQ with TDR Nova

Insert 2. Tuning with MAutoPitch

Insert 3. Compression with MCompressor

Insert 4. Saturation with BPB Saturator

Insert 5. Upward Compression with OTT

Insert 6. Additive EQ with Voxengo Overtone GEQ

Insert 7. Reverb with Valhalla Supermassive

Insert 8. Modulation with Valhalla Space Modulator

Insert 9. Monitoring with ISOL8

Subtractive EQ with TDR Nova

First, let’s use TDR Nova to attenuate aspects of the vocal we don’t want to include – since this is a dynamic equalization plugin, the bands will only attenuate the signal when the frequency range is strong enough.  Let’s use a high-pass filter, then determine which frequencies to attenuate.

Once we pick these frequencies, let’s set the threshold to achieve a few dB of attenuation when the band is triggered.  Like a compressor, we can affect the timbre with the attack and release by using quick attack and slow release for a smoother sound, and a quicker release for a more transparent one.

Tuning with MAutoPitch

If your vocal needs some tuning or you enjoy the sound of tuned vocals, MAutoPitch by Melda Audio is a good option.  First, we can set the scale of the vocal, then determine how much tuning we want with the depth function and the timbre of the tuning with speed.

A dry/wet is up top, but it’s probably best to avoid this since it’ll cause issues with the phase.  A Formant shift can also be created with the plugin.

Compression with MCompressor

Let’s use another plugin by Melda Audio to compress the vocal – with the MCompressor, let’s try to achieve roughly 3dB to 6dB of attenuation, but this may vary depending on the vocal.  We’ll start with a 3:1 ratio, a soft-knee, a 50ms release, and a 20ms attack.

If you need a little help to start, try some of the presets that come with the plugin.

Saturation with BPB Saturator

With the Saturator we’ll introduce both even and odd ordered harmonics – this will increase the volume of the vocal so we’ll need to compensate for it by lowering the output slightly.  With these harmonics, our vocal will sound fuller and be able to cut through a mix a bit easier.

BPB Saturator is a more aggressive plugin so start with a few ticks and decide from there.

Upward Compression with OTT

Upward compression is a great way to capture and amplify a lot of the details from an instrument – with OTT we’ll reduce the downward compressor to 0, and the depth on the top left to about 10.  Then we can drag the sliders in the middle to the right.

If you want to increase the higher end of the vocal we can very subtly increase the H dial on the right side of the plugin.

Additive EQ with Voxengo Overtone GEQ

With our dynamics controlled and details brought up, we can begin to finalize the spectral shape of the frequency response amplifying certain frequencies.  What’s great about this plugin is that it creates subtle harmonics as well, adding to the vocal’s tone – additionally, we can change the center frequency up top.

Up top let’s change the oversampling to 2x to avoid any aliasing that might occur from amplifying high frequencies.

Reverb with Valhalla Supermassive

Let’s create some sends via our busses and insert the Valhalla Supermassive to add some reverb and other temporal effects – this is a great plugin for creating both impressive long reverbs and shorter, thicker sounding reverbs.  Let’s start with a shorter delay and lower mix setting to start.

Then we can increase the size add some mild feedback and modulation.  We’ll listen to various modes as well to see which one sounds best for our vocals.

Modulation with Valhalla Space Modulator

If we want a chorus effect we could stick with the Supermassive, or we could try the SpaceModulator with different controls and algorithms.  This plugin will go on its own auxiliary track as well, keeping the reverb from being fed into the modulator or vice versa.

Another great plugin for this is Izotope’s Vocal Doubler which is also free. 

Monitoring with ISOL8

Before we finish up let’s monitor various aspects of the vocal’s image to see what signal ended up where – in other words, if the vocal’s reverb or modulation caused some stereo expansion, etc.  Additionally, we can isolate each based on the frequency to get a comprehensive understanding of our vocal.

Before you export your mix, be sure to remove this plugin from your signal chain.

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