Vocal Treatment


Gear Gods presents Studio Pass: Kurt Ballou


Lesson Info

Vocal Treatment

Vocal treatment it's pretty much just one vocal track there's ah two small sections with it with a double their kind of quiet and then there's the guitar player randall did sort of a talkie vocal track along along with the lead vocal track but really it's just focus on one lead vocal so let's just uh let's just talk about the lead vocal to start with hoops on group my vocals and just listen to dave yell at us what that that's what you keep back you take it out am I james? You find male big round jobs of what exists so it's a pretty much a finished willful sound it's already kind of over driven I did that with that to a compressor on the way in and I did some high passing on the way and so doesn't really need a whole lot but I did hear passage that has some pretty aggressive s is the ground so you might want to do some gs and they're my favorite di essere is thie massey one see if we have that we do this one's cool um it's going to ban split mode and and then there's an auto monitor mod...

e so as I adjust the frequency on that thing all here just the stuff that is going to be filtering out what actually let me, uh crank up my reduction some kind of some kind of dialing in which frequency I want the crossover to be for wears dvs and so if you don't want a di essere is it's essentially a frequency dependent compressor some of them you can make your own tea? Yes sir by accusing the side chain of a regular compressor in the detective path where you you put some pre emphasis on the civil and frequencies the esses and stuff and then traditionally a di essere will compress the entire signal but keyed off of thie civil and emphasized signal in the detector path. Now one of the reasons why I like this particular di essere is it actually has a crossover built into it so it will leave the lo frequency stuff unaffected and just compressed. The high frequency stuff as it sees s is do you have to be really careful when d s ing a signal because if you d has too much you might end up making somebody sounds have a lisp andi I also recommend doing d s ing before you do other compression or any kind of additional overdrive effect because the additional compression in overdrive will just sort of compound whatever ss you have and then give you less dynamic range to adjust that stuff. So do your sort of forensic audio type work first early in the chain and then doom or of your tone shaping later in the chain um I had one instance actually where I was mixing a band from from russia and they're singing in russia and I don't speak any russian and the vocals were really super sibilant I did a bunch of d s ing and then the band came back to me immediately like you can't do that like we have a very sibilant language and it's important to have all those assets in there so you know I know the song and know your band make sure that what you're doing with the s thing is not eyes not too heavy handed so yeah let's do a little bit more with this and the other nice thing about this di essere is that gives you a wet dry blend so you could be kind of heavy handed and then back off and I'm gonna loot this section there crowds jobs of white eggs and deirdre ross big crowds jobs the white exit garage big crowds jobs of white eggs and deirdre ross big crowds ives of what exit here to rot all right so that does a nice job of controlling the esses um what else do we want to do the vocals some people like very dry vocal production of the people like very wet vocal production I like to sort of get a feel for what the band wants before I get started but also I like to set up a bunch of stuff sort of in the beginning and use very little of it. I find that like a wet vocal works better when you have a bunch of very small effects. So let's, try some let's. Try a few different vocal effects. We could do some, uh, some slap back. Actually, let me see what I have to work with for plugs here. Uh, new track and new mano input and what we have for delay plug ins, a massive tv five is pretty cool, you know, uh, you like that one, right? Um, let's, just use the standard, um, standard, uh, slap delay, the did she provides and do an ox and bus sixteen into into bus sixteen. And then our ox track with the delay is going to go out. Rah tracks friends call this rock slap. Uh, okay, so what's just brings up zero and then we'll just sold both of them and check it out. So that's a little while little heavy handed sounded sounding so let's. Ah, shrink down the delay. I want to keep the mix of a hundred percent because we're doing it as an ox. If we did this as an insert, we would, you know, back down to maybe twenty or thirty percent are doing this and ox, because now I can have one instance of that plug in, if I want to send the other three vocal tracks I have into that I could do that as well, without requiring additional instances of the plug in. Um, one of the other reasons why this feels a little heavy handed is because there's no low pass filter on it. I'm gonna start to bring in some low pass filter, which is start, which will kind of simulate the warmth added by a tape delay. Wait, big crowds jobs what eggs and deirdre ross, big round jobs. What is in here? Rocks, big grounds, abs. What exit garage. All right, so that's, just a real subtle effect, but it gives a little bit more sense of space to the song. Now I want to do another type of delay as well. In fact, you know, I'm just going to re appropriate this this channel so that I don't have to set up another delay, and that delay will be a longer, longer type of delay. So let's do this long delay plug in and, uh, it's not it's, not low pass it quite as much. And, um, this time on a midi sink the delay so this will put it in tempo with the song if our song was recorded to a clique or we know what the tempo wass and I think the song was not recorded clicking we do not know what the temple is so let me show you how to tap that out um see how are you how's this transport set go expanded transport hurry let go of you the transport uh it's my window the transport area um let's turn this thing off I think that we can tap tio all right so it looks like the songs about one hundred thirteen bpm so let's turn our conductor back on and it's going to close this transport thing go back to the top and make the tempo of the song hundred thirteen so now if I do any time based effects I can sync them up to the approximate tempo of the song so now turned many on it should be one hundred thirteen will follow that tempo and if your song has tempo changes and you make a temple map let's say that you know the chorus goes up a couple of'em first goes down or maybe there's a dramatic tempo change it's important the song your effects settings will follow the temple map so I'm going to do say aye so you don't have enough resolution to do half now but let me switch over teo extra long delay yeah so now I have enough resolution to do half now and let's see what the vocal sound like them what I get teo right here in this quarter thiss isn't really appropriate for this song but if I if I were teo you know use that effect and something else might be right if I if I would use it in this song I would probably automate the center so um celibacy over over here he says the way let's just say we want two on lee here on the word deeper we go in here and then uh sort of turned down that thing um turn down the send into the delay so it only would give us that delay sound on that one word you got mail okay so become a little more so that way we have some extra control of that stuff so it will also do some river maybe some course on the vocals and just real subtly and the cumulative effect of all those effects will give you uh the amount of wetness that you like on the vocal and that's pretty much the end of the premix stage of my mix at this point I'd have kind of everything set up my best guess of what gear amusing and the palette of sounds and I'm gonna choose for my full next treatment and then I'm going to start breaking it out onto the console bring it up on the failures on my console and I'll start at that point either bringing in additional plug ins or patching in hardware inserts too shape the character of the full necks so one thing I was wondering about you touched on it a little bit yesterday you haven't brought up again is that something you do very often is that part of your don't put off decisions ethos er yeah I'm not a big big guy like like I mentioned yesterday I try to avoid it because I feel it's though the uh an amplifier and a guitar player or bass player have a intimate connection with one another just like a drummer has an intimate connection with their drum set you know they know how to coax certain sounds out of drum set by hitting in certain ways and the same is true with the guitar you know and there's a feedback loop happening I don't mean like noisy feedback I mean like intuitive feedback happening as you hear certain sounds coming out of your guitar and you start playing differently diggin harder you been harder you shake your guitar and you know whatever you're compensating for like there's not a ton of clarity coming off the amp you might dig in pick a little bit harder if it's to clear you might start moving your pick up the front up closer to the front boards you can have amore war about open sound I think that this stuff happens kind of subconsciously with most proficient guitar players on then to set out with the idea that you're going to reims the tone means that the guitar player no longer has that sense of interaction with what is the final guitar sound. Now that being said there's a lot of very practical reasons to do re anything if you're recording in your bedroom for for budgetary constraints or something like that, you're gonna go into a studio later and really cool. I totally get that if you are sort of just starting out, you're and you're not super confident or even if you're not just starting out, I mean, sometimes I'm not confident tone, sometimes somebody comes into my studio and they have their own rig, their super married to and they're like, I really love this guitar tone and I hear it and I don't get it I won't necessarily strike it down, but I'll say like okay, just is a safety let's do a rehab and then maybe later I do try to remember through something else and it sometimes it does say the session, but for me it's not it's, not my first choice of things to do it's it's done as a safety like a from mixing somebody else's recording I like them to do reims or d ies in case I need your ian, but I don't set out to rehab it, especially if a mixing remotely I feel like it's not my artistic decision too you know, put my stamp on a record that kind of stuff should be should be done by the band, so I do try to avoid it. And the other thing I mentioned about reliving yesterday, wass it gives you a nice visual representation of where the pick attacks are on the guitar, so if you're in a situation where you feel like you need to do a bunch of editing to the guitar performance, having, even if you don't use the d I or a re up in your mix, sometimes that is a nice guide for where to do your various edits, but again, I don't do it very often, and I try try to avoid it. Another question about guitar mixing is when you're talking about a cuing, you did a high pass, and then a notch on the on the high end, eso fue people wondering, you know, kind of is that your general approach to a notch rather than low pass, you know? Or is that a yes? Because I feel like there's a lot of, you know, even though are you range of hearing is supposedly only up to about, you know, you know, as adults, maybe fifteen or sixteen kilohertz there's, still a bunch of sort of unheard stuff up in the super high range that adds a sense of three dimensionality to a guitar tone and if you do strictly a low pass filter, I find that sometimes it feels like more of a cantone becomes more of like a like a pot or like a you know, sixteen bit type of sound with its not the same openness and three dimensionality to the tone so I try to do that sizzle reduction with a with a notch filter or narrow band with band filter or bell bell filter rather belle que rather than a low pass but it's not wrong to do with love ass if that's what works for you I think we've got time for one more questions so black freighter you ever side chain the snare to the guitar bus compressing um I haven't done that um it could be cool guitars are usually a little more prominent in the mix then base um so it probably is not as necessary. The other thing is that, um my rhythm guitars are typically hardpan s o I'm a time a little a lot about this actually in the next segment is using panning space to carve out space for instruments in addition to using carbon they were instruments so where you can almost think aboutthe sides as a totally different space than the centre I beam or likely to side chain a really bright base mike from the snare that I would be guitar. Because if you think, imagine like the guitarist constantly ducking down over here when something's hitting here. If you had, like, two drummers and they drum sets were hard pant, then maybe. But one thing I will do that. I didn't talk about this for a side. Shooting goes, is occasionally alcide chain, a compressor on the guitars, off the vocal, or sometimes the sometimes maybe the room likes there on on the guitar, compress on aside, chain off of the vocal so that the guitar ducks out of the way of the vocal a little bit. But I don't do that very often.

Class Description

In this two-day course, prolific producer Kurt Ballou will take you behind-the-scenes of GodCity Studios to show you exactly how the magic happens. This all-access studio pass will immerse you in every aspect of Kurt’s distinctive sound — from choosing and setting up gear, to tracking and mixing.

Kurt will show you the basic and advanced techniques he uses in his studio every day, and teach you how to apply them to your own recording — regardless of whether you’re working in a studio or at home with a DIY setup. Using anecdotes from his years behind the board, Kurt will also teach you his best practices for working with bands to extract the best and most inventive sounds.


Keith Foster

First off, even though I'm neither a beginner nor a recording professional, this class is absolutely worth the money you spend on it - especially if you plan on making heavy music. There are enough tips, tricks and guidance in here to get your money's worth many times over. That said, as an indie artist who goes to a studio to record drum tracks, then does the rest ina home studio I found some of the things disheartening. Much of the class follows a "I do this thing using item / amp / microphone / plugin (X), it's pretty cool" vibe, and it sounds cool.... until you check the price. As an example, the 'stereo buss processing' section sounds fun to try, except for the part where the three pieces of gear cost about $8K. As a result I found myself figuring out how to incorporate the essence of what he was saying without the gear budget to do so. Maybe I'm not the intended audience but a little more concept and less gearhead would have been even better. That said you should totally get it, it's a low price for so many hours of great content.