Music Production Tips
Experiment with Vocal Effects to Add
Creativity to Your Music Productions
Using different types of vocal effects in the studio is just one of an infinite number of ways to add interest and creativity to your music productions. Experimenting with effects is one of my favorite parts of being in the studio and where things can get really exciting.
This page will feature a collection of varied effects, some pretty standard, some quite unconventional. I'll also be adding more gradually over time - this page definitely won't be staying the same for very long.
You can use any combination of software and hardware effects that you can get your hands on, so try some of these out, change things around, and have some fun with them. You'll definitely find a few that will work in your tracks.
- Take your vocal and copy/paste it into a new DAW track. Apply some crazy effects to it - EQ, phasing, pitchshifting, anything you can get hold of. Mix this vocal with the original vocal, and change the relative volume levels to taste.
- Take a vocal line, and copy/paste it into a new DAW track just beneath it. Move the copy a few milliseconds to the right, to get a comb-filtering effect.
- Put your vocals through a delay, with the delay time synced to the track's tempo. Send it through a phaser, then through an EQ unit to remove the lows and highs. Next, send through a stereo delay with different delay times for the left channel and the right channel (but both synced to the track's tempo).
- You can use the effect as a spot effect - automate it to come in at the end of a phrase, or just on a particular word that you want to emphasize.
- Get a load of different effects and throw them together in a random order. Play around until you get some interesting sounds. Then completely change the order of the effects but keep the settings the way they are. It's a bit like creating your own vocal effects processor.
- Cut your vocal up and assign the samples to the notes of an arpeggio. Then try playing different arpeggio patterns to see if any interesting rhythmic ideas come up.
- Reverse your reverb: This is quite a common and popular effect.
- Take your vocal part and reverse it
- Apply reverb to it using the usual send/return method
- Record the result to another track
- Reverse it back again so the vocal plays normally, but the reverb has been reversed
- Get a load of old guitar pedals and feed your signal through it. You can get some unique vocal effects this way.
- Take a small phrase or a one-word sample, and use your time-stretching tool to either slow it down or speed it up. Apply some EQ and some reverb to it, and then use it like a sample to place somewhere else inside your production.
- Place your mic at the bottom of a tube or a pipe, and sing into the other end. Record the results and see what you can come up with.
- When using standard effects like reverb or delay, try changing key parameters halfway through a particular part or phrase, using automation. For example, have the delay time set to 30 ms, then change it to 45 ms half way through the bar or phrase.
- Insert a compressor into your vocal track, but connect a rhythm track (like a kick drum) to the compressor's sidechain.
- Use a vocoder, but with some extreme settings so your vocal part no longer sounds like a voice.
- For a really dreamy effect, take your vocals and apply reverb to it. Record the reverb sound only, 100% wet. Then apply reverb to that, again recording the completely wet sound. Then, do it again. Layering all these reverbs on top of each other creates interesting vocal effects.