So you want to learn the tricks to thicken and widen your vocals? Well, you came to the right place. This vocal doubling tutorial includes all the methods you'll ever need.
We'll cover natural and artificial vocal doubling. You'll even get a free doubler plugin to speed up your doubling workflow.
Watch the video above to listen to the audio examples.
How NOT to double vocals
First, when doubling vocals, don't duplicate the vocal track. That would make your vocals louder without the intended effect of sounding massive.
Artificial Vocal Doubling Effect
To Double vocals easily, create a slight time difference between one track and its copy. Up to 30 milliseconds difference.
Even better if there's a tiny pitch difference too. You can achieve that with a simple Delay plugin.
The video above shows an example where I delayed the right signal by 20 ms and the left by 10.
When the Delay Mix knob is not 100%, you keep some of the dry unaffected audio in the center.
This delay also features modulation, causing the pitch difference.
That's called artificial doubling.
Of all the methods you'll learn today, it sounds the most unnatural and out of phase.
You can achieve similar results with a phaser effect, a chorus, or a flanger.
Besides that doubling technique, there's natural doubling.
Natural Vocal Doubling Effect
Most pop producers use Natural Vocal Doubling to make singers sound bigger than life.
In short, record the same section more than once and then layer those recordings together.
Two recordings of a singer will never sound exactly the same.
So, the natural variation in timing and pitch creates the thickening effect.
Vocal doubling effect in the center
If you put two vocal tracks in the center, here's what happens:
- It thickens the vocals;
- Hides some imperfections in each take;
- But it doesn't make them sound wide.
Vocal doubling effect with panning
Now, to create the enormous pop song chorus effect:
- Keep the main vocal take in the center;
- Pan another take to the left side;
- And another to the right side.
Mix and match these techniques in different sections of your songs. Create contrast.
The vocal doubling effect may become less noticeable if you make several edits to your vocal takes.
If you tune your vocals tracks and fix their timing, don't overdo it. Ensure the takes don't sound too similar. That defeats the purpose.
Unless that's actually your goal. It's a stylistic choice.
Wall of sound — vocal doubling effect
Want an even more powerful wall of sound during your choruses? Then layer other harmonies along with the doubles.
In the example above, I layered several vocal tracks:
- The main vocal track in the center;
- Natural doubling layers panned left and right;
- Two different harmonies panned left, right, and center each.
So in total, 9 layers of vocal recordings.
Now that's a chorus!
Here's Your Free Vocal Doubler Plugin
If you can't record natural doubles for some reason, there's a good free plugin that gets the job done.
It's the Vocal Doubler by Izotope. It couldn't be any easier to use this thing.
Select how wide you want the effect to be.
And how much pitch and timing variation you want.
"Variation" makes the effect much more noticeable — if that's what you're going for.
The "Amount" knob lets you choose how much effect to mix with the dry signal.
And the "Effect Only" button completely mutes the original signal. It keeps only the doubling effect.
Very useful if you want to use this plugin on a Return track.
I also use that a lot for sound design. I double synthesizers and even guitars with this plugin.
Now it's your turn to double vocals
But before you go, how about a tutorial on creating a flutter vocal effect like Billie Eilish?
That's a sleek effect for your next song.
If you liked this article, visit my website and explore the other music production guides.