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Using guitar pedals in a vocal chain

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Using guitar pedals in a vocal chain

Postby RobYoungdon » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:35 pm

Hi all,

Thanks in advance for any help.

I’m just getting in to home recording, got a UA Apollo going in to protools, mainly recording guitar and vocals.

I have an Origin Effects Slide Rig deluxe mk2 pedal that I love, it’s basically two compressors that you can slam into each other and run parallel or fully wet etc. I use it for lap steel.

Thing is it’s instrument level (guitar jack in and out)

I want to use it as an outboard compressor between a mic and my interface.

Can I do this? What should I watch out for? Any potential problems?

(Mic will be an Aston mic or possibly a Lewitt Large Diaphragm Condensor.)

Many thanks,

Rob
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Re: Using guitar pedals in a vocal chain

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:43 pm

RobYoungdon wrote:Thing is it’s instrument level (guitar jack in and out)

I want to use it as an outboard compressor between a mic and my interface.

Can I do this? What should I watch out for? Any potential problems?

No, in a word! But there are solutions.

As you say, you need an unbalanced guitar (instrument) level signal for the pedal, which is never going to work with a balanced microphone level signal.

Howver, you could buy a separate mic preamp to boost the mic signal, and then take the output from the preamp and route it through the effects pedal and from there back into an instrument input of the interface. In that way, you get to record the effect. Job done. ...but you will need to shell out for a half-decent mic preamp.

The alternative -- and this is the way I'd proably go -- would be to connect the mic to the interface as normal so you're using the mic preamp in the interface. You connect the effects pedal between one of the interface line outputs and a line or instrument input, and you set up some internal routing using the interface's control panel and/or the DAW to pass the mic signal out to the pedal and back in again.

That way you can record both the original clean vocal, and the effected signal. or you can just record the vocal straight, and then experiment with the effects later when you come to mix.

With this arrangement you don't really need to invest in any other gear, although you will need to be careful with the output level to the effects pedal as standard line level is a lot hotter than instyrument level. For an easier life, you could invest in a 'reamp' unit of some sort to go between the balanced line out from your interface and the unbalanced instrument input of the effects pedal. My favourite is the Orchid Electronics model as it is simple, cheap and sounds good... but there are plenty of other options around.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/orchid-electronics-amp-interface

HTH
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Re: Using guitar pedals in a vocal chain

Postby Funkyflash5 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:56 pm

Yet another option if you wanted the option of using the setup live as well as in the studio would be something like the Radial Voco Loco. I've used it on sax in the past and it worked well.
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Re: Using guitar pedals in a vocal chain

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:14 pm

If you decide to process on the way in then the Radial VocoLoco is very good - I use it live for miked instruments.

But my inclination would be to record clean and process in the box as Hugh suggests.

Bob
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Re: Using guitar pedals in a vocal chain

Postby CS70 » Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:18 am

RobYoungdon wrote:I’m just getting in to home recording, got a UA Apollo going in to protools, mainly recording guitar and vocals.
I want to use it as an outboard compressor between a mic and my interface.
Can I do this? What should I watch out for? Any potential problems?

Doable? Yes. Worth it? Probably not. Fun to try? Yes! :D

It's a nice pedal by all means but in the end it's a couple of FET compressors in sequence, with most of the control stripped (not necessarily a bad thing). You can take a couple of good plugs (and if you have an Apollo, you can buy their 1176 emulation which is quite nice) and chain them after the fact - you can probably chain four if you like :)

Actually, since it's an UAD, you can do it even during the fact by monitoring the processed sound - just like you would with the physical thing.

That would save you some grief (also called fun, of course, if are so inclined) and get you a far more re-callable, practical result, and less cobbled together (it's kinda odd having a guitar pedal permanently on the studio desk, innit?).

There's very little to be achieved musically or sound-wise, but of course fun is stimulating.

If you want to go ahead, there's many ways to skin that cat - Hugh's mentioned a couple, but in the end all that you have to do is to bring the mic preamp level down to instrument level so that it fits the pedal input, and the output of the pedal back to line level so the it fits the downstream chain. That's it - not dissimilar to the issues you might encounter when running certain pedals into a FX loop, and with similar solutions.
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