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Live vocal distortion

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Live vocal distortion

Postby PigKettle » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:12 pm

Hi folks,
I play bass and sing with a drummer in a duet and work with a distorted vocal effect from the Digitech Vocal 300. Took this out for our first gig last week and found the distortion effect was all but unusable live due to feedback. The room was a highly reverberant concrete box - of course I should have road tested this thru a PA before going live - too bad, too late. But next time... any tips on getting a grungy lo-fi vocal effect while avoiding the gain buildup distortion fx brings? Heard about the pitch shift trick which I will try, though this doesn't sound ideal - any other tips? Cheers all.
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Re: Live vocal distortion

Postby grab » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:43 pm

Problem is that distortion on vox is going to feed back just like distortion on guitar, so you want alternative grungy FX.

Have you tried just going for the "telephone effect"? Roll off top and bottom EQ quite aggressively, and see how that goes. And if you apply a bit of distortion after that, at least there's less scope frequency-wise for things to feed back.

For an alternative lo-fi sound, cup the ball of the mic in your hands and sing into the side of it, or even almost into the back. This puts a very grungy sound over your voice. Of course your mic is then pointing somewhere which encourages feedback, and you're singing into a less-sensitive area of the mic so you probably need to turn the gain up too, both of which mean it's not really a goer unless you've got hands free to cup the mic. If you need to be playing at the same time, clagging something around the mic ball might work - tennis ball with suitable cutouts, perhaps?

Or of course there's always bit-crushing. Unfortunately the Digitech website says there's no such thing as a Vocal 300, so I don't know whether you'll have this already, but there are a few guitar stomp boxes around that'll do bit-crushing. Any DAW should provide a way of doing bit-crushing, so you can try it on your PC before you go out and buy anything.
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Re: Live vocal distortion

Postby PigKettle » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:54 pm

Some cool ideas there grab, thanks for your thoughts. You're right- I can do without anything below 500hz or over 3k - even narrower - that's the sound I'm looking for, as rubbish as possible. As far as bit-crushing goes, I'll have a look at that - I use it on my DAW a lot when mixing this act, but don't have a stomp box for that - yet;)

I really like a couple of the effects I'm using with the Vocal 300 - it must be about six or seven years old now - it has an assignable expression pedal which is super handy for pedalling in delays etc, so I'm going to try and keep it in the chain. Will do some more work with EQ and see if that helps. Thanks again!
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Re: Live vocal distortion

Postby seablade » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:23 pm

grab wrote:
For an alternative lo-fi sound, cup the ball of the mic in your hands and sing into the side of it, or even almost into the back. This puts a very grungy sound over your voice. Of course your mic is then pointing somewhere which encourages feedback, and you're singing into a less-sensitive area of the mic so you probably need to turn the gain up too, both of which mean it's not really a goer unless you've got hands free to cup the mic.

Actually cupping a mic will destroy its directionality and feedback rejection. Not really recommended by me.

A possibly much better way to get lo-fi vocals, is to start with lo-fi. Find an old carbon based mic or other noticably characteristic sound out of a mic that gives you what you want. See a discussion around this technique here...

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... o=&fpart=1

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Re: Live vocal distortion

Postby grab » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:00 pm

Nor by me either, usually. But if you've got your hands all the way round it then noise hopefully ain't getting in, except from the opening where your mouth is. I should have been clearer - you need both hands properly around the mic ball with no gaps, if you're going to do that.
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