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Q. What's the best way to produce a double-tracked rap vocal?

Double-tracking vocals.

How do you get that double-tracked vocal sound you hear on rap records? Are there any plug-ins I could use?

SOS Forum Post

Reviews Editor Mike Senior replies: Quite simply, you record the same thing twice! Some people compress the lead vocal but not the double-track, which means that accented words sound more prominently double-tracked. Another popular technique is to ride the level of the double-track in the mix, and manually bring it up to accent certain words and phrases. If you want to make a real feature of double-tracking (as opposed to simply thickening the lead vocal), using two vocalists whose voices are quite different in pitch and timbre — male and female, say, or squeaky-and-high and muddy-and-low — is a highly effective technique.

At the time of writing, I've not come across any effects processor which can adequately recreate a real double-tracked sound — even the physical-modelling TC Voice One doesn't produce the goods for spoken/rapped vocals as far as I'm concerned. So rather than hunting around for a processor to do the job, it's probably a better use of your time to just knuckle down and re-record the line. If you've recorded multiple takes anyway (for comping purposes) you can usually just use an alternate comp of the lead part, rather than getting the talent in again. Once you get a double-track in there, it smooths out the character of the sound, so the double-track doesn't really have to be quite as word-perfect as the lead — I've found that the 'second-best' take is usually fine as a double-track.


Published December 2003