tips for making better harmony in vocals?

one issue i have with song production in Synth V is trying to make the harmonies sound good. Whenever i try to make a triad it tends to sound awkward and “possessed” (even if the chords form a perfect fifth) meanwhile Dreamtonics showcases manage to make vocals sound harmonic with only 1 damn extra vocal. Does anyone have any information to make harmonies sound better?

2 Likes

Hi… This is what I do… First I de-tune the harmony by a few cents (between 5 and 7) and I apply different singing characteristics to the harmony voice so it sounds a bit different than the lead vocal. I mix harmonies down between 6 and 12 dB.

1 Like

I think that “possessed” sound comes from a few things:

  • Real human singers can’t sing something exactly the same twice, whereas a synth can
    • Sometimes you’ll need to go out of your way to tune the supporting vocal tracks differently from the lead so they don’t clash or sound like a pitched-down version of the exact same .wav file
  • Within SynthV Studio you haven’t mixed anything yet, so it’s more like two lead vocal fighting than one lead and one supporting
    • There’s a lot of room to adjust things in the mix, such as different EQ, compression, volume, panning, etc.
  • Compared to a performance in a physical space, SynthV will default to all tracks being centered - ie both voices are coming from the same place
    • It is common that harmonies and supporting vocals are panned left or right to some degree so that they sound separate from the lead
    • Consider that in a live performance the lead singer is in the middle of the stage, and the backup singers are usually positioned to the side

All that said these are just the things that have helped me, charting harmonies and mixing multiple vocal layers is still a big challenge for me so I look forward to other responses.

3 Likes

okay, that explains what causes the issue, but that doesn’t explain what kind of equalization, volume, and pitching differences you have to make in order to make the harmony not sound horrendous.

For me, most of the solutions are found outside of SynthV.

There’s a device called an ADT, which stands for “artificial double track” or “automatic double track”, depending on who you ask. It’s basically a tape player running back a track, but with minor oscillations that cause variations to the pitch and timing. This mechanically duplicates the imperfections of an actual double-tracked vocal.

There are many vocal doubling effect plug-ins, free and commercial. iZotope Free Vocal Doubler does a nice job.

You can get some phasing with ADT plugins, because the pitch center of the double-tracked vocal is often being modulated by a sine-like carrier. Use your ears to find the best settings… which is the same advice for anything being mixed, right? :laughing:

Anyway, using a different vocalist or changing parameters is a good way to help minimize this effect. Experiment with the Gender parameter as well.

You’ll often EQ the harmony voice slightly differently, so it’s more in the background. Google is your friend:

Since you can split off the aspiration of a vocal, you can also bring that down so it’s less prominent and you get a better blend of harmonic content, since the lead vocal is already where the vocal clarity is coming from.

1 Like

A couple more things I should have mentioned:

  • Background vocals are generally more “bland” than the lead vocal, which means less vibrato and so on.
  • Reverb is useful for pushing vocals into the background.
  • Lead vocals are typically center panned, so put the backing vocalist to the sides of the lead vocalist.

I see that Claire already got that last point, so… :sweat_smile:

2 Likes