View Full Version : What are your favorite plug-ins for vocals?

09-30-2015, 03:53 PM

I am a small-time artist who self-produces using Pro-Tools 8. Two of my big weaknesses are producing radio-ready vocals and acoustic guitar. What are some of your favorite plug-ins to use to beef up vocal performances? I have Melodyne for pitch-correction, but it's not quite enough.

Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

sw rec
09-30-2015, 04:13 PM
Universal Audio/SSL Channel strip. Magic when used intelligently!

09-30-2015, 04:23 PM
My usual chain is :
EQ III 7 band(for high-pass and minor tone adjust)>
BF76 (gentle GR)>
SMACK!(more squash and some "character")>
Waves Puigtech EQ1-A(for air and sparkle)
Waves Renn DeEsser(once in a blue moon) automated to be bypassed except when its really needed.
Aux send to a touch of a plate reverb and maybe some Echoboy

Most of my De-essing is done manually with volume automation, Clip Gain or Audiosuite EQ cuts on the offending bits:o

09-30-2015, 04:24 PM
Getting "radio ready" music takes years and years of experience and the absolutely MOST IMPORTANT part is the signal chain /

Mic - Pre - Interface - Computer

If this chain is A+ then you would not have to add much what so ever in plugins.

When we know we can't make the recordings any better even if we sold our souls we put max an EQ (UA or Slate) and maybe .. just maybe an SSL Bus Comp from UA or Duende and thats it :-)

The less plugins the better and believe me, fixing it in the mix will get tossed around quite a bit but when listeing to the radio on the biggest and best pop songs you can hear the dollars spent on outboard gear.

We work with writing and producing for some of the biggest Artists and DJ's in the world and it doesn't matter how much we try to "fix it in the mix" if done badly or with cheaper homestudio gear it will never sound the same.

Those who would contest this fact I deeply believe they don't work with that type of artists and bands who top the charts everywhere.

You need a Great Mic and a Great Preamp aswell as high quality interface and preferably some external outboard and ONLY use plugins to "complement" the recordings.

If you really want to make radio ready recordings, it is gonna cost. Money, Time and an abundance of experience :-)

09-30-2015, 04:42 PM
The most important plugin is to know how to use your ears. That and a good input chain

09-30-2015, 05:00 PM
The best thing you can do to get those "radio ready" vocals is to learn how to get "radio ready" vocals during the tracking stage. Invest in yourself and book a session with an experienced engineer. Watch, ask questions, take notes. One 4 hour session will put you 18 months ahead of just asking on forums.

Mic placement, CORRECT mic and vocal chain for the voice being recorded, proper acoustics, proper record levels, etc.

Properly tracked vocals in my experience are the key to the "radio ready" sound. What you do afterwards with your plugin chain is...

09-30-2015, 06:55 PM
And, as much as I agree with everything said, everyone(including me) is forgetting the most important part of the chain, and that's the singer:D(and also, the acoustic space the singer/mic is in). A great voice on an SM57 will usually beat a poor voice on the best chain one could imagine:o Oddly enough(okay, not really) but much that has been said here regarding "radio ready" vocals, also applies to acoustic guitar:-). While I use $1500 worth of mics, I have a friend that got an amazing acoustic track with a Shure Beta87:eek: A good guitar, proper mic placement, a good player and no bad-room influence:o BTW, it should sound good in the phones when you record. If it doesn't sound good there.....:rolleyes:

10-01-2015, 11:21 AM
Thanks for the responses, y'all. I'll check out all these plug-ins.

As far as actual hardware goes, I have three mics: a Samson C03 Multi-Pattern condenser, an EV RE410 Cardioid Condenser, and an EV N/D7676x. My hardware is a M-Audio Fast Track Pro.

Is this enough? If not, what should I get?

10-01-2015, 11:32 AM
I would recommend one good mic, for example a Neumann TLM103. Next thing: Your Room! Curtains and carpets can work wonders in small rooms. Then, once recorded, you will get very good results with a Waves RVox on almost everything. Have Fun!

10-01-2015, 11:47 AM
I totally agree with where most responses are headed here -

I am totally ITB at the moment but what I held on to took 15 years of trial and error - 4 amazing Vocal mics - 3 stereo Mic preamps. All found for great prices over time but none of them even remotely cheap :-). A well treated room (or vocal space) is a given. If you are recording yourself super low latency for real time evaluation of what you are hearing is just as important too (IMO of course - talking about comb filtering here - not latency induced delay or slap).

There are tons of new mics (and a bunch of not so new) that I have no knowledge on but if you can find a used AT4060 for around $700 that is a great mic.

10-01-2015, 02:15 PM
My 2 cents only, but I would dump the EV's and buy an MXL CR-89(but I have never used the Samson)

10-02-2015, 08:16 AM
You're really going to get quite a few different answers here.

It's a bit like asking for people's favourite cookie recipe. There's so many ways to make and bake a biscuit and then everyone's tastes can also be different.

That said, I'm a fan of Vocal Rider transparently ironing out some of the dynamics before processing.

Ironing any other rogue peaks out and deessing before any further processing, that should put you into good position to add further processing. My new fav for that role is the Waves eMO D5.

I like subtractive eq before my compressor and additive after, but that's just a general rule. Some times I'll push a certain band of frequencies before the compressor, so I can induce a little extra energy and presence in that frequency domain.

I also submix all my instruments and process on the master, but in each part of these processes I'm only shaving 2db or so off at a time with the compression and equing less and less as I go further down the chain. So it's all about subtlety.

Group processing I feel is important to produce a more cohesive sound. It doesn't have to be much, even subtle group processing can do a lot to gel a track.