October 19, 2011  

Recording, Transposing & EQ’ing Deep House Vocals: Chicago Style

In this video Danny J Lewis (Enzyme Black, Defected) shows you how to create some authentic sounding house vox using your own recordings. Layering, transposing, panning, EQing and compressing the different vocal takes produces a punchy vibe perfect for the club.

This is the latest sample tutorial taken from the Deep House in Ableton Live Course.

Danny is otherwise known as Enzyme Black, with releases on labels such as Defected, Masters At Work and his own imprint Enzyme Black Recordings. He is the head of course development at Point Blank’s online music production school. If you want to learn more about producing or performing with this unique piece of software, check out our whole range of Ableton Live Courses.

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Video Transcription:

So I’m feeling I need a little bit inspiration for the musical section. And I’m thinking maybe a spoken word vocal would be good to add here. I’m going to show you a technique that you can use so you can record yourselves and get some pretty authentic sounding deep house vocals. It all depends on you perform of course. And what I’m going to do is put my best fake American accent and say the word ‘Deep House’. I’m going to record this in the set up in audio track. And we need to turn the monitor in. You could hear now that my voice is coming through Ableton as well. There’s a very slight delay occurring and the size of this delay is basically depending on the settings that you’ve got on your audio settings over here. So preferences, audio, the buffer size here. And you guys know, with your computers when you start adding instruments and effects your projects get complex that you usually have to increase your buffer size and there is a delay, we call that latency.

So it’s best to record vocals and stuff like this when your buffer size is small, so the early stages of the project. So that’s what I’m going to do here. Make sure your audio input device is set to what you’ve got connected. So I could be an audio interface. In my case, I’m using a microphone connected into the built-in input and it’s going to work fine. So settings are correct, ready to go. We need to press record enable on the track. And the more I’m going to do, I’m going to record into a clip and I’m going say the word ‘deep house’. I’m going to say it four times. So here we go.

“Deep house. Deep house. Deep house. Deep house.”

So you could see I was trying to get a similar performance on each one, being very careful about the timing, the kind of accent and the tone of my voice. But the fact is there are four different performances. Let me just turn the monitor off because it’s a little bit distracting for me. But what I’ll do is set this up so that the first deep house performance is put into the first clip on this audio track. I’m going to rename this D1. And I’m going to duplicate it. This is going to be called D2. This clip I’m going to set up onto the next performance. So that’s what’s happening. I’m going to duplicate this one, D3. This clip, the third performance. And then finally, D4. This one onto the last performance of the word. So we’ll be able to have a listen and see how this sounds.

First thing I’m going to do though, is select all of them, and right click to create a group track. I’m going to call this deep voc’s. So solo and let’s just trigger the whole scene so that all of these clips are going to play.

“Deep house”. OK, so the timing was good, the tone was good. They’re all in the same position in the stereo picture. So what we do is we bring the pan over and now have a listen. “Deep house”. Sounded much, much better. “Deep house”. Now what I need to do is to clean this up a bit. Now you can hear there’s a lot of background noise. So what I’m going to do is, I’m going to turn on a gate. This can be found here. I’m going to drop it in. And we need to just see if we could set the threshold so it’s just above those silent sections. Let’s have a listen.

“Deep house”. OK, let’s come a little bit lower. “Deep house”. That’s good but we’re missing the “P” of the ‘deep house’. “Deep house”. So I’m going to take the whole and make this longer. “Deep house”. A little bit more. “Deep house”. There we go. “Deep house”. I’m als going to take the tech faster. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. That’s great. That’s really cleaned up that vocal, so we haven’t got the background noise anymore. I’m also going to use an EQ3 just to roll off the bottom end. I’m going to take away everything below about 120. Let’s see how that sounds. “Deep house”. Yep. That’s really good. “Deep house”. Now we could benefit from some compression. Compression is something we look at in more detail in lesson 4.

I’m going to stick this on the RMS, I’m going to take the ratio from about four to one. And adjust the threshold down. And let’s see how that sounds with the compression down. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. There’s was nice clarity there. “Deep house”. More energized. I think that’s working really well. So what we’ll do is we’ll basically take these clips and now transpose them down. And let’s just give this some real kind of heavy-weight, low pitched energy. So if we transpose these down, let’s see how they sound now.

“Deep house”. There you go, that’s a real Chicago style, “Deep house”, Vocal. And it takes it away from being recognizable as your voice. This is a whole thing here, we’re making it sound more like it should do in terms of a deep house track. Let’s see how that all fits in the track now. “Deep house”. Let’s bring this down. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. I think what we need to do now is to basically work with the EQ and bring out the sound more. Because it feels like it’s a little bit lost. I’m going to just play around with the EQ and just see if I can pick out some frequencies that we could do with cutting. Because that’s how it feels it needs to be in some areas. “Deep house”. “Deep house”.

OK. I’m going to do a cut around here. “Deep house”. Let’s see if we could bring some energy up. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. You see it feels really muddy without the EQ. “Deep house”. And now it’s lifting it all out. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. “Deep house”. “Deep house”.

OK. I think that’s good for the moment. What I’m going to do is we’re going to an effect on that. And this time I’m going to use the ping-pong delay as a return effect. So I’m dragging it onto “return A”. And now I’m going to use the send level here. So we’re going to have the original signal dry over here. And then we’re going to have a little bit of the effect coming back over here. “Deep house”. “Deep house. “Deep house. Deep house”.

Yep. I think that’s working really well. So that gives us something extra, something else that we could use as an inspiration for adding some new elements.

. . .

Editor’s Note: This is an old article and things have moved on considerably since the original publication date 🙂

For more information head over to the Point Blank Music School website to learn the very latest about our school.


This post is included in Ableton Tutorials, Tutorials