Simulating Double-tracking With Zplane's Vielklang LE

02 Aug 2017

While Vielklang LE's headline feature is justifiably the intelligent harmony generation, this plug-in is also very handy for a number of less obvious production tasks. For a start, given that the processing is based on Zplane's excellent élastique SOLOIST algorithm, there's a lot to be said for using it for everyday pitch/time-correction duties, seeing as you don't have to engage the harmony-generation mode at all. But what I'd like to explore in this article is how Vielklang can simulate natural double-tracking — the sonic thickening effect created when a performer records their musical part twice and then layers both takes together at mixdown. Natural double-tracking doesn't sound anything like the same as just copying one take to another track (even if you, for instance, delay or modulate the copy), because it's all to do with the subtly changing tuning and timing interactions that continually occur between two live takes. With Vielklang's clever pitch and time variation tools, however, you can generate impressively realistic double-tracking at the mixdown stage from a single recorded take.

Vielklang can create very convincing double-tracking simulations by introducing subtle pitch/time variations between a lead part and a unison harmony voice.

The trick here is to use the harmony-generation algorithm to create a second track in unison with the first, and a simple way of achieving that is by using the Parallel Harmonization Mode, which causes the harmony voices to track the lead part directly, without chord-related alterations. If you then select 'I' for the red harmony voice (so that it tracks the lead in unison) and '-' for the blue and green voices (which deactivates them), you end up with the harmony generator creating a double-track for the lead part. But that's only part of the recipe, because at this point the result will still sound very unnatural — more like a static phaser effect than a real double-track. What it needs is some secret sauce from the Voice Control settings, which introduces the crucial pitch/time variations between the two signals.

You can quickly create a single unison harmony voice by setting up Vielklang's Parallel Harmonization Mode like this.

First, turn up the red harmony track's Tuning parameter to about 40 percent, which will immediately introduce a degree of pitch disparity between the parts, and then experiment with the Drift parameter in search of a more organic sound. Personally, I tend to gravitate towards higher values of Drift in this application, as lower values quantise the harmony part's pitch more firmly, and can result in a 'robotised' sound if you're not careful. (That said, 'robotised' effects are widespread in electronic chart styles, so there are plenty of uses for Vielklang there too!) Now experiment with the Timing slider to humanize the timing of the red harmony part — I prefer positive values here, because that causes the double-track to slightly lag behind the lead part, and thereby yields a more natural-sounding result to my ears.

You can make Vielklang's artificially generated double-track sound much more natural by tweaking the harmony voice's Voice Control Settings.

Finally, use Vielklang's Mixer to balance the lead and double-track parts against each other, remembering that double-tracks on a lot of productions are often mixed a little lower in the balance.

In a lot of real-world mixing situations, it's better to balance the double-track a little lower in level than the lead part, which you can easily do from the level controls in Vielklang's Mixer tab.

If you like the sound of this effect, bear in mind that you can easily adapt it into a smoother-sounding triple-tracked texture too. All you need to do is adjust the Voice Control settings on Vielklang's yellow voice part in a similar (but not identical) way to those of the red voice, and then line up Vielklang's output against the unprocessed lead-part audio signal.

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