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how to get 60's vocal sounds


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Short of using vintage gear what are some things(either effects or techniques) that I can use to get 60's sounding vocals and harmonies?

 

Specifically thinking beach boys/beatles.

 

I am using blue baby bottle or studio projects t3 mic

 

Thanks for the input.

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Avoiding autotune and stereo digital reverb would be a great place to start. Real doubling, and real harmonies.

 

Some tape emulation - I like Voxengo Analog Flux Tape Bus, which uses convolution of impulses taken from various well known tape machines.

 

Real acoustic spaces, or springs, plate or chambers. Convolution reverbs with good samples of these authentic reverbs should be fine. Consider mono reverbs - either panned to the same place as the source, or at a mirror image position.

 

Digital reverbs often don't sound that great in mono, and they basically weren't available until the '1980's so they can date the sound very badly.

 

But the song, the instruments, the arrangement will date your music far better than the actual gear used.

 

One thing I love about the '60's vocal sounds, is they weren't afraid to seriously use the effects they had. Stereo was new - so they used it to best effect. Tape delay effects were fairly new, so they used them to great effect. When they switched in the reverb chamber, you knew it was there.

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I just stumbled upon a plugin that could work to "thin out" the sound a bit. It's really an vinyl-emulator, but you can use it without it sounding like vinyl.

 

Haven't tried it on anything real yet, just noticed the option of thinning out things. (choosing a player from 2000, 1980, 60, 30) If you try it out, be sure to report on how it works. :)

 

it's free, and works for both Mac and Windows.

 

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/vinyl/

screenshot.jpg

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Viny is a usefull noise/lo-fi generator. The '60's wasn't really about noise or lo-fi though. For many of use, it is the standard of recording excellence that we attain to. (If not the '50's).

 

The sound quality at Abbey Road in the '60's is a trip and a half. In some ways, I think anybody could have done anything there and it sounded fabulous. Some of Pink Floyd's experiments pushed this theory a little too far maybe ... but the sound quality was always stunning.

 

After the '60's, so much gear go rid of the real acoustic sound of the recording space, which is a shame. The dry sound of '70's drums, the gates and digital reverb of the '80's, the clipped samples of the '90's ... where is the sound of real studio spaces anymore?

 

It's hard to duplicate those '60's sounds without a real, big, acoustically designed recording studio.

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Originally posted by Kiwiburger

Avoiding autotune and stereo digital reverb would be a great place to start. Real doubling, and real harmonies.


Some tape emulation - I like Voxengo Analog Flux Tape Bus, which uses convolution of impulses taken from various well known tape machines.


Real acoustic spaces, or springs, plate or chambers. Convolution reverbs with good samples of these authentic reverbs should be fine. Consider mono reverbs - either panned to the same place as the source, or at a mirror image position.


Digital reverbs often don't sound that great in mono, and they basically weren't available until the '1980's so they can date the sound very badly.


But the song, the instruments, the arrangement will date your music far better than the actual gear used.


One thing I love about the '60's vocal sounds, is they weren't afraid to seriously use the effects they had. Stereo was new - so they used it to best effect. Tape delay effects were fairly new, so they used them to great effect. When they switched in the reverb chamber, you knew it was there.

 

 

How strange that your first suggestion is to use "real doubling and real harmonies".

 

While I agree with the harmonies part, The Beatles (John, in particular) used ADT on almost everything. Paul usually doubled his vox, but most of John's are 'artificial'.

 

To me, for a '60s sound, you need a really nice reverb (just listen to the last chord (G6) on 'She Loves You' for the best reverb sound EVER!) and you need to be willing to experiment. Compress the snot out of things (not the whole mix, just parts of it). Stick a Leslie-type effect on vox, or guitars, or bass, or whatever you want. Mix your entire drum kit to one side or the other.

 

Basically, mix it up a little. As Kiwiburger said, the key is that in those days, things were so new, they sounded fresh and were used in ways that we wouldnt dream of now.

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Brian Wilson and The Beatles used similar mics - both liked the Neumann U47 / U48. I've also seen photos where BW had a RCA 77 up on vocals.

 

Classic recordings of the era used real reverb chambers...

 

To me, for a '60s sound, you need a really nice reverb (just listen to the last chord (G6) on 'She Loves You' for the best reverb sound EVER!)

 

A true classic... but AFAIK, no one has ever done an impulse response "shoot" of the chambers at Abbey Road. I'd kill for that! :eek:;) Heck, when they were doing the Beatles Anthology, Geoff Emerick said they had to clear out a bunch of junk from the chamber - it had become a storage area... and they ended up having to "restore" that chamber to get "that sound". IMO, nothing else has ever matched that particular chamber's sound. Ditto that for the old chamber at Gold Star (where a lot of Beach Boys stuff was recorded).

 

http://www.goldstarrecordingstudios.com/

 

You can start with natural reverb, classic gear (tube preamps such as the UA 610, tube mics like the U47, old Altec and Fairchild compressors), but that can get expensive fast.

 

An analog three head tape deck is also nice to have around, and those can be fairly inexpensive these days. Good for tape saturation (nothing yet beats the "reel deel" IMO, although some things are getting close), ADT, tape delay, "backwards" guitar and other instrument parts, and lots of other classic techniques. I keep an old Otari on hand for those very reasons. :)

 

But a lot of it also comes from your sound sources too... you have to have the voices and right instruments. And it doesn't hurt to have Brian Wilson or the Beatles / Sir GM & GE's talents either. ;) I'd kill for some of THAT too... ;):D

 

I've been told by a few people that I'm fairly adept at getting "that sound", :o but I can't narrow it down to any single thing... it's a combination of everything.

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Edge100 - thanks for correcting me about real doubling. Sometimes it's hard to say everything you mean in a few words, so i'll expand on what I meant:

 

Most people know about Ken Townshend inventing ADT for the Beatles, and the legend that Paul could easily double his vocals but Lennon prefered ADT ... that's Beatle fan trivia. Exactly how and what they did isn't so well known. When Lennon was doing his solo work, he was frustrated that the studio couldn't get the same ADT sound as Abbey Road. The story goes that there was a very long telephone conversation, and a special four track machine was build with a elaborate modification to allow manually changing speed or something ... this is significantly different from the usuall 27ms digital delay that passes for ADT these days.

 

Apparantly on his demo tapes, John would naturally double track perfectly - so the popular legend isn't quite correct.

 

I admit i'm withholding information on this subject - but if you have ears to hear it should jump out at you. One of those things that will make you laugh that you never thought of it before.

 

As far as Abbey Road chambers go - i've studied these a bit too. A key ingrediant is the concrete sewer pipes. If you understand about acoustics and convex surfaces (definately convex, not concave) and diffraction, you should be able to work out what George was doing. Magic stuff.

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Originally posted by greendoor

The sound quality at Abbey Road in the '60's is a trip and a half. In some ways, I think anybody could have done anything there and it sounded fabulous. Some of Pink Floyd's experiments pushed this theory a little too far maybe ... but the sound quality was always stunning.

 

 

The sound quality is great, but not necessarily true to the source! I'm sure to the classical recording guys, what George Martin and Geoff Emerick were doing was low fidelity. An extreme example would be the distorted horns on "Good Morning Good Morning."

 

Pet Sounds is less experimental to my ears. The compositions and orchestration were experimental, but the recording sounds pretty clean to me.

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I guess there is 'lo-fi' that sounds fantastic, and lo-fi that just sounds crap. Applying a looped sample of vinyl noise, and a band pass filter isn't my idea of good 'lo-fi', or what '60's sound was all about. Although McCartney did just that with 'Honey Pie'. But it was an effect, to sound like a gramophone, that wasn't used over the whole song.

 

I have a few Beatle bootleg albums - the Black album for example. It amazes me the difference between the demo's or the Beatles jamming in there homes, and the sound they got at Abbey Road. It's a combination of things, but the big studio space and the good engineering really shows.

 

Donovan - his solo stuff can be pretty dodgy, but when he was the practically a fifth Beatle doing stuff with them at Abbey Road, that was magical.

 

I'm also amazed at comparing the original Beatles stuff with the re-makes that George Martin attempted a few years ago. With all the new technology, he just couldn't recreate the magic.

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The best way is to get great singers. The best of them were marvelous. And I should point out that 'lo-fi' was not what the 60's were all about, even though it sometimes sounded that way when you heard the final produc on AM radio. Listen to a song like Bobby Vinton's "Blue Velvet", or or Paul Anka's early stuff - those are great sounding records by today's or any day's standard. They had great arrangements and great singers. And some wonderful recording engineers.

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If your interested in how the beatles recorded heres a site with panoramic views of abby road studio and info on mics used on vocals, guitars, and drums.

http://www.applecorp.com/aditl/studios.htm

 

another similar site

 

No doubt the acoustics of the large room they recorded in, aswell as the mics, gear, adt, chamber reverbs, and of course George Martin.

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Both of your mics are quite bright - and when I think of older sounds I think of more rolled off highs (or at least not boosted in the way a lot of modern stuff is). Maybe another mic would work better for you, but at the least I'd have thought good use of EQ combined with a decent reverb would do it for you. Maybe throw an opto-compressor in there.

 

-Daniel

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I think that to get 60s vocal sounds, you need to get a sixty-year-old. :D

 

(my best d.gauss impersonation ;) )

 

I love the vocal sounds on The Zombies Odessey and Oracle.

 

In particular, the rich multi-part harmonies with hard-panned L-C-R, and also when the lead vocal is panned to one side, but the chamber mics are either panned opposite, or given a sweet stereo spread.

 

Odessey and Oracle was self-produced at a time when very few recordings were as such, and I think it is just brilliant, and it is an all-time favorite of mine.

 

It was recorded at Abbey Road, which was also an odd thing since The Zombies were not signed to EMI. The sound of those lush Abbey Road chambers are all over that album. Of course, being recorded directly after Sgt. Pepper didn't hurt, because they used the same two engineers who worked on that album.

 

There are also some moments on that album that have what I consider to be "perfect" guitar tone, but that's another discussion. ;)

 

 

Namaste,

Ian

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I remember reading somewhere that many of the lead vocal sounds on Pet Sounds were mostly done with a Shure 545. You can find these on Ebay for less than $50. And the doubles on Pet Sounds done by Brian Wilson and Carl, especially on songs like "God Only Knows" are near perfect.

 

Another thing I remember reading about 60's vocal sounds...and this may be more of a Motown thing...in order to minimize sibilance they rolled off the high end a bit and then boosted the midrange to restore some presence. I've tried this before with the UAD Pultec before and it seems to give "that" vibe.

 

It's all about the plates and chambers and tape delay for effects.

 

Brad

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I downloaded the Vinyl. But never could install it. There is some kind of bug in the installation file. I never could get the program to boot. On every download I only got "Read", "Help" and "Visit the Izotope Site.

 

The Steinberg directory never installed either.

 

60's sound - Vocals up front. Lush, crisp reverb.

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