What's new

Best Plugins for adding Color to Vocals?

Sseltenrych

Senior Member
I'm looking for a plugin that can add sonic color to vocals without any perceivable distortion.

I have found two that appear to do the job, but they are both black box plugins that make me a bit uncomfortable (because I don't know what they are doing and whether they might induce artifacts down the track).

However, if anyone here uses these in professional production and can vouch for them, then I will consider investing in them.

The first is the Sonnox Oxford Inflator, and the second is the Waves Voicecentric plugin.

If anyone knows how to get a similar result using conventional means, such as saturation, excitation, vintage compression etc, please let me know.

I have tried a few saturation plugins already and have found unwanted distortion appearing even at low levels, so I'm looking for a way around this.

Thanks 😊
 

Soundbed

Music for TV
fwiw one of my favorite vocal compressors is the old bomb factory BF-3A. It adds a touch of sheen as though they used an la-3a that had been modified or had the brightness up a bit (I can’t recall which models had a control ... on the back?). Always sounded better to me than other la-3a models I tried later.

there’s a YouTube of one of Justin Timberlake’s producers using it on a walkthrough of how he did JTs tracks, I think he made a comment acknowledging that it was a pretty old plugin but he still used it because it still just worked. It comes free with ProTools.

looks like it’s part of their $5 /month or $49/yr bundle https://www.avid.com/plugins/avid-complete-plugin-bundle
 
OP
Sseltenrych

Sseltenrych

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
I use both unabashedly. I don’t know what you mean by


but as for

are you capturing the vocals yourself? if so the mic and preamp and signal path you’re using might help.
Thanks for letting me know that you use them.
That gives me more confidence to buy them.
These one-knob plugins sometimes get a bad rap on forums.
And an example of artifact production is aliasing which I'm sure you're familiar with.
I'm just not sure which plugins can create these kinds of problems as an unwanted side effect.
I have more confidence in a plugin which uses oversampling when processing the audio to avoid these problems.
With black box plugins, they don't tell you how they work, so it's a bit risky.

I've just bought a new mic (MXL 770) and have a Presonus Studio 24c interface.
I did a lot of research before buying them, and am happy with their performance so far.
 

Soundbed

Music for TV
You could demo the Waves and make measurements to see the oversampling/alias effects if any... Waves doesn’t have the best track record on that front I guess. And you could record in 92kHz which could minimize the effects of the Nyquist voodoo (even if you mix in 48kHz).

The signal path of the VoiceCentric is an EQ into deesser into fast compressor into slow compressor (out to the effects) to the output.

The Sony Oxford consoles are great and I use Inflator often on music and even the master occasionally.

I also use Newfangled Elevate which has a saturate module, and SoundToys Decapitator (module E) if you’re looking around further.
 
OP
Sseltenrych

Sseltenrych

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
You could demo the Waves and make measurements to see the oversampling/alias effects if any... Waves doesn’t have the best track record on that front I guess. And you could record in 92kHz which could minimize the effects of the Nyquist voodoo (even if you mix in 48kHz).

The signal path of the VoiceCentric is an EQ into deesser into fast compressor into slow compressor (out to the effects) to the output.

The Sony Oxford consoles are great and I use Inflator often on music and even the master occasionally.

I also use Newfangled Elevate which has a saturate module, and SoundToys Decapitator (module E) if you’re looking around further.
That's very helpful that you found out the secret sauce of VoiceCentric!
I should be able to include all those in my vocal chain separately.

Do you have any idea what the secret sauce of Oxford Inflator is?
 

easyrider

Senior Member
I'm looking for a plugin that can add sonic color to vocals without any perceivable distortion.

I have found two that appear to do the job, but they are both black box plugins that make me a bit uncomfortable (because I don't know what they are doing and whether they might induce artifacts down the track).

However, if anyone here uses these in professional production and can vouch for them, then I will consider investing in them.

The first is the Sonnox Oxford Inflator, and the second is the Waves Voicecentric plugin.

If anyone knows how to get a similar result using conventional means, such as saturation, excitation, vintage compression etc, please let me know.

I have tried a few saturation plugins already and have found unwanted distortion appearing even at low levels, so I'm looking for a way around this.

Thanks 😊

 

Soundbed

Music for TV

These are not my favorites. I stay away from them nowadays.
Do you have any idea what the secret sauce of Oxford Inflator is?
They’ll never give it away lol but it’s more like an algorithm for traditional saturation
 

AudioLoco

Senior Member
I'm looking for a plugin that can add sonic color to vocals without any perceivable distortion.

I have found two that appear to do the job, but they are both black box plugins that make me a bit uncomfortable (because I don't know what they are doing and whether they might induce artifacts down the track).

However, if anyone here uses these in professional production and can vouch for them, then I will consider investing in them.

The first is the Sonnox Oxford Inflator, and the second is the Waves Voicecentric plugin.

If anyone knows how to get a similar result using conventional means, such as saturation, excitation, vintage compression etc, please let me know.

I have tried a few saturation plugins already and have found unwanted distortion appearing even at low levels, so I'm looking for a way around this.

Thanks 😊
One of the "black box" plugins you mention (I understand your point of view perfectly, as I like to know what is going on too), is CLABass, that thing is amazing! Number one secret weapon for bass when time is of the essence.
It's not for vocals though :)
I haven't use the Greg Wells one.
Inflator is not typically used on vocals. It shines on drums and on the 2bus.

For color on vocals the list is long and the options are infinite:
It could be a combo of anything that has some degree of saturation (subtle, as you are not a distortion person from what you wrote): True Iron, TG12345 on parallel, any 1176 emu (such as CLa76 or the IK one) cranked for example could give some nice color and weight to vocals.
I also like the sound of the Omnichannel drive section - recommended.
 
OP
Sseltenrych

Sseltenrych

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Decapitator.

PS: As @Soundbed said, the Noveltech stuff is pretty horrible. Avoid!
For what it comes to Inflator, it's actually rather demystified by Paul Frindle himself. ;)
Thanks for the link. I think I'll try more free saturation plugins before buying something like Inflator, if that's all it does.

What's wrong with the Noveltech stuff in your experience?
 
OP
Sseltenrych

Sseltenrych

Senior Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
One of the "black box" plugins you mention (I understand your point of view perfectly, as I like to know what is going on too), is CLABass, that thing is amazing! Number one secret weapon for bass when time is of the essence.
It's not for vocals though :)
I haven't use the Greg Wells one.
Inflator is not typically used on vocals. It shines on drums and on the 2bus.

For color on vocals the list is long and the options are infinite:
It could be a combo of anything that has some degree of saturation (subtle, as you are not a distortion person from what you wrote): True Iron, TG12345 on parallel, any 1176 emu (such as CLa76 or the IK one) cranked for example could give some nice color and weight to vocals.
I also like the sound of the Omnichannel drive section - recommended.
I saw Inflator used on vocals in an online tutorial and it seemed to have a good effect.

Thanks for your additional suggestions.
I will go and check them out!
 

Living Fossil

Senior Member
Thanks for the link. I think I'll try more free saturation plugins before buying something like Inflator, if that's all it does.

What's wrong with the Noveltech stuff in your experience?
You can still download the free Melda Waveshaper and make an online search for the Inflator settings.
(there was a download at the gearspace - formerly gearslutz - forum.)
As i've written previously in another post, to my ears the sound is identical. But i have not made any scientific comparisons or blind tests etc. But besides from the GUI, the MWaveshaper will give you a great sound with the respective settings.


As for the Noveltech plugins:
I don't agree with the negative opinions per se.
I would say it's a typical hit-or-miss plugin.
On some occasions it really works well, on others it doesn't.

My personal workflow on vocals includes a huge lot of different plugins and situative decisions of which
ones to use.
(maybe that's why i don't bother if a specific plugin doesn't sound good in a specific situation)
Our perception is literally hardwired to listen to human voices and that's why we are extremely sensible for details in the timbre and appearance.
Therefore i would recommend you to try out lots of options on specific sources and look what works for you.

Parallel compression with colouring compressors also is an option.
Among hundreds... ;)
 

lux

Senior Member
quite a few engineers also use multiple compressors in serie on vocals, which definitely adds color other than managing dynamics. You basically mix compressors colors together, keep settings light on each comp in the serie.
 

ceemusic

Senior Member
For saturation check out Kelvin Tone Shaper, new from Tone Projects. Excellent, sounds wonderful on vox, instruments as well as full mixes & on mastering.
Kelvin
 

Soundbed

Music for TV
Decapitator.

PS: As @Soundbed said, the Noveltech stuff is pretty horrible. Avoid!
For what it comes to Inflator, it's actually rather demystified by Paul Frindle himself. ;)
so funny ... he said all that and it's still a bit unclear ... yes, it adds harmonics. which is one of the main things saturation is known to do. even harmonics? odd harmonics? i guess i am happy to remain mystified.

As for the Noveltech plugins:
I don't agree with the negative opinions per se.
I would say it's a typical hit-or-miss plugin.
On some occasions it really works well, on others it doesn't.
that's totally fair.

i mean, i would still try the noveltechs if i want a special effect and i'm not afraid of tackling potential phasing type "issues" ... if used very gently it could certainly help enhance but it's not my first choice for any task really anymore (i own both).

based on the starting points from the OP about: inflator or voicecentric, concern about aliasing and looking for what seemed to be a clear voice with some body, i don't associate the noveltech stuff with those goals off the bat.

• i associate noveltech vocal enhancer with hyping high end above 1kHz -- does it ever go any lower or affect any frequencies below that?

if you start with a well captured vocal and want something that adds some "air" and can help with saturation and compression another Waves option is Butch Vig vocals.

https://www.waves.com/plugins/butch-vig-vocals#image

it's less of a black box and includes a whole vocal "chain" in one plugin with lots of presets.

• noveltech character in mode 1 could help with some body, but... to my ear it seems just as likely to introduce unwanted resonance (?)

as an alternative and if you like Plugin alliance i'd recommend Black Box HG-2 and it will have uses far beyond vocals. or even their townhouse compressor (based on some SSL components I guess).



these can all be had for about $30 at certain points in any given year

another compressor i've used on vocals has a free junior version:

Klanghelm MJUC

 
Top Bottom