Sims/plug-ins or tips for mic distortion sounds?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by whatizitman, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    NO, not auto-tune. Let's just get that out of the way.

    I'm producing some songs for my guitarist buddy, and he told he wanted to try (at least what I got from his explanation, as he's not the most sound-tech savvy) some distortion effects on his vocals. Kinda Dan Auerbach, Houndmouth, 60s-ish, lo-fi, overloaded tape, distorted mic, etc... is what I was thinking. I think it's used fairly common in current alt-rock/alt-country stuf, but it's new territory to me.

    How is this done with digital? Is this a technique of micing or processing? Do people use specific mic or effect sims for this? Any insight is appreciated.
  2. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    There are many ways. One way is to use impulses. This modifies the original signal to emulate the sound of a mic, tape recorder, amplifier/cabinet, reverb space, etc. They don't always sound like what they say they are, but you can get some unique sounds.

    This is a useful page: Impulse Response Guide and Free Download Packs | Masters of Music

    I use the LePou Le Cab impulse loader. You can load 6 different impulses and turn them on and off to compare, or stack them to have more than one effect. The 7Deadly Sins impulse pack has some great sounds on it. Both are linked on the above page. You can also use a guitar amp emulator VST. LePou has 5 different ones. I use them on snare sometimes.
  3. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    High pass, exciter/distortion, low pass, compressor
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    All the above advice is good, but don't discount the idea of overloading a mic in the real world, and/or plugging it into a well isolated small guitar amp.
    Nothing beats doing it for real.
  5. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Since the OP was referring to doing it in the digital domain my assumption was that the take was already recorded and needed to be worked on in post. If that's not the case, then I definitely agree provided the OP has a preamp that handles overdriving smoothly.
  6. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    Yup. At least one already recorded. But we will be doing more songs, so I am taking everything here into account!

    That being said, I would prefer post in my situation. I'm very limited on equipment. Just some cheap condensers and a focusrite interface. No good mics or preamps to distort, and certainly no tape to overload. And it's all in the box. Will have to be effects/plug-ins and/or creative EQ in post.

    Thanks everyone for the responses! I knew I could count on TBers. :)
  7. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Do you know how to do bus sends? Set up an aux bus with a guitar amp simulator on it. Or use an overdrive effect with an impulse response loader. Go light. Don't overdo it. Now, you want to send to that bus the signal you want to distort, to get the right mix of distortion without losing the clarity of the voice.

    That's one way. Another is to add saturation via an exciter/saturation plugin, like someone suggested. There are many good ones out there. Certain plugins make this really easy, like iZotope Nectar, but obviously, that costs money you might not have.
  8. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    Simple solution would be using the DAW's plugins. Just record the vocals at appropriate levels and try to get a wide dynamic range of frequency. Then, use any one of your distortion plug ins. This gives you the ability to change distortion levels and the effect it has. And you can get fancy and use a bus to add more fx or for automation if needed.

  9. If I'm adding distortion to vocals post, I've had great success with Audio Assault's Headcrusher plugin. If you're looking for a real lo-fi distorted sound, nothing beats a Wasaphone. They're made from an old flour shaker and a telephone mic: brilliant.
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