Mixing vocals with distortion has become a fairly popular technique over the past few decades, being utilised in multiple genres like alternative rock, progressive rock, metal and so on. A lot of artists acquire this technique or adopt it and make it a part of their sound. There are more than a few methods of creating distortion and applications for distortion. Popular techniques include reamping through a guitar amp, processing from plug-ins or external hardware, or just simply distorting the vocal in a particular stage of the signal chain. These different techniques all create their own forms of distortion and add a unique aesthetic to the timbre of a vocal.
Karnivool – Themata
Royal Blood – Out of the Black
Reamping is the process of taking an already recorded signal and routing through a guitar amplifier (most commonly), to be re-recorded. For vocals it adds dirt and harshness to the track, and gives the impression the vocal signal is running hot. Running effects pedals in the reamped signal chain can go a bit further to create new sounds and more aggressive forms of distortion.
Creating vocal distortion happens both in and out of the box, there are multiple types of processing that achieve an overdriven sound. Taking an EQ and cutting out the lows up to roughly 300 Hz and the highs from around 3K onwards, with a mad boost somewhere in that band targets that harsh and nasally part of the voice and creates a really distorted effect. Other effects like compression create a similar effect, when heavily crushing the signal the compressor adds a lot of crisp and harshness.
Vocal distortion is creative effect and therefore has no correct or incorrect method, it depends on the context in which it’s being used. I hope to gain more experience with this use of distortion and its different applications, it’s definitely a technique worth having up your sleeve!
Distortion In The Studio | Sound On Sound. (2016). Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 24 June 2016, from http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/distortion-studio
Using Distortion on Vocals [Video]. (2010). Home Studio Corner. Retrieved 24 June 2016, from http://www.homestudiocorner.com/using-distortion-on-vocals-video/
Vocals, M. (2016). Music Production Secrets: How to Reamp Vocals. Lynda.com – A LinkedIn Company. Retrieved 24 June 2016, from https://www.lynda.com/Pro-Tools-tutorials/Re-amping-vocals/121905/140219-4.html
Weiss, M. (2013). 4 Effective Ways to Use Parallel Processing. The Pro Audio Files. Retrieved 24 June 2016, from https://theproaudiofiles.com/parallel-processing/