Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

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ken
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Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by ken »

I wanted to move this out of the review thread and into this one. Here is what JB had to say:
LibraryDogs wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:30 am
Technically I did separate the guitar - but it's only one track. It's duped and hard-panned left and right because for some reason that sounded better in headphones than one mono track in the center. ;)
Ah, so yeah now you need to nudge one of the tracks like 100ms to really hear them as separate.

There are three main ways I know of to get the separation I’m talking about.

1. Dupe your guitar track, pan one left and one right, and nudge one of them a little, to taste. (Nudge too far and it will sound like a slap back delay rather than separation.)

2. Record two guitar tracks, basically just doubling the same performance, and pan one left and the other right. The natural human variation in your performances will cause them to sound nice and separated.

3. Logic has a plug-in called “Sample Delay”. It lets you delay one side of a stereo track by X number of samples. It’s basically #1 above but in a plug-in. Your DAW probably has something similar.

Most of you know but in case someone is lurking who doesn’t know, separating your guitars gets them out of the way of your center channel, where the lead vocal, Kick, Bass, and Snare should be.

That makes your track sound nice and wide, and it means you have to do less EQ overall because stuff is out of the way of each other.

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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by ken »

Here is what I would like to add:

I'd like to advocate for option 2 in all scenarios where doubling is needed.

Here are some suggestions for when you double tracks:
Track the part with a different guitar or at least different pick up setting. I often use neck for one and bridge for the other. I'll use the setting for both for solos or leads.
Use a different sized and/or shaped pick.
Consciously move your hand so you are picking a different place on the string.
Change your amp settings for each part.
Move the mic (if using an amp) and/or your location (for acoustic guitar or vocals) if using a mic. Change the mic for each take.

I think these are also good rules if you aren't doubling, but just have multiple parts in a song. Give them each their own unique sound, no matter how subtle.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jb »

Doubling is one of the reasons it takes working pro bands so long to make an album in the studio.

Wonder why those vocals are so lush and thick and consistent? They doubled or tripled them but took as much time as necessary to get the doubling exactly right. For vocals it’s a little different because you’ll often double them right up the middle on top of each other rather than panned. Same principle though.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

JB is spot on with this.
jb wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:12 am

There are three main ways I know of to get the separation I’m talking about.

1. Dupe your guitar track, pan one left and one right, and nudge one of them a little, to taste. (Nudge too far and it will sound like a slap back delay rather than separation.)
The Haas effect. Typically you move one 12-30ms but you can play with it to get it to sound best. I always start at 20ms and go from there. Almost always sounds fine. You will then need to balance those two tracks as the one that is slightly behind will sound more quiet in the mix. You can (usually) only do this with one instrument in the mix without it starting to sound off (at least in my experience) but it is very useful to add depth to say a background piano track or backing vox that you only recorded once or, more often, guitars as JB mentioned.
2. Record two guitar tracks, basically just doubling the same performance, and pan one left and the other right. The natural human variation in your performances will cause them to sound nice and separated.
This is my default for acoustic guitar and electric guitar and.. well almost every guitar except bass guitar, technique. The cool thing is you can go to mono and back to hard panning to give a different effect for different sections, say bridge back to chorus etc.,.

For electric guitar, try using different guitars/tones/pickups. For instance, you can use the same amp/guitar setup but use the bridge pup for one take and the neck pup for another. I like to pick up a different guitar through the same set up for the second track but usually I'm too lazy to tune again so I resort to different pickups. Then EQ them a little differently, highlighting the best range for each track. It will really bring out that separation and make it sound even more wide.
3. Logic has a plug-in called “Sample Delay”. It lets you delay one side of a stereo track by X number of samples. It’s basically #1 above but in a plug-in. Your DAW probably has something similar.
I did a quick google search for Haas effect plugins and got these three top results:
1 - KVR page with a list of them (some free): https://www.kvraudio.com/plugins/haas-effect
2 - A random free plugin I've never tried: https://www.vennaudio.com/quick-haas/
3 - A random paid plugin (20 bucks, I think) I've never tried: https://kilohearts.com/products/haas
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Paco Del Stinko »

All good points and practices here. Something else to consider is recording a true stereo guitar. I often use one guitar into two different voiced amps. Usually split through the two outs on a delay pedal. A touch of delay to boot. This will give you the fullness desired without being a copy and paste sound alike.

Of course, you don't need to use amps, esp. if you can't, but could split one signal say dry, the other through effects. The old wet/dry bit.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Chumpy »

There is some good advice in this thread! Like Ken, I prefer to stereo pan separate takes of the same performance. To my ears it's always worth the extra effort and sounds better than the Haas effect. My somewhat labor intensive process for vocals is as follows:

I record 10 takes of me singing a part (verse, chorus, bridge, etc) then I explode the take folder out into separate tracks. I then use flex-pitch to tune each track, and finally I finish up by using flex-time to make sure each track is mostly on-beat and in alignment with the others. Then finally I bundle half of the tracks into one take folder, and the other half into another. I then select just the best bits of the performances to make two unique composite tracks (comps) so I always have the option of having a stereo panned double. Having them all tuned and aligned ahead of time makes the comping process a lot easier.

Here's a demo from a recent cover of Lichen Throat's "High and Higher" where on the verse I used two tracks panned slightly left and slightly right, and on the chorus I used three, one down the middle and one hard left and hard right.

double demo.mp3
(1.57 MiB) Downloaded 12 times
Here it is in song context:

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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jb »

I’m just sayin’, if you’ve got like no time, can’t do all the things, the Haas effect thingy is your friend. Your alternative is Woodstock ‘94: mud.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

Chumpy wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:28 pm
My somewhat labor intensive process for vocals...
I'm very confused... why did you say "somewhat?"

But then again, that's why your vocal tracks always sound great. I rarely use Haas for vocals. (For all the grief I got for flanging my vox in Miss Lovely Eyes, I probably should have used Haas instead to get a similar distant feel without making everyones ears bleed. Of course, I like the flange effect so ...)

Does anyone else keep hearing The Offspring sing, "You gotta keep 'em separated!" before rocking to the guitar bit in their head? No?!? Just me?
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jast »

I looked at this topic in depth when I wrote my own VST plugin for stereo widening. If you want it to sound like two takes, nothing beats recording two takes, period.

In my opinion, panning the same signal hard left and right and delaying one side by X ms is the worst option out of all, because the Haas effect means it will sound like the sound is coming from one of the sides (the one that plays earlier), rather than dead centre.

The best option that cancels out in mono is to use two comb filters. Left channel = original signal plus delayed signal, right channel = original signal minus delayed signal (same delay). Due to how comb filters work, this will break up the original signal into frequency bands and you'll end up with half of the bands in the left channel and the other half in the right. The amount of delay determines how many bands you get.

If you want to use simple delays, put the first one in the centre, then a slightly delayed version in the left channel, then a slightly more delayed version in the right channel. This way it will sound like it's coming from the centre (even if that signal is like 6-10 dB lower and a little low-passed) - the disadvantage is that now you've got three copies and in mono environments it'll sound quite bad.

(My VST plugin implements both of these options, sadly it's quite old and I can't be bothered doing a 64 bit build after all this time. Steinberg doesn't even offer the VST2 SDK for download anymore.)

Another really good option, but with a very characteristic sound of its own, is to pan two copies and pitch shift both little - one up a few cents, the other down a few cents. This will result in a somewhat chorus-like sound but it gives very nice stereo separation, all in all, for anything that's melodic.

Finally whenever you do significantly different processing on the two copies, you'll get a widened sound, too. Results may vary.

PS. iZotope has a free doubling plugin that I believe does stuff with pitch shifting. https://www.izotope.com/en/products/vocal-doubler.html
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jb »

jast wrote:
Sun Apr 11, 2021 9:38 am
In my opinion, panning the same signal hard left and right and delaying one side by X ms is the worst option out of all, because the Haas effect means it will sound like the sound is coming from one of the sides (the one that plays earlier), rather than dead centre.
YMMV but my opinion differs— my ears think a Haas style effect is definitely better than having the guitar straight up the middle.

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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jast »

Both perceptions are due to the Haas/precedence effect. And personally I think that if it sounds like all of the guitar is coming from the left (for example), that's kind of sucky... in that case, for the most part, you might as well put the guitar in one channel only and be done with it.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

jast wrote:
Sun Apr 11, 2021 9:38 am
In my opinion, panning the same signal hard left and right and delaying one side by X ms is the worst option out of all, because the Haas effect means it will sound like the sound is coming from one of the sides (the one that plays earlier), rather than dead centre.
And personally I think that if it sounds like all of the guitar is coming from the left (for example), that's kind of sucky... in that case, for the most part, you might as well put the guitar in one channel only and be done with it.
If you balance the volume on both sides, ie, raise the volume of the delayed track or reduce the volume of the original track, then it will sound less like it's coming from one side and more like it's in stereo. I will balance the two tracks and then route them to a fader so I can mix properly later in the process (because I'll forget and hit one fader and have to rebalance otherwise.)

That being said, getting two good takes of the same part and hard panning always sounds better to me. But there are times when the Haas effect has worked wonders in a mix.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jast »

Well, personally I experimented with rebalancing the two tracks and up to about 10 dB difference didn't help with making the sound location more balanced.
In any case with the comb filters you don't get any of these issues, and you have perfect mono compatibility, too...
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by vowlvom »

I do a fair amount of doubling but I definitely think faking it can give interesting results too, and I'm absolutely not averse to leaving a guitar in the middle if it sounds good!
When faking it I tend to use one of these (free, cross-platform) plugins rather than manually copying and panning / delaying. Have had good results with all three in different situations.

http://www.nullmedium.de/dev/audioplugins/ - this one does the ADT thing, so the timing of the doubled track can be affected by virtual wow and flutter. I prefer it to the Waves ADT plugin, which I regret buying.
https://www.voxengo.com/product/stereotouch/ - I like this one on acoustic guitar particularly.
https://polyversemusic.com/products/wider/ - this is an all-purpose widener, I tend to reach for this one for synths and keyboard sounds.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by ujnhunter »

Double track or GTFO! ;) Really though, if it's something worth doing... do it right. At least show your own songs some love... because we all know this is Song Fight! and you won't be getting any love here!
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Jerkatorium »

I'd done that 'dupe/pan/nudge' thing for years, but around half of the time I'd have a problem with Logic inconsistently not recognizing the existence of one of the tracks or regions for a second or so; like the left track wouldn't kick in until a moment later, making the beginning of the instrument or voice region hard panned to the right for a full second before clicking in. When I say "inconsistently", I mean you could play or bounce the track in Logic and encounter that problem, stop and re-start the track, and the next time you played or bounced the track (after making no changes whatsoever) the problem might not be there. Sometimes I'd end up trying to generate the mp3 over and over until I'd eventually end up with version of the song without those glitches.

Now I avoid the problem by just not doubling as much, and when I do double I don't 'dupe' anymore, I just record additional tracks. Has anyone else had that problem? Was I just doing something wrong?
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

I don't use logic and have never had that problem. If it works sometimes but not others then that seems to be a problem with your DAW and/or computer. I'd lean towards DAW. At any rate, your music always sounds pretty good to my ears but I'd still encourage more doubling. It seems to be the secret mixing sauce that makes *everything* better...

*Almost everything? Most things? At least, some things?
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jb »

I use Logic and haven’t had that trouble. However I typically use a Sample Delay to get the effect rather than copy/paste.

I wonder if you’re having phasing issue or something that causes a track or region to cancel out?
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

Do you use count in beats/measures? Have you tried.. how do you call it, shortening the track / deleting a small bit at the beginning? In reaper I just grab the beginning and shorten a bit (as opposed to moving the track.)

Or alternately, you could try moving it and rendering just a stereo pair of those two and then reimporting. But not knowing the exact reason it's all just a bit of a mental exercise at this point.

Thanks for giving me something to think about in the middle of my bout of insomnia last night. It was appreciated.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

And here's something that I've done in the past. This is from @ia on Fawm. (Previously Ianuarias)
I ended up doubling the guitars in a really silly way.I only had one rhythm guitar track recorded. So, if I had a 4-bar riff, I took the first two bars and used them as bars 3-4 on the second track, and used the last two bars as bars 1-2 on the second track. It sort of worked. Where I didn’t have enough repetition, I merely copied the played part and moved it around a few milliseconds.Is it pretty? Nooo! Does it work? Absolutely
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by jb »

Yeah! I’ve done that too! Play your song through then chop it up and put copies where it makes sense and poof, you’ve doubled the part.

You can do it with vocals too, though I guess probably just with choruses. But if you repeat that chorus a few times you can stack the last one with all the previous repetitions and boom gang vox.
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Re: Why/How you should double tracks rather than make a copy and pan.

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

jb wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 11:23 am
You can do it with vocals too, though I guess probably just with choruses. But if you repeat that chorus a few times you can stack the last one with all the previous repetitions and boom gang vox.
Yeah, I typically record a couple of passes of each chorus and then comp the best for the vocal and then use the spare tracks for thickening/doubling. But there are times when only one take is decent enough to use and the deadline is near when I'll just take the comp'd track and move the choruses around to make a second and/or third track. Come to think of it, most of my go to techniques result from time restraints or, more likely, laziness.
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