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Wouldn't it be nice to have deeply resonant vocals?

Some singers have deeply resonant vocals. Some don't. But how can you add deep resonance when it isn't there in the first place?


Quite by accident I found myself listening to You've Lost That Loving Feeling the other day, by the Righteous Brothers. Here it is...

I was fascinated by the deeply resonant tone of the opening vocal line. I can sing notes as low as this, and lower. But my voice is never so deeply resonant. So what has Bill Righteous (actually Bill Medley) got that I haven't?

Well, clearly he just has naturally a deeply resonant tone of voice, and I don't. Put this down to the shape of the vocal tract, and thick and lush vocal cords. He has it. I don't. But is there something that can be done technically to correct my deficiencies?

The simple answer would be to use EQ. A little boost in the low-mid range should give my voice similar characteristics to Bill Medley's. This is perfectly practical and easy to do.

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The only problem is that it doesn't really work. My voice sounds a little more like Bill's, but no-one would be fooled.

A closer solution is hinted at in the word 'resonance'. Bill's vocal tract is resonating with the frequencies produced by his vocal cords, much more effectively than mine does. Resonance not only builds up these frequencies, it hangs onto to them and spreads them out over time. So his voice isn't just louder at certain frequencies, it is indeed richer and lusher.

So what about adding a bit of reverb?

Once again, this helps, but it still doesn't get me all the way there. My voice is richer, but it sounds reverbed. OK, the original track is reverbed too. But still I don't have Bill Medley's voice.

But there is another level of sophistication...

Since Bill's voice is resonant over a certain range of low frequencies, I can isolate these frequencies and add reverb only to this band. It is easily done by putting an EQ plug-in before the reverb plug-in. The reverb setting only needs a short decay time, nothing more than a few hundred milliseconds, or even less. Many reverbs don't work all that well at short decay times, so some experimentation is necessary.

In my tests, while I can't claim to any high degree of righteousness in the deeply resonant qualities of my voice, I found an interesting effect that I could find useful in future. I recommend giving it a try!

By David Mellor Saturday September 29, 2012