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Vocal Pultec Trick

Just came across an article about an interesting parallel EQ-ed compression trick for vocals, which can bring really nice presence to vocals without making them sounding harsh, so I tried to recreate it with my setup, and here’s what it turned out (the original article in German is here).

So the idea is that from your main vox track you make a pre-fader send to a bus (called LeadVoxPultec here), where you do the parallel processing, and you route both this bus and the original Lead Vox to the output bus (called All Lead Vox here), so now you can add as much ‘direct’ and as much ‘processed’ vocal as you want.

Here’s like it looks like in Cubase I use, but I’m sure you know your DAW and can set it up in a similar way.

Then you put the processing on the parallel FX bus, which is practically a Pultec-like EQ, followed by a compressor with internal sidechain HPF, and then another Pultec-like EQ. So I grabbed two instances of Waves PuigTec EQP1A and a CLA-2A.

Now, the idea is that you use the first EQP1A to dip the lows and boost treble, in order to prepare what frequencies will trigger the compressor which follows in the first place.

Next, you put in a compressor, and you use the internal sidechain HPF in order to keep the compressor from being triggered by lower frequencies, so it reacts more on the ‘presence’ part. Gain reduction here can go somewhere like crushing -20dB, because we will be using this in parallel to blend it into the main vox.

Now, another EQP1A is used with kinda opposite settings as opposed to the first one in order to compensate for overall frequency response of the parallel chain.

To wrap up, all those three plugins are in the LeadVoxPultec bus used for parallel processing, so due to the routing I can blend to taste some of the processed LocalVoxPultec FX bus into the LeadVox.
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I tried it with several vocal samples, and I highly recommend to play with similar setup, which really brings up lead vox in a very solid manner without making it sound harsh or brittle.

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Thanks for a wonderful explanation @Andy_Gone This seems pretty interesting, will certainly try this. :grinning:

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This is fantastic @Andy_Gone!
Thank you for sharing :star_struck::medal_sports::gem:

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nice one.

A quick question.

when using EQ we create phase, this process of having EQ, comp, and another EQ with almost opposite settings from the first EQ is not causing a phase issue with the original VOX track?

I try to avoid parallel processing since it’s a bit risky in my opinion.

Works great also with distortion instead of compressor.

If you really care about avoiding phase distortion, consider use other eq besides the PuigTec, since the cut and boost at PuigTec (or any other Pultec) dose have a little different shapes and do not compensate each other perfectly.

BTW, for me, phase distortion is not always a problem, even at parallel. sometimes it actually sounds special.

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@topazh1 phase can be a problem, but to my experience it is always up to specific plugins you use in the parallel chain. When I tried above mentioned setup myself, I did not hear any annoying phasing issues.

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Hi. Thanks for sharing this trick :+1:
I haven’t tried parallel eq before but will give this a go.
Saturation and compression are the usual suspects for parallel processing for me.
All the best.

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@Zargg in this case it is not just EQ in the parallel chain. Many people ask if one should EQ before compression or after, and this parallel chain is a good example of EQing before compression specifically in order to influence how compressor will react to the material.

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@Andy_Gone even I prefer to do EQ before compression now after trying this Vocal Pultec Trick.

THere are 2 things i have noticed in any emulation of a Vintage plugin .One is a Slight phase issue and the 2 nd is the Harmonic Distortion . This could be more super imposed in a plugin domain i feel due to the limitations .
When you are layering 2 of the pultecs together with a La 2a which in reality will give rise to these 2 factors , have you checked the vocals after the Mastering stage ?
This units have guts of fire ( if you know what i mean:) ) so please check at louder LUFS if it still sounds Musical.
Aslo could you please also try the CL3A instead just to break the all tube setup and make it sound more clean?

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Oh. My point was definitely not to tell the one and only right way to do the trick :slight_smile: I just found this article and wanted to try it myself.

Although I did not hear any phase issues during my experiment, this does not mean there will be none with a different program material, for example. From the other hand, this ‘trick’ was initially done using hardware units (as far as I could understand), so if it was good enough in hardware, it will probably be fine with good emulations.

In the end, everybody can just try any other EQ and compressor and see if it works for them. Probably a linear phase EQ would produce more pristine effect, but personally I don’t think phase can bring too much of an issue in this setup, as far as it is only a vocal processing (as opposed to master bus processing), and as far as EQs are used on the parts of vocal spectrum that actually don’t have too much of content.

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Very True @Andy_Gone!

Thats nice to near @Andy_Gone . This article was very informative . Shine on…

This a great technique. I believe it’s what the man himself, Andrew Scheps, does for his vocals. Apparently its to add all that upper vocal presence that you so often hear in modern songs.

This is great. Tried with CLA-3A too.

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This where I think is the core of it!!

We don’t have to restrict ourselves to the Pultec and the LA-2A, it’s the principle of the technique that maters. You just need a harmonically rich and pleasant eq and compressor that helps to compliment the high end of the mix, The same technique could be applied.

Perhaps we could try the PuigChild, or the V-COmp, or as you suggested, the LA-3A Hey lets experiment and try the dbx 160. It might not work, but we won’t find out until we try it. Maybe it won’t sound that great on vocals but might add a nice and to the mix as a whole.

And for an eq, why not try the HLS, or the SSL, perhaps the Neve again. Neves have been known to have a really nice high shelf. Or maybe we should just cut to the chase and throw the H-EQ in the chain, that way we have the choice of several filters all based on vintage, harmonically rich eq.

The most important thing, if you strike gold, let us all know about it!! :wink:

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