Vocal Plugin Chain Set Up – Example 1

Vocal Plugin Chain Set Up Example 1

Quite often people ask what plugins I use on vocals and in what order. To help answer this question I will periodically post pictures of the different vocal chain set ups I use. In this particular example I was after a ‘breathy’ and ‘airy’ vocal sound for a middle 8 part on a dance track that was ‘dreamier’ than the rest of the the vocal.

Compressor – First In The Chain

Waves Renaissance Compressor – 1st in the chain

I pretty much always compress the vocal first unless it needs a little of the low end rolling off,  in which case I put an equalizer before the compressor solely to roll off frequencies below 100hz. This ensures any unwanted rumble or bassy thumps are removed and also ensures that the unwanted low end doesn’t trigger the compressor. In the first picture you can see that I’m using a little compression to smooth out the vocal level. The threshold is set to kick in only on the loudest parts of the vocal.

Equalizer – Second In The Chain

Digirack EQ3 – 2nd in the chain

After the compressor I usually insert an equalizer. In this particular example I just needed to add a little ‘air’ to the vocal however in most cases I would be doing more significant vocal eq’ing here.

Flanger/Chorus – Third In The Chain

Waves MetaFlanger – 3rd in the chain

After the equalizer I’ve inserted a flanger/chorus plugin to give the vocal a doubling effect and to add some stereo width to it. I would usually add effect plugins into the chain via an auxilliary channel and send the vocal to it but in this instance I’ve inserted it directly onto the track after the eq plugin.

Delay/Echo – Fourth In The Chain

Fabfilter Timeless Delay – 4th in the chain

Last in this particular set up I’ve added a delay to give the vocal some movemet and depth. Again, I would usually add an effect plugin via an auxilliary channel and send to it but in this instance I’ve inserted it directly after the doubling effect.

There are numerous ways to set up your vocal plugin chain and we will explore many more in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below.


    1. Thanks Roger. Each mix engineer has their own set of favorite plugins for different applications. It would be difficult therefore to tell you what they are using. I'm assuming you're talking about the fattness and warmth of the vocal on RnB records. Correct use of compressors can go a long way to achieving a fat and warm vocal sound. Read this artical on how to use a compressor correctly: http://recordmixandmaster.com/2010-02-what-is-a-c… Using tube or tape saturation plugins will also help you achieve a warm and fat sound: http://recordmixandmaster.com/2010-03-why-use-tub… My personal favorite plugins are the McDSP CB4 Compressor, the McDSP AC1& AC2 analogue channels, the SSL Eq and the API 550B Eq. I hope that helps. Simon

    1. Your set up will depend on the vocal sound you are after and isn’t necessarily dictated by genre. There are a few guidlines such as – compressors make the sound ever so slightly duller so place them before the eq – put reverbs and effects on an auxilliary channel and use the send on your vocal channel to set the amount. These are of course guidlines which work well in most instances however, there’s no harm in experimenting and finding what work best for you.

  1. Alien Soul

    Can u tell me whut would be a good vox setup chain for hip hop/rap vocals? Also i have an eminem/jay z type of voice whut would be a good start of setting on my pre-amp to record vocals? (Presonus Eureka, Nuemann TLM 102 mic,Digi 003 rack, PT Le 8.5)

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