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Vary Your Vocals with Special Effects

Written by Scott R. Garrigus - © 2005, Scott R. Garrigus. All Rights Reserved.
Usually when recording a song, you want to get as accurate a reproduction of your vocals as possible. But there may be times when you want to apply certain special effects to your vocal parts. Sony’s Sound Forge provides a number of tools that allow you to process your vocals in a variety of ways.

Telephone Conversation
I’m sure you’ve heard this effect before in many pop songs. It makes the vocal sound as if it is being heard over a telephone receiver. This type of effect is very easy to do in Sound Forge:

1) Select your audio data.
2) Choose Process > EQ > Parametric.
3) Choose the Phone Line Effect preset. The settings for this preset are: Filter Style = Band-pass, Center Frequency = 800, Band Width = 2, Amount = -25dB, and Output Gain = 0dB.
4) Click OK.

The Chipmunks
This effect is very famous and can be heard on all the Alvin & The Chipmunks albums. It can be achieved by simply changing the pitch of the vocal part. The trick is in keeping the part the same length, because when you increase the pitch of audio, you normally shorten the length at the same time. Here’s how to get around this problem:

1) In Sound Forge, Select your audio data.
2) Choose Effects > Pitch > Shift.
3) Set the Semitones parameter to 7, and leave the Cents parameter at 0.
4) Set the Accuracy to High.
5) Activate the Apply An Anti-Alias option.
6) Activate the Preserve Duration option.
7) Choose Speech 3 in the Mode drop-down list.
8) Click OK.

Sinister Sound
You can also use pitch changes to achieve the opposite of the chipmunk effect. Instead of the light and cheery chipmunk sound, you can lower the pitch of your vocal to get a very low and ominous effect, like that of an evil movie character or a sinister sounding laugh. Here’s how in Sound Forge:

1) For this example, try recording someone laughing. Make it a slow, evil type of laugh.
2) Select your recorded audio data.
3) Choose Effects > Pitch > Shift.
4) Set the Semitones parameter to –7, and leave the Cents parameter at 0.
5) Set the Accuracy to High.
6) Activate the Preserve Duration option.
7) Choose Speech 3 in the Mode drop-down list.
8) Click OK.

To spice it up a bit, try applying some reverb to your evil laugh effect. Choose Effects > Reverb, and then choose the Cathedral preset. Click OK. Does that send a chill down your spine?

For more information: Sony Sound Forge Power books

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