Changing the tone of your voice

If I may avail of your knowledge please. Over here in Northern Ireland my wife has been approached to try a Kylie tribute. She has the attributes to pull it off but her vocal is a lot more wholesome than Kylies high pitched synthesised voice. Is there a vocal processor or some sort of professional add on that I could add to my PA. Cheers

Hi Gary

It’s not easy to change the natural sound of the human voice – in fact trying to change the way your natural voice sounds by singing in a different way could do irreparable damage to your vocal chords. Actually I have no idea how impressionists/mimics manage to change their voices and do all those different characters. I reckon their voices must be very different to a normal persons voice. I suppose that’s why there’s very few really good impressionists around. Very few people have this unusual gift and when you think about it, there’s even less impressionists around who can actually mimic someone singing. That probably tells us something.

There are some things you can do to process and alter the way your voice sounds when it comes out of the speakers though and this is much safer than trying to change your voice in any way yourself.

In other words, you would sing as normal (so as not to damage your voice) and let the technology make the changes.

The easiest and simplest form of vocal manipulation is to alter the EQ of the microphone. For example, removing some of the bass from the microphone will often make the voice sound thinner and weedier, whereas adding bass can do the opposite and “beef up” a wispy or thin voice.

There are also a couple of hardware vocal machines you could take a look at.

The TC Helicon is a standalone hardware machine which is designed mainly for harmonies but does alter the voice in other ways too:

Also take a look at the Antares Autotune. They do a hardware version of their machine and the Antares Autotune is used on about 99.9% of all records in the charts right now:

Low volume problem on the Creative Zen

Hi Kenny. I’ve recently switched to using a Creative ZEN mp3 player for live gigging. 3.5mm jack to twin 6.3mm jacks on a stereo channel. Works great, but I have to rack the input level right up and the channel volume, and it still doesn’t give me sufficient volume. I have to turn the main volume up, but then have to turn the mic channel way down to balance the vocals with the music. I bought a stereo preamp from maplins. It seems to boost the Input signal to line level, but is badly distorted. Any ideas? Thanks, 

Hi Tony

Without actually hearing and seeing your settings it’s a bit difficult to troubleshoot.

However, generally you would do the following steps:

1. Use the headphone output of the mp3 player with the players volume close to fully up (around 90 – 95%).

2. “Trim” the input signal at your mixing desk using the trim control. If your desk doesn’t have a trim control for each channel you should seriously consider getting another desk – even cheap mixing desks nowadays all have trims for each channel.

3. Finally, adjust the two L+R channel volumes.

The most important part of the above process is adjusting the trim as this is what determines the signal level that’s going in to the desk. If your trim is set too high you’ll get distortion. If your trim is set too low you’ll have to whack the volume of the channels up so high you’ll get hiss and noise.

Hope this helps….

Hi Kenny. Thanks very much for the quick response. I took the stereo preamp back to Maplins today, and they advised swapping it for a “headphone amplifier”, which about the size of an iPod shuffle and sits in-line between the mp3 player and the mixer (3.5mm in/out jacks). It just boosts the mp3 output, and works great. Very clear sound. Thanks again for your help.

Clicktracks explained

We all know that you can’t get blood from a stone and you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear. We should also add to those phrases the one that says “You can’t get a stereo signal from a mono signal”

Hi team, 
Drummer left channel (click) with right channel; backing track. Q? How can I get a stereo feed from the right channel (Bk trk) in to the mixer. Previous set-up was with an MD player; L channel to mini mixer and R channel to one channel on the desk. Used a DI box with this set-up. Worked well. Want to use an ipod now. Any suggestions for this set-up. 
Many thanks

Hi Mark

Stereo consists of two independent channels – left and right. So, with any stereo piece of music there are only two audio sources – the left side and the right side.

In other words, stereo consists of a left mono signal and a right mono signal.

You can’t have a click track on the left and also stereo music on the right because that would require your audio file to have three channels of music on it. Stereo recordings only have two channels of music (left + right).

The only way to get 2 channels from the right is to pan whatever is on the left channel to the right and whatever is on the right channel to the right so that both your channels (L+R) are then going to the right side of the mix. However that would give you the click through your PA as well as the music and this isn’t what you want…

Good news is that if you are moving from Minidisc to iPod, you would set up everything up exactly the same as before.

The iPod, just like your Minidisc, puts out stereo left and right audio signals in exactly the same way as a Minidisc puts out stereo left and right audio signals.

So you can unplug your Minidisc and plug in your iPod and it will work exactly the same (assuming you’re using the same backing tracks and have the left and right channels going to your drummer and PA system just as before).

Yes, our tracks can be transferred on to Minidisc

A common question about buying songs from us in mp3 format and then putting them on to Minidisc…

I have been using mini disc for a lot of years. If i buy songs from you and you send them by e mail can i transfer them to my mini disc from the headphone line from my computer. Would i loose the quality of the track if i could do this. Your tracks are very good. I look forward too hearing from you 

Hi Mike

Yes, you can play the mp3’s on your computer while recording them to your minidisc recorder via the line out or headphone out.

The quality of audio out will be as good as the quality of the soundcard you have in your PC.

Fortunately many budget computers these days have reasonably good quality soundcards.

You may find this article on how to record mp3 to minidisc useful.

Bose L1 in an ‘L’ shaped room

Thanks to Peter for this question about getting sound around corners…

I have the tl1 system with 2 subs and i sing with backing tracks,although the sound is good in a square long room its not so good in a l shape room ???would it be that i have to purchase another speaker so then i could direct it round the corner ???What would i require to do this ???? 

Hi Peter

This isn’t a Bose L1 problem. This is an issue about sound and sound waves and how audiences hear sound waves.

The music that comes out of loud speakers is simply sound waves which anyone within earshot of the speakers can hear fully. But if you’re not within earshot of the speakers you won’t hear the sound fully.

Conventional speakers throw out sound waves at around 90 degrees, so any audience members who are in front of those speakers within a 90 degree radius of them will hear the full sound of the speakers.

The Bose L1 throws out sound waves at around 160 degrees, so if you use a Bose L1 then more of the audience in front of the speakers will hear the full sound of the speakers.

But the main thing to note from above is that in both scenarios, I say “the audience in front of the speakers will hear the full sound of the speakers”.

That means if the audience are NOT in front of the speakers, if they are, say, around a corner, then they won’t hear the full sound that’s coming out of the speakers, no matter what type of speakers you use.

They will hear something…but it’s more likely to be a bit of a dull thud than a proper sound because low frequency (i.e. bass) sound waves carry further than high frequency sound waves (i.e. mids and highs).

This is also why when a teenager in his car stops outside your house with the music blaring on his car stereo, all you hear is a thud, thud, thud. Inside the car, the teenager is hearing a well balanced (albeit very loud!) sound. But you are outside the car. You are not directly in front of his car stereos speakers – he is. So you only hear the bass frequencies (which travel better than the mids and highs). The cars body is blocking many of the sound waves getting to your ears, especially the mids and highs.

It’s the same when an audience are around the corner in a dog leg or L shaped room.

If you want audience members who are round the corner in an L shaped room to hear your full sound, then you need to put a speaker around the corner facing them so they can hear all the bass, mids, and highs.