Cambridge, MA (October 12, 2018)—Doubling has always been a go-to effect in the recording world; you’ll hear it used to thicken up a vocal or add depth—and sometimes it’s merely a crutch for an anxious singer. Case in point: Despite having one of the most instantly recognizable voices in rock n’ roll, John Lennon hated his own singing and insisted on effecting and warping it as much as possible.
More often than not, that meant doubling Lennon’s vocals, and the results can be found across many of his mid- to late-period Beatles tracks. Initially the process was pretty arduous—it required either carefully singing the vocal twice exactly the same, or manually playing a master and a copied vocal on two tape machines somewhat out of sync in order to achieve the desired effect. Since there was no way to accurately sync up tape machines at the time, however, the results were often inconsistent.
All that changed at Abbey Road Studios in 1966, however, when EMI engineer Ken Townshend invented Automatic Double-Tracking (ADT), a variation on tape delay, primarily at Lennon’s request. Thrilled by their new toy, The Beatles subsequently slathered it all over the album they were recording, Revolver. You can hear ADT not only on vocals for songs like "Love You To" and "And Your Bird Can Sing," but also on instruments, like as the lead guitar on "Taxman.” Elsewhere on the album, "I'm Only Sleeping" finds ADT used on both the vocals and its backwards guitar part.
These days, of course, doubling can be done with a plug-in, and as of this week, it can also be done for nothing, as iZotope has released Vocal Doubler, a free plug-in that uses the company’s DSP along with a new interactive UI to help users visually understand what they’re hearing.
The UI centers around an interactive visualization where users drag in and out to increase or decrease the stereo separation, and additionally can drag around to add variation to the signal. The visual gives users real-time feedback as the intensity of the effect increases.
The plug-in, available for download at the iZotope website, works with Logic Pro X, Ableton Live 9-10, Pro Tools 10-2018, Cubase 9.5, Nuendo 8, FL Studio 12, Studio One 3-4, Reason 10, Reaper 5, Audition CC 2018, Premiere Pro CC 2018 and Digital Performer 9.
iZotope • www.izotope.com