What is Double Tracking: Neat Guide to Fuller Vocals and Guitars!

What is Double Tracking


Ever since the breakout of pop music, producers have worked hard to make vocals and instruments sound bigger than life. Through the years, varied techniques have been used to this end: equalization, compression, distortion, enhancers, delays, and reverbs all being acquainted examples.

However one of the vital basic techniques of adding heft to a sound is through doubling or layering – and in this article, we’ll take you through a number of simple and efficient methods you possibly can attempt in your DAW.

This system creates width and size in your mixes and panning them left and right (with a little bit of occasional spatial widening) actually drives home how large a track can sound.

And also you’ll see this happen time and time once more – particularly in trendy rock and metal mixes where the more guitar components, the better. Quad-tracked and layered rhythm components develop on the fundamental stereo strategy and it looks like new methods for bigger, badder sounds are popping up on a regular basis.

However, where engineers usually don’t consider double-tracking is with lead guitars where there’s loads of floor left to cover. That’s the place we’re going to focus our consideration as we speak.

what is double tracking in DAW

The Fundamentals of Doubling Tracks

Historically, the best way to attain doubled vocals was by “double-tracking,” which means the artist would simply record their lines twice. Generally, nonetheless, the singer might not be available for extra recordings, you could be the hired mixer and be despatched vocal stems that don’t embrace doubles, or maybe the singer is discovering it tough to cleanly overlay the identical vocal line twice.

The production model might also warrant a clear, “excellent” double, quite than an extra organic one. These are all potential situations through which creating artificially double-tracked vocals could be applicable.

When managed vocal doubling is what you’re after, look no further than Waves Doubler. It means that you can create artificial vocal doubles by duplicating, panning, and adjusting the pitch of your authentic input signal.

Taking it further, Doubler additionally means that you can apply suggestions, modulate pitch at totally different rates, and EQ your duplicated vocals utilizing a low-shelf and high-shelf filter. There’s additionally a handy output gain fader that means that you can attenuate the plugin’s output level.

waves doubler

Should you still be recording doubles?

The important thing to the double-tracked efficiency is keeping the two tight with one another – they should lock in, or it turns apparent that they’re two separate performances.

To perform this, many engineers will track, many times, working to get two performances as tightly aligned as potential. From there, it’s a matter of stretching and aligning the audio additional till the timing is as excellent as they can get it.

Whereas the performances will likely be locked in, the harmonics won’t. There are pure variations every time you play one thing starting from how hard the string is plucked to the tuning and magnetic pull of the pickups. All these micro-variances create the sweet harmonic saturation we love after we hear two practically equivalent tracks playback at the same time, and they’re precisely what you want in an ideal doubled lead.

recording vocal doubles

When do you have to double your Vocals?

Listed below are some cases when you may need to record a vocal dub:

  • In case you’re trying to get an older hip hop sound then by all means record vocal dubs, significantly if the beat sounds like one thing from over 10 years in the past.
  • For those who’re doing R&B, rock or country, or any sort of music that entails singing, you could need to do vocal dubs as well. However, keep in mind it may well take away from the intimacy of the principal vocal.
  • For those who’re recording a chorus (for rap or a singing style of music), your audio engineer can use the vocal double to pan them to the sides to get an extra stereo sound. For choruses, basically, we’d advocate recording additional vocal layers of the principal vocal to be panned to the left and right sides. However, this might not be wanted for all songs.

What’s ADT (Artificial Double Tracking)

In case you’ve ever tried to deliberately double-track a vocal track, you realize that it may be rather a lot harder than you assume. Attempting to match the timing and nuances of a vocal takes quite a lot of time and may be tremendously irritating for both the singer and the production team.

That’s why Abbey Road chief engineer, technical director, and later studio supervisor Ken Townsend came up with an ingenious method of simulating a double track for The Beatles through the use of a few tape machines which are nonetheless tough to duplicate even today (though Waves now has a pleasant simulation). He called the effect ADT or Artificial Double Tracking.

Right now we have a lot that we can use to govern the sound to get an effect that’s within the ballpark of ADT, however, it simply doesn’t present an identical sound. Some may say that Townsend’s invention is the closest artificial double tracking has ever come to the actual thing.

The Beatles, and John Lennon particularly, liked to double-track vocals however hated the act of doing it. Not only that, back within the four and eight-track days, the doubled vocal would take up a track that would have been used for an additional element of the production.

The answer that Townsend came up with is ingenious, contemplating how restricted the instruments had been back in the 60s in comparison with today. That said, it’s additionally a quite difficult setup you can only grasp if you know how three-head tape machines work.

artificial double tracking

The right way to Double Track?

You’ll be able to approach the vocal doubling process in a couple of methods. Every methodology will produce a slightly different outcome, so which one you use will rely on what sort of doubling you want to achieve.

The purpose in all of those instances is to copy the unique vocal recording carefully without making it a carbon copy. In different words, you need the doubled track to sound slightly different than the first one. This thickens the complete vocal part and makes it more fascinating. Two equivalent vocal tracks will simply improve the volume of the part.

  • Record again

Recording one other vocal track beneath the original is concurrently the best and most tough approach to double vocals. It’s easy when it comes to the process. All it’s good to do is record one other model of the identical vocal line. The issue of this method lies in human error.

After all, some human error is desired right here. Once more, you don’t need an actual clone of the unique vocal track. Nevertheless, you additionally don’t need to stray too far. If the doubled track is simply too off the mark in pitch, tenor, timing, or anything, the double will damage the mix, not improve it. That is why it’s best to do it as you go. The more closely together these are tracked, the more seemingly the doubled track will work. And, after all, it’s necessary to pan the original and double in opposite directions. Doubling vocals, like doubling guitars, works best when it makes use of the stereo field.

In some cases though, you can stack the takes in the center to get a fatter and more complete recording. What you will need to do after you get your takes is to blend and glue them properly, so they seem like one coherent part.

  • Automate the process

If recording a double manually isn’t working out, there are different methods to go about it. One of all them is named automatic double-tracking (ADT). This methodology solely requires a single vocal track, although it ends in a man-made vocal doubling effect. Ken Townsend, the recording engineer for the Beatles, got here up with an approach to imitate guide vocal doubling in 1966 utilizing tape delay.

In essence, ADT is rather like utilizing delay on some other instrument. Simply as certain delay types like doubling echo serve to artificially double a guitar track, ADT takes the vocal input, performs it back, records this duplicate, then combines each track together. The duplicate will differ barely in timing, decay, and placement, making the track extra distinguished and wet.

After all, in Townsend’s time, this all needed to be done in analog. Right now, ADT is digital, although some engineers desire the classic authenticity of analog tape delay. In reality, the outcomes are just about similar, nonetheless. Digital ADT may be done with plugins present in most DAWs or with a software program like Reel ADT and KVR: ADT. Most of those plugins even have stereo effect choices to broaden the vocal track throughout the left and right sides.


Doubling stays an extremely misused approach for tracking vocals and instruments. Many individuals don’t notice the effect it may well ruin the mix or element they need to improve.

Going ahead, at all times keep in mind to take the time to record a clear vocal. It ought to match the principal track without being hyper-edited to be completely lined up.

Once mixing, don’t always pan your tracks left and right until they’re backup vocals. Eradicating the high-end and sibilance or processing it with a distinct sound is another strategy. This will make sure that the vocal doubles’ sole objective is to fill out and support the main vocal and never distract from it.


Nikoloski is the founder and main content writer and editor of Mixing Tips. With his experience in audio engineering, mixing, and mastering for over 15 years, will provide hands-on experience and expertise in all the matters covered on this website.

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