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Tips for Thickening a Lead Vocal in the Mix

Hi, it’s Warren Huart here. Hope you’re doing marvelously well.

I’m going to show you a little vocal thickening trick. It’s — you can do it with a multitude of different pitch change devices. You can use the Avid one, or you can use the Waves one, or many other different ones, but I’ll show you the basic principles of it.

By the way, please subscribe, or go to in the link below and sign up for the email list, and you can get exclusive videos, and also you can get audio files, which you can edit, mix, and have fun with. Some of the same audio files that we’re using here.

Okay, great, so let’s check it out.

So here, I have my lead vocal track. I’m going to create two new audio tracks. So that’s Shift+Command+N on a track. Obviously hit the number two, mono. The reason why I’m doing this is because I want to create stereo files, so I’ve got to double this up.

So there you go. Now let’s just go Control+Option, get the grabber tool, and pull this down here. I’ll just duplicate it up here. Then of course, I’m going to create a stereo track. Again, Shift+Command+N, stereo. Return. Okay. Eventually.

Ah, there it is. It will give us stereo. So same thing. Pull those down here. Okay, great. We don’t need these audio tracks anymore, so let’s get rid of them, out of our session.

Okay, so we’ll call this our pitch shift. Vocal. So here we have a stereo interleaved track that we’ve created from two mono tracks. So let’s go up to our Audio Suite here, go to Pitch Shift, and let’s use their Doubler function, Doubler II, and to be honest, it defaults pretty close to what I like to do.

Okay, so let’s make three duplicate tracks here. Three stereo duplicate tracks. There we go. What we’re going to do is we’re going to do three, six, nine, and twelve. So we’ve got four sets of stereo tracks here. One thing we have noticed is to remember to go up and turn off this direct signal. So here it is. Otherwise, it’s going to be a blend of the direct signal with the effect. What we just want is the effect.

So let’s highlight the whole thing. Let’s set it to — I start off with 3 on the left. That’s if it works. 3 on the left, and minus 3 on the right, and let’s process.

Great. So let’s have a listen.

[detuned vocals]

Great. Hear the pitch shift working. So let’s move to our second one, we’re going to do this one at minus six and plus six, but what I do is I reverse the order. So the reason why I do that is if we don’t, it will be all sharp on one side, and all flat on the other. So we’re going to go sharp, flat, flat, sharp, you know. So it makes it sound much thicker.

So here, where it’s plus three, we’re going to make it minus 6, and here where it’s minus three, we’re going to make it plus 6. Okay, cool, let’s process that. Okay, great, so that’s processed. Now we’re going to go — let’s have a quick listen and make sure it’s worked.

[detuned vocals]

Cool, you hear a bit more exaggeration in the pitch. So let’s go to the third set of stereo tracks that we’ve made, and where it’s minus here, we’re going to make it plus, and we’re going up to 9. This side, minus 9. And process.

Okay, great. Let’s have a quick listen and make sure this one is working.

[chorusing vocals]


Lovely. And last, but no means least, we’re going to go up to 12. So here, it’s plus 9, so we’ll make it minus 12. Here it’s minus 9, we’re going to make it plus 12.

These are only cents. These are like, one hundredth. So it’s twelve hundredths of a semi-tone, so it’s not a lot, but it’s enough.

Okay, great, so that’s the 12 done. Okay, so we have three, six, nine, and 12. Plus, minus, plus, minus. So we’ve got sharp on one side, flat on the other. Then the next one, flat, sharp. Sharp, flat. Flat, sharp.

So not one side is more weighted to one way or the other.

Okay, so they’re grouped together. Let’s have a listen.

[chorusing vocals]

Great. Let’s blend that with the lead vocal and have a listen together.

[vocals with thickening]

Now, I mean, it’s doing what I wanted it to do, it’s helping the lead vocal sit out in front, however, it’s super loud. It doesn’t need to be that loud. So I’m going to bring that down so it’s barely audible.

[vocals, quieter thickening vocals]

I can still hear that. I think it’s helping push the vocal in front. So let’s hear it in the track.


So it’s nice, it’s just adding a little touch. I think it just helps the vocal just push it a little tiny bit out front. And you can go more drastic with it. You could also compress those a little heavier. Which is kind of nice as well so they have a bit more presence in the track.

But it’s a great trick. You know, pitch plugin these days are really perfect. They can do some really amazing stuff.

So yeah, but use them to your heart’s content. You could exaggerate, you know, automate this in the choruses so it really helps push the vocal out the front. Um, what I love with this sort of minus 3, plus 3 kind of idea is it’s like, very stereo, so it really surrounds and envelops the vocal.

Um, great! So, thanks ever so much for watching. Please subscribe. Go to, the link below, and you can sign up for the email list, and you’ll get exclusive content, you’ll get some more behind the scenes stuff of me recording drums in different studios, an expanded piano recording one, and you’ll also be able to download files that you can edit, mix, and do all kinds of fun stuff with.

So please leave me some comments. I really appreciate your feedback, and thank you ever so much for watching!


Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at

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