Yamaha Keyboard Community Website

Tip 1 - Things To Help With Vocal Harmony

Written by Dan Rymut


First of all use a “good quality microphone” A cheap one will only disappoint.


Also make sure the trim on the back of the keyboard is set appropriately, A green Mic level light
Flashing is good, Red or Solid Green ,not so good.

Keep the trim turned down so the green light just
flickers as opposed to on all the time.


Try to keep the Mic out of the speaker wash if possible, The less noise and the more vocal that go in to the Mic the better. If you are recording, consider using a pair of headphones to totally eliminate this.


I’ve found that dialling out 450 Hz (approx 1-5 db) will help with tracking. The EQ will vary depending on your Mic , Speakers, Voice, etc. I have found that the VH likes a little less Bass in order to track properly. Experimentation will reveal if it works for you or not.


Try using the Vocal compressor if you aren’t already, I have mine set to Threshold = -20, Ratio =7, Output =91 . Be careful when playing with the compressor, as too much compression may lead to some annoying feedback.


Try to sing in tune and pay attention to your dynamics (changes in volume) if your not in tune how do you expect the VII to be. Dynamics should be smooth and gradual, its very good practice to sing without any styles playing, Turn the style volume to around 50 (so you can just hear it) and play chords and sing without any style playing.

A little bit of this every day and you’ll soon have an entire choir at your command. I can`t stress how beneficial this exercise can be, not just for VH purposes, but for singing in general.


I always prefer it if the VH is quieter than the main vocal for most songs, you can set the VH/Main Vocal Balance in the Mic Settings Section.


Tip 2 - To Edit the VH parameters do the following


1. Press the Mic Setting/Vocal Harmony Button


2. Select VOCAL HARMONY TYPE (Button H)


3. Select The Harmony Type You Want


4. Select EDIT At The Bottom


5. Press The PARAMETER Scroll down button to highlight VIBRATO DEPTH


6. Decrease the number for less vibrato and increase it for more


7. Do the same for VIBRATO RATE and VIBRATO DELAY (1 typically use VIBRATO DEPTH=" 16" ,VIB RATE = 12 , and VIB DELAY = O


8. Select SAVE (Button 1) and save your new settings, or they wont be there after a power down

Tip 3 - Things To Help With VH Tracking

Written by Dan Rymut

  Dan's Studio

 Use a good quality microphone with an omni-directional or cardioid pickup pattern.

Using a $50.00 Radio Shack special may disappoint you (no offense to Radio Shack or its customers).

Also make sure the trim is set appropriately (on the back of the keyboard) - a green mic level light flashing is good, red or solid green, not so good (at least for my setup).

I know the manual says solid green is okay, but I’ve had better luck keeping the turn turned down so the light just flickers as opposed to on all of the time.

If your vocal is not loud enough. you can turn it up via the mixing console. Try to keep the mic out of the speaker wash, if possible. The less noise and the more vocal that go into the mic, the better. If you are recording, consider using a pair of headphones to totally eliminate this.

I’ve found that dialing out 450 Hz (aprox 1—5 db) will help with tracking. The EQ will vary depending on your mic, speakers,voice, etc. I have found that the VH likes a little less bass in order to track properly.

Experimentation will reveal if this works for you or not try using the vocal compressor if you aren’t already.

I have mine set to Threshold .20, Ratio 7, Output 91. These settings may have come from Gary (thanks Gary).

Be careful when playing with the compressor, as too much compression may lead to some annoying feedback (howling).


Try to sing in tune and pay attention to your dynamics (changes in volume).

If you’re not in tune, how do you expect the VH to be Smiley? Dynamics should be smooth and gradual. Its very good VH practice to sing without any styles playing.

Turn the style volume to around 50 (so you can just hear it) and play chords and sing without any style playing. A little bit of this every day, and you’ll soon have an entire choir at your command.

Seriously, I can’t stress enough how beneficial this exercise can be, not just for VH purposes, but for your singing in general.


I prefer it if the VH is quieter than the main vocal for most songs. You can set the VH/Main vocal balance in the Mic Settings section. Depending on the song I use anywhere from L30>H to L5>H. There are always exceptions, these are only suggestions.


Some of my favorite VH types


StdDuet, MenChoir, MixAcapChoir, Mixed Choir, and Std Duet. Without doubt, StdDuet is my favorite.

Maybe its because I spent a few years singing 2 part harmony in bands. All of these VH types have been edited to remove the vibrato.

Removing the vibrato gives a much more natural sound (to my ear), and allows you to bring the VH level up some, as it sounds a little less like a yodeling convention.

To edit the VH parameters, do the following:


1. Press the MIC SETTINGNOCAL HARMONY button


2. Select VOCAL HARMONY TYPE (button H)


3. Select the harmony type you want


4. Select EDIT at the bottom


5. Press the PARAMETER scroll down button to highlight VIBRATO DEPTH

6. Decrease the number for less vibrato and increase it for more


7. Do the same for VIBRATO RATE and VIBRATO DELAY (I typically use VIB DEPTH="16,
VIB RATE="12," and VIB DELAY="0)


8. Select SAVE (button I) and save your new settings or else they won’t be there after a power down


One last tip from another post of mine which works well when multi-track recording:

If you sing a note or sustained phrase with the VH off and switch it on while sustaining the note or phrase, there is a noticeable dropout as the VH switches on or off. Kinda like Iaaa “hic” Iaaa.

This is not really acceptable, especially when recording. When I do my vocal track (s) I use the same setup as before: select your VH type, pick any style, and turn the style volume to zero.

What I used to do was to hit the sync start button, play my chord, (hitting the sync start allows you to take your left hand off of the keyboard - is: you don’t have to hold the chord down for the VH to work) and start singing, using the foot pedal to turn the VH on.

 

Tip 4 - Useful VH Tweaks

Written by Dan Rymut

 


I thought that maybe I could share with you some tips regarding tweaking the vocal harmonizer. Some of this was covered in The VH Primer , but a lot of it wasn't. I hope that you may find these tips of some use.


Just What Is That Warbling Sound, Anyway?

Perhaps the most useful edit is to reduce or remove the amount of vibrato on most VH types. To my ear, the default amount of vibrato is over done in most cases, so here's how to go about adjusting it. Because I'm lazy, I'm just going to cut and paste a small section from The VH Primer: 

Another thing to try is editing the VH type. Almost all of the VH types have too much vibrato on them making the harmonies sound odd to my ear.

This is a personal preference, but removing some of the vibrato is also useful to the beginner as it is easier to hear what's actually going on when it's not buried in vibrato. It is also worth noting that some of the female VH types sound good with vibrato.

It all depends on the application and your own preference. To edit the VH parameters, do the following:

1. Press the MIC SETTING/VOCAL HARMONY button


2. Select VOCAL HARMONY TYPE (button H)

 3. Select the harmony type you want


4. Select EDIT at the bottom

 5. Press the PARAMETER scroll down button to highlight VIBRATO DEPTH


6. Decrease the number for less vibrato and increase it for more


7. Do the same for VIBRATO RATE and VIBRATO DELAY ( I typically use VIB DEPTH="16," VIB RATE="12," and VIB DELAY="0)


8. Select SAVE (button I) and save your new settings or else they won't be there after a power down

Some of my favorite VH types include Std Duet, MenChoir, MixAcapQuar, MixedChoir, and SistersTrio. Without a doubt, Std Duet is my personal favorite.

SistersTrio is particularly useful for background oohs and ahhs, and actually sounds pretty nice without any tweaking.



I Can't Hear You... And He's Too Darn Loud

Another useful parameter to adjust is the volume level of each VH voice.

To do this try the following:


1. Select the VH type you wish to edit


2. Press EDIT to select the VH editing screen


3. Use the PARAMETER buttons on the bottom to scroll down to the HARMONY 1 VOLUME, HARMONY 2 VOLUME, or HARMONY 3 VOLUME parameter depending on your needs.


Note: All three parameters may not be available to edit depending on how many voices the VH type has. ie:Adjusting HARMONY 2 and 3 VOLUME in StdDuet will have no effect because there is only one harmony voice (hence the name Duet, I suppose). I don't know why these aren't greyed-out or something like that.


4. Adjust the volume(s) to suit


5. Save the edited VH type to retain the settings



Flying Off the Panning-Handle

It is possible to change the panning of each VH voice (ie:where you hear the VH voices from left to right in the stereo field).

To edit the panning try the following:

1. Select the VH type you wish to edit

2. Press EDIT to select the VH editing screen


3. Use the PARAMETER buttons on the bottom to scroll down to the HARMONY 1 PAN, HARMONY 2 PAN, or HARMONY 3 PAN parameter depending on your needs.


Note: All three parameters may not be available to edit depending on how many voices the VH type has. ie:Adjusting HARMONY 2 and 3 PAN in StdDuet will have no effect because there is only one harmony voice.

Again, I don't know why these aren't greyed-out or something like that.

4. Adjust the panning(s) to suit 

Note: there is a panning parameter called RANDOM which is just that. The VH voice bounces around the stereo field willy-nillly, and sounds most unmusical to me.

I try and avoid this one... Yet another note: If the VH voice contains a bass or lower voice, I'd recommend putting it in the middle and panning the others around this. Yamaha likes to pan the bass voice off to one side, which sounds a bit odd to my ear.


5. Save the edited VH type to retain the settings



Turn Down the Bass, Man

If you spend any time editing and playing around with the VH, you soon realize that the lower (bass) voices sound pretty , ummm, well 'croaky' is a polite way of putting it.

One sonic consequence of this bass voice, particularly in a four voice harmony, is to make the harmony sound 'muddy' or less clean. I like to turn the bass voice way down, or often right down to zero. It may be one less voice, but if all it's doing is making things muddy, perhaps it's not required. Let experimentation and your ears be your guide.



Headphones, Headphones, Headphones!

I like to use headphones when tweaking the VH. They really help you to zone in on exactly what's going on. I also tweak the VH with only a soft chord playing for reference - no style running. All I want to hear is me and the VH.

Headphones are also extremely useful when recording vocals. The more speaker sound you can keep out of the microphone, the better the VH will respond and sound. In fact, headphones should always be used to record vocals, whether you are using the VH or not.



Final Tip

The volume parameter can used to help fine tune the panning as well. I like to adjust the panning for each voice individually, as I can hear what is going on a bit better.

To do this, turn the volume down on the voice(s) which you are not adjusting, and adjust the panning for the one remaining voice. Do this for each voice, and then finally tweak all of them together for the final step.



Some I like


Unfortunately, the Yamaha VH doesn't allow the export of edited VH types as a file for transfer to other keyboards (as far as I know), but I've attached a few screen shots of edits I particularly like. Each VH type consists of two pictures - one for each screen (there are two screens of VH parameters if you scroll through them).

The first two VH examples are tweaked versions of MixAcapQuar, and the last is a tweaked version of Std Duet. Don't forget to save your new VH types, or you will lose them if you change VH types or power off.

Happy harmonizing,

Dan 




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