There's no doubt that ring modulation is one crazy effect. It's this craziness that sometimes stops people from using the process in everyday mix situations, but with a little restraint and the right settings Ring Modulators can be the perfect creative effect.
Here we'll take a look at Logic's Ringshifter plug-in and how we can use it to twist a vocal line. I'll show you how to add a new dimension to the original audio without twisting it beyond recognition.
You can try this effect with literally any vocal recording or phrase. I have used a royalty free sample from the excellent Apple 'Voices' Jampack. With the dry vocal loaded we are ready to put the Ringshifter in place.
For me the Ringshifter tends to work best as an insert effect and this is exactly how I have used it here. It is simply strapped straight across our vocal channel. This means any mixing between the dry and effect signal will take place within the plug-in itself.
Audio: The dry vocal that will be treated:
The Ringshifter's interface is more or less dominated by a giant Frequency knob and it's this parameter that we'll explore first. In the default 'exponential' mode the frequency knob gives you a huge amount of control over the Ringshifter's output and can take the effect from subtle to outrageous in one sweep.
With the plug-in in 'Dual' mode low settings will give you sweeping, almost chorus like effects with a hint of auto-pan. Moving up the scale and we hear tremolo and vibrato, and beyond this the classic robotic, metallic effects, usually associated with ring modulation, start to appear.
The trick is to find the areas in the scale that work with your particular vocal phrase. It's likely that there are a few areas that are usable and these will probably be specific to certain sections of the vocal. This is where automation comes in and we'll take a look at that next.
Before we move on it's worth pointing out here that you need to pay attention to the wet /dry mix at all times. If you feel the overall effect you are hearing is too intense or you have lost the feel of the original phrase, dial some of the dry signal back in to regain control.
For me the key to success with the Ringshifter is automation. Without it intelligibility can be lost and your vocal can turn into robotic gibberish. During the majority of the phrase I tend to opt for subtle settings and then at key points the intensity can be increased, creating an interesting contrast.
Recording your movements is a straight forward process and of course the automation can be edited manually afterwards to give you more exact results. I have recorded an example and you can listen to this below.
Audio: The Ringshifter is automated:
With your ring mod effect in place you can now use some of the Ringshifter's extra effects and features to put the finishing touches to your sound. One of the best of these is the stereo delay effect, which can add space and depth without loading any extra plug-ins.
Try adding a small amount of delay with a moderate feedback setting to your part at first. Too much will swamp any other work you have done.
There are obviously a lot of other features here, including LFOs and envelope followers and I'll cover these in a more fully featured tutorial at a later date.
Audio: The final effect with added delay:
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