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Contributor - Level 2

Play Acoustic Harmonizer in studio

I have been using the harmonizer feature (as well as many others) of the PlayAcoustic for live gigs for several years now and I don't know how I ever survived without it. Now I am experimenting with it in my recording studio for backing vocal tracks and have a couple questions. First of all, I have discovered that trying to use more than 2 voices on a single track produces very weird results. My DAW (Cakewalk) doesn't seem to know how to handle a 3-part harmony. But if I use just 2 voices (melody plus 1 harmony), it records just fine. Anyone else have this problem and if so, how did you deal with it? Second, is there any way to make the harmony louder than the melody? What I find is that if a record a melody vocal, then try to insert a harmony in certain places, the combination of my voice from the melody track, plus my melody and harmony on the backing vocal track, tends to drown out the harmony. Better yet, can I configure it to return just the harmony (example: a 3rd above) when I sing melody into it? TIA for any help/
Alan59 Contributor - Level 2 2019-07-29

2019-07-29

Play Acoustic Harmonizer in studio

I have been using the harmonizer feature (as well as many others) of the PlayAcoustic for live gigs for several years now and I don't know how I ever survived without it. Now I am experimenting with it in my recording studio for backing vocal tracks and have a couple questions. First of all, I have discovered that trying to use more than 2 voices on a single track produces very weird results. My DAW (Cakewalk) doesn't seem to know how to handle a 3-part harmony. But if I use just 2 voices (melody plus 1 harmony), it records just fine. Anyone else have this problem and if so, how did you deal with it? Second, is there any way to make the harmony louder than the melody? What I find is that if a record a melody vocal, then try to insert a harmony in certain places, the combination of my voice from the melody track, plus my melody and harmony on the backing vocal track, tends to drown out the harmony. Better yet, can I configure it to return just the harmony (example: a 3rd above) when I sing melody into it? TIA for any help/

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Triber Alumni

Re: Play Acoustic Harmonizer in studio

Hey @Alan59,
Glad to hear you're enjoying your PlayAcoustic!  I'm curious as to whether you're using the analog outputs from PlayAcoustic into another interface, or are you using USB audio through just the PlayAcoustic?  If you didn't know PlayAcoustic supports USB audio, this article gives a brief description of how it works.

By "3-part harmony" do you mean your lead voice plus the two harmony voices generated by PlayAcoustic?  Is it possible you have the PlayAcoustic's output mode ("Setup" -> "Output") set to Stereo but you're only recording one of the XLR outputs?  When using a harmony style with more than one voice, PlayAcoustic will pan the harmony voices left and right, so if you're only listening to one of the stereo channels it could sound weird.

Actually yes there is a way to make the harmony voices louder than your lead voice.  That's done in the "Mix" menu, on the second tab you can increase the "Harmony" level to have up to a 6dB boost over your lead.  It's also possible to mute your lead voice altogether and only hear the harmony voices, which is done in the "Setup" menu on the "Output" tab by setting the "Lead Mute" parameter to "On".

Hopefully that's all helpful.  Cheers!

Testing engineer at TC Helicon, MUSIC Tribe. Our Support Team is always available for more urgent assistance.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Play Acoustic Harmonizer in studio

Hey Spencer,

Thank you so much for your response.  I have learned more from your response than all the tutorials I have watched and reading through the manual (and just poking around in the settings of the different menus - and there are a lot of them!).

And yes, by "3-part harmony" I mean a lead vocal and 2 harmonies.   And yes, I was using the XLR output directly into a mono channel on my I/O device.  And I checked and by default the Output was set to "Stereo" (I assume it was the default, as I don't ever recall changing it).  I set it to "Mono," although that's going to mean having all my harmonies and meoldy on the same track, which means I won't be able to pan them.  I haven't had the chance to read the article on USB audio yet (which I plan to do today).  I assume by using the USB audio, I will then be able to at least record a stereo track, if not send my harmonies to different tracks?  Right now, the only way I can think of to do it through the XLR out is to get a special cable (assuming one exists), with one XLR output on one end and 2 either XLR or 1/4 phone jacks on the other.

I can see I am going to have to change settings significantly when record than when I am playing live shows.  It would almost be worth it (if I could afford it) to have a separate one for use just in the studio.

 

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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Play Acoustic Harmonizer in studio

Hey Spencer,

As a follow-up to your earlier response, I decided to try using the PlayAcoutic with the USB to see if if I could record harmonies without setting it to Mono.  My DAW (Cakewalk By BandLab) recognizes the PlayAcoustic, but not the additional stereo input.  This may be more of a question for CbB, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter.  Is there perhaps a driver I need to install?

Thanks,

Alan

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Triber Alumni

Re: Play Acoustic Harmonizer in studio

Hi again @Alan59,
There isn't a specific PlayAcoustic driver as the Play series is plug-and-play with Windows, they're class compliant and don't require a driver.  It's possible that Windows has helpfully disabled the PlayAcoustic as an audio device though, please see this article to be sure that Windows isn't interfering.  With that you should be able to use any of your standard "DirectSound" or "Wasapi" drivers with the PlayAcoustic, and if you don't already have it - I've found that the Asio4All driver offers pretty low latency too.

Testing engineer at TC Helicon, MUSIC Tribe. Our Support Team is always available for more urgent assistance.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Play Acoustic Harmonizer in studio

Thanks again for more helpful advice.  I will try these troubleshooting steps.