Double tracking vs quad vs more? Is it only for sloppy players?

  • I have always refused the idea of "quad" tracking because... well, I dont know, I never tried it.
    Until today.


    Wow, what a waste of time :D


    Clip 1: Low Gain setting, double tracked only! (sounds bad!)

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    I quad tracking and it sounded the same. So I tracked more... Until I had 12x tracked the riff... AND STILL SOUNDING THE SAME!


    Clip 2: The same Low Gain setting... but tracked 12 times! (sounds the same?!)

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    It looked like this:
    [Blocked Image: https://imgur.com/UaykrQo.jpg]



    So... 12 tracks, and it still sounds amost exactly the same?



    Well, here's a double tracked riff with high gain... (sounds much better!)

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    Then I started thinking.


    What if I purposely played SLOPPY?


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    Ok, now it makes sense. 12 sloppy played tracks sounds massive, but if you play tight like I did in the above 12x clip... It makes pretty much no difference.


    Maybe the idea is to stack different tones? But that just makes it a nightmare for the mixing engineer.


    I dont know.


    But if stacking different takes dont play too tight or it will be waste of time :thumbup:

  • Also I tend to record the main riff, then record the other at different gain stages with the same amp which allows you to create a huge sound and also mix in a little cleaner string sound or more of a higher gain track depending on taste.

  • Maybe I will explain that better for what I do.


    Record riff and pan left
    Record riff and pan right


    Move 1 of the tracks 1ms late. The difference is noticeable as you are providing space for the frequencies.


    Also if its a pain in the arse create shortcuts on your keyboard so ctrl-1 moves 1ms, ctrl-2 moves 2 ms etc

  • Im no engineer but...


    If you play exactly the same thing ( timing) with exactly the same sound, it will sound no different. It won't sound any bigger.


    Play sloppy on multiple tracks and it will sound mushy eventually.


    I play a track once, cut and paste, pan hard left and right and apply track delay ( about 5 ms) and it sounds better...I'm too lazy to re-record and get it right...


  • That really doesn't get the same result tho.


    could do quad track with two different amps per left and right, one amp focused on mids and highs and the other low end thump? that would be massive.

    Yeah I have tried it.
    The only thing I dont like about it is that I dont like having more than one tone to "worry about".
    One is enough to make my head spin


    In case I some day hire some pro mixing engineer I could probably do it


    But when I'm mixing myself I never know what a good tone is... And having more simoultaniously just makes it worse

  • Hey man


    I find to many distorted guitars start to sound bad in the end. It also becomes limiting when mixing down for example adding drive to a drum kit to give it some oomph. It's better to have less and use EQ, Limiting and Compression to give the song the required balls than keep layering track. I personally find it keeps the songs dynamics and definition in place.


    I prefer recording 2 guitars, HPF at about 80htz to remove any bass. It's also good to play a variation of the riff that works (listen to Appetite for Distruction and you will hear Slash and Izzy playing riffs that entwine. It's a great way of having complex riffs played between 2 guitarists as you can place rests) that way I create an interesting stereo field.


    I pan these left and right and then move one forward 1-5ms behind which creates the stereo separation. Bass down the middle to compensate for the HPF and I scoop the guitars just slightly to the let the basses character through.


    Key is never mix in isolation, always have all tracks on unless you are identifying a problem.


    This is just my way of doing it.


    I'm not trained in any way just stuff I learnt along the way and my preferred method of recording.


    Mike

  • Record riff and pan left
    Record riff and pan right

    This is what i always do. I've never had good luck with quad tracking. I'm a bassist by nature and quad tracking always made it a bit harder for me to get my bass to cut through the mix.
    It probably helps that i usually use 2-3 tracks of bass though. I always have felt to have a good guitar tone...add a killer bass tone and it will sound massive.


    That being said i always use the same tone for the left/right tracks, send them to a stereo bus and then apply EQ/Saturation/etc.

  • @Audiopilot
    There's barely any audiable difference when behinding one of the tracks 1-5ms.


    I just tried it.


    If you want I can give you a blindtest of several clips where some are "normal", some are 1ms behind, 2ms behind, 3ms behind, 4ms behind etc etc and see if you can spot which one (or more) is NOT "behinded". :thumbsup:


    I can only hear a difference once it starts getting over 10ms and at 20ms it just sounds disjointed. But it doesn't "increase" stereo field because IT IS already separate = it's two different takes!


    The ONLY time shooting a track behind a couple of MS is if you do like @V8guitar because he copies his track... Which is an EXACT replica of the other track.
    That makes it mono. Shooting one track further increases the "stereo" feel. That works in a whole different way than actually recording to different tracks.
    V8s method is definitely not wrong, it's just a different way of doing it.


    If it's double tracked for real, there is NO use for behinding a track at all. Especially not as little as 1ms or so.


    Believe me I've tried these things before so I'm not talking bollocks here. :saint:

  • More tracks gives you a bigger sound in the sense of an orchestra, not in terms of "that guitar sounds huge". Think of the three billion vocal tracks on Bohemian Rhapsody.


    Quad/octo/etc tracking can easily destroy any sense of tightness, particularly for really fast/technical stuff, but when done properly and with lower gain it's not too much of an issue.


    Best example IMO: Iced Earth, either Horror Show or the Gettysburg songs from The Glorious Burden. Particularly "High Water Mark", when the drums and chuggy guitars come in following the intro. Those guitars sound absolutely HUGE, because he multitracks with a bunch of different, low-gain tones.

  • Correct weight, Michael!


    This is why it pays to use lower-gain settings and different guitars / amp tones when double-or-more tracking. The former in order to minimise mush and loss of attack / bite, and the latter to help spread the sound across frequencies and therefore increase the perception of power, and even stereo spread.


    This is essentially what that stereo-widener plugin I posted a month ago does; it splits the spectrum up and pans, to-taste, the various elements, which, when summed back to mono, reproduce the original signal perfectly.


    I first discovered this phenomenon myself in 1987 when I tracked the same part with two percussive (clav-style) DX7 keyboard sounds, each panned hard-left-and-right respectively. The whole was definitely much greater than the sum of the parts, and no delay / offsetting was used. It's the same deal with guitar or anything else (vocals in Lokasenna's example).

  • This is correct, the 1-5 ms trick is generally used when you are wanting to duplicate a guitar track, but you want it to sound as if it was double-tracked instead. Actually works very well. But I have never before heard of doing it to actual double-tracked guitars. That doesn't makes any sense to me at all...unless you're a robot. :D

    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • A lot of that is both difference of tone, but also the arrangement (ie. playing/singing in different registers, counter melodies etc etc)

    100% - I meant to mention that. Using different guitars with different scale lengths, different pickups, or even different tunings (drop D vs standard D, or throwing a baritone in), with different voicings, goes a long way. A lot of people forget that "big" and "wide" both come from having differences in your arrangement, not just three hundred takes of the exact same tone and notes.


    I love taking a taking a triad and splitting it across three guitars, each playing one of the diad combinations. Sounds YUUUUUUGE.