Daniel Lanois’ Vocal Chain

For everyone who ever wondered what Daniel Lanois’ vocal chain was on some of the amazing records he has been a part of, here is a quick look into his approach and gear.

Sony C37A LDC (mic) -> LA2A Compressor -> Pultec EQ -> Neve Console

Daniel Lanois Vocal Chain pinDaniel Lanois is one of my top favorite producers of all time.  He has worked with some of my favorite bands and vocalists, and definitely has a distinctive sound. His work with Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, and U2 comprises some of the most amazing records ever produced, and his approach to melody, layering, and bass is incredibly rich, deep, and textured.  Every engineer should sit back and listen to a few of the records he has worked on as an educational exercise.   I promise it will give you some new ideas on how to approach your next mix.

Vocals In Your Mix: Delay Instead of Reverb

His approach to vocals differs from most in the fact that he tends to avoid reverb, but uses mostly delay to get the lush sonic effects he is famous for.  In his own words from a Q&A on Gearspace.com: “I don’t use reverb. I like to use a slap echo with a relevant delay setting. Remember that a muted delay tone creates a sense of distance.”  He has also mentioned that he builds a song around the vocals, as opposed to trying to fit the vocals

Daniel Lanois in his studio showing what he uses in his vocal chain.

Daniel Lanois in his studio showing what he uses in his vocal chain.

into the music.  “I pay attention to the vocal all the time. I don’t add the vocal to the track, I add the track to the vocal. If you keep this angle in mind you subconsciously train your brain to build your work around the center.”

So get out your favorite delays and experiment with building space around your vocal tracks while you build your mix.

Leave a comment with the name of your favorite record that Daniel Lanois has worked on, and share your favorite vocal chain.

Here is a great 40 minute interview with Daniel Lanois about his approach to many aspects of recording and mixing.