My favorite new vocal effects in Spire Pro, Hi-Shift and Lo-Shift, have the ability to shift the formants of your vocals without affecting the pitch of your recording. Formants are the harmonic frequencies present in a vocal, and when you shift formants either up or down, you can create some really unique vocal textures. This technique can be heard front and center on “Initiation” by The Weeknd or more subtly used on the background vocals of Billie Eilish’s “bury a friend.”
In this article, I’m going to show you how to give your vocals a little more sizzle using Spire Pro’s new Hi-Shift and Lo-Shift effects.
First, record three takes of the same vocal on separate tracks.
PRO TIP: Use Spire Pro’s Soundcheck feature during a practice take. This will set your levels automatically and shape the tone of your recording, making sure your vocals come through nice and crisp.
Next, navigate to the “Mix” tab toward the top of the screen to access Spire’s Visual Mixer.
Select your second track from the left side of the mixer (the blue microphone icon) and then slide it over to the left and slightly down. Now do the same thing with the third track, but move this one to the right.
I like to place my doubles directly on top of the “L” and “R” in the mixer window, but feel free to move them up or down to your liking.
Once you have the vocals in place, select your second track, tap on the Effects tab, and you will see the option to Tune, Lo-Shift, Hi-Shift, or Chill your vocal (NOTE: if you're using a Spire Studio, you’ll need to disconnect from it in order to enable the “Effects” feature on the Mix screen). Select either “Lo-Shift” or “Hi-Shift” and adjust the slider to hear the effect. You can audition the results by pressing the play button at the bottom of the screen.
Once you’re happy with the sound, tap “Apply” to lock in the formant shift. Now, repeat the process with your third track. This time, you can either choose the same option (Lo-Shift or Hi-Shift), or pick the opposite for a really wonky effect.
Below are four versions of a track I recorded so you can hear the Hi-Shift and Lo-Shift effects in practice. But, as I’m sure you’re realizing, the possibilities are endless. When using this trick, I like to keep the effect more subtle, but feel free to get as wild as you want!
With Spire Pro’s new Hi-Shift and Lo-Shift vocal effects, you can add a lot of unique flavor to your vocals, right inside the app! If you haven’t already, download the Spire app for iOS and start your free three-day trial of Spire Pro.