The A-Z Of Music-Making: The U’s & V’s – From Unison To VST

It’s the penultimate edition of the A-Z series, where amongst unison, VSTs and vintage, Marc JB details the top tips for working with a vocalist…



(Click the titles for the best of each defintion)

1. Unison

Several parts playing the same thing. A choir singing the same note is in unison. A synthesiser can play many oscillators together and if each part is drifting slightly in pitch and time, this can create a magnificent chorus effect.

2. Velocity

The force with which a key is pressed or drum pad is hit. This can be used to affect amplitude of sounds or other parameters, such as cutoff frequency.

3. Vintage

Original examples of long-established music-making equipment can be warm and full of a character that has become referred to as ‘vintage’. The term is applied equally to guitars, synths and studio gear – and because of the historical legacy this classic kit has earned for itself, original examples can be hugely expensive.


However, there are many extraordinarily accurate emulations of vintage equipment. In 2018, we can all have lovely warmth in our mixes without the occasional headache of an old bit of gear breaking down.

4. Vocalist

One of your most important allies – if you’re a producer, then it pays dividends to make them feel like royalty when they come to the studio. Here are some good tricks for dealing with these wonderful characters:

  • Impress them with a vast selection of herbal tea
  • Serve beverages in a clean mug/glass
  • Use Auto-Tune lightly if possible, nothing kills a friendship quicker than turning your vocalist into a robot
  • Getting them closer to a large-diaphragm mic gets a warmer tone
  • Compliment them on sense of dress and general wellbeing for great vocal takes
  • Test headphones first to make sure the vocal is loud and clear in the monitor mix
  • Make sessions efficient, don’t leave vocalists sitting around getting bored
  • Have a quick turnaround for projects: don’t leave them waiting for weeks to hear the mixed tune
  • Be clear on your working methods and give them a structured plan of action.

5. VST

Virtual Software Technology enables software synthesisers and effects to be integrated with DAWs and recording systems. The format was invented by Steinberg in 1996.