+ This is an excerpt from Kimbra’s Vocal Creativity, Arranging, & Production course. To access this lesson, plus hundreds more videos and tutorials on production, songwriting, composing, arranging, beat making, and mixing, subscribe to Soundfly.
Ever wonder what some top charting pop stars use to get their vocals sounding pristine, fluid, and deep?
Well, in the above video and below text, courtesy of her online course, we asked Kimbra for a quick inventory rundown of what gear she uses, and the plugins she’s most drawn to, to help sculpt her innovative modern pop sound.
Home Studio Gear
As we touch on in the beginning of her course, Kimbra is often looking for things that are going to inspire her to be fun and playful in the studio. The gear items need to be robust, but also provide opportunities for creative freeplay.
Here are some of the specific tools she lists:
Interface: Universal Audio Apollo Interface
Preamp: Universal Audio’s LA-610 MKII
Microphones: Shure SM7B mostly, but occasionally other mics to capture different tonalities. If you want to learn more about different mic types, you can check out this video on microphones via our YouTube channel.
Sampler: Roland SP-404 sampling workstation with effects.
- Roland RE-201 Space Echo (like the Boss RE-20)
- Korg Kaoss pads. Kaoss pads have a live touch interface that allows you to “throw” effects live.
- TC-Helicon Voicelives. This is a loop station, vocal processor, effects station, and harmonizer that Kimbra often uses live but also occasionally in the studio to create live effects processing.
Her Favorite Plugins
Kimbra prefers to be picky with what sorts of plugins she’s using. She doesn’t want to spend too much time finding the perfect plugin, but reacts to ones she likes fairly intuitively by whether or not she enjoys using them.
A few of the specific plugins she recommends are:
Neutron by iZotope. Neutron is a bundle of mixing modules such as EQ and compression that includes certain presets, including ones for vocals. These presets can be a fast way to get a decent sound, without needing to know exactly how to adjust every setting yourself.
VocalSynth by iZotope. This is a collection of vocal effects or harmonizers that can help you create some weirder vocal sounds.
SoundToys Decapitator. This is a saturator to add a more subtle form of distortion onto your tracks.
SoundToys Devil-Loc Deluxe. Devil-Loc Deluxe is a very aggressive compressor.
Valhalla Plate Reverb. Valhalla makes a lot of fantastic reverb plugins, including the Valhalla Plate and the Valhalla Room, both of which Kimbra mentions throughout the course.
For compression, Kimbra either uses the built-in plugins in Pro Tools or Fab Filter’s compression plugin.
Goodhertz Wow Control. The Goodhertz Wow Control plugin is designed to help emulate an analog tape sound.
SoundToys Little AlterBoy. We’ll see how Kimbra uses this for pitch shifting in future lessons in the course.
SoundToys MicroShift. MicroShift is a great tool to help you achieve more width in your tracks by producing various chorus effects.
Ready to Learn From Kimbra Herself?
Grammy Award winning star and world-renowned artist and songwriter, Kimbra opens up her creative process to students for the first time in this comprehensive course with Soundfly. Explore how she finds inspiration, improvises over an idea, pinpoints the focus for a song, and expertly produces compelling tracks with her innovative approaches to singing, arranging, production, and more. Whether you’re an aspiring vocalist yourself or a producer interested in treating the voice as one of many tools in your creative shed, this one-of-a-kind course will help you develop new methods for making compelling music.