In the sea of plugins available to home recording musicians, it is not very often that I run across one that actually becomes part of my “Must Have” Toolbox. The Waves “Abby Road – ADT” (Artificial Double Track) is just that plugin. Since day one, I have found that the ADT to be an essential part of every one of my mixes. From Guitars, Drums, Keys and of course Vocals, the ADT serves to fatten and expand any track that it is used on.
The Original ADT was invented specially for the Beatles during the spring of 1966 by Ken Townsend, a recording engineer employed at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, at the request of John Lennon. John Lennon hated the tedium of recording doubled vocals to get that double tracked sound during the recording sessions. I tended to be very time consuming and used up a valuable track on the 4 track recorder. He wanted an alternative that did not require so much time and effort.
The problem they were faced with is, it is nearly impossible for a musician to sing or play the same part in exactly the same way twice. By recording and blending of two different takes of the same part creates a fuller, or chorused effect with double tracking. But if you play two copies of the same performance in perfect sync, the two tracks become one and no double tracking effect is produced. The effect is created when you sing the track with the original and because, no matter how good you are, you can never exactly duplicate the original, those small variations create a full doubled sound.
Townsend realized that, if you took two identical tracks and played back with one of them slightly out of sync, the sound image would alter and widen, just like manual double tracking. Townsend came up with a system using tape delay, since they were already in use for echoes and were applied during the mixdown. Townsend’s system added a second tape recorder when mixing a song. The vocal track was routed from the recording head of the multitrack tape, which sat before the playback head, which fed the record head of the second tape recorder. An oscillator was used to vary the speed of the “tape echo”, providing more or less tape delay depending on how fast or slow the second machine was run relative to the first. This signal was then routed from the playback head of the second machine to a separate channel on the mixer. This allowed the delayed vocal to be combined with the normal vocal, creating the double tracked effect without having to use up a track on the 4 track recorder.
“One night we had been double-tracking Paul’s voice by sending a track down to the studio via cans (headphones) and him singing over his own voice. It was a time-consuming process, and a waste of a valuable track on the tape machine. Driving home in the early hours of the morning, I came up with an idea how this could be done by sending the sync output of a Studer J37 and delaying this by using a BTR2 with the capstan motor on frequency control, then adding it to the original signal from the replay output of the Studer. I rushed back to work the following morning, tried my idea out and it worked. I demonstrated it to the Beatles the following evening and they utilized it frequently from then on. About six months later I was called up to the General Manager’s office, and told not to use it until it had been technically approved. The same evening the Beatles used it again!”
– Ken Townsend
Using the ADT
As you can see the Waves ADT was originally designed for Vocals to give them a fat full sound. Now, beyond the original Beatles recordings I have no idea what the real ADT sounds like, but I do know what the Waves Abby Road ADT does to my mixes. I usually place the ADT in a buss and use sends to determine what goes into it much like how the original was used. I have used them on Guitar tracks to give them a wide spread in the stereo spectrum, I have used them on all three mics on a Leslie cab to give it a head spinning swirl to putting it on a snare drum to fatten it up in the mix. Of course it has become a standard send on my vocal tracks, with just a touch to bring them up front in the mix. Rather than go into great detail into how I use them, below are some great videos on how to use the ADT and how it will help your mixes.
If you are looking for a great new plugin for your DAW this is the one plugin I would highly recommend! If you are on the Waves Mailing list, you can catch this plugin on sale for either $49 or if you are really lucky you can catch it for the low price of $29! The Waves Abby Road ADT is one of those unique plugins that you will find on all your mixes. No matter what style of music you are producing, the ADT will help step up your sound.