Tips & Tricks — Little Labs VOG (Voice Of God) Bass Resonance Tool

November 11, 2011 11:11:11 AM PST
Little Labs VOG plug-in GUI

For many top engineers, the Little Labs VOG (Voice Of God) is the ultimate bass resonance tool for mixing. The reason is simple: The VOG is not an EQ, but a smartly designed resonant filter, which behaves similarly to a -24dB/octave low shelf (cut) — plus a low bell (boost) above that — with fixed Q and fixed relative positions. VOG controls include a sweepable center Frequency and variable Amplitude. And while it would be possible to replicate individual VOG settings with parametric EQs, it would be difficult to sweep the parameters around (while keeping the relationships the same) to experiment and tune the EQ as effortlessly as you can with the VOG. And therein lies the secret, and the beauty, of the Little Labs VOG Bass Resonance Tool plug-in for the UAD-2 platform.

In this Plug-In Power article — as well as the accompanying video below featuring Jonathan Little himself — we'll provide some basic tips and tricks for using the Little Labs VOG plug-in. Despite the VOG’s simple control setup, it has the ability to perform a number of incredibly useful tasks. That said, below are some helpful tips to get you started.


Auditioning the Little Labs VOG Plug-In

The VOG is intended for mixing, mastering, post-production sweetening, sound design, and audio restoration. The best way to demo the VOG plug-in is to simply insert it on individual tracks where added bass resonance is desired. Unlike the hardware, the plug-in provides stereo use with one control set, providing perfectly matched stereo response. When used in mono-in/stereo-out and stereo-in/stereo-out configurations, the controls affect both the left and right signals.

Deciphering the Center Switches & Frequency Ranges

While the VOG control set is simple, it may take a few minutes to get used to. The two Center switches define the active center frequency of the effect, which in turn determines the available frequency range. The four available center frequencies, and resulting frequency ranges, are shown in the Table below.

Little Labs VOG center frequencies chart

Like the original hardware, A switch is “ON” when its LED is red. A green LED indicates the switch is “OFF.” Also like the hardware, increasing the Frequency knob value (rotating clockwise) actually lowers the target frequency (by decreasing the center frequency). Changes to this setting are heard only if Amplitude knob is set above zero.

A Note on Frequencies: The control values for Frequency, which range from 0 - 10, are arbitrary and do not reflect a particular frequency value.

Re-Tuning a Kick Drum for Added Sub Bass and Increased Decay (i.e. a Roland “808” sound)

Little Labs VOG Amplitude Knob
Amplitude adjusts
the amount
of the effect.

It was quickly discovered after the original VOG’s release, that it was particularly well suited for re-tuning kick drums. This is not only useful for “fixing” kick drums that weren’t recorded that well — or don’t “fit” in a particular mix — but also for creatively changing the overall character of a kick drum. The VOG can even create Roland 808-esque kick drum sounds from more traditional kicks. Starting with a deep sounding kick, try setting the VOG’s Center frequency to 42 Hz (40=Red, 100=Green) and go ahead and max out the Amplitude control. Now, adjust the Frequency knob — similar to adjusting the tension of a drum head — until you achieve the desired amount of resonance and decay length. The Frequency can be set to emphasize the fundametal or some other interval (including the octave) providing various resonances for great creative use.

Note: Use the Flat button (Green=Effected Red=Flat) for quick A/B comparisons.

Bringing Out the Bottom String of a Bass

Little Labs VOG Frequency Knob
Adjusts target
frequency of
the effect.

Sometimes when listening back to a recorded bass track, the lowest string’s notes can be somewhat lost, or less intelligible compared with the rest of the strings. The VOG can easily remedy this phenomenon with just a few simple adjustments. Begin by setting the Center frequency to get you in the ballpark of the target notes. For example, the first five notes on the E string of a four string bass are between 41 Hz (E) and 55 Hz (A). Crank the Amplitude all the way up. The Frequency knob will then allow you to dial in the target range. To finish, back off amplitude until the quiet range is at the same level as the rest of the instrument.

Note: Use the Flat button (Green=Effected Red=Flat) for quick A/B comparisons.

Simulate Proximity Effect to Increase Chest Resonance and Add “Heft” to Vocals

Little Labs VOG Center Switches
Center switches
define the active
center frequency
of the effect.

Finally, let’s cover the function that the VOG’s name implies. Sometimes a singer can be nailing all the notes, but be lacking a little bit of that “heft” in their voice. The VOG once again can prove to be the perfect tool for the job, adding an effect like a controllable microphone proximity effect. For the sake of this example, try using a deeper male voice — although the VOG works equally well for female and higher range voices as well. Set the Center frequency to 100 Hz (40=Green, 100=Red) and then bring the Amplitude up to the 8 to 9 value range. Now, begin to raise the Frequency knob to the 7 to 8 value range — or turn it slowly until reaching the sweet-spot where the voice doesn’t become too “honky” and has a nice, rich resonance to it.

Note: Use the Flat button (Green=Effected Red=Flat) for quick A/B comparisons.

Hopefully this gives you a great starting point for using the Little Labs VOG plug-in. If you’re like many engineers, you’ll quickly find it an indispensable tool for shaping the low-end of your mixes.

Now, check out the video below to see the Little Labs VOG plug-in put to use by its creator, Jonathan Little:

— Mason Hicks