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Fitting vocals in the mix

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by infamis, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. infamis

    infamis Guest

    After recording some vocals and applying some compression, how do you guys fit the vocals in the mix? I'm a newbie at mixing...so I'd like to know how the pros do it.

    A better question to ask would be after recording some vocals - [just the lead vocals], what type of processing do you do on it?

    [I currently compress (4:1), filter out everything below 70hz, and from 70hz->100hz increasing evenly from 0% to 100%]
     
  2. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    That sounds good to start.
    Do your vocal rides and balancing at very low volumes. Compare at that level to cd's of songs comparable to what your trying to achieve, and mimic the vocal to track relationship. Being able to hear everyword at very low volumn is one of the keys.
     
  3. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    The pros use EQ, compression, effects, levels, panning, and muting to make vocals and the rest of the tracks fit in a mix.

    There is no one formula that works on every mix or vocal track.

    Key ingredients are a good high-end console, monitoring system and room acoustics.

    Above all though, they use their ears.
     
  4. infamis

    infamis Guest

    I know there's no exact formula, but what are some general settings for the vocals, like say a cut around x in the mids, etc. And also what kind of effect is it that makes them have space - it's some kind of delay, I'm doubting reverb.

    Another two question about vocals:

    How are doubles created? Is that an effect created off one recording[probably some pitch-shifter] and panned left and/or right or is it just multiple recordings panned? or neither?

    How are refrains/choruses spread in stereo? If I have 3 different people singing the chorus, and pan one left, one center, and the other right, it doesn't achieve that stereo spread that is found in professional recordings. In other words, it sounds like three separate isolated recordings and not a "mix". How is it achieved?
     
  5. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Couple tricks... Identify the instrument that clashes with the vocal the most. Put a compressor on it at say, 4:1 ratio. Then key the input with your vocal. Everytime the vocal sings, the instrument will duck out of the way. I try to knotch eq out the 1K-2K range on other instruments to leave a good place for the vocals to sit. Throw a quater, or Dotted Quater note delay on the vocal but try putting it low in the mix, almost inaudible to add 'feel' to it. On my lead, I usually mult it to a second channel. One chain I go LA2A -> Pultec (or whatever... depends on the song) and ride this channel up in the chorus. Then on channel #2 I go Distressor -> GML 8200 and ride this up in the verses. This gives you more clarity in the V's and more warmth (god I hate that buzzword) in the hooks.

    As far as reverb, I use several reverb blends: Lex 480, Lex 300, AMS RMS, PCM 70, Rev7, and a couple others. If you need space on your backgrounds, and I'm not being an ayehole, try an Edison Spatializer. This is one of the dopest $75 purchases you'll ever make. It beats out my Retro spatialzer a lot. Panwise, here's how I usually do it:

    BG Chorus (have them sing it 4 times)2 hard panned 2 at 9&3 o clock
    BG Harm 1 (have them sing it 4 times)(hi harm)all 4 hard panned
    BG Harm 2 (have them sing it 4 times) (mid) 2 hard panned 2 8&4 O clock
    BG Harm 3 (have them sing it 4 times)2 hard panned 2 at 10&2 O clock

    If I need bigness, I'll use a 6 voice chorus, a send to a sansamp (very lightly added back into the mix), and a harmonizer.
     
  6. infamis

    infamis Guest

    thanks eq for the answers!

    i should also mention i'm recording rap vocals, so a long delay is probably ruled out;

    i still don't understand how doubles are created???
     
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Infamis,
    Here is what I do... As far as eq start by boosting the midrange and then sweeping the freq selector until you hear the ugly. Now apply some cut. 3 to 6dB. You may use this technique on everything! When you track vocals, use a little compression to tape, say 2 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio with 3 to 6 dB of reduction. Use a resonably fast attack and release. Now you should be able to get this to sit in the mix just fine, if it still seems to jump out once in a while you can add a little more comp/limiting at mix to get it to sit. IMO the trick with compression is to do it in little steps at each stage of recording, so you don't generate noticeable artifacts.
    Doubling lead vocals is usually just that, singing the part twice although there are efx that do this too, most agree that they are mechanical in nature, and what usually sounds best is the more old school / organic vibe. For your background vocals and harmony record 3 of each inversion. For a 3 part harmony that will be 9 tracks. Sub mix and bounce to 2 tracks, panned left /middle / right. You may apply compression or gating / ducking to them during the bounce. This may help tighten them up. This technique is called vocal stacks or stacks, and was very popular in the 70's and 80's ala Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, CS&N etc Hope that answeres all of your questions.... Fats.
     
  8. sign

    sign Guest

    Infamis, try this: put your vocal uncompressed in the center. Compress it and add the compressed sound to another channel of the board. You can even use a second compressor with heavy compression and add this a little to a third channel of the board.

    You can double your vox with a delay of some 20 milisec. Pan the vox hard left and the delay hard right and listen to the effect it has. You should have a lot of width now.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Okay, now THIS is my forte. Rap verses: Have them do one lead, then a double (the exact same thing as the lead). Make sure they rap it tight... Vocal Align works wonders for rappers that try to rap too fast for their own damn good. If you don't have this plug in, GET IT. I have rappers that insist on working with me because I can 'magically' make them sound tight. If they get pissey because they can't double good, just ask them how they are gonna perform live if they can't even double themselves. Keep the lead & double panning at 12 o clock. Keep the double lower in volume than the lead (unless you are working with Ja Rule or Pac). I usually have them do an ad lib & double it so I can pan it stereo.
    With rap vocals, I'm kinda crazy with compression. 8:1, sometimes more. Fast attack, mid release. The reason I do this is to help the rappers out with breathe control. If your in the mixing stage and they haven't "doubled" in the tracking stage, try the doubler preset 6 Voice waves plug in, but use a send to it & add the signal in at around -14 or so. Keep in mind this IS cheating, so your results will vary.
    As far as long delay, why rule it out? I put Quarter note delays on raps almost ALL the time. I usually set up an echo throw, so I can ride the send to the delay to make some words delay stronger than others. Avoid reverbs with long tails. If you need to use a verb, try the Ambience setting on a RMX, or some type of room. I usually think "flanger" in the hooks, or some type of effect that stays out of the way.
     
  10. SonicLips

    SonicLips Guest

    e-cue: I'm into rap production and let me tell you your post helped me a lot!!!

    Thanks!
    SonicLips
     
  11. SonicLips

    SonicLips Guest

    I'm wondering...

    What's an "adlib"?

    SonicLips
     
  12. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    ad lib
    Pronunciation: (ad lib', ad'), [key]
    1. something improvised in speech, music,

    Lyrics, that are in addition to the verse/chorus, ect proper...the "answers" and off-the-cuff- comments, so to speak.
    Did I make any sense?
     
  13. SonicLips

    SonicLips Guest

    I understand... Type of thing Busta Rhymes like to do, right?

    Thanks a lot,
    SonicLips
     
  14. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Yeah, busta, and a buttload of others. Emineem is clever with his ad libs (sound effects, etc), but most rappers just come up with ish on the spot, thus, ad lib.
     
  15. Heezzi

    Heezzi Guest

    Do you have any more tips?
     
  16. suspec57

    suspec57 Guest

    Man this is one of the most useful posts I have read in a while dealing with rap vocals!!! :D One thing I do with adlibs sometimes are, depending on the adlib of course, is panning them hard left and/or right to give kind of a chase effect with the lead vocals which alot of rappers I worked with loved. I also do what Fats says about the midrange and compression would be 4:1 or higher as e-cue explained. Question, has anyone ever got good results by simply copying a vocal to another track for a double, then tweaking it from there?
     
  17. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    I always thought that an adlib was some sort of birth control device? :d:
     
  18. RobGainer

    RobGainer Guest

    Want to find the pocket for your vocal? Don't be afraid to compress more than you think you should. Stay with a medium ratio (3:1 or 4:1), somewhat fast attack and a medium release time. The human voice has a tremendous dynamic range, so do it in stages: 3-6db (or even a bit more if it feels right) when tracking and whatever it takes when mixing. I tend to track with something pretty transparent (1178,1176, distressor, etc.) and mix with something that can spank the vocal into place (dbx 160). Have fun! :w:
     
  19. Aziel

    Aziel Guest

    i thought was an abrevation of Ad libitum...or something like that... :roll:
     
  20. quartermoonpro

    quartermoonpro Active Member

    Here are several "tricks" I use once the vocals are cut.

    Try panning the doubled vocals a little left and right, just a little bit.. not a whole lot, but so they are just off center, because you've got bass and drums and probably a few other things up center.

    One trick is to take the "adlibs" and eq them totally differently, say a boost in the 2-3K range and then cutting anything above and below that for a "radio voice" type effect. Pan as necessary.

    Another thing is to try a different mic on each vocal take, or compressor, etc.

    I agree with the above post.. make sure that the vocals are aligned and done properly.. this is very important.

    I've tried the copy/paste an existing track for "doubling" and it has its uses, mainly if you offset it in time a bit to the other.. gives a chorusing effect. But it still isn't the same as physical doubling of vocals.
     

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