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Vocals disappear - poor compressoin settings?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by mdb, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    I'm getting my mixes really loud. When the vocals are soloed, they are clear and forward, but when the instruments really enter the mix (like in a full chorus), the vocals tend to get absorbed or quiet down. Is this a sign of over compression? I'm thinking it might be. Any help would be appreciated.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    This tends to be because different instrument freqs are stepping in the vocals. This is a use for eq carving.
  3. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    The vocals are great during the quieter instrumentation parts (verses). Can overuse of a compressor or even a limiter on the stereo output cause this too? I'll try doing some EQ carving as well.
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Different instruments have different levels of core sound and overtones. The more diffuse the core fundamental sound is like a non opera singer the easier it is for something else to step on it and diffuse it. That is why certain instruments are notched out so as not to step on other instruments. A compressor shouldn't affect a mix when used judicially. Before you compress and limit te whole mix the mix itself should already be well blended. It really sounds as if you are compressing and limiting too early in the process. Blend and mix first. The start adding your judicious compression and other fx. If you need a limiter already you're heading down the wrong path.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I'll just add that faders move two directions......not just up.
  6. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    Thanks JackAttack. I'll start from scratch and try some of what you suggested. Anyone who thinks this mixing stuff is easy has never tried it. I understand many of the concepts, but in practice, it's a whole different ball game.
  7. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    You can vary the compression for the different parts... automation is a wonderful thing.....
    but assuming your instruments are not fighting the vocal (the most typical case), adjust your overall levels.... I typically ride the fader first, before I add compression. If the vocal get buried, lower the rest of the mix first
  8. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Do you ride the faders while writing automation with them? To make the changes permanent?
  9. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Sorry what I meant was change the fader levels. I typically still think in analog, I like faders under my fingers initially, but as the mix progresses I have all of my fader moves automated in the daw.
  10. stevesmith

    stevesmith Active Member

    Reverb will soften a vocal in a mix. Try a delay instead, or else delay the reverb onset by 200 ms.

    Try accentuating 2kHz a couple of dB in the vocal and notching the backing at 2kHz by a couple of dB

    Your arrangement is critical - snare drums, guitars, keys, brass, all mask vocals to an extent.

    Try panning too, with the backing instruments. You can clean up a mix by distributing the band parts L-R across the stage (keep bass and kick drum centre).
  11. chavernac

    chavernac Active Member

    What you are up against is huge.
    You literally are touching the "core" of of mixing.
    Yes you should compress so that instruments are not dancing around.
    You should pay attention to how frequencies are distributed. Typically, high pass your vocal so that it is not fighting in the rest of your mix (bass / guitar / drums).
    Try to open the vocal with an eq, at 5k, and 10k to see if it helps cuttting trhough.

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