allowing sounds to 'fit' in the mix?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by deejaybee, May 12, 2005.

  1. deejaybee

    deejaybee Guest

    Hey Guys,

    First of all, let me start by saying Hi! Im new to the site (my first post) ive heard good things about the site and hope that it benefits myself as an engineer and possibly even some of you if i can add some good input.

    Anyways... here is my question...

    I produce dance music (Trance / Hardcore), up until now I have basically produced tunes that are non vocal.
    I have started to record vocals and use acapellas in some of my tracks to try something new and hopefully add something to my sound.

    The problem im having is this...

    A Vocal is a very mid freq based sound (we know this), but at the same time... so is my riff.
    Now, my problem arises when i try and layer my vocal over the top pf my lead sound... i find the vocal is harder to make out and less clear.. obviously becase the lead and the vocals are sharing the same freq's!

    Now, normally, logic and i guess common scence would tell me to cut the mid freq's on the lead and if nessasary, increase them on the vocal... but within trance and hardcore, i would typically increase the mid on the lead aswell to make that kind of powerful sound we associate with hard trance leads.

    So i guess my question is this....

    How can I make my vocal clearer over the lead, but still keep that nice hissy clean sound of a trance lead ??!



    Ps: I know that there is no 'magical' answer to this question, but any tips, plugins, ideas that you may have i would greatly appreciate.

  2. jamiey

    jamiey Guest

    You send both the instrument track and the vocal track, seperately, to the mastering engineer so he can mix them properly.
  3. deejaybee

    deejaybee Guest

    With all due respect, I would like to know how to go through this process myself.
    I have no intrest in taking my mixes to an engineer as i got into production seriously to learn and teach myself.

    Im very aware that there is no quick way of learning this, but at the same time im not completly new to it all, what I would like to know is what process's, tips and tricks you people have used to do this in the past?

    Do you use Freq Analizers ? Someone recommended PAZ Analizer that is bundled with the waves diamond bundle ?

    Would you typically dip the freq in the lead that you increase in the vocal ?
  4. I believe that should be mix engineer....unless your mastering engineer loves stems....mine doesn't even though he will do them....but that would be still be mix and not master....

    Anyway, as for deejaybee, what I hear a lot in hard trance with vocals is the vocals actually losing their mids to make room for the lead. Think of it this way: as long as everything is there, it can still sound right in the mix. Don't think about songs as individual tracks, but rather as pieces of the song. Just because a piece of a puzzle looks great by itself doesn't mean it will fit great in the puzzle. Depending on the vocal, you might be able to get away with lowering the low mids on the vocal and high mids on the lead. Just experiment with it until everything finds its place. Also, reverb does a lot to help bring out vocals. I have recordings where the vocal sounds like $*^t in the mix until I added a hint of reverb.
  5. deejaybee

    deejaybee Guest

    Thanks Brian!

    Vocals really are the thorn in my side at the moment, the problem I ahve is due to the amount of time ive spent mixing down non vocal tracks, i seem to have managed to get a nice clean sound to it all and now that vocals are in the equasion... its harder to keep that nice clean sound with no experiance.
  6. jamiey

    jamiey Guest

    Sorry, it just doesn't belong in this particular forum...

    You could try several things like compressing crap out of the vocal, adding some distortion, some chorus/flanger/phaser, or even do the old dirty big-mono trick: make a copy of the vocal track, pan one hard left and the other hard right, and delay one of them 20ms (obviously, play around with the delay time, but this is a start)

    ... that is, if you are finding that any EQ just doesn't do the job. Yes, reverb will help. Try a very short reverb time as well as a long ones! I'm not a trance music expert, but it seems to me you could do some wild things and get away with it. Try copying the track and putting it through a pitch shifter so it sings an octave higher, then bring that high-pitch vocal in just a bit so you bearly hear it. There are tons of these kind of 'subtle' tricks that may, or may not, help bring that vocal to sit better.
  7. jamiey

    jamiey Guest

    Oh, another thing, when mixing many many of us try and get the vocal in at the begining, and mix all the other instruments around it so they don't end up fighting. I realize that may not be good for this type of music, but give it a thought. If the foundation of the mix is the vocals, then it ussually gets set first (like the foundation of a house) of course, kick and bass are ussually considered higher priority as they almost always ARE the foundation. But you need to consider the goal of the song and what's most important.

    I hope I helped a little. Next time, post in the mixing forum and you will get more help. Alot of folks don't wander into the Mastering forum unless they are looking for mastering topics. 8)
  8. tony desilva

    tony desilva Guest

    Try sending the lead instrument through a compressor in ducking mode with the vocal as the trigger. A little ducking every time the vocal kicks in might do the trick.
  9. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Home Page:
    1. Could be the mic / mic pre you're using. There's a reason expensive audio gear is expensive.
    2. Could be your mic'ing technique.
    3. Maybe you need to work on your arrangements to make "room" for your vocal.

    Short of that, I would probably automate some eq or volume on your lead synth track, to get it out of the way. Cut anything between 2K and 8K (or even higher) when the vocal is in, and you should hear the consonants of the vocal better. Reverb will only move the vocal "back" in the mix, I usually use delays for that type of "problem" when the vocal needs depth.

    I'd really need to hear it to make anywhere near an "informed" opinion.
  10. I've almost always been successful in using reverbs to make a vocal stand out and be more in-your-face.

    Try to avoid soloing a track when mixing. You should be blending the tracks together rather than stacking the raw materials together. Okay, that was a bad analogy, but I'm sure you can understand what I mean. I hate the way straight flour (or raw egg, etc.) tastes by itself, but when mixed together with other ingredients to make cookie dough...mmm...I'm hungry...brb...

    Don't think about the individual tracks as just individual tracks, think of them as pieces of a puzzle. Everything has to work together. Just because an individual track (or group of tracks) sounds like utter crap doesn't mean it will with the rest of the mix; in fact, when added to the mix it will probably get pretty close to perfect.
  11. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Home Page:
    You're adding gain, then. :wink:
  12. I know :lol: . I usually have my vocal tracks doubled with the compression only applied to the second track and only the second track gets sent to the reverb (which is 100% wet and just barely starting to clip on both input and output) and then I mix it back in using the aux return. I also dedicate a reverb unit to vocals and vocals only so I can be as brutal to the vocals as I need to be without tearing the buttholes out of the other tracks. I have 6 reverb units (two Lexicon MPX-1, two Yamaha REV500, and two modded Alesis Quadraverbs) and they are ALL working on all songs I do. Sometimes, I'll add a compressor (usually a modded Alesis 3630 or modded dbx 266XL) to the vocal reverb (99% of the time its one of the Lexicons) chain just to have a little more fun. The more I can bastardize something and make it work, the more fun I have :twisted: . I did run a multiband compressor on an aux return after my reverb once. That proved to be interesting but worked well for the song.

    The point is do whatever the hell you decide can be done to get the sound you want. If it means having some crazy signal chains, do it. Just because it isn't logical or the manual doesn't say to do it (or it SPECIFICALLY says NOT to do it) doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. Its kind of like the BBE in live sound - the manual says "between the mixer and any other device in the chain", but you should really try console --> comp --> eq --> bbe --> power amp; you'll be more happy with the sound (or at least most people are).

    BTW, I run ALL of my reverbs on aux buses 100% wet. No point in having 3 (or more) dry signals is there?
  13. jamiey

    jamiey Guest

    not neccesarily, in some (not all) cases if the reverb is detached enough from the vocal, the brain has an easier time picking out the source of the verb. It can bring attantion to itself without adding gain.

    There is also the New York Compression trick, which is ussually done with drums/bass but may sometimes work with other instruments to bring them forward. You send a copy out to a compresser, set to high squash, then add an dramatic EQ afterwards, like 10dB @ 100Hz and another 10 @ 10kHz, then just bearly 'tuck' this into the original track. It doesn't add much if any gain, but is just another popular trick. It can sounds really really bad if things get out of phase though.
  14. deejaybee

    deejaybee Guest

    This sounds like a plan, even if not to solve this problem i would be very intrested in knowing how to use a compressor in 'ducking' mode.
    Im using a software compressor at the moment, Tc Electronics Compressor De-esser.
  15. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    I wouldn't really call it a NY trick, engineers have been doing that for a long time. It's called parallel compression. It brings low level information up front while still retaining all of the transients and peaks. And it does add gain, maybe not reflecting on peak meters but it will on rms meters.

    as for making room for the vocal. you can also try panning them slightly, the lead line and the vocal, just off center.
  16. tony desilva

    tony desilva Guest


    I'm not very familiar with the TC Electronic Compressor De-Esser but here's a link that explains how you set any compressor (hardware or software) up as a ducker:

    Read the section under "Audio Ducking".

    You will need a compressor with a ' sidechain input'. The concept is pretty simple: Feed the lead instrument into the input of the compressor, feed a split from the vocal into the side-chain input of the compressor. With the audio playing, adjust the attack, release, and ratio controls until you get the results you are looing for from the output of the compressor.
  17. tony desilva

    tony desilva Guest

    "looing" = looking

    I hate when that happens!

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