vocal mix tips and tricks

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by osmuir, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    i'm about to do a demo mix for a client i really, really want to get. his voice is great and vocals are well tracked, so how about some mixing tips and tricks to get a great and interesting vocal sound?

    i'm using a digi 002 and i have the waves platinum bundle, altiverb, the digi 002 bomb factory bundle and vocalign at my disposal, as well as a distressor outboard.

  2. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    compress, eq, and add a hint of reverb or delay.

    compress using the bf 1176, sounds great on just about any voice. find the fundementals of the voice, and eq just enough to make the voice sound good in a mix.

    reverb and delay can be done in an aux, and brought up to sit just behind the main vox channel.

  3. JMartinUSN

    JMartinUSN Guest

    What I do...

    I do a number of things...

    Using a DAW, graphic editing...

    1. I cut out all the breath marks (I.e. Gasps of air between phrases, unless the vocals are standing out way above the music...), some times I leave a few in for naturalization.)

    2. Using an auto tune feature and fix any small tuning issues, or force singer to re-sing.

    3. If the sibilance is high you can roll that off with a filter, or on certain phrases you can use a quick-high slope volume envelope that rolls off the attack, start at infinity and cross 50% of totall volume in the middle of the very essy consonant.

    4. Compress slightly, and increase gain(expand bottom end by 3-6 db), RMS of the vocals should ride the compression Knee, unless of course you are going for that ultra-compressed sound like RAP Music, or R&B, otherwise it will sound overly processed and you loose dynamic range.

    5. Do a spectrum analysis on the vocals, and find the mean frequency range with a 70% average (RMS of volume), make a mental note of that range, for example: 500 to 4300 Hertz.

    Then do the same with the loudest instruments i.e. electric guitar, then, using a parametric eq on the instrument; adjust the center freq. of the eq envelope to coincide with the middle of the vocal range(in this case between 500 and 4300Hz), and attenuate(drop) the volume in those ranges creating a sonic hole for the vocals to fit in, use the Q-Factor on the parametric to widen out a little past the outer edges of the vocal eq(i.e. 400 and 4400Hz). Don’t get to drastic; just remove some of the frequency competition in the guitar…
    This creates a nice sonic hole for the vocals to fill in.

    This is call sonic de-masking.

    6. Work out Panning of vocals, typically pan lead vocals center, and backup vocals left or right creating a stereo field. Adding more reverb to backup vocals pushes them farther back in the stereo field

    7. I use a mix typically of 92% dry to 8% wet, not to much reverb, don’t use reverb to cover crappy vocals, it doesn’t work.

    8. Mix vocals together then bus them to a separate sub master bus for mixing with the rest of the music.

    Cheers, J.M.
  4. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    Depends on the music. This should only be done with pop music. You can lose so much emotion and feel if you do this accross the board.

    Use ear when singer is singing, and tell them if they are getting off key. Auto-tune should be a last resort. I can't stand the way people use it on everything now. Makes people sound like robots.

    use a de-esser. good advice. be careful to not lose all the high end with these, a little sibilance is not terrible. also try using mics that work with a singers voice instead of forcing a mic to work with a singer.

    use ear.

    thats rediculous. you cut a hole in the guitars at 500-4300hz ?? what kind of music are you recording?

    that makes no sense to me at all. that is way too big of a hole to cut, i'll cut out certain dominant freqs, but i'll never cut out the entire midrange. not to mention that it depends on what kind of mic, placement, etc.

    good advice.

    92% to 8%, you just cannot throw out formulas like this. when i first started recording, i would do these things just like i read about, and not use my ear. i would rather let people learn on their own, and figure out what sounds good to them, it is so subjective.

    I find it easier to comp main vox to one track, and disable all other takes, so as not to remove them, just turn the voices off in PT. Less cpu intense.

  5. mchakravarty

    mchakravarty Guest

    Could'nt agree more with you on this!!!

    Just one slight addition-
    For tonal balance within the Vox envelope, its sometimes a good option to add some compression at mixdown too.
    Again, fully agreeing with you, I'd add that there's nothing better than using one's own unstrained ear. It's also at times a good idea to have a friend (with a good set of musical ears of course!) to listen up.

    Finally! there's yet no universal magical formula on the planet.
  6. TornadoTed

    TornadoTed Guest

    1. Use a de-esser if needed.
    2. A bit of compression.
    3. EQ, if recorded well they shouldn't need much, maybe a little 'air' at 10-12 Khz. i often boost a little at around 2.5-3.5 Khz for clarity and cut backing vocals at the same frequency, this helps them sit together nicely.
    4. A little reverb, just enough so you don't really notice it but it sounds flat when taken away.
    5. Maybe a EQ cut on guitars around the 2.5-3.5 Khz as well as the backing vocals is worth experimenting with but not enough to make the guitars sound dull, ducking the guitars using a compressor and the vocal in the sidechain is also worth trying.

    These are just suggestions and there aren't any set methods or rules, experiment with differnet techniques and see what sounds good.
  7. Bobby Yarrow

    Bobby Yarrow Guest

    My 2 cents. Indie rock vocals. This is what I do, and it seems pretty common around here.

    I compress the hell out of vocals, pretty much always. I compress them a little, slow attack, fast release, coming in. Then I do my edits, and get my volume automation right. Then I compress em on the track level, faster attack, cutting up to 6 or 7 db, and then again on the vocal bus, slower attack, cutting another 2 or 3 db.

    I almost always boost somewhere above the sibilance. I also try and find a spot on most male vocals where I can cut, deep and narrow, between 150 and 250.

    I mainly use ambiant reverbs and short delays on main vocals. If I want the vocals to sit in the room more, I'll use some of whatever reverb I've got on the drums.
  8. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    I heard a Jewel song on the speakers in a department store a few weeks ago, and all her gasps for air at the beginning of lines stood out really crazy. I think it was the ceiling speakers accentuating that particular freq, but it has made me a bit paranoid now. :shock:
  9. bounce

    bounce Guest

    it's true that after compression the breaths can get way out of control but with some small bit of automation or crafty crossfades you can leave them in and keep some hope for humanity. works great for me. if there are harmonies that are synchronized with the lead vocal, i will usually remove the breaths from the harmonies(the cumulative breaths sound more like a tornado).

  10. PeeWeeGee

    PeeWeeGee Guest

    Wow! That is all great advice - I know, because I use a lot of those tips already.

    FWIW - I don't necessarily remove the breaths, but rather reduuce the gain on them. They are still hear (leaving the natural sound), but not annoying or overpowering.

    Another tip is to "carve out" a space in the spectrum for your vocals (with lead and background treated separately). This is paramount to getting that clean sound. USE your ears.

    Lastly, if the vocal take isn't on point; make your talent DO IT AGAIN. After all, it IS a recording and you don't get too many chances to REDO the vocals after the fact.

  11. bhuvan

    bhuvan Active Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Home Page:
    if you got the waves bundle, try using the C4 multi-band compressor for compressing the voice track. it's got a preset - Pop vocal. some tweaking from that starting point is a good place to be.

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