Mixing vocals?
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Thread: Mixing vocals?

  1. #1


    Join Date: Oct 2008
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    Mixing vocals?

    I have been working on a song with a singer for awhile now. What is your go to plugins for mixing vocals? My tunnel vision with concentrating on guitar , bass and drums has left me in the woods with mixing vocals.

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  3. #2


    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    I used to think the best way to mix vocals was to procvess them as little as possible, because unlike a kick drum, electric guitar, or electroc bass, most laypeople knew what a human voice should sound like.

    That, as it happens was not correct.

    After finishing up that acoustic roots rock project with my dad and uncle where all three of us sang, I didn't end up using exactly the same chhain for every song, but generally they followed this template:

    *raw vocal, recorded through a decent LDC and good pre (for the most part I was using my BAE Neve-style pre on vocals).
    *some sort of transparent compression, usually a Waves CLA-2a, on either limit or compress mode, depending on what sounded best to my ears. Sometimes I'd put a ReaComp instance out front set to a hard limit just to hit the initial transients, to allow the second compressor to function more evenly. And, on some vocals, I'd add a third, side-chained compressor, where I'd absolutely SMASH a copy of the vocals, and mix it back a bit behind the lead, to thicken up the lead vocal. For the most part though I was looking to help even out the dynamics a little here without radically changing the sound. The raw vocals were pretty consistent, but I may have done some pre-FX automation in a few cases, first. I also tended to use a lot of rejected takes as doubles, either to thicken up choruses or emphasize specific lines.
    *ReaDelay set to a very short slapback, start at maybe 0.10-25ms, and mixed in until just audible - start with the repeat volume all the way down and then start sliding it up till you like what you hear. Typically I was finding anywhere from -16-12db sounded good. I'm searching for the words to describe what this did to the sound and coming up empty, but it almost seemed to add a little bit of raspiness to some of the consonants and sibilants in ways that worked well for the material.
    *Sonimus Burnley73, with a bit of saturation dialed in, usually rolling off some of the low end and putting a slight boost around 1.5khz or whetever that detent fell, while also adding in a little bit of high end. Between the saturation and the HF shelf I was surprised how this really helped bring the vocals forward a little, almost consistently. Big fan of this plugin, btw, it's cheap and I used it all over the place because it sounded great.
    *small amount of vocal would be sent to the reverb bus for the project, but really I mixed this project surprisingly dry.

    Hope this helps - less the actual FX than the thought process. Overall the effect was to take my raw tracks and make them sound a bit "crisper" and sharper and "grittier," not audibly saturated so much as having a bit more edge to them, to help them stand out in the mix.
    "They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are a bit dicier." - David Foster Wallace

  4. #3


    Join Date: Oct 2008
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    It depends on the style of vocals and the consistency of the vocalist, I would generally use a couple of layers of compression, something like a Waves RComp and maybe one of the CLA compressors, De-Ess is pretty essential, I'm a big fan of vocal rider especially as you can set it to make the vocal level stay relative to the rest of the mix. The CLA vocal plugs are nice too as an 'overall' colour. Time based effects like Delay/Verb I like to run a parallel bus so you can blend a mix of wet and dry to keep the vocals up front.

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  6. #4


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    Cla 1176 + all of lozeks suggestions

  7. #5


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    A personal suggestion from me is to look into a Distressor type plugin. I use FG-Stress a lot for vocals. It just does something magical and makes it sit in the mix very easily. I actually agree that you should try to EQ as little as possible, but if you get a bad source then you gotta do what you gotta do. The slapback delay is a good trick, but also consider doing a plate verb with a long predelay, around 100-150ms. Lets you get away with a lot of ambience while keeping the vocal itself relatively upfront.
    C'mon son.

    Hellevate

  8. #6


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    Quote Originally Posted by thrashinbatman View Post
    A personal suggestion from me is to look into a Distressor type plugin. I use FG-Stress a lot for vocals. It just does something magical and makes it sit in the mix very easily. I actually agree that you should try to EQ as little as possible, but if you get a bad source then you gotta do what you gotta do. The slapback delay is a good trick, but also consider doing a plate verb with a long predelay, around 100-150ms. Lets you get away with a lot of ambience while keeping the vocal itself relatively upfront.
    Any suggestions for a brand that makes a Distressor type plugin? I have never used one.

    Luckily with the suggestions so far I already own CLA compressor and vocal plugins. I haven't tried adding a compressor yet. That will be the next thing to mess with.

    @Drew unfortunately the singer is recording at a different location. Out board gear is out of my control

  9. #7


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    The only thing I do is compress the vocals to shit.

    Then reverb, and/or delay (with all bottom cutout)

    I'm no expert but thats what I do

  10. #8


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    Quote Originally Posted by schreckmusic View Post
    @Drew unfortunately the singer is recording at a different location. Out board gear is out of my control
    I mean, the exact outboard gear matters less than getting a good performance, well recorded, and with gear that works for the vocalist's voice. If your raw tracks are great, you're going to have a lot harder of a time mixing than if your raw tracks are kind of, well, raw.

    Quote Originally Posted by thrashinbatman View Post
    I actually agree that you should try to EQ as little as possible...
    It's funny. When I first started recording, eons ago, I would have strongly disagreed with this. Within a couple years though I'd learned enough that I would have strongly agreed with this, and that if you were boosting or cutting by more than say 3db it would mean something else was wrong somewhere. Yet, in the last couple years, I've kind of done a 180 and have tended to be quite a bit more heavyhanded in my use of EQ, and I'm not so sure I agree anymore - I think a lot of "good" mixes I've heard have been a fair amount more EQd than maybe I'd originally heard.

    tl;dr - who knows, man. Every couple years I seem to decide everything I thought I knew was wrong. If I'd wanted an easy hobby I should have taken up brain surgery.

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