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Techniques to bring out vocals in mix
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Sampire
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14th May 2011
Old 14th May 2011
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Techniques to bring out vocals in mix

every once in a while there is that beat that is so large it just buries vocals and I have to resort to compressing the hell out of them or if that fails, widening them with a delay to get them to stand out sufficiently......now, lately I've been finding widening vocals with delay (even if not needed to stand out) preferable.....they just come to life to me.....widening them makes vocals tickle my ears as if someone was actually talking right in em lol....I'm leaning toward everything being huge now and can see myself getting carried away with delays, widening everything!....or at least some drums and vocals......now....I had recent complaint from a customer though that this sound is not preferable to them as it does not sound natural and he hasn't heard these effects in other rap music......

what is everyone's opinions on rap with a stereo sound?.....pretty sure I hear it in other genres......why can't rap be dynamic and stereo?.....or at least stereo?

to give example of my latest use of delay to widen vox :



this isn't the track I had complaint with but it's an example of the same technique

sounds good to me.....but this latest criticism is making me question my ears

is this vocal sound unique to my production here or does anyone have any examples of similar sound in other rap productions?
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14th May 2011
Old 14th May 2011
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Usually, the rule of thumb "client always right" although many times we find ourselves in situation where we have to accept 'sub par' results. I had similar situation client told me the vocals were too wide, I made them more centered and everyone were happy)
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14th May 2011
Old 14th May 2011
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I prefer to make elements of the instrumental wider and leave the vocals nice and centered and focused. More impactful that way.

There's a whole bunch if widening techniques floating around. Do a search, there's a few good threads on here about it. And watch Pensado's place on YouTube.
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14th May 2011
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Whenever I do rap mixing, I typically leave the leads centered, and if they do an even number of doubles after the lead, then I pan the doubles out. If it's only one double, I leave it center along with lead vocal. And all my vocals have a subtle plate verb with a little pre delay (so the vocals aren't quite as dry) and a very very subtle 1/4 delay (you only hear it when you stop playback usually). Louder verbs and delays are automated/added as necessary/requested.

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14th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampire View Post
every once in a while there is that beat that is so large it just buries vocals and I have to resort to compressing the hell out of them or if that fails, widening them with a delay to get them to stand out sufficiently......now, lately I've been finding widening vocals with delay (even if not needed to stand out) preferable.....they just come to life to me.....widening them makes vocals tickle my ears as if someone was actually talking right in em lol....I'm leaning toward everything being huge now and can see myself getting carried away with delays, widening everything!....or at least some drums and vocals......now....I had recent complaint from a customer though that this sound is not preferable to them as it does not sound natural and he hasn't heard these effects in other rap music......

what is everyone's opinions on rap with a stereo sound?.....pretty sure I hear it in other genres......why can't rap be dynamic and stereo?.....or at least stereo?

to give example of my latest use of delay to widen vox :



this isn't the track I had complaint with but it's an example of the same technique

sounds good to me.....but this latest criticism is making me question my ears

is this vocal sound unique to my production here or does anyone have any examples of similar sound in other rap productions?
Assuming you are referring to a 2 track beat with vox......just notch out some frequencies in the 3-5k range from the "beat" so the vocals have some room to breathe. Actually some mids in the 8-10k being notched can help too sometimes. It just depends on the track and it's frequency content.

Also, *sometimes*, using some M/S processing and turing down the center channel of the beat just slightly will help the vox breath. Or panning the center channel of the beat slightly off to one side with some M/S processing can help.
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15th May 2011
Old 15th May 2011
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ryst,

yea, I meant to refer to both situations, sometimes it can be a 2 track thing, over an already mixed instrumental....other times it's even my own productions though where I do have control over every instrument

thanks for the tips though, I will have to experiment with those!

do you guys think the track I posted as an example sounds good?......good use of delay to widen?

can anyone link me to any songs to show that I am not alone here?
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15th May 2011
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sounded good to me.
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thanks, Storyville, coming from you, that gives me confidence that what I'm doing is fine

any examples of songs that you can think of, with obviously widened vox?
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all over the place. Most rap vocals post 2000 have something that makes them feel "across the stereo image" even as mono sources. A lot of times it's done by subtly doing very live tight doubles and panning them out. Or with reverb, or with a delay.

I might try to negotiate between the two though - get a sharpened center for the vocal itself, but keep some of the effect breadthy as a little subtler.
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15th May 2011
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It's often more of a phrasing issue than a mix issue.

If you have any input over the production, have them find a way to phrase each line that keeps the consonants out of the way of the beat. You can hear what I mean if you start listening for this way of phrasing.
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17th June 2011
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when it comes to widening vox with a delay,

what is your plugin of choice? (question to all)

I've been using this free HAAS delay plug http://www.vescofx.com/vfxFreeHaas

I find it strong though and hard to make subtle when needed
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17th June 2011
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Great information in this thread. Nothing wrong with maniulating the instrumental for a better overall sound.
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17th June 2011
Old 17th June 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampire View Post
when it comes to widening vox with a delay,

what is your plugin of choice? (question to all)

I've been using this free HAAS delay plug FREE HAAS DELAY PLUGIN | vescoFx.com

I find it strong though and hard to make subtle when needed
i usually use echoboy for all my delays
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17th June 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampire View Post
every once in a while there is that beat that is so large it just buries vocals and I have to resort to compressing the hell out of them or if that fails, widening them with a delay to get them to stand out sufficiently......now, lately I've been finding widening vocals with delay (even if not needed to stand out) preferable.....they just come to life to me.....widening them makes vocals tickle my ears as if someone was actually talking right in em lol....I'm leaning toward everything being huge now and can see myself getting carried away with delays, widening everything!....or at least some drums and vocals......now....I had recent complaint from a customer though that this sound is not preferable to them as it does not sound natural and he hasn't heard these effects in other rap music......

what is everyone's opinions on rap with a stereo sound?.....pretty sure I hear it in other genres......why can't rap be dynamic and stereo?.....or at least stereo?

to give example of my latest use of delay to widen vox :



this isn't the track I had complaint with but it's an example of the same technique

sounds good to me.....but this latest criticism is making me question my ears

is this vocal sound unique to my production here or does anyone have any examples of similar sound in other rap productions?
I like it as well.

My one little blip would be to turn down the delay a little bit. So that you feel it more than hear it. Its kind of obvious in this recording and thats kind of a dead give away for older styles of music in general is that it used to be wetter. Sometimes too much verb or delay makes things sound outdated/demo. Your effect is not doing that but its just a touch over obvious. I realize that this is not the song in question but if the effect is coming across the same as your example, then turn it down a db or so and see if it makes the vocal more upfront. Sometimes I'm using reverb or delay as an exciter rather than as a delay or a reverb. I'll compress a short reverb thats got heavy dampening and it makes the vocal fatter or a bit more crisp.

Shit just let that one out.

PS What did you do to the intro? Is that the VST plugin you're talking about? That sounds like a double tracked vocal almost. KEWL.

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17th June 2011
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illacov,

I appreciate the feedback on the mix of that track, I'm going to take your suggestion and play around with it

the intro? I don't remember if I put that effect on the intro too, but it sounds like that might be the case!
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17th June 2011
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I like it, works very well. Not a busy mix though??

I've only really used stereo techniques like that with doubles but I gotta try it on the main like you've done!

In really busy mixes, I've found light ducking of the main/offending sounds by the vocal helps to clear out the space. Kinda seems like cheating but it works lol.
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I'm going to be the voice of dissent here and say I'm not diggin' it. As a special effect for the appropriate song? Sure! But as just a general thing to do on a regular basis to make a lead vocal sound big?... not feelin' it. Partially because the precedence is pulling me to the left (nobody else hears this? I'm not even listening in the studio....). But also because, for me, mixing is about creating an emotional effect with the listener and for the right song, sure this would get the feeling I'd want. But the tradeoff is that you don't have a center vocal to zero in on which can inadvertantly sabatoge the message you are trying to get accross. I don't have a mono-switch on this computer, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it sounds fine in mono, but that would be a concern. I don't mind if keys or guitar or whatever get a little phasy in mono, but I damn skippy don't want that happening to a lead vocal. Part of my job is art. But part of it is also to make a record that will sell to the public. I watched JJP thing on Pensado's Place and he was talking about being on the other side with the label exects and I also have a lot of experience running record labels on a national scale and I totally got what he meant. This effect on the lead vocal, as a common thing (as opposed to the onesong on an album that really warrants by virtue of context) would make me nervous from that perspective.
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17th June 2011
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Maybe I'm just feelin the song and forgiving the effect, however, the effect is too loud in this context too Chris so I'm not really against your point of view, but the delay does kind of add to the aspect of the vocalist(s)? being assholes.

Its kind of got a Lonely Island kind of feel. But if the vocal were a bit drier it would cut across a little better. Its sort of "over," effected right now.

With all due respect to the OP. Just one humble cat's opinion.

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17th June 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I'm going to be the voice of dissent here and say I'm not diggin' it. As a special effect for the appropriate song? Sure! But as just a general thing to do on a regular basis to make a lead vocal sound big?... not feelin' it. Partially because the precedence is pulling me to the left (nobody else hears this? I'm not even listening in the studio....). But also because, for me, mixing is about creating an emotional effect with the listener and for the right song, sure this would get the feeling I'd want. But the tradeoff is that you don't have a center vocal to zero in on which can inadvertantly sabatoge the message you are trying to get accross. I don't have a mono-switch on this computer, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it sounds fine in mono, but that would be a concern. I don't mind if keys or guitar or whatever get a little phasy in mono, but I damn skippy don't want that happening to a lead vocal. Part of my job is art. But part of it is also to make a record that will sell to the public. I watched JJP thing on Pensado's Place and he was talking about being on the other side with the label exects and I also have a lot of experience running record labels on a national scale and I totally got what he meant. This effect on the lead vocal, as a common thing (as opposed to the onesong on an album that really warrants by virtue of context) would make me nervous from that perspective.
yeah, the track pulls me to the left...listening in the studio and on headphones...the song is funny though
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12th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cashvilledeeboi View Post
Hows it goin guys? I do Hip Hop and cant never get my vocals to sound right i have a Bluebird mic an a M Box 2 Mini with Pro Tools 8 LE
and i have all the Waves Plugins i was wondering is there anyway i could send u a session and u help mix it for me and tell me what i need to do?
Please i have a album release party im goin to at the end of this month an i have over 10 songs i need recorded but if i send u 1 session could u tell me what u did
like in the comment section on Pro Tools? I suppose to open up for Gucci an Gotti in August in Memphis,TN and i really need my vocals soundin good by then
so will someone please help me out? I appreciate any help and i will give u credit on my mixtape and help put your name out to my people down here.
Hope to hear back 1
I just mixed something that the vocals were cut with a mbox. Horrible. That's being nice. Get a decent pre. That will be a great start.
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12th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampire View Post
every once in a while there is that beat that is so large it just buries vocals and I have to resort to compressing the hell out of them or if that fails, widening them with a delay to get them to stand out sufficiently......now, lately I've been finding widening vocals with delay (even if not needed to stand out) preferable.....they just come to life to me.....widening them makes vocals tickle my ears as if someone was actually talking right in em lol....I'm leaning toward everything being huge now and can see myself getting carried away with delays, widening everything!....or at least some drums and vocals......now....I had recent complaint from a customer though that this sound is not preferable to them as it does not sound natural and he hasn't heard these effects in other rap music......

what is everyone's opinions on rap with a stereo sound?.....pretty sure I hear it in other genres......why can't rap be dynamic and stereo?.....or at least stereo?

to give example of my latest use of delay to widen vox :



this isn't the track I had complaint with but it's an example of the same technique

sounds good to me.....but this latest criticism is making me question my ears

is this vocal sound unique to my production here or does anyone have any examples of similar sound in other rap productions?

i can just tell you that the percussion have so much high end that i had to turn it down just to stop it from annoying me so right there, the vocal has been lowered substantially. That hihat seems as loud as the actual vocal. i think the track just needs to be EQ'd properly as it is quite hard to listen to at medium to loud levels.
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12th July 2011
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Checkout therecordingrevolution.com 5 minutes to a better mix. super useful info in there... Also, Pensado's Place on YouTube...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadforBrad View Post
i can just tell you that the percussion have so much high end that i had to turn it down just to stop it from annoying me so right there, the vocal has been lowered substantially. That hihat seems as loud as the actual vocal. i think the track just needs to be EQ'd properly as it is quite hard to listen to at medium to loud levels.
Well the song begining by "i'm an asshole"... the loud hihat could be complementing that fact as being an irritating element in the mix. Especially with the part where the MC's say "Turn that shit off" with the hihat being muted at the same time.

I like the effect, it enhances the nasality (though not so nasal actually), "asshole" temperament of the performer.
It sounds a little bit left to me. One could have thought about making the vocals more in your face, literally speaking. Either ways are fine. It provides another 3D perspective.

In any case it's an interesting mix.

As far as the topic in general, as said before, the problem in widening is that sometimes, we loose focus. especially when the widening involve drums. But on vocal it happens too and it gets harder to concentrate/understand the words then. Here it works thanks to the sparse instrumentation and the vocal level. On busy mixes, it would be slightly more complicated.
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the fact of the matter is hat i had to turn down my speakers and the percussion fighting the vocals was the culprit. You can justify it aesthetically till pigs fly. All I can say is that I had to turn it down as it had a very harsh EQ profile.

So when someone asks , how to make the vocals louder, having your listener reach for the volume button is usually not a good sign. not to mention my monitoring is calibrated using the k 20 system so it was not loud at all to start with.
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13th July 2011
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Nothing wrong with your mix buddy! Sounds good to me too

Now for sure everything in mixing is "subjective" and also depends on each Taste. Some can mix the same song and would prefer Vocals more Centered & more in your face (squashed and compressed), other would prefer your way, a bit widen.. not driving the vocals too much and so on.

True that while widening your Lead vox, they sound a bit lefty but maybe thats what you wanted. Again No rules buddy
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Actually I really like how that sounds - though it does pull you to the left (and IMO is a little too loud)

I think that would sound wikkid if the drums were panned to the right a little (and the snare panned even more to the right), that would probably balance it out
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.... thread popped up so I listened again for a longer period of time. The effect starts to wear me down.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
.... thread popped up so I listened again for a longer period of time. The effect starts to wear me down.
Intergalactic Delay Ha!

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Hahahahahahahahaha
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadforBrad View Post
the fact of the matter is hat i had to turn down my speakers and the percussion fighting the vocals was the culprit. You can justify it aesthetically till pigs fly. All I can say is that I had to turn it down as it had a very harsh EQ profile.

So when someone asks , how to make the vocals louder, having your listener reach for the volume button is usually not a good sign. not to mention my monitoring is calibrated using the k 20 system so it was not loud at all to start with.

I was commenting on the hihat, I agree as pertaining to the cymbals...
anyway, as far as the vocal enhancement goes, the "idea" is still not so bad imho.
But for something to be used regularly, I don't know. Here it does sound like vocals treated with delays and not necessarily a true stereo recording. A bit artificial..
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