twotonbrick
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#1
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
  #1
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Help with Mix

All,

I'm trying to get the chorus (vocals) to sit behind the mix.

I've tried everything at this point (eq, lowering vocal levels, brought up the instruments in the mix, added reverb/delay, etc.)

I want the lyrics to POP...but I want them to come from behind the instrumentation.

Any suggestions?

Thanks

Tommy
#2
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
  #2
In my opinion, upon a very quick listen this is a situation where the vocal in general is too loud but because it's uneven in level (or the music is uneven in level) there are moments where it sticks out as obviously too loud and moments when it's on the bubble, so to speak.

Usually to rectify a situation like this you'll ultimately want to get the vocal down just enough so that if you wanted to understand the lyrics you could but that it's not so loud that you hear the vocal above everything else. When a vocal or the track that it mates with is uneven you can of course add limiting, but sometimes (depending on the specific circumstances) that kills the liveliness of the vocal if you're too heavy on the limiter. So I sometimes like to try compression with a moderately slow attack (you have to listen to ultimately get the attack right). That way you can let the initial transient of the vocal notes peek through the mix and then the compressor can clamp down on the body of the notes to keep them from being presented as too loud.

Remember you'll still need to listen to get your release times just right. Also, there is no recipe, so what I suggest might not help. When it all comes down to it you have to know what an in-the-pocket vocal sounds like in your space on your monitors. That way you can just know when it's sitting "right". But give that compression strategy a try. Maybe it will help.

This is also a case where having an alternate set of monitors to give you a more "typical" playback system reference is very useful. Mixcubes, a boombox, whatever works for you. I do that because I find that when a vocal doesn't sit right on those types of systems it doesn't sit right at all. Again it comes back to knowing what "right" sounds like. To get an idea for the purpose of educating your ears it's useful to have a reference commercial release in the style of music you're working on to playback through your systems so you can hear what an in-the-pocket vocal sounds like in your space.
#3
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
  #3
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To my ears there's too much low mid in the vocal - almost to the point of resonance there, which is what I think is overwhelming the instruments. Especially in the chorus, the effect of having too much 200ish hz both makes it muddy (so it seems too low) and overwhelming to the instruments (so it seems too hot). I think if you cut a little in that zone it'll sit much easier. Also, expect to do some automation to get it to sit where you want. Another thing, the sibilance popping out of the reverb bugs me - if it's right for the style then whatever, but you might try toning that down a little.
twotonbrick
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#4
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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Nice - I feel you on that - yup, I'm definitely experiencing volume fluctuation on the vocals - I was hesitant to buss all of the vocal tracks to a 1176....I think I'll try that using parallel compression (and lower the original uncompressed tracks in order to hang on to all of the dynamics) and see where that leaves me.

Any other thoughts?

Best,
Tommy
twotonbrick
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#5
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcb4t2 View Post
To my ears there's too much low mid in the vocal - almost to the point of resonance there, which is what I think is overwhelming the instruments. Especially in the chorus, the effect of having too much 200ish hz both makes it muddy (so it seems too low) and overwhelming to the instruments (so it seems too hot). I think if you cut a little in that zone it'll sit much easier. Also, expect to do some automation to get it to sit where you want. Another thing, the sibilance popping out of the reverb bugs me - if it's right for the style then whatever, but you might try toning that down a little.
Yup, I'll look at the frequencies there - I added a high-pass on the vocals, but I think you are right - I'm still hearing some boom.

I'll pull the verb back some - I am def influenced by that 90's Catherine Wheel thang....I love washy reverb, but perhaps I need to pull back some.

Tommy
#6
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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I think it's generally fine to "overcompress" a vocal.

The times I do that, the vocal sits well and the compression artifacts are masked by the instruments.

The times I dont do that, it's always tons and tons of automation and still not getting the best results.

I might be alone on this but it rarely sounds bad to me when I have an 1176 taking off 7 to 10 db on a regular basis and 15 or 20 on the loudest notes.
#7
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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I would further submit that "hanging on to all of the dynamics" is not likely to solve your problem.
twotonbrick
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#8
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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Got it - working on it now.

Thanks.
twotonbrick
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#9
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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Ok...at 10:29pm, I updated the track with your suggestions.

They def helped the vocals sit better....damn...thanks guys.

I'm open to other suggestions for sure, but it's definitely tighter.

Best,
Tommy

#10
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twotonbrick View Post
Ok...at 10:29pm, I updated the track with your suggestions.

They def helped the vocals sit better....damn...thanks guys.

I'm open to other suggestions for sure, but it's definitely tighter.

Best,
Tommy

Post an update?
twotonbrick
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#11
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
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Here is the latest mix.

I'm getting closer to how I hear it my head.

The vocals are still a little more upfront than I would like.

Thanks again for the tips yesterday.

Any other suggestions would be quite welcome (my new EP is being sent for mastering next week).

Best,
Tommy
#12
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
  #12
You're still going to need to automate the vocals to get them to stay where you want them when you have a macro-dynamic shift. Pull them down a bit. Don't be afraid to make significant changes.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, you need to know what a vocal that sits "right" sounds like. If all else fails pull everything down and put the vocals up first on the loudest section of the piece and then build the rest of the mix around it.
#13
1st October 2011
Old 1st October 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
You're still going to need to automate the vocals to get them to stay where you want them when you have a macro-dynamic shift. Pull them down a bit. Don't be afraid to make significant changes.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, you need to know what a vocal that sits "right" sounds like. If all else fails pull everything down and put the vocals up first on the loudest section of the piece and then build the rest of the mix around it.
this is great advice right here and is applicable in most any situation in most any genre of music. +1 to all of the above.
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