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Looking for some basic tips for seating vocals in a mix...
Old 17th March 2003
Lives for gear
guittarzzan's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Looking for some basic tips for seating vocals in a mix...

Hi, I'm in the "noob" category for mixing and thus far have had trouble getting the lead vox to sound right in the mix. Now, with instruments, I realize that you may have a keyboard sound somewhere off in the distance and a guitar right in your face (just as an example), but in messing around with light reverb and delay effects, I have a hard time getting the vox to sound like they're taking place in roughly the same place as the music. So how do you get it to glue to the music? Do you run verb across the 2 bus or what?
I know every mix is different, but I'm just looking for some basic tips to get the vox in the same space as the music.

Old 17th March 2003
Gear Nut
heartsoffire's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I'm pretty much a novice (compared to most people on this list), but I've found generous, but careful use of compression on all tracks, including the mix buss helps alot.
Old 17th March 2003
Gear Maniac
Chae Ham's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years

Before you start reaching for the reverb or perhaps even compression, take a look at where your dominant frequencies are... To over simplify it a bit, is there too much bass from the kick that interfere's with the bass guitar, is there too much mid-range crunch stepping on the vocal. Look to cut(or roll off) certain freq. ranges that interfere with others, and frequencies that some instruments just don't need in the context of the mix.

This might seem a bit counterintuitive to your question, but you need to get a good sense of where your frequencies are building up and where they're lacking to be able to find a good compromise between making room for the vocal and blending the instruments in to support it and help glue it.

Does that help at all?
Old 21st March 2003
BevvyB's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
In no particular order:

1. Put a small mono plate after the vocal and then compress it (the vocal and the plate mix)


2. Send the vocal to a very small delay (40 ms) and creep it into the mix


3. Create an extermely silly and severe eq on a bus and send a bit of the vocal to that


4. Find the best/most expensive sounding flanger/chorus/phaser you can and put a bit of that on the vocal


5. Group the whole song by section, decide which section is giving the most competition to the vocal, and then sidechain compress that group from the vocal so it dips ever so slightly when the vocal is happening


6. Put the drums up at the level you would like to be thumped. Then bring in the vocal as you would think you would like it relative to the drums. Make sure that the top end of the drums is keeping well out of the way of the vocal frequencies and vice versa. Now, without touching the drums or vocals, creep in the other instruments so that you can still hear the vocal clearly. You probably had them too loud. If you think that you need to turn something else up 'cos it just isn't happening but find that to make it work it obliterates the vocal, try doing other things to it to make it 'happen' instead of just turning it up. It may be not that the vocal doesn't hve its own space, but the other instruments don't!


7. What someone else said. Very careful eq. Try finding the 'speaking' quality of the vocal and put a narrow q rise somewhere there. It may sound initially wrong or fake, but if the level is right that can be enough. Unfortunately, if you have a crap eq it won't work. So use the best one you've got.


8. Oh, and then compress it some more


9. De-essing....if you do that FIRST then you will have a more consistent listenable level of the vocal which could stop the horrible 'well it's in for the first part of the chorus but kind of vanishes on the second part' nightmare.


10. Eq/compress...or compress/eq...I dunno, sometimes it prefers it in different ways for no apparent reason.


11. Perfectly double track the vocal and creep it in.


12. Ride the living hell out of the vocal


god theres a million and one things and its always &^%$ different!
Old 21st March 2003
Lives for gear
pounce's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
willingness to put low cuts in where necessary to keep things from building up in a bad way sure can help when getting things in their right places, use with caution, but definately use !
Old 22nd March 2003
Lives for gear
littledog's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Tons of fabulous suggestions for getting a vocal to sit right in the mix. But from your original question, I thought you were specifically interested in making the vocal sound like it was in the SAME SPACE as the rest of the instruments, not so much how to control the levels and audibility.

In that case, you may be on the right track with the reverb on the stereo buss idea. Sometimes a touch of something relatively unobtrusive, like a small room, across the whole mix will unify the tracks with just enough common ambience as to make it sound like they are an organic whole.
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