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Care to share your techniques for mixing vocals to a stereo two tracks? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 14th June 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 

Care to share your techniques for mixing vocals to a stereo two tracks?

Care to share your techniques for mixing vocals to a stereo two tracks and getting them to sound top 40 billboard professional?

I tried EQing the track, vocals, using waves center on the two track nothing is working. It's 2018 and I'm sure someone has knowledge on how to make this work and get around this problem. Is there anyone out there willing to share their knowledge?

(please don't recommend buying the stems. I know it will make it easier. I am trying to solve this problem so I can defeat it when I can't get access to the stems)
Old 14th June 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
Well it's never going to sound 'top 40 billboard professional' IMO as compromises are having to be made somewhere or another that aren't when working with stems.

I'm no big mixer but I've always gotten good results using probably the same techniques as others.

For me it's just typically a little dip in the mid signal or the 2 track in the 1-3k range, you might need to eq the 2track quite a bit more since these Internet beats are often poorly mixed and the beat makers haven't really considered a place for the vocals when making them and aside from the typical vocal processing, you'll probably want a considerable amount of compression to help control and keep the vocal level consistent amongst the onslaught of the beat and then IF the vocal still isn't cutting clear a little sidechaining works great, and sidechaining the just to the upper mids of the beat or wherever the prominent vocal frequencies are will be even less invasive.

Hope that helps, I don't think there's any thing else to it, sidechaining is probably the most overt action to overcome the issue but isn't always necessary, depends on the beat. EDIT: Oh and parallel compression can be an alternative method or used in combination to help the vocal cut through, not a fan of parallel processing but in this case it can do wonders.

Last edited by Cabrone; 15th June 2018 at 12:56 AM..
Old 15th June 2018
  #3
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabrone View Post
Well it's never going to sound 'top 40 billboard professional' IMO as compromises are having to be made somewhere or another that aren't when working with stems.

I'm no big mixer but I've always gotten good results using probably the same techniques as others.

For me it's just typically a little dip in the mid signal or the 2 track in the 1-3k range, you might need to eq the 2track quite a bit more since these Internet beats are often poorly mixed and the beat makers haven't really considered a place for the vocals when making them and aside from the typical vocal processing, you'll probably want a considerable amount of compression to help control and keep the vocal level consistent amongst the onslaught of the beat and then IF the vocal still isn't cutting clear a little sidechaining works great, and sidechaining the just to the upper mids of the beat or wherever the prominent vocal frequencies are will be even less invasive.

Hope that helps, I don't think there's any thing else to it, sidechaining is probably the most overt action to overcome the issue but isn't always necessary, depends on the beat. EDIT: Oh and parallel compression can be an alternative method or used in combination to help the vocal cut through, not a fan of parallel processing but in this case it can do wonders.
Thank you man. I hope one day in the future someone comes out with a tool we can use to be able to take a stereo track and mix it right w/o sacrificing another element. Until then I guess I gotta just make it work if that's all I have.
Old 15th June 2018
  #4
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Lando Calrissian's Avatar
Here’s a good tutorial on ways to record like this:

https://audioschoolonline.com/produc...-for-mixtapes/
Old 15th June 2018
  #5
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lando Calrissian View Post
Here’s a good tutorial on ways to record like this:

https://audioschoolonline.com/produc...-for-mixtapes/
will check it out. thank you!
Old 16th June 2018
  #6
DAH
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DAH's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GHINII View Post
Thank you man. I hope one day in the future someone comes out with a tool we can use to be able to take a stereo track and mix it right w/o sacrificing another element. Until then I guess I gotta just make it work if that's all I have.
Your hopes are as optimistic and consumer-driven as turning a rock into a steak.
However, if the beat is well mixed, the only thing you need is processing the vocals channels as in the usual multitrack situation and adjust its level relative to the beat.
BTW it is all about your monitoring.
Old 16th June 2018
  #7
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AlphaDingo's Avatar
 

Experiment with mid-side techniques.
Old 17th June 2018
  #8
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Your hopes are as optimistic and consumer-driven as turning a rock into a steak.
However, if the beat is well mixed, the only thing you need is processing the vocals channels as in the usual multitrack situation and adjust its level relative to the beat.
BTW it is all about your monitoring.
What? because I said I hope a engineer makes a device or plugin to make it where mixing two tracks will be easier and no sacrifices would be made? No one would have ever imagined 50 years ago the devices that are made today would have been made. You're reaching extremely hard to sound intelligent.
Old 17th June 2018
  #9
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Waves C6 sc
Sidechain the beat to the vocals boom *♂️
Old 17th June 2018
  #10
Have a look at TrackSpacer by Waves Factory Trackspacer - Mix Faster - Award Nominated Audio Plug-in AU/VST/AAX.

I haven't used it to mix to a two-track, but I have used it in a mix where I had a busy synth that was a big part of the energy of the track (so I didn't want to lose it) but was clashing with vocal frequencies. It effectively does frequency based side-chaining, and you can select what frequency you want it to focus on more. I mostly use it on bass, side-chained to the kick, for which it does a great job.

Other than that on the two-track, you can also try:

A Mid Side EQ and use the Mid to carve out clashing frequencies, which you can then maybe boost on the Sides.
Dynamic EQ
Multiband compression
Old 17th June 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
Step 1) fix the 2track beat. They are usually not mixed very well, massively overcompressed, and absurdely limited. So I will use a transient type of plug-in to help undo the compression. I’ll also go in with a dynamic EQ with negative ratios to try and zero in on certain instruments that need to punch more, or be pushed back. I’ll use mid-side EQ to sculpt the overall sound. Basically, I get the 2track to where it SHOULD be. I DO NOT believe in any of that “carve out space for the vocal by cutting this or that frequency”. It makes zero sense to me. Would you do that on a regular record with multitracks? No. And every 2track is going to be mixed differently so any rules about cutting certain frequencies to make room for the vocal are 2track dependent and every situation is different. So instead, I fix what’s wrong with the 2track so that I’m at a point where it would be if I had the multitracks. Obviously it’s not the same, but I get it as close as possible so I can then treat things like a normal mix job.

Step 2) mix the vocals like usual. But I will buss all vocals and on that buss I’ll put a compressor with 2buss-like settings and sidechain it from the music. This is because I can’t undo ALL the compression on the 2track without making it sound bad. This mimics the 2buss compression I would normally get compressing music and vocals together.

Step 3) depending on how much dynamics I’ve gotten back, I may be able to add a smidge of 2buss compression.

I don’t get as many of these as I used to, but I still get them from time to time. Usually because there was some kind of issue preventing the client from getting the multitracks (usually, internet beatmakers who don’t practice good file management and can’t find the multitracks). And often these songs wind up on albums where I have the multitracks for the other songs. With this method, I can pretty much always get it so it doesn’t have that dreaded “vocal over 2track” sound. Will it sound as good as if I had the multitracks? No. But the problems with the mix won’t be that vox+2track sound vox sitting on top of the beat sound.
Old 17th June 2018
  #12
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atma's Avatar
 

Basically, this is what you do:



"I took a note, right? A sawtooth wave, right off of this Pantomine 4, put it back here, regenned it through itself, looped it back, mixed it with the sound of this crab committing suicide, and let it stew in its own reverb for about three hours, right? Then I pump it all out through this shoe, to give it that 'oaky' timbre."
Old 18th June 2018
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
Step 1) fix the 2track beat. I DO NOT believe in any of that “carve out space for the vocal by cutting this or that frequency”. It makes zero sense to me. Would you do that on a regular record with multitracks? No. And every 2track is going to be mixed differently so any rules about cutting certain frequencies to make room for the vocal are 2track dependent and every situation is different
I disagree with your point about, whether you would carve out sounds in a mix. Of course you do. You have to consider all the instruments and tracks in every mix and put each in its right space, to hit whatever vibe or groove you’re trying to create. It’s second nature to typically make sure vocals are front and centre.

Of if the two track needs work you should do that first, keeping in mind where you think the vocals will sit.
Old 18th June 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blayz2002 View Post
I disagree with your point about, whether you would carve out sounds in a mix. Of course you do. You have to consider all the instruments and tracks in every mix and put each in its right space, to hit whatever vibe or groove you’re trying to create. It’s second nature to typically make sure vocals are front and centre.

Of if the two track needs work you should do that first, keeping in mind where you think the vocals will sit.
Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly. What I meant to get across is that I disagree with the common advice to automatically cut midrange to make space for the vocal. I believe there are better ways to get the vocal to sit properly in the mix with a 2track beat and unnecessarily skewing the frequency response of the beat away from what would otherwise be a good balance causes more harm than good. Rather, I advocate to simply make the beat sound good, and as close to what you would make it sound like if you had the multitracks. I thought I clarified later in my post that every 2track beat is mixed differently and they all have their different problems and need to be treated differently as opposed to a universal cut at (what is usually described as) 1k-2k. I certainly use EQ to carve the sound of the beat and I believe I mentioned I typically use both dynamic EQ and mid-side EQ for this task.

I've mixed probably hundreds of 2tracked songs and I can think of a few that have been in commercial radio rotation. It's a frustrating task to mix these, but sometimes necessary.
Old 18th June 2018
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by GHINII View Post
Care to share your techniques for mixing vocals to a stereo two tracks and getting them to sound top 40 billboard professional?

I tried EQing the track, vocals, using waves center on the two track nothing is working. It's 2018 and I'm sure someone has knowledge on how to make this work and get around this problem. Is there anyone out there willing to share their knowledge?

(please don't recommend buying the stems. I know it will make it easier. I am trying to solve this problem so I can defeat it when I can't get access to the stems)
Dont touch the beat. Turn it down approx 12db. Then record / mix your vocals over it like that. Make sure you add enough compression on your vocals to compete with the instrumental. Then when your done bring whole song (vocals / beat) back up 12db (original volume) with a limiter.
Old 18th June 2018
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabrone View Post
Well it's never going to sound 'top 40 billboard professional' IMO as compromises are having to be made somewhere or another that aren't when working with stems.
Easily can for hip hop. Quality of production has gone way up recently. I can download industry quality beats for free from sites like beatstars right now. If the producer mixes the beat well, and the vocals get mixed right over it, theres really no problem. Might be a slight difference vs trackouts, but in no way will most people notice it. If everythings where it should be, whats the difference?
Old 19th June 2018
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
Step 1) fix the 2track beat. They are usually not mixed very well, massively overcompressed, and absurdely limited. So I will use a transient type of plug-in to help undo the compression. I’ll also go in with a dynamic EQ with negative ratios to try and zero in on certain instruments that need to punch more, or be pushed back. I’ll use mid-side EQ to sculpt the overall sound. Basically, I get the 2track to where it SHOULD be. I DO NOT believe in any of that “carve out space for the vocal by cutting this or that frequency”. It makes zero sense to me. Would you do that on a regular record with multitracks? No. And every 2track is going to be mixed differently so any rules about cutting certain frequencies to make room for the vocal are 2track dependent and every situation is different. So instead, I fix what’s wrong with the 2track so that I’m at a point where it would be if I had the multitracks. Obviously it’s not the same, but I get it as close as possible so I can then treat things like a normal mix job.

Step 2) mix the vocals like usual. But I will buss all vocals and on that buss I’ll put a compressor with 2buss-like settings and sidechain it from the music. This is because I can’t undo ALL the compression on the 2track without making it sound bad. This mimics the 2buss compression I would normally get compressing music and vocals together.

Step 3) depending on how much dynamics I’ve gotten back, I may be able to add a smidge of 2buss compression.

I don’t get as many of these as I used to, but I still get them from time to time. Usually because there was some kind of issue preventing the client from getting the multitracks (usually, internet beatmakers who don’t practice good file management and can’t find the multitracks). And often these songs wind up on albums where I have the multitracks for the other songs. With this method, I can pretty much always get it so it doesn’t have that dreaded “vocal over 2track” sound. Will it sound as good as if I had the multitracks? No. But the problems with the mix won’t be that vox+2track sound vox sitting on top of the beat sound.
love your work chris! and thank you for the tips will definitely try these tips out! I am struggling specifically with the main mixbus/master. I get everything to sound good then when I try to add things whether it be compression or eq on the overall mixbus/master bus to make things somewhat loud and ready for mastering I just end up with a track that is either too loud where the meters show it's not clipping but it is and the dynamics are getting crushed, or a situation where the track isn't loud enough at all. What is your go to mixbus when mixing a two track?
Old 19th June 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GHINII View Post
love your work chris! and thank you for the tips will definitely try these tips out! I am struggling specifically with the main mixbus/master. I get everything to sound good then when I try to add things whether it be compression or eq on the overall mixbus/master bus to make things somewhat loud and ready for mastering I just end up with a track that is either too loud where the meters show it's not clipping but it is and the dynamics are getting crushed, or a situation where the track isn't loud enough at all. What is your go to mixbus when mixing a two track?
Well, my first question is if everything sounds good with nothing on the 2buss, then why add anything to it? I definitely have to approach the 2buss differently with 2track projects.

With 2track projects....
1) It is very common for me to not add ANY compression to the 2buss. If I do, the needle is barely moving. The beat is usually very compressed to begin with and I can only undo so much of it before it starts to sound wierd. I prefer to get the effect of 2buss comrpession by side-chain compressing ALL of my vocals (and their effects returns) from the beat (post beat processing). That's actually where most of the 2buss compression "sound" comes from. I usually use a combination of inline compression and parallel compression on the 2buss for normal mixes, but on 2track projects, I'm probably more likely to use only the parallel comrpession than the standard inline compression. And again, it would typically be less (like 105 - 15% blend).

2) I will still use 2buss EQ if I get to the end of a mix and things sound great but I need a subtle shift of everything. Like a normal mix, I try to nail the mix without any 2buss EQ, but it's common for me to nudge a half dB here or there with a super wide Q.

3) I often use a plugin called Ferric TDS on my 2buss just for some subtle dynamics (so dynamics on a normal mix is usually a combination of Ferric TDS, SSL inline, and SSL parallel, all doing just a tiny bit). On 2track songs I pretty much never use Ferric unless I really need it.

Also, I never get anywhere near zero on my mixes. My mixes always need about 12dB more volume to get to a mastered volume.

I might add.... my technique for mixing 2tracked projects is a little complicated, a little tricky to get the transient processing and sidechaining sounding right without a lot of practice. But the results are amazing. I very rarely see anyone else use this technique, but I also rarely hear anyone get the vocals and beat to sit together like they do on a regular record (unless they get a super clean and uncompressed/unlimited beat to work with). They might get it to sit perfectly sometimes, but I can do it EVERY time with this technique. I used to get tons and tons of 2track work because of this. Because everyone knew I had some kind of secret sauce other people didn't have (obviously not a secret as I've shared it on GS numerous times). I've cut back on doing these 2track projects because they really aren't as satisfying (read, "fun") as regular mix projects and it sucks mixing tons of stuff where you feel the results are ALWAYS compromised.
Old 19th June 2018
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
Well, my first question is if everything sounds good with nothing on the 2buss, then why add anything to it? I definitely have to approach the 2buss differently with 2track projects.

With 2track projects....
1) It is very common for me to not add ANY compression to the 2buss. If I do, the needle is barely moving. The beat is usually very compressed to begin with and I can only undo so much of it before it starts to sound wierd. I prefer to get the effect of 2buss comrpession by side-chain compressing ALL of my vocals (and their effects returns) from the beat (post beat processing). That's actually where most of the 2buss compression "sound" comes from. I usually use a combination of inline compression and parallel compression on the 2buss for normal mixes, but on 2track projects, I'm probably more likely to use only the parallel comrpession than the standard inline compression. And again, it would typically be less (like 105 - 15% blend).

2) I will still use 2buss EQ if I get to the end of a mix and things sound great but I need a subtle shift of everything. Like a normal mix, I try to nail the mix without any 2buss EQ, but it's common for me to nudge a half dB here or there with a super wide Q.

3) I often use a plugin called Ferric TDS on my 2buss just for some subtle dynamics (so dynamics on a normal mix is usually a combination of Ferric TDS, SSL inline, and SSL parallel, all doing just a tiny bit). On 2track songs I pretty much never use Ferric unless I really need it.

Also, I never get anywhere near zero on my mixes. My mixes always need about 12dB more volume to get to a mastered volume.

I might add.... my technique for mixing 2tracked projects is a little complicated, a little tricky to get the transient processing and sidechaining sounding right without a lot of practice. But the results are amazing. I very rarely see anyone else use this technique, but I also rarely hear anyone get the vocals and beat to sit together like they do on a regular record (unless they get a super clean and uncompressed/unlimited beat to work with). They might get it to sit perfectly sometimes, but I can do it EVERY time with this technique. I used to get tons and tons of 2track work because of this. Because everyone knew I had some kind of secret sauce other people didn't have (obviously not a secret as I've shared it on GS numerous times). I've cut back on doing these 2track projects because they really aren't as satisfying (read, "fun") as regular mix projects and it sucks mixing tons of stuff where you feel the results are ALWAYS compromised.
Thank you so much I am literally about to try this out right now. Well first off I have to ask. Do you clip gain the beat down or bring the fader down on the instrumental down -10 to -12 db before you start mixing the project? but ok from what I understand, you take all the vocals and mix them like normal and assign them to a stereo bus and on that bus you apply 2bus like compression. when you say that, are you talking about applying like ssl comp type of compressor on the insert of that bus? and after that, do you take the main vocal bus and sidechain that to the beat/instrumental track? or do you put a compressor on the beat track and assign "vox bus" on the key slot on that specific compressor? but yea after that then from what I understand you assign both the vox bus and the beat track to a main master bus and apply very very light bus compression and eq (if needed) and stay away from Ferric TDS on the two track mixing. I know I'm asking you to spew your sauce here but can you elaborate more on how you go about your transient processing during this process?

i watched your entire series YouTube and i loved it it really helped me out. I wish more pros like you made tutorials like this where you showed what you did when you all got two tracks. The market so fast now more and more producers are making type beats and artist are ripping them off YouTube asking you to mix bedroom vocals to them and I gotta say this **** is hard. It's a VALUABLE skill to learn if you are are able to mix two tracks and make them sound pro.
Old 25th June 2018
  #20
Old 29th June 2018
  #21
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A Fak's Avatar
Dynamic EQ like trackspacer can do a good job if freq is the issue. Unless the beat is in bad shape I generally don't like to eq the beat too much. I find it better to sculpt the vocal to fit the beat.

The bigger problem with 2tracks IMO is the beat is so compressed,limited,clipped there is no dynamic room for the vocals. A little bit of expansion or even a transit designer can do wonders on a 2track to open it up. This with some M/S EQ usually do the trick.

I learned this technique from one of Matthew Weiss tutorials a long time ago and it has served me well.
Old 29th June 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Fak View Post
Dynamic EQ like trackspacer can do a good job if freq is the issue. Unless the beat is in bad shape I generally don't like to eq the beat too much. I find it better to sculpt the vocal to fit the beat.

The bigger problem with 2tracks IMO is the beat is so compressed,limited,clipped there is no dynamic room for the vocals. A little bit of expansion or even a transit designer can do wonders on a 2track to open it up. This with some M/S EQ usually do the trick.

I learned this technique from one of Matthew Weiss tutorials a long time ago and it has served me well.
I wonder where he learned it from......
Old 29th June 2018
  #23
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A Fak's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I wonder where he learned it from......
Hi Chris,

I only skimmed the thread and completely missed your post. We pretty much have the same technique when it comes to the 2track beat. I do have one question on step #2 . I buss all my vocals, and do the whole 2bus style processing to match the beat itself but i don't sidechain it to the music. Can you explain your thought process on this?

I try to get the vocals consistent on its own then slip it into the 2 track. From there I might do some volume automation on the vocal buss for quite/loud sections then add some very subtle compression on the 2buss to glue/groove it all together. With the side chain are you always triggering GR just more or less depending on the section?
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