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Need Advice on Mixing Vocals Studio Monitors
Old 29th August 2007
  #1
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verb1's Avatar
 

Need Advice on Mixing Vocals

I've never really mixed vocals, just preproduction tracks, and I need some advice on mixing (not recording) vocals. I know some of the basic fundamentals, ie. carving out the center with EQ etc., but I can use some advice. What kind of chains do y'all use - de-esser, comp, etc.? How do I mix and pan the adlibs, doubles, etc.? What about reverb, chorus, and delays? And what are some other things I should look out for? I know this is a big ass subject, but whatever knowledge y'all can drop on me in a condensed form would be aprpeciated.

By the way, this will be all in the box, using Sonar and/or PT 6.8.
Old 29th August 2007
  #2
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Docmattic's Avatar
 

well depending on the track i normally have
1 main vocal
2 2ndry vocals panned between 20 and 40 left and right
1 or 2 tracks panned at 100 left or right for more emphasis on some parts.
then i play with the volume levels on each one to my likeing

currently i use this reverb, it sounds quite nice to me ( i use audition so it may vary on what u use)

room size: 70
decay: 2500ms
early reflection:52%
stereo width: 25
high frequency cut:13800hz
low freq cut: 880hz
damping 50%
Difusion: 50%

original signal (dry) 70
reverb (wet): 10-25

im no pro, but it works for me
Old 29th August 2007
  #3
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carving eq???

That willprobably not be wise. EQ on vocals is different for every track you do. carving out the center of a EQ would be killing some of the most important frequencies for speech fundementals. just always remember with eq, boost wide and cut narrow. always cut lows either a small boost or cut around 250hz depending on your recording enviorment.4khz for clarity, anything higher in the spectrum will add brilliance.
Compressor should be routed through a buss send try a fast attack medium release. start low on compression and add. use your ears and study other peoples work always have a reference to refer back to. keeps you focused. rever
reverb should be routed though a aux send there are no rules for reverb but it is to my understanding that reverb does make the vocals sit deeper in the mix but becareful not to drownd em.
just study your eq. read the graph that came with your mic know its responce. and practice not one bit of knowlege can out do 10 years of practice. enjoy


if you ever have a question shoot it to me on my space. i am not the illest producer. i am going to IPR in minneap The Institute of production and recording. but even after two years of schooling i still realize how amature i am when i step around real power producers but i am always willing to pass on the knowlege that i do have peace

MySpace.com - Feedback productions - Kansas City, US - Hip Hop / Indie / Rap - www.myspace.com/feedbackproductions
Old 29th August 2007
  #4
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just another note, I personally like to try to create a little space around the vocal by using a delay instead of a reverb. I use reverb all the time, but i usually start with a delay. usually it is a multi tap with the first tap panned partly to the left and the other partly to the right. time the repeats to the music so that it blends in and you don't really notice it when all the tracks are playing, but if you mute the delay, you hear the vocal lose some space and emphasis.

i usually try to put the snare, kick, and bass just a tiny bit off center to help create space for the vocal to be dead center. not enought that you really notice, but again - if you compare it with having them all dead center it makes a difference.

signal chain for me is usually dynamic control and then eq. delay and/or reverb are blended in using an aux. from there I can get creative with other effects or processing

a drier vocal panned center and pulled back in volume is often nestled in behind the main vocal - just enough to thicken the voice without really noticing the second voice. any other vocal tracks are usually spaced out a little bit from there.

good luck. there is no wrong answer, just experiment.
Old 29th August 2007
  #5
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brilliant

Quote:
Originally Posted by gainstages View Post
just another note, I personally like to try to create a little space around the vocal by using a delay instead of a reverb. I use reverb all the time, but i usually start with a delay. usually it is a multi tap with the first tap panned partly to the left and the other partly to the right. time the repeats to the music so that it blends in and you don't really notice it when all the tracks are playing, but if you mute the delay, you hear the vocal lose some space and emphasis.

i usually try to put the snare, kick, and bass just a tiny bit off center to help create space for the vocal to be dead center. not enought that you really notice, but again - if you compare it with having them all dead center it makes a difference.

signal chain for me is usually dynamic control and then eq. delay and/or reverb are blended in using an aux. from there I can get creative with other effects or processing

a drier vocal panned center and pulled back in volume is often nestled in behind the main vocal - just enough to thicken the voice without really noticing the second voice. any other vocal tracks are usually spaced out a little bit from there.

good luck. there is no wrong answer, just experiment.
i always thought the same thing about multi tap delays. creats a nice sonic energy around the vocals. i am glad some one else is on the same path as me. nice advise
Old 29th August 2007
  #6
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jb4play's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gainstages View Post
just another note, I personally like to try to create a little space around the vocal by using a delay instead of a reverb. I use reverb all the time, but i usually start with a delay. usually it is a multi tap with the first tap panned partly to the left and the other partly to the right. time the repeats to the music so that it blends in and you don't really notice it when all the tracks are playing, but if you mute the delay, you hear the vocal lose some space and emphasis.

i usually try to put the snare, kick, and bass just a tiny bit off center to help create space for the vocal to be dead center. not enought that you really notice, but again - if you compare it with having them all dead center it makes a difference.

signal chain for me is usually dynamic control and then eq. delay and/or reverb are blended in using an aux. from there I can get creative with other effects or processing

a drier vocal panned center and pulled back in volume is often nestled in behind the main vocal - just enough to thicken the voice without really noticing the second voice. any other vocal tracks are usually spaced out a little bit from there.

good luck. there is no wrong answer, just experiment.
Great Tips! I just learned something!

Also, I usually roll of the lows (start around 20hz and work your way up until you get the low out, but doesn't take away from the vocals bottom... if that makes sense). As far as de essing... I use it if needed, but don't over use it or it'll take away more of the high than you intended. My vox chain is usually comp(3-4 db reduction max)->eq(roll of lows, clear some mud around 200hz, slight cut at 1khz @ times, slight boost at 7-12khz if needed. on dubs/libs i usually do a slight cut from 4khz-5khz to push them back in the mix just a tad, but vocals vary). I run a verb & delay as an aux for effect, usually a plate or small hall on vox. I run all the vox tracks into a vox bus where i place another slight comp (1-2db reduction to gel em a lil more) and that's about it. don't overprocess vocals, do as little as you can to get the best results, yet leaving them natural sounding... unless you're looking for a whole other type of sound then all that goes out of the window! experiment, have fun, bang your head a few times, recover, and keep going! i'm still banging my head everyday
Old 30th August 2007
  #7
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You're not going to like this answer, but from experience I've gathered that if you've just recorded with a decent vocal chain with proper mic placement and a proper singer you will need to do very little.

Compression, rather light.

EQ, I usually cut out the lows pretty drastically, up to 100-150. Lower somewhere else on the bass (it just has a sound that I don't like), and depending on the song I boost the "telephone frequency" (1000-1500 or wherever it is) or don't care about it. Finally I generally boost the higher frequencies a little. If recorded properly, these boosts and cuts are light.

For flavor, Analog Channel AC1 and DUY DaD Tape or Analog Channel AC2.

De-esser if need, I have a preset that I almost never change.
Old 31st August 2007
  #8
Here for the gear
 

i agree..i do very little if i get everything recorded light..i use a haredware compressor (dbx 160) and i think it works better for vocals then any plug in ive seen...as far as EQ...little cut in the low freq. a little boost in the higher frq. and i usually do either a little cut or boost around the middle depending on what sound i want...but this is all little..play around and see what sound you like...reemember to always mix on fresh and rested ears...thats very important

as far as reverb,,,there are times that i dont add reverb at all...sometimes to me its just not needed..and if i ever do..its very little....just so the vocals dont stand out too much

im not a big fan of de esser or any of that stuff..but i guess if its needed i would use a tiny bit...

try not to overdo any single process..because its notacable in the final mix.
Old 31st August 2007
  #9
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Hey Guys....I say use heavy compression on your main vox. Do it until it sounds ridiculous then back it off a bit. A Hip Hop vocal that is upfront and in your face is essential in my books...I also like delay to sit in just behind the main....kinda just audible...gives it a bit of a tail...I agree with the eq tips...you can high pass a vocal(unless it's Barry White) up to 200Hz...I usually end up around 120...I'd go eq first then compress then effect....also might try bussing the main really messin with it distortion compression phaser modulation reverb whatever and then just sneak it up underneath the main....I'd really advise against being gentle...there's no good reason...cheers
Old 31st August 2007
  #10
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Donny's Avatar
 

This is also what i think. Most modern RNB and Hip/Hop vocals are massively compressed. Why the subtlety ??
Old 31st August 2007
  #11
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how massivaly compressed? im compressing at 3:1 -10thresh and getting good results on my dbx...what do yall use?
Old 31st August 2007
  #12
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don't overdo it. you'll end up with muddy garbage.

a great lead vocal is the difference between a headache or a field trip (mix-wise).

the rest is up to you...give the track it's own identity. slight reverbs, subtle delays, etc.
Old 31st August 2007
  #13
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PettyCash's Avatar
 

Just to add to all the good advice given so far,

If you are mixing vocals totally in the box, without outboard processing, keep your processing as simple as possible. The more processing you put directly onto the vocal track, the more it will degrade its resolution.

Processing is not too much of a problem when mixing at 96khz 32bit float, but if you are mixing at 44khz 24bit, or 48khz 24bit, its best to proceed with caution so you dont end up with fuzzy sounding crap induced by rounding errors afterwards.
Old 31st August 2007
  #14
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Donny's Avatar
 

As from my last post, IMO, compression on vocals is an essential part of getting a "commercial radio" mix. Of course a pre-requisite is to have a good recording. Use EQ conservatively to get rid of the mud and use compression to the point where the vocal sounds consistent and has a certain cohesiveness. Listen to most RNB and pop vocals and the dynamics have been completly squashed to the point where the singers breath is as loud as his singing. This can be achieved by either automating the fader, which in this situation makes life an automation nightmare, or to compress using one or a series of compressors to kill the dynamics. I dont know about plugins but inserting a vocal into an STC-8 or a Fatso or a Thermionic Culture Phoenix really glues the vocal performance together, even if your taking 12dbs off on loud peaks. Not everyone has access to a skilled singer that can maintain good singing throughout and of course as perviously stated in other posts you shouldn't over do it with the compressor as you dont want to suck the life out of it. There is no one magic setting. If it sounds good then it probably is good, if it sounds bad than your doing something wrong. If you dont have access to outboard maybe you can try the 1176 emulations.

As always, just an opinion
Old 31st August 2007
  #15
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verb1's Avatar
 

Thanks for the input, y'all. A few notes:

I meant carving out the track to make room for the vocal, not the vocal itself.
This is a rapper, not a singer.
I didn't record the vocal. I produced the track and am mixing and arranging the track. The vocals (main, adlibs, etc.) were not recorded at a high end studio.

Panning the snare out -3 or something is an interesting idea. I was taught to pan the kick out 3 or so to help separate it from the bass and/or 808, so that's pretty much the same idea. Definitely worth a try.

Any other panning ideas when it comes to main, adlibs, doubles, and the hook?
Old 31st August 2007
  #16
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This is how I do:

Track with a mild comp (2:1 or 3:1 with 3-4 db gain reduction) just to prevent clipping and so you have a nice level.

Mix with a fast comp 1176 type + EQ (lo-cut, add a bit of presence maybe, but this varies from mic to mic, person to person).
De-es if necessary.

Lead center
Lead dub center low volume
Ad libs on rhymes left and right (pan to taste) low volume

Add some verb to the lead, maybe delay too. Add a smaller room/hall to the adlibs.

Hooks are mixed wider than verses and normally with more stacks/voices.
Old 31st August 2007
  #17
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verb1's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joemamma View Post
This is how I do:

Track with a mild comp (2:1 or 3:1 with 3-4 db gain reduction) just to prevent clipping and so you have a nice level.

Mix with a fast comp 1176 type + EQ (lo-cut, add a bit of presence maybe, but this varies from mic to mic, person to person).
De-es if necessary.

Lead center
Lead dub center low volume
Ad libs on rhymes left and right (pan to taste) low volume

Add some verb to the lead, maybe delay too. Add a smaller room/hall to the adlibs.

Hooks are mixed wider than verses and normally with more stacks/voices.
This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks, man. Keep the suggestions coming y'all hoe ass gearslutz!
Old 28th September 2007
  #18
Gear Nut
 

good read
Old 29th September 2007
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

vocals...

okay heres the thing...

First things first, record it the way you want it. There are tons of mics / pres out there that will give you that in your face vocal. Sometimes you want a chill out vocal like kanye, theres pres for that too.. Basically its your own taste.

"carving out the center" not a good idea. What you wanna do is carve out the excess bass. Im thinking if you want the bass to knock you have to take out the excessive bass under around 100 Hz down to the sub bass, <30Hz. Use a highpass filter and cut them out. Raw vocals have so much of that bass we need on the kick and bass synth. Its robbing your knock!!

Then you can EQ it the way you want. 16K for that crispness 20 K for air, 300Hz for body, etc. Get a mxing book and experiment with the EQ freq till you know what each range does.

Most likely your gonna wanna compress on the way in, due to hiphop a lot of people cant control their transients and get the same energy, so invenst in a good compressor. Dont squash the hell out of it. Just a few db of gain reduction will do the trick. You can always record at a low volume and turn up later due to 24 bits having extra headroom, but in the hiphop game you wanna keep recording and save the editing for another session, so compression to tape is a good idea.

Hip Hop is generally pretty dry. You can put the vocal in a small room or use a tiny plate but rule of thumb, if you can hear it, its probably too much. Listen to your favorite artists, notice you can barely hear FX. Good mic technique, mic and pre selection will get you far and take less time when it comes to mixing vox. Now if you got an R&B vocal on the hook thats a different story, different technique and mixing.

EQ and further comperssion, FX dont print to track. Just do that in the mix later.

Mixing vocals. If you want that crazy layered effect (e40, hyphy all that ) you need lots of vocal takes, and repeats. Put the main lead dead center, and pan the others around. You can throw delays on the extra takes to tempo to get that surrounding effect. You wanna lowpass some of those extra takes because you dont want them sticking out. Thats for the lead.

If you get a ton of vocals doing the same thing (ie, a hook) a good way to handle it is to bus them to a stereo aux, compress, eq and add FX as needed. This simplifies things a whole lot.

Theres a million ways to mix.. basically do what sounds good to you. Rinse, and repeat.

Dont forget to check it in the car to see if you get that knock right.

Hope this helps.

Micah
Old 29th September 2007
  #20
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azwun25's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickynicknick View Post
distortion compression phaser modulation reverb
What company makes a "Distortion Compression Phaser Modulation Reverb" plugin?
Can I get that with my UAD-1 vouchers? heh Just kidding! No disrespect intended.

I tend to compress the lead vocal heavy. I send the vocals on and aux to a short plate reverb just for a little depth , no big boomy rooms, and short delays on the BG vox. A few stacks of BG vox panned various degrees of wide. All BG vox eq'd and comp'd differently than the lead of course. In the end i buss all the vocals to a group and add a little bit more compession just to glue it all together. works for me.
Old 30th September 2007
  #21
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illynoise's Avatar
 

Speakers are big to me, more so than the vocal chain (although that is a big factor). It seems like I can always hear vocal mixes so much better on NS10's, although they aren't the best speakers in the world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Twin View Post
I've never really mixed vocals, just preproduction tracks, and I need some advice on mixing (not recording) vocals. I know some of the basic fundamentals, ie. carving out the center with EQ etc., but I can use some advice. What kind of chains do y'all use - de-esser, comp, etc.? How do I mix and pan the adlibs, doubles, etc.? What about reverb, chorus, and delays? And what are some other things I should look out for? I know this is a big ass subject, but whatever knowledge y'all can drop on me in a condensed form would be aprpeciated.

By the way, this will be all in the box, using Sonar and/or PT 6.8.
BTW I got a friend who just started using Logic after using PT for years and was amazed at how much better Logic sounded. YMMV

If you ever get a chance to check it out (even the Windows Logic) you will notice how much louder Logic records than Cubase SX for example. It makes mixing easier for me. But I would stick with Sonar if I were you.
Old 1st October 2007
  #22
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To you guys using this technique when recording rap:

Lead Vocal Center
Lead Dubs Center w. lower volume
And 2 or more tracks w. lips panned more or less hard L/R

- When recording with the artist, do you have them get enough tracks for you to make sure the lead is dead right, and then have them spit another series of tracks dubbed on the lead? Or do you just re-use some of the lesser important lead tracks?

How many tracks will you usually stack for hooks - melodic/singing hooks and straight rap hooks? For the rap hooks, I myself usually go with a solid lead w. dub centered, two panned dubs as well, and then two more extremely panned tracks where the artist enforces the feeling of the hook a bit (a bit exaggerated voice control etc.).
Old 2nd October 2007
  #23
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by illynoise View Post

BTW I got a friend who just started using Logic after using PT for years and was amazed at how much better Logic sounded. YMMV

If you ever get a chance to check it out (even the Windows Logic) you will notice how much louder Logic records than Cubase SX for example. It makes mixing easier for me. But I would stick with Sonar if I were you.
First of all, Logic does not sound better than Protools and Logic does not sound better than any Daw. This has been proven many times. For everyone tells you than Logic sounds better, there are equal amount of people who listen to both and will swear that Protools sounds better. You are eather doing something wrong or are hearing what you want to hear.

Second of all, Logic does not record much louder than Cubase SX. If it does, somehing is wrong with your setup. I just tested them both.

Third of all, I would not want my DAW to record LOUDER. I would want it to record exactly what I put in.
Old 4th October 2007
  #24
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dannyschmanny's Avatar
 

my general setup has been ...

lead vocal - center (when mixing generally end up with a filter between 100-150hz)

all doubles and backing vocals i generally have filters in the 200-250hz range.

chorus i do 2 doubles of the lead panned left and right...maybe about 20-50 each way.

harmony vocals i double and pan hard left and right...if there are several i will do the main harmony with i tighter pan closer to the lead doubles and each additional pair will get a bit wider.

if i have verse harmonies, i will do a left and right with a very min. pan that is a lot tighter than the chorus harmonies, so when the chorus hits the vocals get bigger and spread out in the stereo image.

the best thing to do though is to listen. listen to each vocal solo, listen to it in context with the music and see from there what needs to be done, while keep adding in variables ie... if you have conflicting melodies from other instruments, other vocal tracks. then a good trick i like to do when mixing as im sure lots of others probably do is once i have general eq done to everything to my liking...i turn down all the faders and build a mix around the vocal. so i will turn up the lead vocal to a good level...then i will bring in the kick and the rest of the drums, then i might go to the chorus and get a level with the doubled vocals. then bring in the bass, then more vocals, and then gradually the rest of the instruments. that way things are built around the vocals as they are the most important thing most of the time in more pop based music. obviously different styles of music, or instrumental music you would want to take a different approach, but in rap hip hop the same pop structure would apply and the vocal is the most important thing.
Old 24th November 2007
  #25
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kleen's Avatar
 

Just wanted to bump this one, what a great read. I've seen alot of new heads coming through asking alot of question that this thread answers really well. I love seeing people laying down the knowlege like this!
Old 25th November 2007
  #26
orb
Here for the gear
 

Nice,

Always looking for mixing tips!!

I strip the silence always on the ad libs/layers, and sometimes the main vocals.

I automate peaks on the loud parts of adlibs and layers.

I re-record a track if it has too much **** wrong, crap in, crap out.
Old 22nd January 2009
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gainstages View Post

a drier vocal panned center and pulled back in volume is often nestled in behind the main vocal - just enough to thicken the voice without really noticing the second voice. any other vocal tracks are usually spaced out a little bit from there.

.

The drier vocal panned center is that a duplicated region of the same take or anther take of the same line?
Old 24th June 2009
  #28
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voicegenius's Avatar
 



Nice, uh.. read...
Old 26th June 2009
  #29
Gear Addict
 
bino_5150's Avatar
My .02 Cents. Learn how to notch the EQ with the snare and vocal, and any other mid heavy center sounds.

Learn the serial and parallel soft knee compression.

Learn how to work ONE vocal track properly before you ever begin to mess with double ups and panned out harmony tracks.

There's some straws to grasp at...
Old 27th June 2009
  #30
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E.rOk.stA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by T. Gundersen View Post
To you guys using this technique when recording rap:

Lead Vocal Center
Lead Dubs Center w. lower volume
And 2 or more tracks w. lips panned more or less hard L/R

- When recording with the artist, do you have them get enough tracks for you to make sure the lead is dead right, and then have them spit another series of tracks dubbed on the lead? Or do you just re-use some of the lesser important lead tracks?

How many tracks will you usually stack for hooks - melodic/singing hooks and straight rap hooks? For the rap hooks, I myself usually go with a solid lead w. dub centered, two panned dubs as well, and then two more extremely panned tracks where the artist enforces the feeling of the hook a bit (a bit exaggerated voice control etc.).
I do 2 mains but comp them into one (using the best parts). I do 2 adlibs usually panned 50 r/l and 1 hype track (if needed) that highpass around 300 or higher, chop up and throw wherever they have the most effect, dead center, 100R, 100L? During the hook, I do 2-6 takes and pan half L, half R, panning varies but is always different than the verses.

Sometimes, I'll just track 2 mains in different octaves and pan each one 10-14 L/R at full volume each. It REALLY depends what the song calls for.
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