Pro Audio Files

Advanced Techniques for Mixing Vocals

Transcript
Okay, so my vocal chain, as usual is the R-Vox.

[vocals]

Okay, so what am I doing? I’ve got my lead vocal sub, I’ve got my R-Vox first, I’ve got a little of a trim, I just probably — I talk about this all the time, and this is really, really important. The way I breakdown — this is a mix, so when I’ve been mixing, I might change things, and I talk about this all the time, because the reality is, I’m changing things as I go, so maybe I mixed, and I thought to myself, “Well, I’m hitting all my plugins too hard.

Like, here’s the vocal line. And I might have set that without the trim, and it — maybe it felt like, “Oh, no this is hitting — I want to change this, but…” I like the balance of everything going on, so I insert things sometimes earlier or later. Quite often, later, I’ll end up with a lot of EQs and compressors and stuff, rather than going back and adjusting an existing EQ, I might add another EQ over the top.

Okay, this is my first EQ, and it’s giving me…

A little 830 pulled out and some high end boost. Then I’ve got a de-esser.

[vocals, with de-esser]

And it’s just catching a little bit there. Then I’ve got another EQ with another high end boost, then I’m compressing…

I’ve got the auto on on the ARC. I’ve got the standard setting that comes with it, and I like that. I think it sounds good. Then I’ve got another high end boost.

And another de-esser. Then, believe it or not, the vocal rider at the end.

[vocals]

So that’s my lazy way of using the vocal riders of not having to do all of the vocal automation. See, I don’t do a lot of vocal automation on this. I mean, she’s pretty darn consistent, as you can see, I’m printing big, fat tones the whole time. So it’s not that big of a deal.

Now, the vocal distortion channel, I have a de-esser going across it, an R-Vox, another EQ, another de-esser. So I’m sending a really super bright signal to it, and then I’m running a Lo-Fi afterwards.

[vocals]

There’s a couple of things that are going on.

That’s low. Then I’ve got my octave. And super quiet, but I’ll turn it up.

[vocal octave]

Yeah, you think I’m crazy. I am.

So what I’ve done is I’ve gone exactly one octave below, so minus 12 semitones. I love how they do in English — Semitones. Or European. So that would be minus 12 half steps. So it’s one octave below exactly.

I’m running a gate so I don’t pick up breaths with octaves on it. I don’t need that. Then I’m running an EQ to get rid of the high end, because I’m just trying to give this some girth.

[vocals]

Terrible like that, but bring it down just below, and it’s really good. Then the next thing, which I love is the Morphoder.

[vocals with Morphoder]

It’s like the whisper track. Play that one with the octave with the distortion…

[vocals]

So what does that do? It gives me a lot of things to choose from. I can automate them, as you can see. I actually automated them down in a couple of spots here.

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[mix]

So there, when she’s on her own, I didn’t want to hear those effects. I just like them in the track, so when she’s doing that, “I ain’t losing sleep,” and when she does it here…

[mix]

So I’m putting it in those kind of areas there, because I don’t want — I don’t want to hear those effects when her voice is out in the open, but when it’s in the track, I like the width it gives it.

So next up, not a lot on this song. It’s going to be a challenging one, because you know, it’s going to be easy in some ways, but you’ve got to find ways to make those drums sound natural. I think they sound pretty natural on the track, but you know, saturation, distortion, etcetera is what’s helping. So here’s a double.

[vocal double, then vocals]

So I’m printing — and you’re going to get all of these elements, but I’m printing a dirty tape slap.

[tape slap]

I’m doing my — doing my famous vocal thickening trick, and then of course, I’ve got…

[vocal delay/verb]

A plethora of effects. This is an echo plate.

[vocal echo plate]

These are both from the Lexicon. Which is the PCM90. Which is great. Then I’ve got a tiled room, which is mainly my verse vocal. The tiled room is — I’ll show you.

[vocals with tiled room]

Very short delay. And it’s just — it literally is — it’s my main kind of verse reverb. I’ve got a plate here, which this time, I’m not using the Avid plate, which is unusual. You can see I’ve got the lows and the highs wound off quite considerably, so if we listen to that…

[vocals]

It’s like the Abbey Road trick, where you take the top and the bottom off. I’ve been doing that for years, it sounds great.

Okay, then delays. I’ve got two dynamic delays.

[vocals with delays]

One quarter note, and one eighth note, and what I’m doing is like, for those of you who haven’t heard me do this before, I’m — from the vocal, I’m sending here into a sidechain, so what happens is every time she sings, the compressor compresses the delays. As soon as she stops singing, it releases, and it allows the delays to come through. So you get…

So go to the end of the phrase.

So it cleans up the stuff. I mean, a lot about mixing is cleaning up things, like the low end, cleaning up so there’s not all of that mud in there, and nothing is fighting with each other. It’s like cleaning all of that stuff up.

It’s really, really important to have a great, presentable mix, and a lot of the times, it’s like, trying to do too much. Trying to put too many reverbs, too many delays, EQ too much, and you know, and that’s the reason why I do believe in high passing, you just have to know how to do it, because you’ve got low end there, and if you’ve got a lot of low end muddiness, you will not get the punch of the mix.

So real quick, listen to the chorus.

[mix, chorus]

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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