Tips for Mixing Pre-Treated Remix Vocals
I’m here to tell you that when you download an a capella for remixing, you can still treat that a capella. Here’s the thing.
When you get an a capella for a remix, specifically in something like an EDM record or something like that, that a capella has generally been treated. However, it’s been treated to match the original song. It’s the original song a capella.
So, while for the most part, it probably sounds right, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily spot on for the track that you’re constructing around that a capella.
Okay, let’s give an example here. Here is a remix provided to me by my friend, EverBeats, and it has this vocal in it.
And it sounds pretty good. However, I think that the original track was possibly a slightly darker sounding record overall, or a slightly more analog sounding record overall.
I want this vocal to stand out a little more bright, a little more clearly, and mesh with the brighter tones of this record. So, I’m going to throw on this EQ.
[song plays, enabling and bypassing EQ to vocals]
Alright, let’s hear that in solo.
[vocals play soloed]
So, what’s going on under the hood here? Well, I felt that it was a brighter record, I felt that it was a cleaner record, so I wanted it to stand a little bit more presently, and I wanted it to have a little bit more polish to it, and so what I’m doing here is I’m taking out a little bit of some spots in the mid-range that I felt were a little ugly, and also etching down the very low-range just slightly. This is almost an imperceptible difference, and then giving it just a little bit of presence in the upper-mid range.
I will show you exactly what’s going on, one step at a time.
So, that 560Hz cut that I’m doing, that’s primarily cleaning up and cutting down the room tone from the reverb that’s on those vocals that was printed onto them. Then, similarly, this 360Hz cut…
…Just a slightly boxy tone, so I’m etching that out a little bit. Given the context of a different mix, that tone might be necessary for the vocal to sound like it has body, however, in this particular remix, we don’t need that tone there.
The low end bump is just a little bit of extra woof that’s in there. It’s very, very subtle, but it’s something where I’m playing a game of inches*** here, so even if I hear it just a little bit, that’s enough. That’s probably the least impactful move of the whole EQ process here.
[playing soloed vocals]
So, this 1.5 kHz boost here is not really going to make too much sense in the solo, so I’m going to play it in the context of the record.
It makes the vocals step forward a little bit, so that it makes sense with that snare and with some of the brighter synths.
Here’s that exaggerated.
So, in a way, actually, it sort of illustrates that point, which is that if you were to hear this in solo mode, with the 1.5 decibel boost at 1.5kHz, it sounds a little bit grungier, because there’s some grungy tones there, but because it helps it stand forward, it’s still sort of a necessary move. This is why every context sort of dictates what the EQ is going to be.