How to Mix Vocal Doubles with EQ and Multiband Compression
Two questions I’ve been getting a lot recently have been, “How do I process ad-lib vocals and back up vocals?” and “Do I, and if so, how do I use multiband compression?” So, I’m going to show you an example of both in one tutorial. So, I have this lead vocal here.
Sounds really nice and we have three exact units in doubles of that, meant to, sort of, thicken in up and sound like a group.
When I have both of those in it sounds a little bit unpolished to me. it doesn’t, sound bad but you hear almost a chorusing effect between the two vocals. They just don’t quite match up tonally and there’s a little, but of something going on in the presence range which is a bit too much. So, the first step is just to find a level for it that makes sense. So, I’m going to turn it down, I’m going to play it again.
Now to me that blends very nicely, but it’s using a little bit of it’s vibrancy if the vocal was just meant to thicken the main voice, I’d probably leave it a is or maybe just treat some of that presence peakiness a little bit, but this is actually supposed to sound like a group of vocals. It’s just supposed to sound like a controlled group of vocals. So the first thing I’m doing is I’m adding a presence bump. This is the same presence bump that I put on the lead. And that’s gong to add a little bit of that vibrancy back in, even at a lower level.
But as soon as I do that you start hearing that separation again. You start hearing that little bit of chorus-y peakiness going on in the presence range. So, that’s where the multi-band compression comes in.
I have the main band being used to treat this is at 3.6 K in this particular case. that’s where the peakiness is coming from and so I’m using the multi-band just when that gets out of hand just to sort of tame it back a little bit. I’m not going to totally kill the vibrancy, but just when it’s getting to be too much.
This other band that I have here is because some of the “S”‘s tend to get overwhelming.. One thing that I tend not to feel like you need too much from background vocals is “S”s. You can pretty much completely kill the “S” sounds off of the backing vocals and just having the “S” in the lead vocal will let the ear now that there is an “S” in that phrase. So, let’s hear it before and after and then I’ll sort of explain my process.
So this is a super subtle difference. But let’s do it again, and here is how you need to listen for it. The sound shouldn’t sound like it’s changing but the feel of the two vocals playing together should feel more cohesive. That’s what our ear is on right now.
It’s subtle but you feel other things in the mix a little bit more clearly. Like the snare release with the reverb jumped out a little more strongly to me, just because these little subtle things are being tucked in and molded together, and that’s a good example of where multi-band compression can be useful. When you want to change the tone without losing the tone, if that makes sense.
All right guys, hope that that was helpful and stay tuned. There will be more, and real quick, just to let you know, the settings on that for the peaky sort of 3.6k tone, I’m using a softer knee setting, but it’s still a very fast attack and a medium release. And then for the “S” I’m using a very fast attack very fast release, hard knee setting with a very high ratio, because I don’t want it to be doing much until the “S” is in and then I just want it killing the “S” completely.