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How to Mix Vocal Doubles with EQ and Multiband Compression

Hey guys, Matthew Weiss.

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.

[female vocal]

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.

[female vocals]

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.


Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

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