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Mixing Background Vocals with Waves API EQs

Hey, what’s up, guys? We have another Pro Tools screencast. I’m going to show you how to EQ background vocals and doubles and stacks.

I used a three-band API 550a EQ made by Waves, and hopefully this will help you out. I’ve got a session here, I’ve got a lot of vocal stacks. Harmonies, I’ve got an adlib track that comes in, I’ve got backgrounds, and I’m going to show you this one chorus section, and here is what it sounds like, fully processed, and this is just like, four vocal tracks.


Right. Here’s what it sounds like — so I’ll highlight these three backgrounds. I’ve got one harmony and I’ve got two doubles.

Panning has a lot to do with getting these things to fit. I’ll keep the main vocal dead center. On this one, I kind of want a lot of width, so I did two stacks, straight doubles, unison parts, panned one hard left, one hard right. Then I have an upper harmony that’s 30 to the left.

The two on the sides are pulled down relatively low. They’re sitting at, what do we have here, minus 12.5. Then the harmony, which is like your color, split the difference between that and the main at like, minus 7.

Here’s what it sounds like without the EQs. And this is just the backing track. So I’ll take the main track out.


Alright, here’s what I did with the EQ. It’s an API 550a. It’s a great EQ. It’s one of my favorites.

Took 300, ducked it down, 1.5kHz, boosted it a little bit, 7kHz, boosted it.

So you’ve got some top end air, we cut a lot of that junk out of the middle, and it sounds like this.


Here’s without.


Here’s with it.


Here’s without the harmony in it.

[vocal doubles]


[vocal doubles without EQ]



[vocal doubles with EQ]

Right. Now here’s the harmony, sans EQ.

[vocal harmony without EQ]

With it.

[vocal harmony with EQ]


[vocal harmony without EQ]

With it.

Pull the rest in. Pull the main vocal in.


So the main vocal, the main sort of melody part, the melody still sits big. Everything else you kind of want to wrap around it.


Right. Then you throw that into everything. It sounds like this.


I pretty much use this same technique on these background tracks over here. You have this other chorus section that comes in. For the most part, I used it, especially on the harmony. Even on these adlibs, and I’ve got these sort of outro parts that come in as well, you can hear it too. I’ll just copy and paste.

You don’t have to use an API 550a, you can use any EQ you really want. It’s really just about boosting those upper frequencies to get that air and that sort of lively-ness and that top end shimmer. Then kind of getting rid of the low information. You can high pass. I would start at 250, 200. It’s really kind of nasally, you get a lot of this in there. Maybe try 500. Cut a little bit of that out.

Anyways, this was quick. It’s nothing ground breaking or revolutionary, but it’s something that will definitely help getting — it’s going to help you get all of your vocal stuff to sit nicely together and be cohesive, so it sounds like one ensemble of voices. A group of voices working together rather than like, you know, twelve random singers that kind of some how sing together.

All these are bussed down here. I’m not really going to go into the processing. There’s compression and then reverbs and some delays going on, but we’ll do that on another video.

Like it, subscribe it, hit me up. Some of you guys have hit me with questions, and I’m going to start doing — I’m going to try and get some videos in and answer those.

Anyways, I hope this helps you out and I’ll see you next time. Thanks.




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