First let me say that the most important part of mixing your vocals properly is recording them properly.

            For the purposes of this article, I’ll assume that you already have a decent microphone ,  sound card, and recording software

            Since, everyone uses different recording softwares, I’ll keep it general.

            The first mistake that artist who are new to recording usually make is that they record their vocals too high. The reason they do this is because the music that they import into their recording programs is too high or too loud, so the artist turn themselves up in order to hear the vocals they are recording. Sounds logical, but it is the absolute wrong thing to do. Instead, you need to turn the music track(s) down.

            At no point in time should any of your meters should ever be hitting the red (top). In fact, while recording, they should barely be hitting the yellow (middle). I know what some of you artists are thinking; “That’s too low…I need to hear the music and my vocals loud in my headphones to feel it.” Yeah, I know, I know. So in order to do that, you turn up the volume on just your head phones, and if that is still not enough then turn up the volume on your master track a little.  That should be loud enough.  Below is a screenshot of one of my sessions for illustration purposes. It is just a beat with no vocals but it will suffice.

In the above example, you will see that all of my faders are pretty low except my master fader. It is important to note that when you are turning down your faders for your tracks or two-track, that the meter readings on that track will not necessarily change, as is the case with my 13th track. The meter reads that it is in the yellow, hitting the orange a little, but if you notice, the master track is barely hitting the yellow and that is the meter that counts. (but if that 13th track was hitting the red, I would put a limiter on it to prevent that from happening).

            So, what you need to do is once you import the tracks you are going to use for your music, then create a master track. Then you turn all the music tracks down (group them {highlight them then command + G on a mac}) until the meter on the master track is barely hitting the yellow on the loudest part of the beat, which is usually the chorus. Once you do that, then create the tracks you are going to use for your vocals. Once you do that, press record and adjust your vocal input levels (not your fader) until your have the volume and feel that you want. Don’t forget to turn up your headphones if it’s not loud enough for you. Ok…now you’re ready to record.

            Once you finish recording, then you can mixing process. (some people like to put some plug ins on their vocals while they are recording, me personally, I just eq my voice before I record)

            At any rate, you’re going to use three main plug in effects on all of your vocals. An Equalizer, reverb, and a delay. Start with the EQ.

            What I find is that most of the vocals I mix, pretty much require the same general eq’ing. You want to take out some of your low end, and increase your high-midrange until you find the sweet spot for your voice. Here is an example: 

So, in the above EQ, and mostly every vocal EQ, I roll off the bottom end (the 1,2,and 3 points) and then I manipulate the 9 in that general area in the above picture until I get the sound that sounds best for that vocalist or for me if the vocalist is me.

            Same with the reverb, in that usually, the basic settings are the same for most vocals. The key is that you can’t apply too much reverb, a little is a lot.
A lot of times I just use the “basic small” preset.

            When it comes to delay, you definitely want to go easy on it. The most important thing when it comes to delay is that your tempo is set to the right tempo because when your vocals echo, you want the echo to be on beat, not off. Here is an example of one of my delay settings;
The above setting would be for a lead vocal, but you would probably want to increase the mix, feedback or both for ad-lib tracks. Eventually you will need to learn how to automate these options to increase and decrease these variables at certain points in your song when you feel it is necessary.

            But these are the three basic plug-ins that mostly every vocal needs. Once you have these things down then you can add or adjust and experiment to create or emulate other sounds and effects on your vocals. If there is an interest, I will write other articles on how to create other effects (auto-tune, screwed, filtered “Drake”…etc.)

Once again, I’m Out!

Eric L. Mims J. D.

www.freshoffabreakup.com

www.soundclick.com/foab

 


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03/15/2017 11:52am


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