Mixing Vocals

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timmyg
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Mixing Vocals

Post by timmyg » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:07 am

Hi all,

I'm sure this has been covered elsewhere but couldn't find what I was looking for.

I have several songs where I can't get the vocals to sit nicely in the mix. The best way to describe this is that the vocal track sounds too seperated from the instruments. I have arranged my songs so there is lots of space for verses and they build up well for choruses so this shouldn't be the problem.

Can anyone give advice of how to achieve this in Auria? I've heard EQ, Compression and 'ducking' or 'side chain' can help with this but don't know how to achieve these techniques in Auria. I'll also need an idea of settings etc as well as the techniques. I've tried doubling then slightly panning choruses which does help somewhat.

I'm aware this is a common question and am sure it will help others out too. There are lots of resources out there but not specifically for Auria.

many thanks,
Timmy

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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Phil999 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:33 am

mixing vocals is probably the most difficult part in a mix. If you succeed, the mix has good chances to become good.

Difficult to give advices. Maybe just try again and again. Doubling is a good idea already. EQ and compression should be familiar for an engineer, and if you're not familiar with it, you should spend the next weeks exploring what an Equaliser does. Cut a frequency with low Q factor (notch filter) and sweep through frequencies. Hear the drastic changes. Learn to use low cut and high cut. Take your time with solo'ed tracks (not only voices) and try to use all bands of the EQ. Compare with the bypassed signal. It may sound worse. Make a pause of at least 10 minutes, store the EQ preset, reset the EQ, and start again. Do this every day for an hour or so. This will be some kind of crash course in filtering, but it will help. Then, when you think you got some kind of feeling for EQing, do the same with the compressor.

You can do this perfectly well with the PSP channel strip in Auria. No need for additional plugins.

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Tarekith
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Tarekith » Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:06 pm

Best advice I can give is try and do as much as you can with the mixdown using just the volume faders first, before you start turning to effects and tricks. Often times that can get you far closer to the result you're after and you can just fine tune with effects if needed.

One thing that strikes me is that you say you left a bunch of space in the mix for the vocals, but now they sound too seperated from the mix. Maybe you left too much room or you over-EQd the other tracks?
Last edited by Tarekith on Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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richardyot
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by richardyot » Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:15 pm

Also, if everything is too separated you can use some bus compression and/or tape saturation to "glue" the mix together.

Phil999
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Phil999 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:08 pm

I agree with Tarekith. Get the levels right first. Then EQ. Then try compression. Mixing is all about levels.

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sodium
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by sodium » Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:47 pm

lot of good comments above. vox can be diabolically hard to get right in the mix.

some things you might try is lowering the fader until the vocal is buried in the mix, then raise it until it's just poking out a little -- make it fight for a place in the mix. you probably want to do this after compressing appropriately, but before EQ and delay/reverb tweaks.
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mrufino1
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by mrufino1 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:53 pm

I struggle with this as well, however one piece of advice that has helped me most is to start with the vocal and build around it, rather than mixing everything else and then trying to fit the vocal. I did notice that my mixes were better when I did that. Not great yet, but better. Short reverbs and delays can be a help as well. The recording lounge podcast had a short episode about this that was helpful to me.

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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Xo4sho » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:03 pm

I literally studied and trained my ear in eq for a year. There are frequencies that you can give a slight boost to that can help vocals cut through the mix. Now the auria compression plug-in I love to use is the psp old timer. It is my first go to and most of the time the right choice for getting vocals where I need them with a touch of reverb and delay to follow.

If nobody else has said it.....there really isn't any set methods or anything in concrete. Have fun and test out the presets then tweak from there. Last but not least I would say it may actually be helpful/important to understand what effects do what and then WHY you use them to achieve the sound you want.

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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Shazamm » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:25 pm

Anytime I want to learn anything I go to youtube. You can watch an listen to expert engineers and music producers show you and tell you how to mix whatever you working on. The show you technics, plugins, tips and tricks. What I did when I bought Auria I watched all the plug in videos from PSP Fabfilter Fxpansion and found out what I knew and didnt know. Youtube man all day. Auria's plugins work the same as on your desktop DAW

timmyg
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by timmyg » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:58 am

Thanks guys for all your advice & comments, some great stuff here. Phill999, 'notch filter' & 'sweep through frequencies' sound good but I've no idea how to set them up in Auria?

So there seems to be a general consensus that the order should be Levels (w/ Automation), EQ, then Compression...Is that correct?

I am particularly interested in what richardyot had to say:

I
richardyot wrote:Also, if everything is too separated you can use some bus compression and/or tape saturation to "glue" the mix together.
Can anyone elaborate and tell me how to set up for the bus compression and tape saturation? Also, any thoughts still on 'ducking' or 'side chain'?

Phil999
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Phil999 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:09 am

the consensus is rather that there is no strict rule. The reason why I discussed the EQ topic first is because one must know how to use an EQ. It does not mean that it has to be the first insert. And even before that one must set the dry levels right.

The other tricks you'll learn later. Knowing the basics lets you understand the more complicated stuff much faster.

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Tarekith
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Tarekith » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:12 am

Agreed, the last thing people new to mixing need to mess with is saturation and side chaining IMO. Here's a quick beginner guide to mixing that give you some more ideas:

http://tarekith.com/assets/pdfs/Mixdowns.pdf

Bob Amser
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by Bob Amser » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:53 am

Great advice, folks.

I have found being able to hear my mix on decent headphones or, even better, good monitors, usually makes it pretty clear what you're doing wrong.

I listened to a load of podcasts and one in particular, TechMuze Academy, had a bluffer's guide to mixing called '[Clinic] Recording and mixing in the home studio' which I found helpful for some of the theory.

I was lucky enough to get hold of some amazing monitors recently and the drawback has been my previous mix that I was happy with has to be re-done as it has exposed lots of problems with my use of effects and with the EQ :lol:

Try different things, and leave time between ' listenings' is a good tip.

Also, I paste in a similar style professionally recorded track and 'mute' it whilst working on my track. I then 'solo' the reference track and listen carefully to, say, the guitar or drums and then try to recreate something similar on my track. I find that really helps.

I also love the FabFilter YouTube vids. I got the Pro-Q plugin and watched the video taking notes as I went. I then went through my own mix trying the same techniques. I found this much easier than the channel strip, but the consensus seems to be that the channel strip can do much the same sort of stuff.

Another good tip I picked up was to do the EQ without any panning at all. This means you do a decent job of separating out the different parts without relying on stereo panning to do it for you. You then add the panning back in afterwards.

Good luck, and enjoy!
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richardyot
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by richardyot » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:37 am

Tarekith wrote:Agreed, the last thing people new to mixing need to mess with is saturation and side chaining IMO. Here's a quick beginner guide to mixing that give you some more ideas:

http://tarekith.com/assets/pdfs/Mixdowns.pdf
The OP was complaining that the vocals were too separated from the rest of the music, which is why I suggested that bus compression and/or saturation might help. Of course it will depend on the particular track and recording.

I think there is a very strong trend these days for mixes to be super clean, and for engineers to EQ out frequencies on every track and go to great pains to get maximum separation, which can result in tracks that sound a bit sterile IMO. I read Keith Richard's autobiography last year and it was interesting that he preferred the older recordings to the new ones, because the music merged together more and he found that the separation of instruments in modern records killed some of the excitement. It's all subjective obviously but that's just to say that there is a place for tape saturation and compressor "glue" in the world.

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sodium
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Re: Mixing Vocals

Post by sodium » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:31 am

richardyot wrote:
Tarekith wrote:.

I think there is a very strong trend these days for mixes to be super clean, and for engineers to EQ out frequencies on every track and go to great pains to get maximum separation, which can result in tracks that sound a bit sterile IMO......It's all subjective obviously but that's just to say that there is a place for tape saturation and compressor "glue" in the world.

Agreed. Motown were famous for dipping frequencies to allow other instruments to get some space in the mix, and when you listen to those classic songs with that in mind, you can sometimes hear it. But as a normal " punter" listening to those wonderful tracks, that is the last thing that comes to mind. And don't get me started on the Beatles, who COMMITTED to 4 track bounces that could never be undone, but boy did they get those bounces right... :lol:
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