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Author Topic: Vocals in my face  (Read 10060 times)


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Re: Vocals in my face
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2010, 09:37:57 AM »

Thanks for these suggestions- I look forward to trying.
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Leopoldo Lopes

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Re: Vocals in my face
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2010, 07:42:48 PM »

Adam Miller wrote on Wed, 31 March 2010 17:21

Hard work! Most probably, anyway- as the vox are (usually) the most important single element of the mix, you need to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to them. As Grant says- heavy compression and limiting will get you some of the way there. It needs to be applied in the right way though, often guys duplicate the vocal channel and put different amounts/varieties of compression on each and blend them. ITB I always liked Waves Rcomp for vocals- often I found high ratios with a medium attack/fast release worked well for getting things upfront. Judicious amounts of hi boost on a decent eq will also make stuff 'pop' more. Sometimes boosting an EQ feeding into a compressor can be a vibe- helps to smooth out the spikiness that the eq adds.

The downside to heavy eq and compression is that a vocal becomes a more labour intensive business- chances are you'll need to ride breaths, mouth sounds and other fricative artefacts down a bit- either pre or post compression- to stop them from distracting from the track. Sibilance is another thing- sometimes a set and forget plugin can work, but often you'll need to get in there and manually automate stuff down, or automate eqs to duck down the problem freqs.

You'll need to ride the vocal level overall throughout the track as well, to keep it sitting there without ever sticking out too much or stepping on anything else. Try and listen quietly when you ride it, and make sure it's always audible, obviously! It can get really detailed (doesn't have to, but it can!)- riding the sustain of notes, accentuating attacks on certain words, automating around pitchy spots in a flattering manner etc...

You need to choose effects in a complimentary way too- short reverbs, subtle slapback or tempo-synced delays and pitchblender/chorus type effects let you put a vocal louder than you'd otherwise get away with by smoothing out the edges and putting a bit of space around the voice, but they shouldn't be massively audible in the context of the overall mix.

Often it can help to get a vocal sound up very early on in the mix, and then feed in the other instruments into the space around the vocal, rather than the other way around.

Hope some of that helps!


I think that this experienced professional said almost everything you may try to increase the quality and presence of what you want on your vocal mixing!

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Mark D.

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Re: Vocals in my face
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2010, 03:36:48 PM »

The above ideas are very useful for this. I find sometimes over-compressed stuff, even with the best settings, can lose some of the 'realness'. While bringing them forward, or making them hit harder is a consideration, there is also a need for natural sound. That's something not as easy to get, and compression can work against that. When does someone talking or singing right in your face sound 'compressed'? I've heard people in interviews say 'you have to have this or that mic or compressor'. Maybe to get the sound that particular engineer had, but it's possible without those. There's the school of thought praising forward mids, and equating those to "big vocals" (I don't). It's also something that makes you turn the voice down. The things I feel give girth (low end) and direction (high end) aren't as represented. That since the high end aspects are most directional, to our ears.

The part about this being very time consuming is true. Automation to avoid compression helps. Also some careful subtractive EQ. But not too much as phasing is also not what you hear in natural vocals. Once the parts that stick out too much in the mids are down, sibilance is tamed & it's not too boomy in the lows, the stuff left can come up a bit. If it's not poking you in the ear, more of that is welcome. Less noticable reverbs, as mentioned above. Pre-delay when you have reverb is helpful. You hear a vocal up-front, but then you get the width after that. It's a combination of getting it up front with the pre-delay, but allowing it that flattery that will also help it stay blended in the mix. It's easy to have it sound too much 'on top of' but not in the mix, when trying to get it up-front, or 'in your face'. Especially in over-compressed songs today. It can bring mids forward too much.
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