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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Budget? Budget? We Don't Got No Steekin' Budjet => Topic started by: eLe on April 21, 2004, 06:12:12 pm

Title: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: eLe on April 21, 2004, 06:12:12 pm
Hi,

Can someone point me to some good tips on mixing backup vocals?

Thanks.
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: Dave Martin on April 21, 2004, 10:47:31 pm
It kinda depends on what you're after - the tricks that you might use for a single BGV change when you want three parts, and may change again if you're doubling or tripling. And the genre makes a diference as well. What kind of stuff are you doing?
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: asylumdigital on April 21, 2004, 11:36:51 pm
What type of music are you working on?

peace!
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: hargerst on April 22, 2004, 01:51:12 am
Okay, while we're waiting on eLe's answer, some thoughts on recording BGVs:

I tend to eq them a bit on the thin side, so the singer sounds a little larger than life.  If there's just one BGV, I'll pan it a little to one side (usually to the right).  If there are several BGVs, I'll pan them close to, but not centered.  

I still love to double and triple and even quadruple BGVs, just to give myself some options if I have enough open tracks. I usually have them change place for each pass, and I don't let them hear their previous tracks until they're all done.

Anybody else?
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: Fletcher on April 22, 2004, 06:47:31 am
FWIW, even on "rawk" stuff I will still often run an "air" track when mixing... I split the backing vocal group off to a stereo pair, filter out everything below like 4kHz, crank the shit out of like 12kHz compress the snot out of it, filter the remaining lows and mids out of it... then blend to taste.

It often allows me to run the backing vocals lower in the balance but still allows them to be heard and understood.

Sometimes it's cheesey as all get out and I remove it... other times it's the extra zing they need.

As always... YMMV
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: Fibes on April 22, 2004, 11:01:58 am
Yeah i like 'em thin too and one compressor which i hate for most everything gets called when i want grainy thin bvox. The DBX 1066, it adds (or should i say takes away) just the right amount of tweeze.

Stacking multi-vocalist unison parts with other multi-unison harmonies is fun and squezzing 'em all through a small area helps give the impact yet leaves some real estate. Doubling some parts with instruments and stacking it in the back of the room can add just the right amount of "unique" to the timbres as well.
Band passed slide is a great aaaahhhh or ooh.
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: eLe on April 22, 2004, 01:04:53 pm
Wow... This was my first post and I never expected to get such a reply. Thanks.

I'm doing some stuff that could be considered pop/rock and looking for those smooth R&B-like sounding BGV. Usually 4 part harmonies.

What a great forum!

Thanks again,
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: Immanuel Kuhrt on April 22, 2004, 02:07:06 pm
Fletcher wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 12:47

FWIW, even on "rawk" stuff I will still often run an "air" track when mixing... I split the backing vocal group off to a stereo pair, filter out everything below like 4kHz, crank the shit out of like 12kHz compress the snot out of it, filter the remaining lows and mids out of it... then blend to taste.

It often allows me to run the backing vocals lower in the balance but still allows them to be heard and understood.

Sometimes it's cheesey as all get out and I remove it... other times it's the extra zing they need.

As always... YMMV


I guess lo-cutting twice must be, so the sub 4K frequencies still get some impact on the compressor? Are you talking 6/12/18/something else lo-cutting? Not being a native English speaker, I am a little uncertain whether you boost or cut out the 12K stuff, when you say "crank the shit out".

Immanuel
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: Dave Martin on April 23, 2004, 12:08:45 am
He means to turn up the frequencies around 12K, I believe.
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: asylumdigital on April 23, 2004, 05:24:43 pm
Usually for that modern R&B sound...Doubling or tripling each harmony part works wonders for the background sound.

Blend, compress & pan to taste.

Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: Immanuel Kuhrt on April 23, 2004, 05:27:23 pm
Thanks Dave
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: jeffjazz on April 24, 2004, 01:54:44 pm
what works ok usually when doing the smooth stuff is multiple tracks for voices - not many small errors can be heard, and it sounds big and beautiful.

eq so there is a deficiency on the bgv and a boost on the lead vox. usually around 6k works for me. cut the bgv slightly at 6k and bus them through a compressor that is very tight.

then to give them their own sense of space, send the compressed bgs out to a separate reverb. if you want, compress again with the reverb - but make sure to cut some highs out of the verb.

for separation with the lead voc, boost the lead slightly at 6k or whatever you cut on the bgs.

lotsa times i find it helpful to double or triple track the lead voc on the chorus and send them through the bg processing chain. then you have the big lead vocal take supported by shadows of its former self.

or something...

mudd
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: John Ivan on April 24, 2004, 09:38:23 pm
First, Let me say ,the new place looks great!! The information I find in this and the other forums here is just amazing!!

I did a collection of R&B tunes for an old friend last year and he can really sing. We dumped the synth tracks down to two tracks on the DA-88's { this was the whole music track} and that left 22 tracks for big lush back ground vocals. As mentioned above, look out for the bottom end building up with this many tracks. I to went for some "big air" up top. I chose 15-k shelving for this and was very happy.One thing that ended up being a problem was the "S's" and breaths. I didn't want to do away with them all together but, having all 20 or so tracks breathing at the same time was a drag. I ended up dumping some of them into cool edit and taking out the breaths,while leaving one or two tracks per part alone.This way, the breaths sounded natural but they didn't overwhelm the track. I then put them in a stereo buss with the following. A Harris AGC followed by a Harris FM limiter. This is an old broadcast chain I got from my dad and it gives stuff the airy,big compressed sound. I have also put multi tracked country guitar busses through this chain and it sounds all "finished". I have really been into bussing stuff in stereo a lot lately instead of using individual comps on stuff. The big thing about big lush back ground vocals is, some of what we do to get them Big and lush,seems counter intuitive. Don't be afraid to beat them into submission with EQ and compression!!
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: eLe on April 26, 2004, 12:37:12 pm
Thanks to everyone!
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: Greg Youngman on April 26, 2004, 04:15:53 pm
asylumdigital wrote on Fri, 23 April 2004 14:24

Usually for that modern R&B sound...Doubling or tripling each harmony part works wonders for the background sound.

Blend, compress & pan to taste.




Exactly what I do.  If you got one vocalist singing all the parts, record 3 or 4 tracks of them doing each individual harmony note.  If you've got 2 or 3 (or more) have them all sing the same note for all the harmony parts instead of multiple takes of them singing the whole triad (or whatever intervals the haromny is) at once.  That way, it's nice to be able to mix multiple tracks of the individual notes for the harmonic balance.  Like being able to bring up/down the individual notes of guitar versus the whole thing.


Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: raw-tracks on April 27, 2004, 12:38:21 pm
When balancing BGV's, I like to monitor at very low volumes, almost inaudible. I find this allows you to get a good balance.
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: groove guru on April 27, 2004, 09:21:51 pm
I usually record several bgv tracks, pan and compress them, then send them to their own bus where I'll eq and add fx.  I will normally pull out a few db at around 3k to soften them up a bit so that they don't step on the lead.

Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: John Ivan on April 28, 2004, 09:31:43 am
raw-tracks wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 11:38

When balancing BGV's, I like to monitor at very low volumes, almost inaudible. I find this allows you to get a good balance.



Yeah:

I too find myself listening to stuff very quietly. Not just BGV but, I've been listening at a lower level in general for the last couple years. My last room was not so great {in the bottom} and I found it helped keep standing waves from being so loud. My friend Scott at Frontier Recording likes to listen quietly also, and we did a-lot of work together and he got me hooked..
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: groove guru on April 28, 2004, 05:13:30 pm
I find myself monitoring at a low level most of the time now also.  When I do crank the mains(for any extended peiod) I usually listen from outside the room.  
Title: Re: Tips for Backup Vocals
Post by: meverylame on April 29, 2004, 03:20:26 am
COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION COMPRESSION!!!