Mixing vocals is one of the most important tasks in music production. Modern songs need to sound clear, bold and perfect. Realizing this highly polished sound requires a lot of attention. Every part of this process is important from song creation to mastering the music.
However, vocal mixing means that you will apply the process, which contributes the largest to your voice. Correcting it seems difficult. But if you understand the basic techniques used in vocal mixing, you can get a great studio sound.
1. Comping and Editing
The first step of the mix is not mixing, but editing. Editing you can help you create the best sound part from the available segments, which is a process called comping. This process will be different depending on the DAW you are using, but its ideas are the same, i.e., compiling the best parts combining them in a way that sounds coherent, natural and constituting the best overall performance. In addition to comping, other editing tasks may include trimming the song, or editing breaths that stick out too much.
2. Use Pre-Fader Automation
Vocals are one of the most dynamic sources you will handle in mixing. They can be soft as whispered, or they can be loud like screaming, often on the same track. The main tool you use to control the dynamic range of the track is compression.
However, if you do some manual control first, you can get better results from the compressor. Automation is how you make it happen. To implement the level of automation before the signal arrival processing, first insert the utility plugin. The gain plug is not automatically set, but the change in the gain plug-in is automatically set. This way you can control your level before they enter the next insertion. Play the unprocessed sound and listen to it. Do moderate adjustments in the places you feel too strong or too quiet.
3. Use EQ to Integrate the Sound
Your next step is to shape the tone of the track and ensure that there is no problem with the frequencies. As usual, you choose to increase or reduce specific frequencies and EQ bands will depend on your mix and the tone balance you recorded. Even so, when you mix the sound, you can follow some basic guidelines as the starting point of the sound empties.
4. Use a DE-esser
With multiple phases of compression and EQ on your sound track, some problems may become more prominent. For instance, sibilance, a distracting effect might occur, when words with “S” sounds particularly harsh and strong. Sibilance may come from poor match between microphones and singers. In the worst case, it causes noisy buzz, much louder than the other syllables pronounced. The DE-ESSER plugin is how you control it.
5. Create an Ambience
Now that your vocal has gone through the dynamics and EQ, it is time to create a realism with audio effects. The best practice is eliminating any natural reverb from the room where you record your voice. This is why engineers use vocal sheds and close miking techniques when they record.
These are the main elements of mixing studio vocals If you want to learn more about this, please consult our detailed vocal mixing video guide.