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Old 04-04-2013, 11:15 AM   #1
crazycory94
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Question Help with Mixing Vocals

Hey everyone,

I've been recording music for a couple years now but it's always been instrumental. I just started mixing this song for my band and Everything (IMO) sounded great UNTIL I put the vocals in there. It seems that they are either too quiet or too harsh...

Its hard for me to explain so here is the link to my bands profile... If you have any suggestions on how to improve it that would be great! Thanks

http://www.reverbnation.com/theattackprinciple
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:45 AM   #2
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Before I listen to it, did you put any compression on the vocals? 99% of "too loud sometimes, ok quiet other times" can be fixed with a nice 20:1 comp.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:46 AM   #3
crazycory94
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i did put some compression.... i think I had it at around 9:1.... I'll try more
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:47 AM   #4
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Set the threshold really low, too.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:49 AM   #5
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Dont go 9:1.

The thing you need to do is balance the threshold, and ratio together.

For singing try 2:1 ratio, lower the threshold to a point where the quieter vocals are, and give that a try. if that's not doing enough, increase the ratio or lower the threshold. Try both and use your ears!

After that, most of the time you'll need to automate the fader in the mix, because compression only goes so far.

WAIT: to the poster above, is 20:1 what people normally use? That's pretty much a limiter! Doesn't it make the vocals sound horrid?

EDIT2 Just having a discussion in the office, apparently it depends on the compressor. Some can be slammed, others better not to.

I guess experiment! But understand how the thing works, learn the threshold and ratio and attack stuff

Last edited by tim_mop : 04-04-2013 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_mop
Dont go 9:1.

The thing you need to do is balance the threshold, and ratio together.

For singing try 2:1 ratio, lower the threshold to a point where the quieter vocals are, and give that a try. if that's not doing enough, increase the ratio or lower the threshold. Try both and use your ears!

After that, most of the time you'll need to automate the fader in the mix, because compression only goes so far.

WAIT: to the poster above, is 20:1 what people normally use? That's pretty much a limiter! Doesn't it make the vocals sound horrid?

EDIT2 Just having a discussion in the office, apparently it depends on the compressor. Some can be slammed, others better not to.

I guess experiment! But understand how the thing works, learn the threshold and ratio and attack stuff

I use 8:1, 12:1, or 20:1 on the Audiocation AC1 compressor VST I usually use. It really depends on the song, the style, etc.

I usually use 12:1, but in my latest mix I've got a 20:1 on the verse vocals because there's a huge dynamic range that for punk pop you don't want the volume to differ too much, just the tone. Then I've got 8:1 on the chorus which is much more consistent.

I would never use compression like that on ANYTHING where the dynamic range is important. But for hard rock, metal, punk, pop, etc. it's more the tone we're after with the quieter singing rather than the volume.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:16 PM   #7
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Tight compression is a thing for contemporary music, where vocals don't need much, or any, dynamic range. This goes for metal guitars and bass, too; it's fortissimo all the way through, basically. Any volume fluctuation will just make it sound sloppy. And I've looked at vocal stems from EDM tracks, and the VU meter barely moves. 20:1 might be on the high side, though.
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Old 04-04-2013, 01:02 PM   #8
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20:1 is basically limiting. I'd say just use your ears, if it sounds too harsh back down the ratio and/or the threshold, if it still doesn't sound right play with attack and release.

Another thing, EQ, if you try to make the vocals too bright to cut through then it will sound harsh so you might have to cut ~4K in other areas where you can get away with it instead of boosting to all hell.

Listening to the track, the vocals are just waaaaay too loud compared to everything else. You will need to turn them down and compress the shit out of them.

edit, another thing, if you find you are compressing too hard and still not getting reasonable levels then try automating the volume before you compress, it might help even things out without sounding weird. What I mean is, turn the compressor off, then just try to get the vocals at the level you want without major volume jumps, then turn the compressor back on and go from there.........or just rerecord the vocals and try to get it right at the source.
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:21 PM   #9
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I agree with the rest. Compression works wonders. You also need to carve a little bit out of the rest of the instruments with EQ to allow the vocals to "sit." Reverb also helps give them a sense of space since most people record their vocals very close which gives them an unnatural feeling.
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Old 04-04-2013, 03:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artemis Entreri
I agree with the rest. Compression works wonders. You also need to carve a little bit out of the rest of the instruments with EQ to allow the vocals to "sit." Reverb also helps give them a sense of space since most people record their vocals very close which gives them an unnatural feeling.


Thanks! Do you know of any frequencies that would be best to cut or is it one of those things that I just have to mess with while mixing?
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycory94
Thanks! Do you know of any frequencies that would be best to cut or is it one of those things that I just have to mess with while mixing?

It depends on the other instruments in your mix. Generally it's safe to high pass a vocal around 100hz and a bit of a high shelf around 12khz to add some air.

Listening to your song, you definitely should just slam those vocals with compression, give them a bit of delay and reverb and then go to the loudest, most energetic part of the song, get the vocals sitting right with everything, then automate the vocals for the rest of the song.

Also, if you'd be interested in sharing raw files for people to practice mixing with, that'd be awesome; I think the song is awesome.
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