#1
So about a year ago me and a friend were messing around and recorded this song about a kid at school. We've showed a few people and surprisingly they say its kinda catchy. Only problem is, the vocals are extremely bad. To make it worse, I dont know how to mix vocals. I simply added a tiny bit of reverb and was done with it. Now I am looking to maybe enhance the vocal mix slightly and put it on youtube. Does anybody have any suggestions? Keep in mind we don't want to have to go back and re-record everything. I just want to make some adjustments to the vocals we already have. So what could I do to make it sound better? I feel like the vocals sound too "seperate" from the rest of the track. Maybe somehow add some harmonies without recording new ones? Let me know what you think.

On my profile called "Dragon Slayer" And keep in mind I am using Reaper.

Thanks.
#2
Alot of EQ and overall just get better vocals performance in the recording stage. you can always tweak tracks but you cant add or make up for what wasn't there in the first place.
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#3
Ya I understand. What I am looking for is just some minor tweaks or effects I could add to the vocals to make them sound a little more "professional." I have been messing around with it a little and I was wondering what a good way is to make some harmonies in reaper. I tried just simply duplicating the track and using the ReaPitch vst and it sounded completely unnatural. Or course it isnt going to sound great, but I was just hoping for something that would work a little better.
#4
You can do harmonies in Reaper with ReaPitch, just put it first in the signal chain, and you have to coordinate the right notes to stay in key. If you just pitch it 4 semitones up, it will often go out of key. If you pitch it a whole octave up, well it will sound fake.

If you're not against autotune, use ReaTune to snap the vocals to the key of the song. I absolutely hate autotuning, but in a situation like this, you might have to. You can then also use ReaTune to draw out harmonies (duplicate the track, cut everything but where the harmonies should be, and you'll need to draw in the notes yourself). ReaTune or ReaPitch should come before any other effects in your chain.

Keep in mind everyone's taste and sound preferences are different, but I'm going to give you some generic settings that I think could help.

EQ: Drop ReaEQ on that bad boy. First change Band #1 to a High Pass instead of the default Low Shelf (or just drag the circle all the way down). Bring the frequency to about 80hz, you should be good. If there's a lot of noise or rumble in it still, bring it up until it's mostly gone. But don't destroy the vocals in the process. Grab Band #4 and drag it up to around +3 or +4db around 10khz. You might need more to bring out the presence, but don't make them sound too harsh and trebley. Now for the bell-shaped cuts and boosts. You should keep in mind cutting is generally considered better. There's reasons for this (google it, it would be a whole other post of explanation, sorry). Until you understand why, just know Cut > Boost, whenever you can. If the vocals need bass, boost around 300hz (not more than 3db or so). If not cut it (feel free to cut more). If it's very nasally, try cutting 1khz. Boosting between 2-3k can help make words stand out more. Create extra bands if you need, make them very thin, drag all the way down, and move it around. Does cutting any frequency sound better? Yeah? Cut it by a few db then. Do the same with boosts (A/B boosts by disabling the band and enabling it once you're done, do you really need that boost?)

Compress those vocals! We'll be using ReaComp. What genre is the song, so we can tailor this better. But here's some generic 'repair' settings for you: Med-Fast attack (10ms or so), 4:1 ratio, no knee, medium release (50 to 100ms). Bring the threshold down enough that you get about 6db average gain reduction (the red meter to the left of 'Output Mix'. If the levels of the vocals are still very uneven, give it another compressor after that with a medium attack (50ms), long release (150ms+), 3:1 ratio (play with the ratio a bit), and drag the threshold down until things just start to sound good. You should be getting 0db GR at the quietest parts, and at louder part GR can be who knows how high? You may need to enable Auto make-up of this makes the track too quiet.

A De-Esser can help if you have harsh 'S' sounds or other trebley harshness that randomly comes in. ReaXcomp has 2 de-esser presets, in them you want to match the frequency of Band 2 to the frequency where the harshness exists. You can use the Solo current band button to help you (loop an area with a lot of harsh 'S' sounds and mess with it). There's also SpitFish (google it) a free de-essing VST plugin. If ReaXcomp isn't cutting it enough, SpitFish may be able to do the job (or maybe nothing can totally save it), as it is a dedicated de-esser. You'll still need to sweep for the right frequency, just like in ReaXcomp.

Reverb: comes after most things in the chain. ReaVerbate is pretty crappy for vocal reverb. Reaverb is nice if you have impulse samples and know how to use it. For now, we'll assume you don't have any impulses. EpicVerb (google it) is a free VST reverb plugin. It's awesome, commercial quality. Download it, read the manual (it really isn't that long) and experiment. Try out lots of the presets if you're not sure what's going on. There's no shame in using presets in a demo (just don't call yourself pro :P ). Try to favor more mono reverb instead of wide (use less of the sides knob. There's also FreeVerb (or FreeVerb Too) which is free, and easier to use. But not as awesome. Note: Use whichever plugin you get a better sound with. If you get a better sound with FreeVerb than EpicVerb or a $500 plugin, use FreeVerb! Mix with your ears, not your wallet.

Again, mix with your ears, not your wallet.

Some additional tips for reverb, the faster the song tempo, the shorter the reverb should be (smaller size/time and more damping). Adding a bit of pre-delay can give the source a sense of space and bringing something forward in the mix. Then again, it might not make a difference. If you're using reverb to add a sense of space, a brighter color (more treble in the EQ of the reverb) can be beneficial. If you're using reverb to thicken the sound of vocals, a more neutral color may be better (but still try both!)

One last tip. If you have harsh plosives (hard consonant sounds. Imagine saying Popcorn into a microphone with no grill, it becomes PUH-aw-PUHKUH-orn), you can reduce these by automating the volume to dip right when they occur. Select the vocal track in Reaper, and press the 'V' key. Now ctrl+click or shift+click that line, make shapes, etc. That line controls the track volume.

That's all the quick and simple help I can give you. Good luck making your track shine as best as it can.
#5
Quote by morrock
You can do harmonies in Reaper with ReaPitch, just put it first in the signal chain, and you have to coordinate the right notes to stay in key. If you just pitch it 4 semitones up, it will often go out of key. If you pitch it a whole octave up, well it will sound fake.

If you're not against autotune, use ReaTune to snap the vocals to the key of the song. I absolutely hate autotuning, but in a situation like this, you might have to. You can then also use ReaTune to draw out harmonies (duplicate the track, cut everything but where the harmonies should be, and you'll need to draw in the notes yourself). ReaTune or ReaPitch should come before any other effects in your chain.

Keep in mind everyone's taste and sound preferences are different, but I'm going to give you some generic settings that I think could help.

EQ: Drop ReaEQ on that bad boy. First change Band #1 to a High Pass instead of the default Low Shelf (or just drag the circle all the way down). Bring the frequency to about 80hz, you should be good. If there's a lot of noise or rumble in it still, bring it up until it's mostly gone. But don't destroy the vocals in the process. Grab Band #4 and drag it up to around +3 or +4db around 10khz. You might need more to bring out the presence, but don't make them sound too harsh and trebley. Now for the bell-shaped cuts and boosts. You should keep in mind cutting is generally considered better. There's reasons for this (google it, it would be a whole other post of explanation, sorry). Until you understand why, just know Cut > Boost, whenever you can. If the vocals need bass, boost around 300hz (not more than 3db or so). If not cut it (feel free to cut more). If it's very nasally, try cutting 1khz. Boosting between 2-3k can help make words stand out more. Create extra bands if you need, make them very thin, drag all the way down, and move it around. Does cutting any frequency sound better? Yeah? Cut it by a few db then. Do the same with boosts (A/B boosts by disabling the band and enabling it once you're done, do you really need that boost?)

Compress those vocals! We'll be using ReaComp. What genre is the song, so we can tailor this better. But here's some generic 'repair' settings for you: Med-Fast attack (10ms or so), 4:1 ratio, no knee, medium release (50 to 100ms). Bring the threshold down enough that you get about 6db average gain reduction (the red meter to the left of 'Output Mix'. If the levels of the vocals are still very uneven, give it another compressor after that with a medium attack (50ms), long release (150ms+), 3:1 ratio (play with the ratio a bit), and drag the threshold down until things just start to sound good. You should be getting 0db GR at the quietest parts, and at louder part GR can be who knows how high? You may need to enable Auto make-up of this makes the track too quiet.

A De-Esser can help if you have harsh 'S' sounds or other trebley harshness that randomly comes in. ReaXcomp has 2 de-esser presets, in them you want to match the frequency of Band 2 to the frequency where the harshness exists. You can use the Solo current band button to help you (loop an area with a lot of harsh 'S' sounds and mess with it). There's also SpitFish (google it) a free de-essing VST plugin. If ReaXcomp isn't cutting it enough, SpitFish may be able to do the job (or maybe nothing can totally save it), as it is a dedicated de-esser. You'll still need to sweep for the right frequency, just like in ReaXcomp.

Reverb: comes after most things in the chain. ReaVerbate is pretty crappy for vocal reverb. Reaverb is nice if you have impulse samples and know how to use it. For now, we'll assume you don't have any impulses. EpicVerb (google it) is a free VST reverb plugin. It's awesome, commercial quality. Download it, read the manual (it really isn't that long) and experiment. Try out lots of the presets if you're not sure what's going on. There's no shame in using presets in a demo (just don't call yourself pro :P ). Try to favor more mono reverb instead of wide (use less of the sides knob. There's also FreeVerb (or FreeVerb Too) which is free, and easier to use. But not as awesome. Note: Use whichever plugin you get a better sound with. If you get a better sound with FreeVerb than EpicVerb or a $500 plugin, use FreeVerb! Mix with your ears, not your wallet.

Again, mix with your ears, not your wallet.

Some additional tips for reverb, the faster the song tempo, the shorter the reverb should be (smaller size/time and more damping). Adding a bit of pre-delay can give the source a sense of space and bringing something forward in the mix. Then again, it might not make a difference. If you're using reverb to add a sense of space, a brighter color (more treble in the EQ of the reverb) can be beneficial. If you're using reverb to thicken the sound of vocals, a more neutral color may be better (but still try both!)

One last tip. If you have harsh plosives (hard consonant sounds. Imagine saying Popcorn into a microphone with no grill, it becomes PUH-aw-PUHKUH-orn), you can reduce these by automating the volume to dip right when they occur. Select the vocal track in Reaper, and press the 'V' key. Now ctrl+click or shift+click that line, make shapes, etc. That line controls the track volume.

That's all the quick and simple help I can give you. Good luck making your track shine as best as it can.


Wow thanks a ton. I cant believe someone was actually cool enough to go into that much detail. I will definitely give all of that a shot and let you know how it goes.