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An Advanced Vocal Production Trick You Need to Try

Here’s a cool vocal mixing trick for when you want a lot of space around the vocal, but you don’t want to clutter everything up with reverb.

Step 1 – Mix the Dry Vocal

Make the dry vocal sound as good as you can with:

  • Analog emulation or tape saturation
  • EQ
  • Compression

Step 2 – Send the Vocal to an Effects Bus

On the effects bus, add:

  • Compression to even out the dynamics of the incoming signal
  • A subtle stereo delay with a couple of repeats, 1/16th or 1/8th notes depending on the style of the song
  • A medium, 1.2~ second reverb, maybe a hall or plate, to diffuse the delay repeats
  • Another compressor

Step 3 – Side-chain the Second Compressor to the Vocal

Make the compressor push down the level of the reverb any time the vocalist is singing. That way you’ll get very present vocals that still sound heavy on the effects because the effects swell up as soon as the vocal phrases end.

A high ratio will push the level of the effects-send down pretty drastically, but the trick is to take the time to tweak the attack and release so that the volume of the delayed reverb swells don’t sound too unnatural.

Here’s a video that shows you something very similar:

Use that Next Time

If the typical stand-by’s of plate reverb or slapback echo isn’t quite cutting it, try this technique out next time.

Vocal production is a pretty comprehensive and important topic to get right because the right vocal sound will make or break your mix.

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About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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