3 Quick Ways to Effectively Blend Backing Vocals In Your Mix
Making your backing vocals stand out without cluttering up the lead vocal is tricky.
You want them to add depth and push to the lead melody, but you need to do so without taking the attention away from the powerful lead vocal.
Here are 3 useful ways to make your backing vocals blend in better.
1. Use Less Volume
It goes without saying, but getting a good blend with volume and the right balance between the vocal tracks is the first order of business.
This might seem obvious, but are your backup vocals not blending together because they’re too loud? Get the lead vocal to where you want it, pull the faders down on your backup vocals and then slowly bring the faders up until they sit correctly.
If both tracks still clash too much you can try automating the phrases that clash more than others. For instance, if the backup vocal is doing a combination of oohs and words then it might clash more in certain places than others.
Using automation to adjust the volume accordingly is a good way to get rid of the occasional clash if the vocals sit well together most of the time.
2. Blend Using EQ
Alternatively, you can use EQ to create pockets in the frequency spectrum where all the vocals can sit together.
The lead vocal usually has a pronounced presence somewhere in the high mids. Unsurprisingly, that’s also where all the other vocals have their presence, them being vocals and all.
If you can cut the same high-mids in the backup vocals they usually don’t clash in that frequency area anymore. This will give you a better blend of all the vocal tracks.
A good wide cut from about 900 – 5 kHz could soften the presence of the backup vocals, helping the lead vocal stand out more. Also, if you want something to blend in, the easiest way is to roll off the high frequencies. They might sound odd when solo’d, but combined with the lead vocal they might blend in perfectly.
3. Blend With Reverb
EQ should get you most of the way, but it’s not the entire battle. You’ll inevitably want to add some reverb to your mix to give each instrument some space and that’s where this third tip comes in.
Blending the vocals in the frequency spectrum is one back.
Two quick ways of doing this are:
- Adding the same reverb to all the vocal tracks but giving more reverb to the backup vocals. This pushes them behind the lead vocal. A pre-fader reverb send on the backup vocals makes it even easier to push them behind the lead vocal.
- Adding a larger reverb to the backup vocals. This could make the backup vocals sound bigger, but farther away. Be careful about overdoing it because they might end up sounding washed out if you add too much. Done right, it will create a nice separation between the two vocal tracks.
Of course, as with all things, EQ also helps when you’re adding reverb. So if you try either of these reverb tricks make sure you also add an EQ and cut the lows if the reverb is rumbling, and cut the highs if the reverb sounds too bright.
For blending purposes, if you want to make something blend in, make it darker. A darker reverb can do the trick nicely, especially combined with a shorter and brighter plate on the lead vocal.
Backing Vocals Make Your Songs Sound Bigger
It’s all about creating the separation between the lead vocal and the backups. At the same time, you don’t want the backups to take up the space reserved for the lead.
Use correct volume, roll off the highs on the backups and use larger and/or darker reverbs to create separation and you’ll get a bigger vocal sound before you know it.
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