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The Bizarro #1 Method for Clearer Vocals

One of my least favorite Superman villains is Bizarro.

He’s exhausting to understand and he’s not motivated by anything you can relate to.

That said…I did dress up as Bizarro Clark Kent one year for Halloween…

I think I held this face the entire night…

Overall Bizarro’s pretty lame…but his opposite-ness to Superman made me remember my Reverse-EQ method, which I’ll be calling the Bizarro method from now on.

Or until Jim Lee sues me for copyright infringement…

It’s one of my favorite tricks for making the vocals fit better in the mix, even if it’s a really busy mix with a lot of instruments.

You’ll inevitably have this problem.

You’re mixing a vocal and If you pulled the fader up, the vocal is too loud.

If you leave it alone, it’ll vanish in the mix and won’t sound clear.

People usually approach fixing this by focusing on the vocal track. You might start boosting some mids in order to get it to punch through the other instruments. Or you might compress the vocal too much just to get it to sit better on top of the mix.

Unfortunately, both of those approaches might not work.

At this point it’s time to leave the vocal alone and start focusing on the tracks that are actually in the way.

Here’s how the Bizarro Method works:

Although this trick uses a vocal and a bass as an example, this method can be used for any number of instruments that are clashing with each other.

  • Step 1 – Make the vocal sound as good as you can. Do it in solo first, but make sure it fits the context of the mix. Don’t worry about whether it sits in the mix, just make sure the vocal sound fits the song.
  • Step 2 – Find the instruments that are clashing with the vocals (let’s use the bass as an example).
  • Step 3 – Use an EQ to boost and sweep around the mids. Find the area where the bass is masking/overlapping the vocals the most.
  • Step 4 – Cut the bass in that frequency region until the vocals sound cleaner.
  • Step 5 – Rinse and repeat for other instruments if needed.

BOOM! Welcome to Bizarro World!

Creating frequency clashes by boosting makes it easier to hear where you need to cut. It’s a lot easier than guesswork, and reducing frequencies in other instruments to make room for your most important ones makes your EQ’ing cleaner.

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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