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Two Practical Solutions to Make Your Vocals Fit Better in the Mix

You’ve probably struggled with making the vocal fit within the rest of the mix.

You’ve spent all this time getting the instruments to sound great but for some reason the vocal just sounds…bad.

This happened to me yesterday when I was practicing on this month’s Dueling Mixes track, “New England.” Great track from a cool sounding band. Check out Dueling Mixes here if you’d like more multi-tracks to practice your mixing skills.

I don’t have any client work right now so I’ve been focusing on writing and practicing both my musical and audio skills.

Constantly keep improving is a good motto to have.

Anyway, I got so frustrated with this vocal track that I even got into an argument with my wife about it!

So I did what I always do when I can’t figure stuff out:

Take my mind off it, go for a run and let my subconscious do the work.

It worked brilliantly because during my run I came up with two solutions that could solve my vocal problem. I’d like to share them with you.

1. Mult the Vocals and Process Individually

The lead vocals feel different in the verse and the chorus. Instead of trying to find a “one sound fits all” solution it’s usually easier to mult the vocals into a “verse vocal” and “chorus vocal” and then apply different processing.

The verses are sparser and the choruses are fuller, busier and have backup vocals. This gives me the opportunity to process the verses differently. The verse vocals might not need as much EQ and could do with a different reverb treatment to create contrast between the two parts of the arrangement.

Conversely, the chorus vocal might need more EQ’ing to make it fit with all the other instruments, not to mention the two extra vocals tracks.

2. Use Multiband Compression to Tame Specific Frequencies

The vocal was sounding both boxy, honky and slightly sibilant in certain sections and no matter what I did, EQ just didn’t cut it.

It made the vocal sound good for the most parts but in sections where the singer sang louder I still heard annoying frequencies popping out.

But if I cut those frequencies even further it ended up making the entire vocal sound even thinner.

So what I came up with was to use a multi-band compressor to target those frequency areas so that when the singer sings louder only those frequencies will be compressed.

That way I can be less heavy-handed on the EQ while still getting the sound I want.

Combined with the previous tip it’ll make for a more controlled vocal sound that feels right both in the verses and choruses while staying consistent in the EQ spectrum.

Compression and EQ Go Hand in Hand

Although EQ is incredibly powerful it doesn’t always work the way you want it to. That’s why EQ and compression go hand in hand to make powerful and punchy mixes where all the instruments can be heard separately the way you want them to sound.

It’s also why I include the Compression Masterclass with my EQ Strategies Plus product. If you know how the two work together then you’ll be much closer to creating killer mixes.

Kern Ramsdell of Home Recording Weekly did a review of EQ Strategies recently. Here’s an excerpt from his glowing review:

“Bjorgvin knows what we need to know, and he shares it all, in easy to understand, easy to digest bites. Bjorgvin explains filtering, boosting, cutting, notch filters, bell curves, and “Q”, how to “sweep” or find frequencies that need cutting, and so much more, and all of it in very good detail, with audio examples. “EQ Strategies for EQ’ing a song”…This important video is an hour of deep EQ teaching, so you are trying to wrap your head around EQ, how to apply EQ in order to get way better tracks and much better sounding complete songs, EQ Strategies is what you are looking for.”

If that sounds good to you then grab your copy here:

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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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