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Mixing Vocals 101: 6 Steps

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Original Article by Dylan Roth.

The vocals are THE MOST important part of the song. Once you’re done recording vocals, you need to take your time and mix them right.

But vocals are tough. They can be inconsistent, out of tune, out of time, and every single one sounds different.

So how do you get your vocals sounding their absolute best before you release your music?

That’s exactly what we’re going to cover today. In 6 steps, you’ll be able to create some absolutely amazing vocals.

Let’s get into it! But first…

Decide on your vocal sound

Before you start mixing your vocal, decide what your target is. What do you want your vocals to sound like?

A common mistake in mixing is to follow tutorials without thinking. You put on effects and twist knobs just because a few articles told you to.

But you have no idea what sound you’re actually trying to create. You’re basically mixing blind.

mixing_vocals__select-vocal-style

ALWAYS make sure you’re mixing with intention. When you’re adding compressionand EQ, do it with a certain sound in mind.

That way, any mixing moves you make will be more accurate and will get you closer to the actual sound you’re looking for.

This is especially important with vocals because they differ so much between genres.

  • In rock and metal vocals are traditionally rougher and punchier. They use more distortion and a slower attack with their compression.
  • In pop and R&B, they’re extremely consistent and exciting. They use lots of compression and effects.
  • In folk and jazz, they’re raw and clean. They don’t process the vocals much at all—a little bit of compression, EQ, and reverb.

How do you decide what your vocal target should be? Pick a few reference tracks and base your target on their vocal sound.

Not sure how to use references? Check out this video on using reference tracks and find the right material to guide your mix on.

Once you’ve decided on the vocal tone you want, it’s time to start your mix.

Just remember these steps: Click links below to get full details.

  1. Get rid of any room resonances with an EQ
  2. Tame your sibilance with a de-esser
  3. Control your dynamics with serial compression
  4. Shape your tone with another EQ
  5. Add a little space with some reverb or delay
  6. Add some flavor with effects
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