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carol m

A Few Questions on Mixing Vocals

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I'm trying to track down the source of that pdf I posted. Meanwhile here is another good link

Getting Your Mix to...mix, Part One, EQ as event security. - Mixing and Multitracking - Home Recording Studio Help

Also here: the '70 free articles' tab

CD Mastering, Audio Mastering - The Ultimate Digital & Analog Services at Vestman Mastering Studios

with other links at the foot of the page.

I hired John Vestman to master a project in 2003. What an excellent job. And his website is so full of great information. I learned so much from him.


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...I was having a bit of trouble keeping all 5 tracks 'in the mix' and as clear as possible without the master track clipping - would compression give me more 'room' to manouvre, or less?

I think that once you have time to hear what the effect of compression is, you'll be able to judge how you'll want to use it. And the effect in your mix is going to depend on the track and the usage. For example, if you're trying to make a track stand out and you use compression to increase the overall gain of it, then you'll probably want to pull down the volume level slightly on the other tracks to divide up the available pie (meaning, if the overall volume space is 100%, then think about what tracks contain which percentage of the available space before clipping). Not only does it all add up mathematically, but often times the use of compression can make a track stand out psychoacoustically.

On the other hand, if you're trying to 'beef' up a track because it is weak compared to the others, then the use of compression as overall gain may only make the track comparable to the others.

Speaking of psychoacoustics, an engineer/producer friend of Kirk's wrote a book called Mixing with your Mind. What an excellent read! Psychoacoustics is all about how sounds are perceived, or in the words of Stav (the author), Maximum Illusion with Minimum Voltage. I highly recommend this book. Stav worked with Kirk on one of his projects and Kirk is in the acknowledgment section of the book as a contributor to the book's website.


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Here's a quote from Mike Stavrou from Mixing with your Mind:

(Perception vs Reality)

When asked, "what determines the size of a sound?" a talented engineer once replied: "The size of the bus is determined by the colour of the door". Strangely cryptic I know, but it was advice that I never forgot. Of course it took me years to understand the meaning of this cryptic reply. All sound is an illusion anyway and our perceptions can change by the simplest means, so long as you observe your perceptions rather than analyze the 'reality'.

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Hi there,

Just came across this thread and my approach to recording,(bearing in mind that I'm still learning myself), is to record in such a way that there is as little tweaking needed after the fact as possible.

What I mean is that time spent at the recording stage to get a good strong clear signal can save a lot of time later trying to repair something that was weak in the first place. I'm not talking about the playing or the vocals but more the way the initial 'capture' is done.

For example, a vocal might be recorded, could be an excellent performance, but if it is captured as weak and thin, it is very hard to rescue that later no matter how much tweaking is done.

Also, I roughly pan all my sounds as I go along so I'm constantly getting a mental picture of the stereo layout as the song develops.

To me, the most effective way to make a vocal sound 'upfront' is to emphasise the mid/ treble slightly and save the reverb for the backing vocals which will set them back slightly. Also adding a little bottom end to the backing can appear to make them sit more towards the floor in the mix rather than high up where the lead vocal or solo guitar would be sitting.

On quite a few of my recent recordings I have recorded the guitar and voice together live using stereo mics and maybe added a little extra guitar later. On these examples I don't tweak anything at all. I think this approach stems from me being a 'live' player first and a recordist second. I make sure the sound coming from my Bose L1 is the sound I'm happy with, then I just rely on the Boss recorder to capture that live sound. If I listen to the recording and I'm not happy, I tweak the settings on the pa system and record again rather than hoping to be able to adjust it afterwards.

I guess we all have our own ways but maybe some of this was helpful.

Cheers, Gordon.:smilinguitar:

p.s. I'm editing this just to add something. I have been back and listened again to some of Carol's recordings and in my humble opinion, I would not get too bogged down in all these effects. You have a lovely voice, a nice sounding guitar style and to me, that's all you need to capture. I think to hear you perform live in a bar or cafe would be nice as is, ok, maybe overdub the harmony vocals but I would go for the open and transparent feel which really should not need that much tweaking. The key is to get a strong, clean signal in the first place I think.

Just my 2 cents worth... Gordon.

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Nice approaches to recording, Gordon! Yep, you have to capture the absolute essence and the strongest and purest signal possible up front or no amount of tweaking is going help. All the rest is preference and style.

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