If you’re a beginner and have any questions leave a comment or if you’re more advanced give us your input, we always like to hear of different approaches. I already added some processing to this vocal track during the recording. I used some light compression with a Universal Audio 1176 compressor to smooth out the loudest peaks of the performance. We used an API 512C preamp and an API 550A equalizer and now we’re going to work on fitting the track into the rest of the mix.

I like to cut up a vocal track into individual parts, phrases, or even words,  it just makes the vocal easier to work with. Make sure to cut any silent portions where the vocalist isn’t singing, this removes any bleed-through from the singer’s headphones into the mic. So, what I normally do is cut the silence and clean up the ends with a small fade out so the track doesn’t sound cut off. Keep in mind that soloed vocal parts often sound unnatural, but no one listens to the vocals on their own, our primary concern is that it sounds good in the mix.

Vocal Processing:

  • First of all, I used an Auto-Tune plugin in order to reign in any small tuning errors. Any correcting the plugin does will be very subtle because the vocalist is a very talented singer — meaning he sounds great and stays in key.
  • Then I used a 7-band EQ.
  • I cut the lower frequencies with a High Pass Filter set around 74Hz.
  • I also eliminated an annoying resonance around 208Hz.

The difference is very subtle, but it’s there. I’m simply removing some of the unnecessary sound the microphone generates and picks up in the low frequency range. The resonance around 208Hz doesn’t add much to the sound, this particular resonance can be caused by the vocalist singing too close to the glass window or wall of the studio. If you hear this resonance and it’s possible, move the singer and re-record. If you can’t re-record, use an EQ to try and remove some of it from the track.

  • Next I used compression. This is one of my favorite compressor plug-ins because it sounds very natural and is very easy to use.
  • I used a fast attack, you can see that I’m not adding too much compression since I already compressed the vocals some during their recording.

By compressing subtly during recording and again during mixing, I create a natural sounding effect while still evening out the dynamics of the performance.

  • Then I used a DeEsser set to around 4kHz.

I don’t like to use just one EQ or one compressor to fit a track into a mix or fix an issue. Instead, we can get a more natural sounding vocal by using multiple compressors and EQs each in a subtler way. But, that’s just my mixing style. Some tracks benefit from over-processing, others sound better with subtle processing, it just depends on what you feel the mix needs. Let use some effects.

  • I used a Slap Delay. Let me tell you how it works. The delayed soundings uses a quick repetition to give the vocal a bigger, wider sound to it without adding too much space to the sound.
  • Then I used a long delay which I’ve automated to play in certain spots in the song. I also placed an EQ on the long delay Aux track, and cut the low and high frequencies to give the delay a cool sound. It kind of sounds like a telephone effect on the repetitions. 
  • Finally, I added some reverb to only one part of the song to create a cool sounding effect.

That’s it for today’s tutorial. Until next time!

Luke Williams music/writer
Music: Machinimasound.com