Some Good Videos on Mixing Vocals

Here’s a collection of great videos that I have found on mixing vocals.  Now I know that when it comes to mixing vocals it can be a pretty convoluted subject so I tried to add as many different samples as possible from many different DAW’s so that you can sort of put the pieces together yourself.

In my opinion there is really 4 essential things you need to consider when mixing vocals.

  1. Cleaning up the vocals
  2. Controlling the dynamics
  3. Enhancing the performance
  4. Adding some ambiance

If you can figure out those 4 steps then you are well on your way.

Some of these ideas in the following videos are basic and some of them are more advanced but either way they will get you started in figuring out those 4 points.

For more solid advice go and check modernmixing.com.   They have a really good step-by-step guide on mixing vocals.  I read through the entire post and it honestly is really well laid.  There are a couple of things in there that I would never have thought of but at the same time, there are things that I would have added to it.

 

Reason

In this Reason Tips video Mattias gives you some valuable pointers on mixing vocals. Since vocals are often what carries the track, it’s important to get them sitting right in the mix! Learn about doubling, compression and parallel processing to make sure your vocals sound great!

 

FL Studio

FL Studio vocal mixing tutorial best ever

 

In this video I will be covering some of the basics of Mixing and Mastering with Fl Studio. Included are segments of basic compression of vocals, basic equalizing of vocals and stero shaping of vocals. All the plugins used in the video are basic plugins that come with Fl Studio for free. No additional download is required after the purchase of Fl Studio.

 

Pro Tools

In this video find out what tricks are used to tighten up vocals so that an entire track is much tighter and cohesive. This session includes the use of editing, mixing, panning, compressors, eq and reverb.

In this video Russ shows some work flows for getting a vocal to sit better in a mix using Pro Tools.

Using Mono Vocal Delays in Your Mixes

You might be finding that your stereo delays are getting lost in the mix amongst your other tracks or maybe like your delays and reverbs are taking away any sense of depth and clarity to your mixes.  Why not try a mono delay?

Just One Location

The wonderful thing about am one delay is that is locked into one location.  It can delay forever (if you want it to) but it will only be in that one specified location.   This allows you to keep the clarity in your mixes while also giving you ambiance and space.

Multiple Instances

Another cool thing about using a mono delay is that you can use multiple instance and place them through the stereo spectrum.  Talk about a REALLY wide and ambient space you will be creating.

The premise is that you place a delay on the right side, one on the left side and maybe one in the center.  Of course, this is just a start as you can really place them wherever you want.  A plugin that comes to mind for doing this easily is the Waves Supertap.  It’s super flexible and allows you to do multiple instances.

Check out this video from the recording revolution where he talks more about the mono delay process.

Some Great Websites and Forums for Mixing Music

I don’t consider myself a professional mix engineer by any stretch of the imagination but I think I am well beyond the beginning stages.  That said, I still am learning a heap of new techniques and strategies, the more that I work at it.  On this journey of self discovery, I have found 3 sites that I think deliver some really great mixing techniques for the home studio owner and even a professional project studio.

 

Websites

1. Pensados Place

I of course had to mention Pensados Place because Dave really is a truly gifted mix engineer and besides that he is giving away a lot of his knowledge for free.

2. Home Recording Studio

This site is really cool because it’s basically like a directory where all the information is there for you to explore.  If you are a beginner you will get familiar with all the audio terms that you need to know.

3. Modern Mixing

I aboslutely love this site when it comes to learning about mixing because that’s all he really focuses on.  He gives some golden nuggets about recording advice and the improtance of capturing good recordings but for the most part its all about mixing.  Go check it out.

4. Home Recording Weekly

Out of the 3, this is probably my least favourite only because the site is riddled with affiliate links.  But if you can get past all of that then there are some really cool tips in there to find.  Happy Searching!

 

Forums

1. Avid Pro Tools

This is of course made for the Pro Tools platform but non the less there is some really great info in there.

2. Cocks (Reaper)

This forum was created for Reaper user but oddly enough, like the Pro Tools forum there is a tone of great information to learn outside of Reaper.

3. Gearslutz

Argueably this is probably the most popular forum on line in regards to anything that has to do with recorded music.  Go nuts, but be warned that this is is filled with MAJOR EGOS.

Subtractive EQ Can Actually Be Better For Your Mixes

Subtractive EQ

The more practice you get with mixing, the more you will see just how effective EQ is for your mixes.

Just like any other tool, you can use them properly and improperly.  Today I am going to try and demonstrate how you can properly use and EQ.

Should You Be Boosting?

If you have been doing audio for any length of time, you are probably familiar with what an EQ is and how it works.  And equalizer give you the ability to increase or decrease the volume in and around a certain frequency range.  This works well for sculpting and creating space in your mixes.

But if you are just starting out, you are probably like me where you are boosting a lot more than you are subtracting.  You know you do it – be honest.  I think everybody who is starting out, does this because it’s so simple to do.  We have a kick drum that needs some more bottom end so we boost up around 60Hz and there you have it, the perfect kick drum sound.  I wish it was that easy.

If this is how you approach mixing than by the time you are finished a track, you are going to have a huge mess of frequencies.  So if all your doing is boosting, than you are just boosting up a bunch of noise which is not good for your mix.

Use a Backwards Approach

So instead of boosting frequencies  you want more of, why not trying doing the opposite and take away the frequencies that you don’t like.  This is essentially what subtractive eq is – listen to the tracks of the song to identify what you don’t like about them and then take them out so that the best parts reveal themselves.  Going back to that kick drums example, instead of boosting up the low end, you could cut out some of the low mids to get rid of the mud, turn it up and now you have a super subby kick drum.

Just think about how the home studio guy mixes (including me), we want a really nice bottom end as well as a nice top end.  So what is that we tend to do?  We’ll grab the EQ and boost the bottom end as well as some of the top end.  We could achieve similar results by taking out some mids but instead of adding noise, we are taking it away.

You Need Nerves of Steel

I’ll be the first to admit that I heard many pros talk about cutting frequencies instead of boosting but I just really ignored the advice. So Why?  The main reason is because you need a lot of patience to get rid of things you don’t like versus the things you do.   So subtractive is philosophy of mixing in which you look at the different parts and simply improve them by subtracting frequencies instead of boosting them.

So You should never boost then?

I’m definitely not saying that at all.  When you do boost, just try to be subtle with it so you can maintain a clean and clear mix.  Make subtle adjustments because our ears get used changes and soon we won’t even be able to hear where we went wrong.

So if you have never tried Subtractive EQ then today is the day you start.  Try it out on your next mix.  Try to experiment by pulling things out instead of boosting them, I bet your mixes will thank you as well.

Are All Your Plugins Being Used?

Audio Plugins

Let’s dig into this right away.  Be honest now, how many plugins do you have installed on your pc or mac?  I mean everything: EQ’s, compressors, reverbs, it doesn’t matter, take inventory of everything right now.  So if you have Pro Tools like me, which comes with about 70 plugins and then all the 3rd party plugins I’ve aquired, you are probably sitting pretty at about 100+ plugins.

But Seriously, How Many Are You Using?

I think the better question to ask is: Are you actually going through and using all of those plugins?  I can tell you that all I really use on my sessions are one channel strip plugin, a compressor, and EQ, some effects and maybe some analog emulation for color.  Maybe add in some autotune and some other effects but I’m only really using like 10 plugins max.

So based on the information I just provided, I’m really only using just a fraction of all my installed plugins and I keep the other ones there just in case but as we all know, just in case rarely every happens.

Picture Your Plugins as Outboard Gear

Try to envision for a second that your plugins actually didn’t exist and instead they were their hardware versions. I mean that would be racks upon racks oof outboard gear that’s just cluttering up your studio.  It definitely looks cool and I’m sure it would impress some people but when it comes to mixing, it will all just slow you down, don’t you think?

If you had to look through all your gear and then patch in different type of processeors like EQ and compression for each instnace, you would never get anywhere.  Psychologically this is what’s happening everytime we open up our plugin libraries and look for the different effects that we need.  We have to be inundated with a huge list to go through and then try and make a decisions.

To make it easy, what if we made those decisions before hand?

Weed out Your List and Work Faster

If you are like me, you are probably going to reach for the same EQ or compressor for every mix you work on.  Just be honest because really that’s all you need . Try treating your DAW like a console so you can get on with your life.

So let’s take the next smart step and try and get rid of all those plugins that take up space.  If you are using Pro Tools than you can just move all of those plugin over to the “Unused” folder which will make them disappear from your plugins list but will still be save in case you need them.

Really the only result of narrowing down your plugins is that you will work much faster. Plain and simple, if you have a limited number of decisions to make during the mixing process than essentially you will mix a lot faster.  some of these decisions will already be made for you of course and you will ironically feel more confident about those decisions.  But on the flip side, the opposite is true when you have too many plugins.  It’s the paradox of choice at it best.

Creativity Beats Technicality for Recording and Mixing

 

Creative Music Mixing

When you are trying to get a really high quality recording or mix, your creativity will often get you much farther then all the technical knowledge you have (or lack there of).  In reality having both technical knowledge and creative taste are both important.  But over time I have found that creativity usually will trump the technical stuff.

How an EP Made at Home Landed a Record Deal

Did you know that the very first EP from the band Fitz And The Tantrums was recorded at a home studio?

On a live taping of Pensado’s Place (with legendary mixer Dave Pensado) their guest for the segment was founding member and lead singer Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick.

Dave was probing the band leader about their very first EP.  What happen was, Fitz recorded the entire record all by himself with on old version of Pro Tools LE and and just one microphone.  That EP ended up leading to performances on  talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno and that then lead to a record deal.

Limitations Shmimitations

Now as I relate to my past experiences, I used Pro Tools Le version 6 and from what I remember, it can’t do half of the things that Garageband can do today.  It was a great Daw for basic tracking and editing, but there weren’t any of the awesome tools like virtual instruments, Beat Detective, Beat Detective, high end plugins or automatic delay compensation.  It was also restricted to only 32 tracks where as nowadays it’s multiple of that.  DAW’s nowadays make that version seem so infantile.

The funny thing is that with all those limitations, it still didn’t stop  guy from creating an album that led him to getting a record deal.  And actually Fitz mentioned that he just recently upgraded to the newest version of Pro Tools because he didn’t care.  He really just wanted to get down to making the music.  Awesome!

Getting Right Onto It

In fact, he mentioned in that interview that “creativity trumps technicality” relating to recording and also when mixing music.  He really had no idea what he was doing when he created that EP.  All he knew how to do was make good music and he turned to the tools to capture those sounds.

He says that he really had no idea what he was doing.  He had slopping editing techniques and plugins were just thrown up at random.   It seems like a primitive kind of workflow but to him it was more about just trying things to see what happened.  That is an essential attitude for all engineers. If he had an idea, he would try it and if it worked, he just kept doing it.

So Don’t Wait, Go Practice Now!

So if you are sitting around and waiting to make some really awesome music, don’t!  Go now and start making some really cool stuff.  You might be waiting for high quality gear or maybe you think you haven’t learned enough techniques to make a really pro sounding record.  It also might be that you don’t have a schedule or deadline set.

Whatever it is that’s holding you back, you have to try and just let it go.  You shouldn’t wait a second longer to get to work in your home studio.  Look at it this way, Michael Fitzpatrick is just like you and I.  He didn’t have the best recording set up but what he did have was some great songs written and a desire to make music.  If he can do, so can you!

Watch this video for the basics of mixing techniques:

And Here We Begin

Welcome to my blog on mixing and home recording studios

I am going to try and provide as much useful content as I possibly can in regards to mixing and how you can take your home studio to the next level.

I don’t claim to be an expert but I have gained a bit of experience.  I mostly work on my own projects or stuff for friends.

Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

I’m excited!