Mixing singing/harmonizing vocals?

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Music Afficionado
Member Since: Aug 12, 2008

I realize this may be one of those questions where the answer is unevitably "Depends on the artist" or "depends on the situation" but figured I would give it a shot:

I record mainly hip hop and am getting better and better at mixing songs to where they sound clear and clean. However, whenever I record a singer (mostly R&B and pop) I have a hard time getting the vocals to sound right. There are some general guidelines with Hip Hop that can make most artists sound pretty good with minor variation (i.e. reverb, panning, dubds, adlibs, eq, etc.)

Is there anything similar guidance for more "musical" vocals? Mine usually end up sounding cluttered. I have heard "take 3 takes - pan the first 2 left and right and then bring the 3rd one right up the middle." But that would be just for the main melody. what about the harmony tracks?


For choruses, if you have a good singer, do you reccomend recoridng minimal takes and applying a chorus effect or having the artist record multiple takes to get the chorus effect manually?

Another question is, if I find a nice EQ for a single singers voice should I apply that effect to all of their takes (harmony and melody)?

Or do I need to do seperate EQ settings based on if it is the main vocal vs. the 3 other takes harmony comprising a 3 part harmony? Maybe that would allow all of them to "sit" in the mix better since they would have their own space?

I know the source is good from both an equipment perspective as well as the artist(s) - I have heard other stuff that they have done in similar studios that sounds incredible, so I have concluded that its my mixing that sucks.

Any ideas you have would be much appreciated.

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Music Afficionado
Member
Since: Aug 12, 2008


Apr 24, 2009 12:25 pm

I see a post a few down about dual vocals so I suppose I could apply some of that logic. But my question is about a single artist recording multiple takes. Also, if someone could touch on the EQ question, that would be great - that was not covered in the other post. Thanks.

Czar of Turd Polish
Member
Since: Jun 20, 2006


Apr 24, 2009 12:40 pm

Three takes for the main melody panned would sound cluttered imo. That is unless that person can sing three near perfect takes within milliseconds of each other, panning them just makes it noticeable that 3 tracks of vocals exsist, not something I want unless a specific task requires it.

If you have a good singer, stick em close to the mic so it's full bodied and record one take. For basics do a little eq, comp, maybe a tad delay and a little reverb. I have probably two songs where I was capable of doubling a vocal and having it sound decent. Guitars I can double all day long but "lead" Vox not so much.

Delay can possibly be a wonderful thing for a single vocal track ( Try something like this, 3ms left@ 15% and 9ms right @25%). You may need to play a bit and see if it works for you but it's something I use to fatten things.

Record all the backups, adlibs, then process and pan accordingly.

Just my thoughts, as always I would wait to hear some other opinions.

Music Afficionado
Member
Since: Aug 12, 2008


Apr 24, 2009 12:52 pm

Great - now would you apply the same EQ to all of the takes? Thanks.

Czar of Turd Polish
Member
Since: Jun 20, 2006


Apr 24, 2009 12:56 pm

Probably not, they would be similar for the most part but I would probably cut a small chunk from doubled backups (using a buss most likely) and apply a small boost to the same area on the lead. What freq all depends on the singer.

Mountain Top Recording
Member
Since: Sep 11, 2009


Sep 12, 2009 02:19 am

One of the things I do is to review the final mix with speakers and then with head phones. There are differences between the head phones and speakers. Then you can tweek the final mix to perfection.

Mountain Top Recording
Member
Since: Sep 11, 2009


Sep 14, 2009 10:39 am

Every has a unique voice. and each voice is different. So it would not be logical to apply the same EQ for one voice as another. Each Voice needs it's own EQ. When I do the same voice or close to the same, then it would make sense to use the same EQ. But if I do a base then a harmony track, those are different voices and require different EQ.

Music Afficionado
Member
Since: Aug 12, 2008


Sep 14, 2009 03:27 pm

Thanks. Yeah sorry, I meant: If I record multiple takes of the same singer (either them doing the same take multiple times so that I can pan 2 and leave one up the middle or the same singer doing their own harmonies) would I use the same eq or I would use seperate eqs for each take?

bace135 in the house tonight!
Member
Since: Jan 28, 2003


Sep 15, 2009 01:59 am

For singing hooks, it depends on the feel of the song, but I will almost always double the lead vocal. Eq each one only slightly different than the other. If there are backup vocals that are harmonizing, I will throw a tad more reverb on those and usually eq them to a slightly higher frequency than the lead vocals. Also, I will pay attention to panning, though I don't have any real rules for that. It usually depends on the overall mix as to how far to pan each take.

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