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Getting vocals sitting nice in the mix

Hi, so I'm working on an album, at home, primarily using direct interface guitars with EZdrummer plugins, and EZDrummer drums, in Reaper.

The issue I'm finding is that any vocals I record are too 'clean.' That is, the quality is good and clear, compared to the music which is raw, a bit gritty etc.

I don't know much about EQing etc. (even though I've done some EQing on the guitars) so that might be a factor, but does anyone have any good mixing techniques to get the vocals 'blending' more with the music, rather than sounding like a voiceover?



  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 14,607Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    Think of the mix as a "whole". You want the vocals to be predominant in the mix, yet you also want the instruments to sound strong.

    You want to give certain parts of the tonal characteristics to the voice, and carve some of that out of the guitars or other instruments, so you don't have competing parts all within the same part of the tonal spectrum.

    So give the bass to the bass guitar and the kick. Some to the toms. Then lower mid, and upper mids may be vocal. Center mids may be primarily guitars.

    This is kind of simplified, but the idea is that there is only so much room in a mix before it's overdone. So you have to work with the different elements to get a whole going that is musically and sonically pleasing to the ear, has the amount of punch in it that you want, and other qualities that you are aiming for.
  • blondiewalesblondiewales Posts: 482Pro
    edited September 2017
    highmtn's advice is very sound. In addition, if you post how your mix sounds now, we might be able to give you more specific ideas. I love mixing music myself.

    For a very rough male vocal EQ tutorial, a conventional starting point can be something like:

    High pass at 80hz (keep in mind high pass and high cut are opposite things)
    Boost Lows around 200 to increase beefiness and warmth
    Cut Low-mids between 400-800 to remove room noise (use a low Q and scan this frequency range to find where the room noise is. Use your best judgement.)
    Boost High-Mids to increase presence and articulation between 2k-7k (although KTVA students, including myself, have VERY PROMINENT high-mids and I often cut high-mids instead. It depends on how your voice sounds and the style of music you're doing, though.)
    Boost or Cut Highs to taste (depends on the song).

    "Q" is the width of the boost or cut you're doing. General rule: boost wide, cut narrow!

    Also, don't solo your vocal while EQing for the most part. Do it in the context of the mix. Happy mixing!
  • TimburTimbur Posts: 462.0 PRO
    You got some very sound advice above in regards to EQ and mixing above. One thing I can add is that if you want some grit to your vocals you may want to try to add some distortion to your vocal track. I don't know if you have a stock distortion plugin in Reaper but I use Studio One 3 and it comes with a stock plugin called Red Light District and it works on many tracks including vocals. I hope that also helps you out.

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 2,111
    How many tracks total are you mixing. How many guitars, and at what distortion level?

    When I first started recording distorted guitars it was very hard to get a handle on mix wise because when you distort a guitar the sound gets pretty thin in the mix, and cause your vocals to really pop out, and be out of place.

    Here are a couple of things you can do.
    Double your distorted guitar tracks, place them 75% left 75% right. That will fatten the guitar sound.
    You can also double the distorted guitar track, and add a third cleaner guitar track that sits in the mix to give it more definition.

    Punch up the bass guitar, and kick drum as highmtn suggested. (look online, and you can find out how to do these things fairly easy.)

    Peace, Tony
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