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Mixing background vocals

Not a lot of experience mixing background vocals here, and having troubles mixing mine.

For two vocal harmonies, what is a good placement in the stereo spectrum for each?

Against the main vocal, percentage-wise, how much lower on average should they be?

Any tricks using reverb, delay, etc......?

Any special EQ settings to separate from the main vocal?

Any help would be appreciated.

Peace, Tony


  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    The idea is to make them appear to be in the "background". This can be accomplished several ways. First, if you have your main vocals front and center, try to not use much reverb on them, as that tends to create a sensation of distance. Put the reverb on the backups instead, and pan them off to one side. I noticed on the new volume 3 videos, Ken talks about this in depth! For the backup vocals, he tends to remove the ping, and make it a bit more breathy, and removes vibrato.
    This way the lead vocals stand out, but the backups blend into themselves.
    For more distance, you can lower their perceived volume by 15-25%... this really is a tweak as you go thing. I would advise doing the mix on studio monitors and not headphones as well. KRK Rokit speakers are the bomb.

    I'll think of more later :smiley:
  • I'll be more specific on my set up so far, and I'll use a clock as a reference. 9 O clock will be full left. 3 being full right, and 12 being center.

    acoustic guitars (2) one at 9,and one at 3.
    Piano at 11:30
    Bass at 12
    Vocal (main) at 12

    I really don't want to put the backing vocals in the same position as the guitars because they run on similar frequencies. Would they sound effective if each were in the 10:30, and 1:30 position? Or should they be in tight around the main vocal?

    I tried using more reverb than normal for the backing vocals but it seemed to muddy them up.

    Peace, Tony
  • This is the song. Where you hear the bass doing it's runs, that's where the ooh's, and ahhh's will go.
    I figured it might be better if you can hear where everything is.

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    Seeing as you are panning your guitars fairly far left and right, you might want to consider bringing them both a little closer to 12:00, that gives you more peripheral room on one side or the other to put your BU vocals... There are many ways the mixing engineers accomplish this... if the reverb is too much on the BU vox, cut it back a bit, but don't remove it alltogether, or everything will collide and contend vocally speaking
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    in other words, separate your BU vox in the pan (away from your lead vox)
  • I think I might remove the piano while I mix the BU vox, and then reposition the piano. That could be what is throwing me off because the piano also has similar frequencies.

    It may take a while, but I'll find that sweet spot, or just can it all together. Depends on how much trouble it keeps giving me

    Peace, Tony
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