Mixing and mastering vocals

FortyEight

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I don't see it mentioned; but be aware of EAR FATIGUE.

Too much time listening closely to Anything can make it all start sounding the same.

If you find this true and things get Confusing...

TAKE A BREAK.

imo.

I experience this. If I'm mixing for a while (I use headphones) I keep turning it up. And by the end it's like getting cranked. But lately I've learned to start with it a lot lower and it still seems loud right off the bat. LOL. Your ears get used to the volume and then it sounds quiet.
 

bebopbrain

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Find a recording you like with similar instrumentation for a reference. Asking "is this better or worse" over and over is a recipe for a headache. Instead ask "does this sound more like this other cool recording".
 

loudboy

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I experience this. If I'm mixing for a while (I use headphones) I keep turning it up. And by the end it's like getting cranked. But lately I've learned to start with it a lot lower and it still seems loud right off the bat. LOL. Your ears get used to the volume and then it sounds quiet.

I go up and down, constantly. Helps keep perspective.
 

codamedia

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First the vocals were too deep in because I was concerned that it would sound dumb if they were too much on top. I tried to fine tune it a in the mastering with a little eq in the mids were the vocals are prominent.

OK - it's not clear by this statement.
Are you working with the multi-track, or the final mix? Each sentence suggests the opposite and each scenario requires a different approach.

If you still have the multi-track... get it right in the mix, don't try to fix it in the master.
  • don't bury the vocal...
  • use the hpf to remove low end that it not required.
  • use a parametric to find/notch offending frequencies
  • Compress a little on the track, then more on the vocal buss. A little at both is better than too much at one or the other.
  • Add an 1/8 note delay (1 repeat) softly along the vocal. It settles it into the mix
  • Add a touch of natural reverb (room)... this also softens the vocal and settles it into the mix.
  • Both the DELAY and REVERB mentioned above should not be heard as such. They should give the vocal a "natural ambience". Some reverbs have an "early reflection" setting that can take the place of the delay.
Now... subtlety tweak the EQ and compression to get it sitting where you want it, then add any effects (reverbs, delays, etc... ) that you actually want to hear.

It's not easy to sit a vocal into a mix... but using the steps above gets me in the ballpark within relatively short order. Sometimes even in minutes if the vocal is captured nicely.
 
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Grandy

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I made the mistake of assuming the tunes were almost ready for mastering. Well, it was quite a while ago when I listened to them the last time. What I thought I remembered wasn't correct at all. I went back to the multi track projects and checked some of the basic things you all pointed out. It turned out the mixes were only half way ready at best.

I checked the panning and got some tracks out of the way. Also, I carved out mids here and there for the vocals. I think I'll get the stereo mixes out after the holidays and take another shot at mastering.

I am very well aware of ear fatigue. When mixing the volume is pretty low. I go back and forth to the earphones and monitors and only turn up when I need to get a better idea of the bass.

Right now I feel pretty confident that they are going to turn out fine. We'll see.
 

EugeneWeemich

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checking in....so, the mix is where the fixes happen and the master is only final total product polish, right?

getting vocs to sit right is a combination off all stems, their eq, stereo width and panning, vol.

sometimes you might want to pack up the stems (dry) and put out some $$$ to have a producer have a go.

otherwise, there are a number of good daw tools, and plenty of production guidance out there.

best of luck!
 

Grandy

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Right.

I don't really have €€€ to spend. I do have access to a better studio. I was supposed to pay to a friend for his help, not much and certainly not what a skilled pro is worth. He said he would help anyway, but that never happened. And at the moment I can't afford what I could a few years ago.

Besides, if I have someone to do it for me I learn nothing. And I don't want to blame someone else if I'm not happy with the result. If someone more skilled than myself is doing me a favor I don't want to push my views too hard. If I could pay good money it would be different but as I said, I can't afford it right now.;)
 

codamedia

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so, the mix is where the fixes happen and the master is only final total product polish, right?

In short... yes.

However, this brings up another point about mixing. "Fixing it in the mix" is a terrible mindset to approach recording from. It is imperative to get it right during the recording. You never want to pass along shortcomings (on purpose) to the next stage of the project believing they can "fix it".

For years I used to have a little sign in my project studio to remind me.... "fix it in the take, not in the mix". That sign is now gone, but the philosophy is deeply embedded.
 
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EugeneWeemich

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In short... yes.

However, this brings up another point about mixing. "Fixing it in the mix" is a terrible mindset to approach recording from. It is imperative to get it right during the recording. You never want to pass along shortcomings (on purpose) to the next stage of the project believing they can "fix it".

For years I used to have a little sign in my project studio to remind me.... "fix it in the take, not in the mix". That sign is now gone, but the philosophy is deeply embedded.

mixing is where the adjustments occur. agree.

fix in the mix is always a sketchy approach to dealing with bad takes. that said, I'm sure a ton of bad takes were layered into hit songs....we just never knew.
 




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