Mixing Vocals 101: How to Mix Vocals Perfectly

by Ilan Adar, NoiseWorks CEO  15.08.2023
Mixing Vocals 101 - NoiseWorks
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3 Ways for Brighter Vocals

Mixing vocals in stereo provides the opportunity to make a signal appear brighter. Through various techniques, we can introduce more side signals to spread our vocals across the stereo field. This results in a brighter vocal sound.

Double Your Vocals

In addition to your centrally-panned vocal track, consider recording two more takes, panning one to the left and the other to the right. The variances between these tracks will produce an extremely bright vocal effect. Depending on the compressor, EQ, and reverb settings, you can either push the doubled vocals to the background or bring them more to the forefront. Click here to learn more about compressor settings for vocals.

Enhancing Vocals with Whispered Layers

One alternative technique involves whispering your song in two additional takes. Pan one take to the left and the other to the right. These whispering takes can often sound quite harsh. Start by using an EQ with a low-cut filter. Due to the nature of whispering, this filter can be set relatively high.

Level out your entire track using gain automation or a vocal rider like GainAim. Next, apply a fast-acting compressor. 

Your whispered track will likely be dominant in the 8 to 12 kHz range. To manage the sharp “S” sounds in this range, use a De-Esser. For those interested in creating their own De-Esser, click here.

Adjusting the volume of the whispered tracks will influence how bright your vocals appear in the mix.

Use Modulation Effects

Instead of relying on recording techniques, consider using modulation effects, like the chorus, to create a stereo wall behind your vocals.
We’ll utilize the chorus effect on a parallel aux track, granting us more flexibility in subsequent mixing stages.
First, create an Aux-track and set the chorus to 100% wet. Next, create a send from your vocal track to this Aux-track. The louder you set the send, the brighter your vocals will appear.
However, the chorus isn’t the only modulation effect available. Here are some examples of how others sound.

Modulation effects - sound examples

Chorus effect

Flanger effect

Phaser effect

How to route signal on an Aux - Bus

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