Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix. (Finished pg 2)

Get that song on tape! Errr... disk?
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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by mbene085 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:02 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:47 pm
If "audible pumping" is what you want, you can try pressing down multiple ratio buttons (if you're using plug-ins, it's usually some sort of shift-click; if hardware I like pressing 4:1 and 20:1 at the same time). Also a Level-Loc/Level-Or (or Devil-Loc plug-in) can get you to pumping. Try it in parallel, it can certainly make a vocal sound stylized in an exciting way
This is a bit of an aside, but on the note of audible pumping - is it a stylistic thing in pop music to go apeshit with pumping global compressors these days?

I avoid all pop music like the plague, but the other day I heard a track by some sort of major/successful artist, and I swear the synths were fading out by like 15-20dB with every beat of the kick drum, which was playing straight quarter notes for the entire chorus. Wish I could remember the track, but it sounded like something I'd have done when I was 13 years old fucking around with a pirated copy of Cubase and discovering compression for the first time. I was genuinely shocked at how it just sounded shittily mastered rather than like a deliberate aesthetic choice, but maybe it was?

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by Telliot » Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:06 pm

Yes, that’s quite common these days. Personally I don’t like it and think it’s distracting, but it’s something I hear being used quite a lot. There have been examples where I found it to be more musical and less ‘invasive’, but those are few and far between for me.
The cool thing about fretless is you can hit a note...and then renegotiate.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by mbene085 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:20 pm

It was absolutely, crazy distracting. I'd flip my shit if I paid the kind of money that label paid for a mix and master and it came back with 75% of the instrumental track throbbing in and out with every kick. Wow.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by marqueemoon » Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:37 pm

Thanks, everyone. Really appreciate all the advice and tips and general help thinking all of this through.

I think I’m going to pull back and just practice the singing for a bit. I’ll probably just run off a vocal-less version and practice in my car on the way to/from work. No amount of fiddling will fix a bad performance. I’ll also try to work up an acoustic version for the biweekly virtual open mic I do. Hopefully that will help it gel as a song.

On reflection I’ve been letting other elements of the recording dictate what kind of vocal performance it needs, which is dumb. Currently the bass and drums are the “heavy” elements, but they could be different depending on what gets the point across best vocally.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Dec 30, 2020 10:03 am

mbene085 wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:20 pm
It was absolutely, crazy distracting. I'd flip my shit if I paid the kind of money that label paid for a mix and master and it came back with 75% of the instrumental track throbbing in and out with every kick. Wow.
It's a stylistic choice.

50-60 years ago, many people would've said "if my guitar amp was distorting, I'd send it back!"

Fashion trends come and go. I kind of think all approaches to dynamics processing have a season.

At any rate, an audibly compressed-to-the-point-of-pumping stereo bus isn't just something that happens "these days"! Check out what the Roger Mayer RM57 (I think) is doing on this track from 1972...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5u25XGGo-E

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by Drill » Wed Dec 30, 2020 10:52 am

Regarding performance. Try to sing low, and pretend that you are singing loud if that's the register you want. You shouldn't need (except if it's really screaming - even metal guys "scream" low volume) to go much loud. If you see documentaries, you will see that Chris Cornell sang way lower volume than what you would expect. Really control your diaphragma, place your voice well, (do some vocal exercises withouh trying to sing loud) and you will see that you will improve. (Billie Eilish for example, you can see she sings really low volume).

Microphones and monitors are really important for the performance. Because you will try to compensate what you are not listening. If your microphone is bassy you (subconsciously) will try to put more treble in your voice for example. The same with the headphones.

There are many ways to try and solve the "sitting" question. Sidechain compression might solve your problem (your voice compressing the rest of the instruments). If you are not comfortable with eq, try some tape sims. I would not exaggerate with the plugins. But if you really like the song, perhaps you should consider sending to someone to mix your music?

Good luck with the production. Hopefully we can listen to it soon :)

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by jorri » Thu Dec 31, 2020 4:00 am

marqueemoon wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:37 pm
Thanks, everyone. Really appreciate all the advice and tips and general help thinking all of this through.

I think I’m going to pull back and just practice the singing for a bit. I’ll probably just run off a vocal-less version and practice in my car on the way to/from work. No amount of fiddling will fix a bad performance. I’ll also try to work up an acoustic version for the biweekly virtual open mic I do. Hopefully that will help it gel as a song.

On reflection I’ve been letting other elements of the recording dictate what kind of vocal performance it needs, which is dumb. Currently the bass and drums are the “heavy” elements, but they could be different depending on what gets the point across best vocally.
When anything is so difficult to sit in a mix it usually is performance. It can be easier to track again, at least you do yourself a favour.

Vocals can contrast too. Heavy stuff with soft or ethereal vocals always good, could experiment monitoring with a softer mix then drop that heavy back in to see if contrast works.

Monitoring levels always affect a performance too.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by marqueemoon » Thu Dec 31, 2020 11:01 am

jorri wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 4:00 am
marqueemoon wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:37 pm
Thanks, everyone. Really appreciate all the advice and tips and general help thinking all of this through.

I think I’m going to pull back and just practice the singing for a bit. I’ll probably just run off a vocal-less version and practice in my car on the way to/from work. No amount of fiddling will fix a bad performance. I’ll also try to work up an acoustic version for the biweekly virtual open mic I do. Hopefully that will help it gel as a song.

On reflection I’ve been letting other elements of the recording dictate what kind of vocal performance it needs, which is dumb. Currently the bass and drums are the “heavy” elements, but they could be different depending on what gets the point across best vocally.
When anything is so difficult to sit in a mix it usually is performance. It can be easier to track again, at least you do yourself a favour.

Vocals can contrast too. Heavy stuff with soft or ethereal vocals always good, could experiment monitoring with a softer mix then drop that heavy back in to see if contrast works.

Monitoring levels always affect a performance too.
Absolutely right on the monitor level/mix thing. When I give it another go I’m thinking I’ll mute everything but the guitars and maybe the click in a few places for timing.

If I feel like the vocal performance I get from that works I will adjust other aspects of the arrangement as needed. It’s probably going to push in a mellower direction.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by jorri » Fri Jan 01, 2021 5:31 am

re- the monitors, to me its about feeling comfortable. Why my rough takes have something that trying too hard doesn't because i might be doing a demo where i don't need cans.

Otherwise if i do lots of takes sometimes i just vary the output level a few times. Taking one can side off can help. Always the question, do i want to push myself to sing loud or quiet by pushing up the monitor, do i sing into verb because its an instrument or leave it dry so i dont flatter my singing too much but usually best to be able to hear yourself well. I Never have the right answer, but think if it makes 1/3 the plugins and 1/10 of the mixing fixes can be worth a bit of playing around.
same goes for mistakes, like in the age of DAWs we expect to comp and timeshift or even autotune it all which takes hours, when another take might just be around the corner.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by marqueemoon » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:37 am

So, after practicing this a bit I had another go at it. Other than one pitch issue on one word I’m pretty happy with it, and I may just live with that. Because I was chasing some noise issues with my setup I ended up cutting vocals without compression which surprisingly I was able to pull off. I tried my RE20 and didn’t like that. Ended up using my Pacific Pro Audio LD-1 which is an import LD condenser. It has pretty pronounced high mids and sounds kind of obnoxious on its own, but yeah.

I also cut a lower harmony I’m not sure I like everywhere. It may end up just in choruses/bridge.

I re-cut the bass and I feel like it has more energy now, but now that everything else is sounding better the issues with the drums is more obvious. The kick mic just isn’t usable, and my save attempts make the drums take up too damn much space. The performance is ok, but since it was done pre-vocals I think the best approach is a re-do. That will likely also mean redoing the bass (for the 4th time) so it locks in appropriately.

At least this song has changed from something I wasn’t sure was worth saving to one that’s worth putting more work into.

By contrast the b side has been a relative breeze. I did vocals and viola yesterday.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:56 am

Hey, I was wondering why we didn't talk about the Waves' Vocal Rider, though? That often lives after the gentle compression you might use with recording, and then you can sit the vocals very well with that plug in very often.

It's not a compressor- are you familiar with it?

And you know you have to put the song up with you are done, right? I want to hear the viola.
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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by marqueemoon » Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:13 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:56 am
Hey, I was wondering why we didn't talk about the Waves' Vocal Rider, though? That often lives after the gentle compression you might use with recording, and then you can sit the vocals very well with that plug in very often.

It's not a compressor- are you familiar with it?

And you know you have to put the song up with you are done, right? I want to hear the viola.
That sounds pretty interesting. I’ve just been using the automation in GarageBand.

Yes, these will both go up. I’ve given myself a deadline.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by mgeek » Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:20 am

I find distortion often helps getting a vocal to sit right, even on softer songs. Doesn't have to be even audibly distorted as such.

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by jorri » Sat Jan 30, 2021 10:28 am

marqueemoon wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:13 pm
Larry Mal wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:56 am
Hey, I was wondering why we didn't talk about the Waves' Vocal Rider, though? That often lives after the gentle compression you might use with recording, and then you can sit the vocals very well with that plug in very often.

It's not a compressor- are you familiar with it?

And you know you have to put the song up with you are done, right? I want to hear the viola.
That sounds pretty interesting. I’ve just been using the automation in GarageBand.

Yes, these will both go up. I’ve given myself a deadline.
Strikes me as interesting. Its recommended to level each phrase, or even more detail before compressing...

...but then i was like; what happens in the louder chorus? I guess i have to still automate that myself?

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Re: Getting a vocal to sit in a louder mix.

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Jan 30, 2021 10:46 am

https://sethhoward.bandcamp.com/album/f ... toon-crown

I posted this elsewhere, but not here. Flags For New Nations is the song.

I ended up foregoing and distortion on the vocal and using a more forward-sounding mic (a Pacific Pro Audio LD-1). I dialed back the energy of the performance slightly as I found that shouting didn’t really bring anything good to the table. There’s one note where I drift sharp, but I decided to keep it.

Re-playing the drums helped a lot. By that point I really knew the part and I went for a cleaner drum sound.

There’s more acoustic guitar on this than I envisioned originally, but I think that helps drive the song along and competes less with the singing.

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