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Author Topic: Vocal Spread  (Read 2342 times)

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December 05, 2012, 12:24:10 AM
Hello

Can anyone jump in and help me out with this. I am working on a track right now and my reference track for the mix is "Figure 8" by Ellie Goulding  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNpBahr49mA

I really like how the vocals are spread out on the chorus. You hear them panned to the side but still hearing the lead vocal in the middle. They sound nice and compressed and sitting in the mix just right...


Im writing and mixing as I go with this song. My set up is PT 8 and I have done the following to try and achieve this on the Chorus

LEAD VOX- Was recorded on a Blue mic (I was not present at tracking)

1. Panned- straight up the middle
3. EQ- HPF at 116, HF -3.2 at 8.9k (digi plug)
4. De-Esser- Freq. 7.8 Range -8.8 getting -6db of reduction
5. I automate before the compressor. then compress BF76 fast attack and release, Ratio12, about -10db of reduction, Then I have the Massey TapeHead on Normal setting.
6. I parallel compressed it with a BF76 attack at 7 release at 1. "all buttons in" getting about -20db of compression. Then Im blending that in.

I then copied that track and applied a different eq. cut lows and compressed it more and sent it through the same aux as the lead vox.


BGVs. Hear Im trying to spread the melody out. So i have 3 parts. the original melody, a Harmony and one double of the melody

they are bussed to an aux with the following plugs on it.

1. Massey Comp Attack fast, Release Mid, Compressed at 5 with about 6 to 8db of reduction.
2. EQ HPF at 350Hz, +1.4 at 1.2k and - 6db at 8k
3. Massey TapeHead set to normal

They are then bussed to the following auxes to make it wide

1. AIR Stereo width. Set to WIDE and MODE is Adjust.  (that is then bused to a doubler)
2. Stereo AUX Doubler DLY with 8.35 and 15.ms of delay. (no feedback) 
3. Parallel compressed the lead


My session is getting really big and I feel like it's all running away from me at this point.  :(


So here is my question

Im looking for are any tips on what you guys have done to get the vocals fat/big/wide and spread out across the stereo image. In the vein of the figure 8 song/pop songs. Stacking vox beefing them up etc.

On another note Im trying to get my drums as big and aggressive/in your face as "figure 8" as well but I guess that would be for another topic. But comments are appreciated.

Also, Please just listen up to the first chorus on my song because I haven't really done anything with the back half.

So just first CH only which starts at :55.  Thanx!


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December 05, 2012, 02:05:44 AM
I think you've hit on a lot of good ways to make the vocals larger.  One thing I do is record vocals with an LDC, but also throw up a pair of stereo room mics.  Then I'll take those room mics and high pass up around 290 Hz, as well as cutting the presence freq's around 3k, and a little high shelf boost.  Pan them left and right and compress a fair bit.  I'll even put some kind of saturation plug on them as well.  It can spread things out nicely without sounding too busy or artificial. 

As far as processing the lead track, some kind of slap echo is always going to make it pop a little more.  I use echo boy with either a slap echo or ping pong echo a lot, then send some of the echo track to the vocal reverb aux.  Another technique I really like is to set up two identical aux busses with a 1/8 note delay plug.  Also put a low pass filter on the delay plug somewhere around 8100 Hz.  Set up a send to one or the other from your vocal track.  Pan one aux delay hard left and one hard right.  Then set up a send from the left aux to the right, and one from the right aux to the left.  The two auxes just keep sending the reflections to each other, each time cutting more highs, so it sounds like a more natural decay.  Usually setting the sends around -15dB is a good starting point.  You can also set up a send from these delay auxes to your vocal reverb buss, which I frequently do.  I find I'm using less and less reverb on vocals these days.  Delays and echoes done correctly just sound better to me.  The reference track you put up definitely has some delays going on.


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December 05, 2012, 09:45:15 AM
It's pretty common in this kind of pop to do the lead vocals at least 3 times. One in the middle and two hard left and right. All vocaligned (try elastic audio if you don't have it) and tuned pretty hard. Also notice that some words/phrases are tuned deliberately hard to create some accents. Maybe you even do the LV a fourth time in the middle a little lower in the mix but even harder compressed. You have to try out what works. But watch out for a mid build up when stacking. Try serial compression, often two (different) comps with 4dB GR each sound better than one with 8dB GR.
Most chorusing and widening stuff is used very subtle. That means if you really hear it, it's probably too much (unless used as an effect). Doubling works better.
Also double the harmony several times and try out odd ones and ocataves an all the good stuff. The key is to bring them up from below just so that they add to it but aren't necessarily recognized as an own musical part.

As for the drums. In the Ellie Goulding song they are relatively mono and not as "big" as you might think. It's all about how they sit in the mix compared to the rest. Want big drums? Make the bass and the synth small. It's all about balance. I think the wideness/bigness in this track comes from the vocals and synths. The synths can be carved around the vocals relatively easily since they have information in every frequency range.
I would, however, in your track maybe try out some different samples for the drums with more splash in the high frequency range. Especially the kick. It has too much mids and no enough high end click. Also what I like is to treat attack and sustain individually on drums (mostly snare). One sample for attack and one for sustain (or more....) compressed and EQ differently. I'm missing sustain from the snare in your track. Reverb works too but be careful.

Of course not everything works on every track and the singers voice often dictates and/or limits what can be done. Also note that what I write could be complete BS and not work at all.

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December 05, 2012, 04:03:09 PM
I hadn't heard about Ellie Goulding before, ended up listening to her for almost two hours last night! :D

I didn't really hear any issues pan-, and placement-wise in your song's vocals. I personally have a habit of compressing each of the BG vocal track on its own before applying any group treatment. It's quite if the BG vocal (track) levels are about the same as in lead vocal; copy-paste the plugins from lead and tweak slightly accordingly. I personally get BG vocals sit in the mix much more easily.

However I feel that that the lead is slightly sticking out of the mix to it's disadvantage. Meaning it's not in-your-face, but detached. I'd suggest that you'd be more brave with the delay in the verses. Also you could try to put some stereo widener delay on the lead vocal also (the same kind which you have on the BGs, but perhaps with bigger delay times, say 20-40) and use that as your "reverb".
"You don't go to a record school to go to courses, you go to record school to record there!"
http://soundcloud.com/spede-1

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December 05, 2012, 06:29:23 PM
I think you've hit on a lot of good ways to make the vocals larger.  One thing I do is record vocals with an LDC, but also throw up a pair of stereo room mics.  Then I'll take those room mics and high pass up around 290 Hz, as well as cutting the presence freq's around 3k, and a little high shelf boost.  Pan them left and right and compress a fair bit.  I'll even put some kind of saturation plug on them as well.  It can spread things out nicely without sounding too busy or artificial. 

As far as processing the lead track, some kind of slap echo is always going to make it pop a little more.  I use echo boy with either a slap echo or ping pong echo a lot, then send some of the echo track to the vocal reverb aux.  Another technique I really like is to set up two identical aux busses with a 1/8 note delay plug.  Also put a low pass filter on the delay plug somewhere around 8100 Hz.  Set up a send to one or the other from your vocal track.  Pan one aux delay hard left and one hard right.  Then set up a send from the left aux to the right, and one from the right aux to the left.  The two auxes just keep sending the reflections to each other, each time cutting more highs, so it sounds like a more natural decay.  Usually setting the sends around -15dB is a good starting point.  You can also set up a send from these delay auxes to your vocal reverb buss, which I frequently do.  I find I'm using less and less reverb on vocals these days.  Delays and echoes done correctly just sound better to me.  The reference track you put up definitely has some delays going on.



Thanx!!! I added a mono Echoboy with a "Warm Slap" and then sent some of that to a mono spring reverb on the LV. This is really making it sit better int he mix which was one of the other comments one of the guys made as well. Meaning the LV was detached. Im gonna work on it more. Much appreciated  ;D

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December 29, 2012, 03:53:54 AM
Hi Jluv,

I have two ways how to do your vocals as they are in that video clip:
1) plugin - very good and good sounding plugin is Doubler 2 from Waves. It just does its job very well. You can use that on vocals (with zeros on tuning and with some experimenting with delayed and panned subchannels of the plugin. Of course, you have to find the good compression and attack for the vocals. Good attack and release setting helps your vocals to be "in your face" :)

2) hardware - I use this signal chain - mono lead vocal and then 2 times delayed (with different delays (i.e. 9ms and 30ms) and panned the same channel.
Sure, you have to use a lot of equalization, the same compression (the same rules as in the plugin world), play around with some reverb etc.

For your drums - you have to play with reverb. If you have a good room for the drums with lot of reverbation, you can use stereo room mikes. If you don't have, you can recreate the reverb with some hardware/software plugin.
Don't forget to set the correct pre-delay and diffusion level for the drums (especially for the snare) and OH.

If you will have any questions, just ask :)

Best regards,
Frank
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Berklee College of Music - Audio Production
Trainer of Sound engineering