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Topic: OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

  1. #1

    OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

    Can somebody help me with a few mixing questions regarding vocals and pop songs in general. I'll outline my process and the hardware and software I use and maybe somebody can help me out with some tips or tell me where the weak links are in my software/hardware.

    Here's currently how I do it when recording vocals

    1) I use Cubase SL 2.0.

    2) I route a Behringer B1 mic into a Behringer mixer with phantom power.

    3) All eq is flat on the board and this goes into Cubase via an Echo Mia card

    4) I use Melodyne to help out with pitch (works very nicely)

    5) I use the Dynamics module that come with Cubase and add an 8 to 1 compression ratio for the lead vocal.

    6) I then add some EQ'ing but don't really know what I'm doing. I usually take out some of the harsher midtones and try and warm it up a tad.

    7) I then add some reverb with Glaceverb and maybe a bit of delay.

    8) Sometimes it sounds OK but it never sounds like I think it could.

    I know in a real studio they would not use Behringer stuff but this is all I can afford for now. I really want the vocal track to be warm and full and sit well in the mix.

    Any tips you guys may have would be appreciated. Do I need a better mic? Is there a plugin that will help warm up and fill out my vocals? Would a pre-amp be better than running through my mixer. (and if I get one where does it sit in the chain?)

    Sorry to go way OT but this has been a question for many years. Also feel free to recommend any books or DVD's on mixing vocals.

    Thanks Guys!

    "Every time you play a wrong note God kills a kitten."

  2. #2

    Re: OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

    I'm by no means a pro, but a common trick is to double the vocal part (this can be done through re-recording multiple takes or with plugins like "Ensemble" and Delay etc) and "hide them" in the mix through panning and db level. The goal is to fatten up the vocal mix, and is done with EVERY pop vocal track I've ever heard.

    I've also found that pop vocals, especially male, usually have a strong high pass filter on as high as 112Hz, and usually boost a little bit around 1k-5k to bring out some airiness. Depending on the vocalist, you may want to try cutting some mids as well, around 250-500 can be annoying at times.

    I have very little experience with vocal mixing, so I hope I dont lead you a stray. I hope someone else can give you (and me) some better advice

    Best of luck!

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

    I think it's your front end more than anthing else. Not the best mic, not the best pre, not a great mixing board, and a sound card with ok but not (Apogee quality) converters. All in all, you're probably not getting the 'best' sound into the computer to work with. If you have a good signal chain and converters, you really don't have to do much (if anything) to get it to sound good. When you start needing a million plug-ins to make something sound decent, I think the best thing is to work on the sound going in. That's not to say that anything you have is bad, it's just that there's a reason pro records will use a Neuman 87 into a killer Neve mic pre, into a La2a outboard, into Apogee converters. Then you'd be surprised how little you have to do to make it sound good in SW, basically put up the fader. So where does that leave you, I don't know I'd look a getting better parts of your input chain, over time. I've found (after making a million buying mistakes) that it's better to save up and buy the best piece of gear (that will usually even hold it's value over time) than to buy a cheaper version and then be unsatisfied and end up buying something else. I would start with a mic, then better pre, then finally converters. And for one or 2 tracks this won't make a huge difference but when you record many tracks through good gear, that's when you really start to hear why it's so expensive in the first place. Good luck - it's pretty much an endless quest. It's funny though - as we get all this new computer gear and stuff, I've had a revelation that outboard stuff still sounds better and in 5 years all my computers stuff will be worthless while my old 1176 or Les Paul will probably go up in value. If I only knew then what I know now......

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

    What are you monitoring with and what type of room are you listening in? Is all that eqing, compressing etc, really needed? Can you actually hear what you have recorded? What type of place are you recording in? A closet? A garage? Are you driving the gain too high - have you bought into the myth that 24 bit digital recordings should be as hot as possible?

    Practice moving the mic around - get the sound you want before you hit record (well as best as you can with lower end gear). Spend time moving the mic an inch this way or that way - face a different direction, move to the center of a room, move towards a wall - experiment. Is your voice thin to begin with?

    There a lot of things that could make your gear reach its maximum use. It may take you a little bit. But like others have said - better gear captureing a better performance in a better room will help you make better mix decisions.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Decatur Illinois

    Re: OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

    I agree with Donimon for the most part. Start with the mic and pre. One thing that I might suggest that is really pretty affordable is some of the Voxengo plug-ins. I used the voxformer plug on my band's last CD and it really brought the vocal to life. Most newer pop and rock songs dont use a ton of ambience and rarely any echoes or delays. Most current-day vocals are pretty in-your-face with the exception of a few. I got away with an AT 2020 ( $99 ) and used a behringer pre and got pretty good results. If ever you want to hear some examples, I could email an mp3 or something. I'm no pro but I think it came out pretty good. Hope this helps.

    Last edited by EricWatkins; 11-12-2006 at 09:46 PM. Reason: spelling

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

    Another thing you might want to think about is finding a way to lower that compression ratio which probably exacerbates a mic noise floor that might be marginal to begin with. A little mic technique can work wonders... having the singer lean away from the mic as they get louder and towards the mic for soft and intimate could help achieve the same dynamic spread as 8:1 with maybe just a 3 or 4 to 1 ratio. And give you a more present and alive sounding vocal track.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Chandler, Arizona

    Re: OT: Mixing Questions for the Pros at NS

    I usually record with a 4:1 compression ratio. With the Behringer mike I would roll off 3 to 4 db from 2 KHz on up. This mike is really bright and picks up quite a bit of breath noise and lip pops.

    The Behringer mixer preamps are quite poor. I had bad luck with mine. Now I use my old 12 channel Mackie mixer which has pretty decent pre-amps compared to the Mackie. I also have a low budget for equipment - have to keep the wife happy.

    This is a recording I did using the same Behringer mike of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody which has about 40 vocal tracks: http://members.cox.net/jamesortner/BohemianRhapsody.mp3

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