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Mixing Vocals 101 – A Brief Guide for Aspiring Musicians

Aspiring musicians are inspired to learn more about mixing music to improve their sound quality and make memorable tracks. The most important part of this process is mixing vocals, which often ruins the overall quality of a song. If the vocal mix goes south, people notice it quite easily because the lead singer’s voice is either inaudible or the words are unclear.

If you do not want to suffer from a bad vocal mix, here are simple tips to make your life as an aspiring musician easier:

  1. Prioritize Vocals

Rather than thinking of vocals as something you need to fit in with the rest of the tracks, let it be the beginning of your mix and lead from there. Once you start adding more tracks, you can EQ them to fit with the rest of the mix. In contrast, if you wait too long to bring in the vocals, you’ll realize that too much EQ is required to fix this problem. When the most important vocal track in the mix is not prioritized, it gets lost in the rest of the tracks and sounds harsh or small. Therefore, bring the vocals early and shape your mix around them.

  1. Use the Power of Pre-Delay

Reverb can make your mix sound a bit far away, but if you want that echo effect without losing your vocal’s good quality, use pre-delay. Pre-delay keeps your vocals front and center while adding a short delay. You will hear the reverb effect, but the vocals will be as clear as before.

  1. Give Context to Your Vocals

Vocals are supposed to work together with the rest of the track, so if you go for the solo button, you will be ruining the mix. Give context to your mix by listening to the vocals with other tracks. The solo button takes the context out of the mix, and you are bound to make bad mixing decisions.

Remember, it may sound great solo, but if it does not sound good with the remaining mix, you haven’t achieved your goal of a good vocal mix.

Don’t let the need to use the solo button overwhelm you while mixing vocals. Consider it a practice to help you make better mixing decisions.

  1. De-Esser to Make It Sound Right

De-esser can determine the quality of your vocals in the mix. If you find the right de-esser, you can make the vocals sound clear and present. A great de-esser is better than the ‘right’ one because it will control sibilance. However, if you get your hands on a poor de-esser, your vocals will sound flat and dull.

  1. Let Compression Go

If you rely on compression to improve the vocal sound, you will be out of luck. Compression is not enough to make your vocals sound fantastic. It will create an odd quality to the vocals, causing the words to get lost sometimes while making the sound aggressive at other times. A good way to use compression is to combine it with automation.

Final Words

While mixing vocals can improve the sound of your mix, do not rely on the power of technology. It all starts with a good vocal performance with a near-perfect pitch. You can’t turn bad vocals into a harmonious piece of music unless the singer gives you a good starting point!

Eric Dalius
Author: Eric Dalius

Eric Dalius is The Executive Chairman of MuzicSwipe. In this position, he acts as key advisor and lead strategist, helping to guide the company’s plan to redefine the music discovery process. Yahoo Finance has noted the company’s positioning to ultimately work with music labels and distributors, helping to grow their artist rosters on a global basis.Mr. Dalius comes to his role having spent three decades as a serial entrepreneur with multiple successes.

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