Skip to main content

Robert Lang Studios Mixing Class

Lesson 8 of 10

Mixing Vocals

 

Robert Lang Studios Mixing Class

Lesson 8 of 10

Mixing Vocals

 

Lesson Info

Mixing Vocals

So now that we've got our instrumental mix going, it's time to start blending in some vocals. And first before we touch on the mixing of Oklahoma, do a quick thing about my editing and tuning of vocals and so here and how kind of how I I lay him out So like you guys were seeing earlier, I'm not a big automation guy. I'm not huge on that kind of kind of trickles over into vocals to your You're not going to see a whole lot here just a little bit in the bridge here where where we did the guitar automation also and then probably here at the end where the the drums start going heavier and the symbol start hitting harder. But for the most part, I want to process my vocals enough that I have to do very little automation. And that means a lot of compression and a lot of effects. So let's look at editing so I'm not afraid. Well, first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take my vocal track, which, like, say, this track say this is the comp version of Of You've spent the day recording is actually th...

is right here. You spend the day recording and you've come together a vocal track of a take you like and this is it. And I'm going to then take this track and I'm gonna duplicate it right here. And I'm gonna name it 80 for just I call it a C for auto tune, because I'm I'm gonna be It's basically my signifier that I'm going to be editing in tuning that track. So I've already done that, which is right here. So this is my final comped and tuned version of this vocal is on my 80 track right here. Now let's listen to so we've got I don't have any problems going with vocals and moving stuff around you, like this vocal line right here that he does. I think I nudge some words around to be more in time because it's a it's a bit of a run. You need to go in there and, you know, take away a section like this and just nudge it back a little bit to make it sound more in time. Don't be. Don't be afraid to do it. I'm I'm listening for performance more than I'm listening for timing and listening for tuning If a singer comes out and just nails apart, but he's a little bit at a time or a little bit attitude. I'm much more inclined to take that take over something that came out perfectly in tune. So let's listen to an untutored version of a vocal here by solo here, you gotta wait for the punch line. So here, I like how you like how he delivered this line, but he goes sharp at the end of this take. You gotta wait for the punch line right there at the end in I'm not, You know, the song is a loose feel to it. I'm gonna be a lot of dirt on this stuff, but I don't a little bit too much out for me. So I'm gonna use I I use all three of the big the big auto tuning plug ins. I use attitude. I use waves, tune and I use melody line. If I had to own one, it would be melody line. I am not a huge fan of the workflow with Melanie because I like working with the audio sweet versions of plug ins and Melody doesn't do that. And They have some work arounds that make it work pretty well. But I want to be able to duplicated track like I was, showed you and and tune it and process it and not have to worry about it again. I you'll never see me run Auto tune or any tuning program live on a track, not melody in or any of my don't I don't trust it. I feel like it's going to screw up at some point. It makes editing parts weird. I I want I want to commit to it. So I've always got you know, I've got my attitude track here was gonna work from, but I can always fall back on the original version. I can always just It's a playlist away and I can grab it. And if I need to tweak it some more So for stuff like this, um, I kind of have three levels I have. If the singer is really on point and great, I might try doing auto tune with a slow ah, with a slow time to it. So doesn't sound too attitude, and I might just running on the whole track and see how it sounds and then my medium level is is where I use waves tune which I use most of the time I would say And if waves tune isn't working for me, that's when I drop Teoh Melody So let's let's show how it's done So we've got this vocal here. It's I've got my because I'm really good with track management. I know the songs in G major up here, so I'm just gonna change the key of the tuning here Toe G Major. And I'm gonna run this vocal through tune. You gotta wait for the punch line. You gotta wait for the punch line. So we're getting too much tuning here on the very last line, but you kind of get some of the other stuff going on. So, like, the main words are kind of like thats is the word he's entering on. This is the second word you gotta wear gotta and then he's going upto wait and then coming down for a punch line. So some of things you could get away with, like he's a little bit sharp on this very first thing. A lot of times you get away with just like, hard tuning it and you won't even know for something like entering. You got away a little bit much. So this is the note transition knob here. So 808 is slow. You can see that the green is the affected vocal and the orange behind it is the original. So if I get that green down into right in the middle of this note here were good, but I'm gonna just kind of just kind of right around in here something. You gotta wait for the punch. And I might try pulling this weight down. Just try to get closer to the middle. You gotta wait for the punch line, but line is the biggie. The blinds sounded a little weird there at the end. So we have a ratio. Not here, where you can actually go back to the original so I could just move. It's always the left and play it back. You gotta wait for the punch line and you hear him going sharp there. You could maybe move this toe 50% in kind of your It's still gonna go sharp a little bit, but it shouldn't have nearly that tuned feel to it. You gotta wait for the punch line, so I like that like it's not. It's not noticeably going so sharp, but it is a little bit, but it fits with this kind of a band. If I was doing a pop more pop stuff, I probably wouldn't even use this take. I'd find something a little, or I would just grab that word from a separate take and try finding something a little bit closer that he's not bending up. Um, but yeah, I'll render that and we can move on. I'll dio do one more here before we let's pick something else. Um, chorus. All right, So here's the untutored and first vocal in the chorus. This isn't how they sat. It would be This isn't how they sad he would be. So he was kind of right between these two notes. Here, you can see, is a little bit sharp, like almost right between, uh, being the sea. So he's supposed to be down here on the B. This isn't how they sat. It would be this. It's a little bit too tuned, but I'm I know I'm gonna be doubling these vocals in this course I'm gonna be having some backups going. I'm gonna be having some effects on these vocals going. So it's something where I might go. You know what? I'm gonna leave it this tuned and I'm gonna I'm gonna render it, Call it good. And when we get to the near the end of the mix, if that's bugging me, it's going to be something I'm gonna come back on. Don't be afraid to tune vocals too much than you. You know, there's times where you solo it and you're like, Man, that just sounds tuned. But when you get everything going with the mix, it's not something that you notice. All right, So let's look at what I do for processing on these vocals. We're gonna start with the first verse here. We've already got distortion on the drums to sort of guitars, heavily distorted bass. So we're gonna keep going with that. We're going to start the vocals a little bit. This plug in I love this place in one of my favorites for ah, tape emulation, distortion with a little bit of slap back delay. I think my goal with this was to just put a little bit of rasp on his vocals. Which is this record level knob here? So at zero, when I play this back, you've gotta wait for the punch line. It's not really that disorder. Now, if I bring it up, Teoh, say 12 here, see what this sounds like you gotta wear for the punch line too much. So let's bring it halfway. You gotta wait for the punch line. S O. I like this because it on the weight you're hearing a little bit of that wraps. Everything else is somewhat clean. But you're hearing a little bit of it on that weight. You gotta wait for the punch line. A little bit of slap back on his vocal here, And this is also serving the purpose of compressing his vocals a little bit. I mean, you're getting a little distortion there. It's definitely gonna even amount a little bit more. And I'm big on compressing vocals, heavily compressing vocals. So we've got this guy next in the chain. I've got him a 10 to 1 ratio. Not not all the way up attack, um, in a medium release, But I'm hitting it pretty hard. You gotta wait for the punch line. You gotta wait for the punch line, and you could hear there's a little pop in here right in this area. Gotta wait for the punch line. I if if I don't hear in the final mix, I'm not gonna worry about it too much. But I can always go back and just, you know, grab it from another take. I don't think the auto tune or the waves tune did that. Um, so that's basically got to levels of compression. We got a little bit of sourcing happening here, which is compressing it. We've got this then my favorite, the rather sounds compressor. I'm gonna bring this in with, like, just a 4 to 1 ratio ultrafast attack. Try to grab everything else and flat and even more. You gotta wait for the punch line. And it's also a good plug in just to bring you have a lot of gain here. You can add in the final stages. After all this compression, you just pushing stuff down farther and farther. You gotta wait for the punch line. So this one will kill you. And last but not least, just to grab any lows. I cut all the low end out and I am. I don't eat you vocals the whole lot my standard chan. I use it almost everything for vocals. I use a rode NT to a vocal mike through a focus, right? I say, Mike pre and I've used that on almost every record for the last seven or eight years. And I'm I'm ah, big on moving with stuff. And so when I get a vocalist and I'm not going to sit sit him in front of four mikes into a vocal audition, I mean, listen to what we're doing here with with these three plug ins. So much is happening to these vocals that I've honestly probably could run. I could a record these within s and 58 gotten something very similar. It's the nuance of a microphone tends to get lost, went, you know, you're throwing all of this stuff on here, so I just I go. I know that Mike sounds good. I've used it on you, just from everywhere from the softest singers to the loudest screamers. And it sounds cool and I'm and I'm fine. I'm like, Let's go, Let's just start doing vocals. So no e que. Here it all um I don't know if I do any final on them. No, I don't. I just do a little bit. It looks like I'm doing a little distortion on the on the vocal bus. So this is just next singing. And, uh, because I wanted a little bit of reverb on this section. So let's see what we got for those good old d verb. I'm not I'm not crazy about ah, river plug ins. I just long as it sounds good to me, I'm gonna go with it and is the plate plug, and we use and steer it Sounds like you gotta wait for the punch line so this one will kill you. It's being 30 something in America and running forward Train left the station without you. The verb is in there just to give it some space. I'm not. The sound of this vocal to me is the is the slap in the distortion that's happening with that Cramer tape plug in. So let's. And then, at the final end of the vocal chain here, I'm running a decapitate er cause a more distortion and it zone one of those things where I mean, maybe I'm wrong, But I feel like if you listen to this, if you're just listen to the song blind, you wouldn't think, Hey, this thing sounds overly distorted and crazy. But there's a lot going on. I'm running this to box preset. I probably changed them to stuff a bit. I'm running on the all the vocals going through this. Give him a little bit more grit to him. You gotta wait for the punch line so this one will kill you. So let's listen to it. With everything going, you got away for line America. Change of devastation about you. A little quiet in the mix, but we'll see. See if we get him a little bit more. Here. The Master. All right, So now before we get into backups, let's go to the chorus vocals. Now my version of automation is to separate part vocal parts by sections. So instead of having the course will stay on this track here and automating, you know some of the plug in parameters or the volume automation. I just make a new track that has my new settings on it, and you can see here these these verse vocals air at minus six and the chorus Is that basically unity right here? So let's see what I did differently on these vocals. So I'm using the same chain as the verse. I believe I did the Cramer tape a little bit different. So here is I'm doing less distortion. So we're at three here instead of had this guy on six for the versus I'm doing it. Three. So not quite hitting It is hard, and I pulled back on the slap delay a little bit because I'm going to be adding some vocal delay to this part. I really want the vocals to pop when the chorus hits and get wide. So let's listen to this vocal dry. This isn't how they sat. It would be that by now I have a real bouts of in me, so there's the vocal dry and then I'm running it through the river. This isn't how they sat. It would be how that by now I have a rule bouts of in me and I wanted there. I wanted this part to go really wide when this chorus hits. So I've got this guy running, which is the waves. Is this called the Super tap two taps and I've I've got it on slap Elvis sounds cool And I've got him panned out hard left and right for a wide slap sound. So here, listening to it with this plug in going this isn't how they sat. It would be by now I have a robot seven me. So you hear how much wider this gets Now listening. I'm gonna transition from the verse into this. And you can hear how mono this verse goes and then how much it jumps when it's the chorus can make a little bit more money. This isn't how they sat. It would be so really want to emphasize that this part is different in the last in that this is the course of the song. So let's double up those vocals by throwing on a different Compton take of this course right here and I'm running it. I'm not using the Kraemer tape. I'm running. It just looks like I'm slamming it with the A p I This this change the same. But somebody do differently here is on a double vocal. I'm gonna run a de Esser on it because I didn't want I wanted the song As tight as everything is I wanted the vocals to be a little bit looser and so I didn't want to go in and vocal line them up So that there, you know, I could go on and slide these vocals so they all line up with one another. But I liked there was a little bit of looseness going on here. And so problem you have with that is that you have the s sounds of the vocals and there any peas or percussive sounds of vocals can get you hear the flam And so I I saw DSR on here to kind of really mellow out those those kind of part. So here's what it sounds like. What? The DS, sir, This is how they sat. It would be you really hear. That s They said a said it really gets knocked down. Oh, they sat Who compared to how they sat, it would be really hear the s appearance. So it helps like he's out of time here with this stuff. But I think it sounds cool. I'm looking for that. I have a rule about seven me. We got the slap delay going. So it's just kind of delay you, you know, Rumi effect. Nothing I do is with these. With these doubles, I tend to hard, harder tune them. Then I will The mains. I want the doubles to be really in tune so that when they're when they're played together, it helps reinforce. So here's Here's the double chorus. This isn't how they sat. It would be by now. I have a robots of in me sometimes on a on a blow up everything. So, like on this me, me, I I didn't tune that one. Quite me. You can hear him kind of shake a little bit and this kind of reinforces the note down here, so I think it sounds cool. Um, backups. So backups are some of these guys now, my backups. A lot of times with a lot of bands, I will line up the backups to the mains. This is kind of one of those exceptions where I like I was saying I wanted it to be a little looser. I wanted everything to have more of ah ah crowd feel with this course especially so I didn't go in and vocal line these parts there all you could zoom in here and see starting at slightly different times. It kind of has a more of a little like a crowd Feel to it. Almost backups. I will tune pretty hard depending on the volume. They're gonna be in the mix if if if it's something where you want the backups to be a very prominent, I'm gonna have the lead singer singles backups and I'm gonna have him singing Well, so I'm so I'm not having a tune too hard. In this case we had they're pretty in the background, panned out wide. I wasn't I wasn't that worried about it. So I hard tuned him. And so there's this and there's a different singer singing in these parts. So that's what it sounds like. Hard tuned B. So you get that nice b sounds like a keyboard, but the one I'm all in here together, this isn't how sad it would be. I thought by now I have a robot serving me sometimes on a on a blow up breathing. And I'm running these with the same processing is the man I got the Kraemer tape going. I've got the a p I compressor e que Takata any Lohan and then also doing a de Esser here, since these aren't lined up perfectly with the mains, especially want to knock down any any obvious flames that are happening. One of the reasons to work hard tuning in this is that the chorus has kind of a weird cord right in the middle and really wanted to emphasize with these backups that cord. And so we did 1/3 backup here, which is just a hard tuned We probably I probably probably grabbed it. Um, I might have grabbed like this, take right here and drag it down and just tuned it hard to the note we wanted, which is an odd note for the key. So here, listen to it. About me. And it sounds weird, but you never know. Sounds like a robot that those three part harmony now that's happening is emphasizing the court in the course here. That's interesting way. Same thing with the, uh, versus here. We got a couple of backups on these verses. I tuned these pretty hard. It looks like I forgot to DS. Um, but they probably didn't, you know, I didn't. Did it sound bad to me so I didn't do it, uh, again, hard tuned them pretty, pretty strong. But there in the background enough that it's not something that, you know. If I was any louder, I probably had nixing, um, and not had him tuned is hard. Thank you. All right. Next thing is so automation wise. I mean, I'm hitting these vocals so hard because I want the control over him. I don't I don't want Nick. I don't want Nick having dynamic range control over over this mix. And I guess one thing I should touch on to when you're recording vocals is I'm not. I run him dry through. I'm not doing compression on the way in unless I have to. Now next. The pro has been doing this for years and you can look at this and see his volume is not changing drastically over this take. He is He's been doing it long enough, and he's he can He can work the mike he can pull away when he gets loud or getting close when he gets quiet. And that's a big part of of vocal processing and making it sound good, because, I mean, you get a singer. Where that they're the highs are peeking out. The mike and the lows are barely being registered. It becomes an absolute challenge. Then you got to go in and surges and clipped gain to raise stuff up, you know, or down. Like that's one of things I will do if a singer like, say, Nick saying this line, you know, and it looks like that he really belt it out. I would come in and I would highlight this and I would clip gain it down to a level that works with the rest of the take. So it sounds a little more seamless. So yeah, back to automation. So very little automation in this song. Only time I did some is I It looks like in the bridge here I Instead of bringing up the mains, I brought up the double. Ah, I don't really know why. I just I needed a little bit more volume out of it, but I didn't want it to be too noticeable. So let's hear what it sounds like coming out of this course into the bridge theme. Theo. So a lot of things are happening here. The guitars are becoming more prominent. You've got this leading guitar getting pumped up a little bit the symbols, aircrash and really hard. So you gotta, you know, it's one of situations where as much control as I have it with vocals. There it loud enough. So we gotta I pump up the doubles a little bit and I gave the backups a little bit of a boost. What are what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using clip gain versus volume automation? That's a good question. Eso clip gain. You can almost imagine it like you are performing the vocal for the vocalist. So I how explains All right, So if you've got it, like so you got a compressor here now, if I do volume automation on this track, it's not going to change how this vocal enters this compressor. It's on Lee gonna change the volume of the output of this track. So the problem you run into is if I've got a singer that they're singing this part real quiet and then they sing this part real loud, you'll see here it with the compressor. Let's build a time machine. It's at minus six, gain reduction. So the and that's around minus one. And so clip gain. When you're doing clip gain, I would say, Well, look at this part Now I could I could turn this up. I could go to the end of this chain and I could turn up the volume and try to get it. But what you're losing is the effect of these compressors in the rest of this chain. So what I want to do is I want to bring this clip gain up. So where it's hitting the compressor about as hard as it was hitting here on this line. So now you know where it Tom the she d be a gay introduction. The the back to around 60 be a gain reduction. Now, the other thing you have like, if I were to go say we brought us back down to, like, say he recorded like that. So the he's getting 1 to 2 gay introduction. But then you go, you're going to the next plug it in the chain here, and so the it's hitting here around minus three and hitting machine and hitting here. So you're you're losing the sound of these compressors through the chain. So I always I'm going to go in and try to even out my vocals as much as possible before, before it's gonna hit any of my processing. The same happens with this, you know, as picky as I was about this Cramer tape hitting this distortion right here, you got a win for getting a little bit of ah, bump on weight. Well, if I turn this clip gained down right here got a weird for the poor. You lose the distortion completely because you're you've changed the volume of this recorded audio going into your plug ins. All right, so that is how I process my vocals. I'm running them pretty simple. All my vocals, my mains coming down here to, ah, vocal bus. And I'm just doing a little bit more distortion on everything. Have it fit with the character of the overall mix.

Class Description


In this class, producer Casey Bates (Portugal. The Man, Gatsby’s American Dream, Foxy Shazam) walks through his mixing process using a recent session he engineered at the Robert Lang Studio with the band, Money Pit

Robert Lang Studios is one of the Northwest’s most iconic recording studios, world-renowned for recording bands like the Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Dave Matthews and Deathcab for Cutie

The studio’s unique stone and marble live room (built into the side of a mountain) along with the very best of analog and digital gear has attracted producers, engineers, and artists from all the world. 

In Studio B (The Duality Room), Casey explains, in detail, his approach to mixing drums, guitars and vocals while revealing his choices for use of compression, eq, reverb and effects. Robert Lang Studios Mixing Class with Casey Bates will give you an inside look how to mix music and set up your workflow. 

Reviews

Joe Wilkinson
 

Regardless if you've listened to the music Casey has personally worked on or not, you'll find a lot of great information on his methods for mixing. It is such a great idea that this class comes with the files that Casey is actually work with so you can work side by side. This class includes best practices in organizing mixes, using busses, and what I consider the most important take away: listening to the MIX and not necessary just a single track over and over again. My requests: attendees had better formed questions to ask and to do another class -- I would love to hear some of the techniques and mixing that went into Church Mouth by Portugal. The Man.

fbuser 42790ebd
 

It was straight forward and helped show everyone it doesn't take fancy plugins or shiny toys to make great records. Even his vocal chain is mid tier but he yields excellent results with years of knowledge on his side. Casey you should come back to do a song off Emarosa's 131 album. There has to be some cool tricks there.