Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Lesson 27/27 - How to Mix: Add Vocals

 

Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

 

Lesson Info

How to Mix: Add Vocals

Coming along, let's listen to some vocals. All right? What I'd like to do right away is I'd like to add a little more compression to our lead vocal. 1176? Oh, let's see. Or, LA-2A again? Can we try one side of the Chandler? Sure. Would that be weird? No. (band members laughing) Okay. Well, uh, unless that's what you want, then yes. (Sylvia laughing) That would be weird, but, if you leave it in limit mode, it might be a little weird. Good, let's leave it in limit mode. (giggling) Um, where are we at here? All right, so the Chandler, is it in a stereo mode? Do we have a dual mono? There's the dual mono. Yes, we do, we're gonna do dual mono, and it is in limit. I'm gonna be using the left side. What channel is that, I wanna say it's 29? Let's see. Just remind me. It is going to be, actually 29, yes. 29, thank you. 29. I wanna make the vocal big and fat and furry, you know? Cool, there you go, left side of the TG1 now. Furry, that's a new adjecti...

ve that I like! Okay, let's see what else we have. Do you want me to hit play real quick for you? Yes, please. Awesome, let's see here. (guitar music) Let me get up on the vocal part here. Uh, vocal comp, there we are. ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ Is it in? ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the Speed Queen ♪ (guitar music) Is it too much? No. No. Never. All right, good. Well, we want just the right amount of too much. (giggling) All right, let's see what we got. Before it breaks. Right before it breaks. And maybe a little breaking. (laughing) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She like to keep ♪ That's exciting! All right, pretty good, let's just double-check our doubles. I think I'd like to see what our Time Cube is doing for the vocal now. Oh, yes. You know? See if it's gonna work or if it's not gonna work. Do we have an input set for it? Let's see, we have send three. I thought I had track it armed, cool. Oh no, that's the tape delay I had. We don't have to have that, we can have it running live I think, right? Uh, it was running to Pro Tools before but I can just run it to another channel, yeah. Let me see here. Well, it is right here in 37, isn't it? Uh, the hose, yeah, that's the mic. Yeah, that's, so let's just-- And then that's going into a compressor and then into Pro Tools, 16. Do you just want it to return to the board? Yeah, through the stereo bus, and I think I just put it in the stereo bus here so it should work, right? Oh, yeah, that's bypassing the compressor but that should work. Okay, let's try it without the compressor. Cool. And that's on send three, correct? Yup. Okay, we're gonna just solo the vocal for a moment and see if it's working. ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ Okay, send three. ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ Oh, I can hear it, it's working out there in the room, I hear it. ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ All right, so let's add some of that into here. ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ Oh, listen to that, is that weird or what? ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ It's kind of weird. ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ Oh, that's nice. ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ Nice, right? ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her ♪ All right, it could be good, right? I think it's definitely good, we're getting somewhere. All right, so I'm going to actually pull that all the way out, take the vocal out of solo and play it with the track and add it in and see how much of this we can stand. (guitar music) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ Is it all right? ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ Okay? ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ I wonder how far we can go with it, I'm going to actually pull down the good lead vocal track and push up the hose and-- I think maybe the compressor could come down a little bit. On the breathing on that guy? There is no compression on the hose. No, not on the hose, on the-- On the lead vocal? Oh. Now that the hose is in there, I feel like the compressor maybe could back off a little bit to keep the dynamic? Okay, let me do that too. (guitar music) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ That's better. ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ What do you think? Is it working? I think it's working. Yeah, it just got really cool. Yeah, definitely got, it still has a hint of breakage with the hose, yeah. Which is good. Oh, that's the part that I think is great about it, that's the weird part. The weird? Yeah. All right, well we're about to get way weird now. Good, good. (laughing) Because we're gonna add in our mobile phone delay and let's see, you know what we haven't even brought in there is the weird thing that we did with the Black and Decker guitar in verse one. Oh, right. So actually, I'm gonna mute the vocals for a moment and we're gonna listen to that. Okay, our vocals are here. I left her out, you may need to clip gain those up a bit. Because, oh, I already did. Okay, to equal the other guitar tracks. Yes, I actually did earlier, and I think it should be good now, but thanks. All right, guitar overdubs there. Hm, okay, they might need more. It's possible. They might need more, you're right. (guitar music) You're right, they need to come up, because they are in and we're not hearing them as well as we should. So I'm gonna bring them way up, whoa! Diamond (laughing) does that mean turn into 10? I think so. 11. (Sylvia laughing) Diamond, diamond a penny. All right, let's see, 26, 27, 28, so we have our Black and Decker there. Okay, let's see what we got now. (guitar music) Okay, good. So now it's just a subtle little thing that we're gonna have in the back, doing its weird thing. It's okay. The ambiance, the atmosphere. The atmosphere, all right. Okay, so we got that sorted and let me just double-check our guitar level in the chorus to make sure that that hasn't changed. (guitar music) Good, we're still good, I'm gonna go back to the vocal now and turn all the vocals on. There we go. Those vocals and our Time Cube is still there. We want that back and boom, boom, boom. Okay and we turned off the Dremel, we don't need the Dremel. I'm gonna add our tape delays that we recorded during tracking and see if that is a fun thing. Cool. (guitar music) Let's see what happens at the beginning of the song. (drumming) (guitar music) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah. ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ All right, we're getting there. I think at this point, we'll try our mobile phone delay on verse one and see what we've got. So that's on and that comes back here. That should be all the way to the left there. There it is, let's see what we've got, verse one. (guitar music) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She like to keep her ♪ I'd like to put another delay in the picture here. I'm gonna work on that mobile phone delay. You want the chorus echo? The chorus echo is mono, right? It is. (Sylvia sighing) Hm, yeah, and that's already ready to go, isn't it? Yeah, it should be on, what is that, on aux one? Aux one. The return though I believe it still going into Pro Tools so let me double-check that real quick. I think I've got it coming up on this channel. Uh, it's going to 44, 44 is going into 25. So it is still going to Pro Tools, where do you want the return? Return it straight into 61 line-in. 61 line-in, got it. Great. And it is patched. Great. (guitar music) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ And coming back here, right? ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ Okay, send one, you say? Yeah, I see it there, that's screaming. All right. And then the output. ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ We have some makeup gain going on here. ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ Okay, great, great. ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ That could be good, I think that might be good. (band members imitating reverb) (Sylvia laughing) You're slamming it, by the way. Okay. ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ That's okay. ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ Yup. ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ Now these mobile phones, can you put them through a pretty, heavy-duty limiter? 'Cause some of that stuff is poking out a little crazy. So maybe the SMART? Sure, no problem, what channels are those? That is 51 and 52 and I'll just turn on the inserts, right? Yup, you got it. Great. Inserts in, 51, 52, into the Allen SMART. Great. Oh my, where is that thing? (band member giggling) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the Speed Queen ♪ All right, we're getting there now. I think we got just a couple things left to do. I want to check to see what our end is like with our special cassette deck vocals, which we haven't even listened to yet. Oh, my. I know, we haven't even listed to them yet! And the motorcycle. And the motorcycle, well that's... (band members laughing) (Sylvia laughing) that's the best. Saving the best for last. All right, I'm gonna listen to our doubles first of all and the chorus, the double vocals in the chorus, and I'm doing a little cleanup while I'm here and let's see, we'll do that like that, we'll clean up over here on this, like that, and let me just play the second chorus and listen to our straight vocal doubles. ♪ What's your name? ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the Speed Queen ♪ Pretty nice, pretty nice with the doubling. There was a little growl in there, too. Yeah, it was good. All right, well done, now let's add our weird and wonderful cassette vocal and see what that's like. Here we go, the cassette vocals. ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ ♪ What's your name ♪ That's cool! Whoa! All right, yeah! Okay, I'm gonna back it up a little bit. Sweet. (guitar music) ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ ♪ What's your name? ♪ Very nice, I like it, I like it. I think that last thing we need to do here is check our motorcycle level, and then what we'll do, is we'll start preening a mix, but we're gonna do it live, so we're not gonna automate any of this, it's all gonna be by hand, and the way we can do this is we'll get as far as we can, just doing it by hand, and as we up as we will, we'll stop and we'll punch in, we'll readjust our levels and we'll punch in, and we'll keep on doing that until we get through the whole song and then, when that part where were gonna jam the bass fuzz, we're gonna have you do that and we'll punch in that, too. All right, motorcycle level. (laughing) Oh, where is the motorcycle? 32, at the end there. Ah, here it is. All right. (motorcycle revving) (drumming) Question, do we have the stick count or not? No. Out, okay, bye bye. (laughing) Sayonara. All right, let's see, and all the way up to the top. Delete. One more little cleanup here with a fade-in on those drums. Okay, let's see what we've got now. (motorcycle revving) (drumming) (guitar music) Okay, I'm happy, I think we should start mixing now, I mean, like, printing it. That was awesome. Okay? So we will start with the motorcycle, did you like the level of the motorcycle? It could maybe come down a tiny. A tiny bit? Should I do a ride, should I start it loud, and then tuck it when the drums start? I think we start it a little loud. Okay, let's do that, here we go. All right, and we are armed and ready to go here. Here we go. This will be interesting. (motorcycle revving) (drumming) (guitar music) You know, those tom fills are not coming out. I'm gonna push them right there. So I'm gonna punch in that section. (guitar music) Now I'm gonna bring up the line levels a little bit here, is that what I should do? Yup. Great, let's see if I can make them come out a little better. (guitar music) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ Hm, all right, how am I gonna do this now? I want more toms. And I want to dry up the vocal a little bit when it first comes in, so I'm gonna dry it up by turning down the Time Cube, turning down the telephone, and the delay return, okay, we're gonna try that. Here we go, okay. (guitar music) ♪ I met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ Got a little loud there so I'm going to punch that in. Right click. ♪ One look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your ♪ Uh, one more time. ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We moved outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She like to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the Speed Queen ♪ Right? Good? ♪ I knew right then that I finally found her ♪ ♪ Climbed on the back and wrapped my legs around her ♪ ♪ I felt so fine, I felt so free ♪ ♪ I was looking for her, she was looking for me ♪ ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ ♪ What's your name ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She like to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the Speed Queen ♪ (guitar music) ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ ♪ What's your name ♪ Now, okay, so I pushed up the projector guitar track during the solo and I think that was a good move, but then I forgot to ride up the vocal so I'm gonna punch in on that when the vocal comes back in because I want, this is the part where the cassette vocal comes in and I want to feature that a little bit more. So we're almost there. Are you happy so far? (band member imitating explosion) (Sylvia laughing) Is there any way we could turn up the bell of the ride cymbal during the chorus? The ride, oh, let me listen to that. Okay. Let me listen to that, ah, boom, boom, boom. The cowbell. Okay, I'm gonna listen to something real quick. ♪ Never look back ♪ (guitar music) ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ ♪ What's your name ♪ (guitar music) Ah, this is where we need you to do this, so we're gonna have to get you to surrender your seat. Yeah, no problem, she can have it. And I believe you want to turn up the buzz. Okay. So let's actually try that right now, I'm gonna punch in right on that, as soon as the double-time starts. ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ ♪ What's your name ♪ (guitar music) Okay, we'll try that, is that a good setting? Yes. Here we go. ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ ♪ What's your name ♪ (Sylvia laughing) It's ridiculous! (guitar music) (Sylvia giggling) And you know what? I think we just leave all the noise on the end. The buzz. Yes, right here, right here. Right here? Is it pushing it? No, I like it. Is it all right? Should we, oh, let's just take one listen, okay, wait a second, oh, what is that stuff, anyway? (buzzing) Is that the Time Cube? No. Is that the tape delay? No. Is it the space driver? Is it? I can fix it then, here we go. This will be much better now. I think I can do this without too much fuss, I can fix it or most of it anyway. (band member laughing) Maybe some of this guitar, I'll get rid of this, just clean up the end of this guitar here like this. And that will help and the bass and that will help, we got a few more minutes? We're gonna make it! Like, a minute. A minute (laughing) okay, hang on, here we go. (guitar music) I like it. Clean, clean. I'm gonna do that one more. (guitar music) Yeah. Oh, glorious, glorious! And that's a mix! We would go back and get the bell, but-- It's totally not a big deal, it sounds amazing. All right, thanks, well that was a lot of fun. Yeah, wow. All right you guys, yay!

Class Description


Over the last 30+ years, Sylvia Massy has built a career as one of the gutsiest and most innovative recording engineers and producers. She has worked with legends like Prince and Johnny Cash, and won awards for her work with bands like Tool, System of a Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will get a peek inside the recording process of one of rock’s legendary engineers. 

While she is a proficient master of vintage gear, Sylvia stresses that great records come not from having the right gear, but from capturing great performances. Join Sylvia as she records a song in the studio with Seattle alt-rock band Thunderpussy, and learn how to work with an artist to capture that magical take in your own work.

Pulling from her years of experience and sharing stories from her newly published book Recording UnHinged, Sylvia will show you:

  • How to get interesting and vibrant drum sounds, using the room and the drummer to your advantage
  • Capturing great sounding guitars at the source, without editing and reamping
  • Pushing vocalists to deliver their best vocal takes 
  • Mixing both in the box and through a console using outboard gear

Sylvia is also known as a prolific educator, speaking and teaching at some of the best recording schools around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s most celebrated A-list producers. 


Reviews

Jimmy Foot
 

This Studio Pass episode with Sylvia Massey covers a lot of ground. From fundamentals like correct mic placement and phase to experimentation with amps, cell phone delay and a few extra parts, Sylvia makes it fun! I have been lucky enough in my career to work with a number of great engineers and producers. I haven't had the opportunity to work with her, but Sylvia is certainly in that category, and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be a lucky person. This broadcast is the next best thing. Great job there at Avast Studio and fantastic camera work! And as for Thunderpussy; you guys rock!

Marc Felish
 

Wow, that was such a blast. Thanks so much Sylvia and everyone else for making this such a fun experience. I picked up so many new ideas that I can't wait to try out! Sylvia is such a creative producer, it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall watching everything. Loved it!!

Marcus Soares
 

Awesome! A great opportunity to pick into the creative mind of one of the greatest and get that kind of knowledge that you can't acquire otherwise. Highly recommended!