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Mixing Vocals

Lesson 10 from: Tracking & Mixing with Outboard Gear

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

10. Mixing Vocals

Next Lesson: Mix Bus Compression

Lesson Info

Mixing Vocals

In the last segment, as you saw, we ended with base one thing I want to do real quick just to not totally lose track on the mix that I had going here, so I want to solo all the drums in the base you can hear how they work together and just make sure my base volumes good, that I'm gonna move on the guitars and explain why I made the comment earlier. I'm not going to talk about how how not to use outboard gear on guitars and don't take that too seriously, but well, I'll explain what I'm talking about it's a good base level for now, so let's move on the guitars uh, thing about guitars and the reason I kind of, um the reason I brought up the idea of talking about guitars and not using outboard urine guitars it's not really the fact that you shouldn't use outboard you're on guitars because it's really tone independent, its genre dependent and it's really not about the fact that it's outdoor gear is just affecting guitars in general because real quickly, this isn't really what this class is ...

about probably do a whole class about it, but I would love to talk about why it's important to get guitar tones good from the beginning? And that's. Why I don't feel the need to put any effects or any outboard gear, as you can see in the mix, if I still pro tools session here. The on ly thing that I have on all the guitars on the entire issues record aside from there's a couple effects on these affected guitars, but all the main guitar tones are there is no effects. I just have this trim plugin knocked out a point four d b on ly because I did a bunch of guitar automation and right at the end in the mix, I just want a little more gain. And instead of messing with all my automation, I just chose to put a trim plug in on it and turn them all up point for and that way I could go back and just in a little bit. So there is literally nothing going on on the guitars there, just as they came in through the mikes and I just had to mike's on each guitar track on dh. The reason for that is, is with guitars like this that are super heavy, they're really saturated. You already have. You basically already have an analog compressor and analog q. On the way in the guitar is a compressor, especially when it's distorted. I mean, it is at all times. But when it's distorted it's, you know, distortion is an extreme amount of compression, so you've already got compression going on there you have a beautiful analog q on any guitar and that suited, you know, its frequency suited for guitars, so all that gets dialed in you can compensate on the amp for the microphone on dh your last week, you when tracking guitars, is the microphone itself or the multiple microphones and the microphone placement because and, you know, speaker choice definitely changes the u two and the tone overall, but after you've done all that mic placement is a cz good of any cue as as anything else and what's really cool about a guitar cab is you have lots of options because you're not battling anything else it's not like vocals where a person's moving around so you have to find a happy medium and it's not like drums where you have all these other drums coming into a mike focused on one thing you can put them like wherever you want on guitars and that's cool because that's, how you control the more base but a closer less based put it further. So when I did these, we actually tracked d I and then I re amped him, which is something I don't do that often, but we really wanted the option and change the guitar tone and that's what we did and we went through a couple different ones, you know, we went back and forth, but this is the one we ended up with and it's actually a crank rev one going into a wagner cab with the s m fifty seven on one speaker, and he'll pr thirty on the other speaker and as some fifty seven's mixed a little bit louder than the hell. But that being said, all that stuff was enough e q and processing that there's really no reason the process after that, I would just be overdoing it now if these were like clean guitars or like semi distorted guitars that have some dynamics, I would either add some compression or a light amount of limiting if they need it, they don't need it don't do it there's really most of the time, though, there's really not a lot of need to process guitars for me unless you need a little reverb to create space or, you know you need a little bit of compression of control a clean guitar, that's, that's a little overly dynamic but a song like this that all the guitars were super distorted. They just are what they are and there's nothing going on is just the right tone and to me that's the coolest goes if you're trying to fix it afterwards it's like anything you know you just get a good from the start and there's no reason the waste plug ins or hardware inserts or, you know have thousands of dollars of outward here to process something that you could have done with that thousands of dollars of amps that you already used his amps are their own outboard here, so I'm just going to play these guitars in the mix because, um we have been hearing what's what's the rocks along with the guitar it kind of comes back to now that you're hearing this and I'm not super familiar with these monitors but this is the point where I start to hear the kick drum lose its mid range punch so even though I thought I had my track in a good spot going to bring it up the dry track just a little bit more and you'll hear how it cuts through the basin, the guitars or that mid range kick it turned up all the picture tracks actually just a hair but it turned the mid range or the dry on process track of quite a bit more because I feel I could get a little more natural sound like I was talking about before so um and the thing I was talking about with guitars really does apply with anything just because you have something doesn't mean you need to use it I have a lot of cool stuff that I've purchased over the years and whatnot, but it doesn't mean I need to use it all the time it only means that I need to use it when I'm going for those specific sounds and most of the time I am going for those specific sounds that I've showed you today but again, just because you have some like sometimes I get tracks from people who just bought a distress, sir, and every single track has like ten d b of gain reduction or they're all nuked just because it's the each one sounds cool separately, you're excited you have it, but you don't really need to do that, you know? Just make sure listening when you're doing tracts and thinking about how things sound and if something really needs it, how much to use? So that being said let's meet one of vocals now, I talked about this a little bit yesterday, but not probably a lot of people didn't see yesterday's broadcast, and since these are separate classes, I'm gonna go over the, um, use of outboard here with the vocal is a little bit more here, and then we're gonna get onto mix bus compression, so let me find a good spot toe loop might as well just go right into the chorus and again, I'm going solo all of these by selecting first one holding shift and clicking to the last vocal I'll get the vocal effects in here to these air just I'm just going to add in the singing vocals for now and I missed one there get that and I actually already have the vocal compressor patched in from yesterday so I think you've seen me pageant of stuff is the same is the way I patched all the others I'm not using an outboard e q on vocals um I have some that I like that I don't actually own them um and I have apparent that heir apparent accused that I really liked on vocals I didn't use him on this record but I have a pair of vintage mill corey accused but they're actually in the shop right now because they I have a problem that or not a problem just something I wanted modified on him so today we're just going to do the outboard compression on vocals and it's already plugged in but first I'm gonna mute compressor in fact what I'm gonna do here because I have a little bit of the q going but I'm also using the q which was kind of a lazy thing I did while mixing um but I'm gonna change something here to compensate to show you so I lowered the output like I do on time adjuster to adjust the amount of gain going into this compressor the inward connections vac rack tsl three now they're called tsl for mine doesn't have transformers on the output some do honestly don't know which one's better I've owned this one for it's been on every local I've done for the last seven years and and I love it, I don't really care what the other one's ever don't have, but I'm sure they're equally is cool um that being said, I'm gonna leave one of these the same and I'm gonna mute it when I'm you the vocal compression and then I'm actually going to turn the game back up on this you can hear the vocals with the q but without the compression and then I'll meet this one when I want to meet the other one so here's just the just the locals so that way let's just do the lead vocal here and take everything off of it. One thing you are hearing at all times on the lead vocal is that I did track with the distress sir like attract alex yesterday with the exact same settings I think the attack was slightly slower. It was like five point five and the release was around four point five just slightly faster just because tyler has a tendency to seeing faster on damore punchy manner because he does those like more pop quick singing sections and so I just the compressor just a little bit to work with his vocals so that's already printed in so you're going to hear this is basically just the mike uh my telephone khun well it's not there anymore but my telephone and healing to fifty one going into a cappie v b twenty eight um into a distress sir into the prison which is how we tracked it that may have been affected too on this one so madam, excuse me one second and let me get rid of the screams just so we can focus on the singing vocal so madam mass cool tyler has an amazing voice he's a great singer he has great tone but it doesn't sound like of course and tyler would totally agree tyler if we had all the time in the world I think tyler would drag a thousand vocal tracks because he loves layers like super vocal heavy stuff and I need to you know it's just what what's realistic but so anyways we got that now I will add let me check the gate on this so that a massive now at the q I had a little bit of present something huge is so it pops madam but now it's a little thin so that's why I really like the back rack is really levels out vocals so you can hear every word which is not in yet we're not listening to the back crack that was just the plug ins which are the eighty eight r s I have a d essar, which actually comes after the back rack when it's turned on and then a the poll technique you doing little more? Five k boost the u eighty and this is the new u eighty pull tech, by the way, the old ones kind of cool a new one that just came out with is actually a really cool plug. It has kind of a saturation thing going on or something. I don't know what is doing technically on the side of saturation, but you can hear it and I think it's really cool on vocals as his own room likes in the same one used on room likes is the new one so let's hear this one more time with the cam, so madam and then same cue with volume down and the back rack added in I'm so mad in my way, it gets way more focused, it's like in your face, you can't even hear the compression, but it's like tyler's just right here singing to you, especially since I turned off all the reverb and stuff and that's something the background does something I've never really heard from another compressor. I've never heard it from a plug in it just level things out it's all tube it's, actually. This and this are the only two compressors that I have that I use I have another cheap old our probie l a but I don't actually use that anymore but yes so this is it's got f eighty sir no it's got six o seven two's on the input um five star g e is there I'm not going to go away and all that stuff but there a military grade tube and it has twelve beach seven's on the output instead of transformers which actually control the impedance that's really unique design it's super cool is just a limiter and as you've noticed, the perfect setting is ten, ten, ten and ten all the way up never turned it down it sounds great. Yeah someone someone told me that years ago when I bought it run it like that I've tried multiple times to do different settings doing it that way just it's just a really cool it's a really cool sound and I'm gonna go to deepen the why but this is an optical compressor kind of like the western dynamo and as you raised as you lower the threshold or turn up the reduction on this compressor it actually varies the ratio so the ratio gets higher as you do gain reduction so by doing this I have the ratio of pretty much all the way and then output drives the tubes and I'll show you just the way it's gain stage inside that I'm not really driving the output that hot, but once you're here, you're actually like getting some tube saturation and you'll notice what I'm listening to this and I turn this down it sounds less consistent because I'm actually getting some of the compression is from the driving of the tubes because you can drive the tubes a little bit and it's not actually distorted, but you get a really leveled out like in your face awesome sounds so let me show you with him without one more time because it's fun here's without so mad a little inconsistent and it's just kind of boring, bringing the back crack come so madame masque cool, huge vocal sound that's really easy to focus on, and one of my main things with vocals is I want a mix to be really thick and cool like instrumentally to be really thinking cool I want things to sound huge, pretty much any style of stuff I'm working on, I just want things that sound is biggest possible and I like a big vocal but really what I'm listening for in the mix is can I hear all the words? Am I distracted by everything else? Can I hear the vocals but still hear the music without having to think about it and that's what's really important to me and I'll just turn this on I'm so mad and massive one will stand up sit down I like to walk out in the hallway I'm not gonna do it here I don't have a camera in the hallway that I know I just liketo walk around and anywhere I walk the vocal needs to need to hear the vocal and know what it's doing without it being it's ungodly loud you know I want to know what he's saying when I'm like one hundred feet away on that's really important in mixing that's usually something you can achieve with cuban compression and for me the back rack really adds clarity and a steadiness to the vocals without having to turn him up too loud because they're really not that loud and they sound a little quiet here because I have like something like ten to twelve other vocal tracks muted now turn the backtrack on on both local channels harmony's obviously so this is it again with all the layers. So wait in this case I really don't mind just using plug ins on the backup vocals because I've already done a ton of compression with the distress sir. So I have in a lot of compression on all the backup vocals naturally printed on the way it while tracking vocals eso here I just have kind of some plug ins layer and something I've noticed about plug ins that if you do less compression with mme or different types with different types of compression on plug ins, they have a little more control. They don't get wobbly and weird like a lot of them do when you go report, so actually have a fake fats that the fats on the backup vocals so that a massive when a tiny bit I've got the eighty eight arrests for some q mimicking what I'm doing on the main vocals, main vocal backup, same thing um, and then I have the actually the old you any six, seventy on the vocals because I don't think the new one had come out yet. When I mix this, I'm not doing that much and you can mix pretty low to so again is a night there isn't a lot of benefit me putting in a lot of equipment other than the distress, sir, which is enough for me on the backup vocals. Um but one thing I will show you why it's cool in the lead, you get all those layers in there and again. Here's here's nowak crack on the lead vocal with all the harmonies, so massive chorus see it's, there doesn't really pop so let's, put the back rack back on, I'm so mad and massive way you've got backup vocals that air separated just enough from the lead vocal. That the lead vocals really clear but the layers air supporting it instead of the when I don't have it on it just feels like the lead vocal is sinking deep into the back of locals so madam ass that was wrong actually that volume was so mad distracted by the harmonies back rack back in I'm so mad and massive the lead the backups for the backups so that's just what I really like that on, but I'll go here let's see, some of this stuff is actually printed cool, some of those effects actually aren't printed outboard um and this is not the delay I used on the album because I used to plug in that no longer exists the vocal lee so real quick keeping on the outboard thing, I kind of want toe focus on that, you know, not not too much on the other stuff I've done here. I kind of told you about the effects that I normally use yesterday, and this is actually good example real quick of how a delay supports, of course, and obviously the beginning of this song and you know, this isn't the same delay and I don't like it as much if we have time after I show you mix bus compression, I'll plug this in and show you how cool the delays are on here um and uh but for now, I'm just going to show you how a delay can really make a part pop on dh sound cool and rhythmic, so this is pretty much what you hear on the album slightly different in the delay tone. I'm so mad at myself that give it is so what I want way myself. So you really think about it? But the delay is actually the drums there on the delay is what is it's like the count off into the song? So let me play this without I'm so mad at myself to give it in so what I want never way never been so mad at myself, it's cool because it's an awesome hook, tyler's an awesome singer, it's rad to hear his voice, but nothing sets you up for the tempo, really, you put that delay back in there and you start to feel pumped up, you can't help but just feel pumped up. I'm so mad at myself to give it in do what I want, never thinking that way, and I never been so mad at myself like the beginning of the drum fill or something, you know, just leading you in with that fuel, and what I will say is the delay I used on the album, I think, is even even more infectious and if I had time to hook this up, I could get an even like cooler, more infectious sounding delay the plug in is pretty cool, but it doesn't it doesn't bounce some delays kind of have more of a bouncy field. The delay that I'm using right now is more of a stiff field, but again I don't want to get to and plug ins I really would love to talk about mixed bus compression for a minute on guy will say there's really no outboard gear on any of the screams, aside from some of the really big long river bs you hear on the album are setting on this called the black hole because just in infinite, um some of the stuff I showed you yesterday with the demon screams like any time you hear really big like kind of group but not group sounding vocal that's the demon screams setting I have in the even tied, but but I'm not I don't want to get into that yet I want to get into a bus compression, but just in case you're wondering about the screams oh, and I definitely tracks through the distress sir on the way in so I have that on my side and I feel like if I have that I at least have something that's really solid and the backtrack on screams actually most of the time isn't that cool? It's? Not quite fast enough. I actually would rather use a little bit of a limiter plug in to get that last little bit of compression. The backtrack works, but it's definitely better for singing. So let me make a master fader here. Yeah, don't do anything, tio like the synthesis for anything like that. Like, do you process that in any way on this album? None of the sense stuff is processed through outboard gear, but I did use a bunch of how I showed you on the base how the u eighty tape emulator works. I use that on a ton of a seance, and actually, at the time of my computer wasn't as fast as what I'm using now. So a lot of them I ran, uh, I ran through the plug in and then just, like, recorded it in because that plug it takes a lot of cpu power. And even though it's dedicated a time, it was like not long after it came out and it was still kind of taxing the computer in a weird way. Now they've fixed all that and it's awesome. Um, so I could have I could run a lot of them live, but but so that's really the main processing there is some parallel processing on some of the songs and some of the since I like to use a plug in called filter freak that I don't know if you've ever used that from sound toys it's an incredible plug in and it's ah kind of ah it's an e q and a and a kind of a dynamics processor at the same time and it's just geared around really interesting effect so it's cool like make a second bus crunch something out and mix that back in to get some excitement but but on some records I actually do run stuff out like a lot of times like if there's an actually on this record I take that back any of the any of the piano's if there's any clean pianos they were processed out through the distress is because we used plug ins on the pianos so like a plug in piano sounds always have kind of awkward tone to them it's kind aren't mixed for me and running amount with just a little bit of distress, sir or fatso and even a little bit of the q if they need it really just like brings him the life makes piano fake piano sound huge and I've sometimes I'd rather use a he's a piano plugging without board compression overusing a really mediocre piano you know, if I want a clean piano sound or if I want like yes, I want, like, a sound of a real grand piano, not like a low fly baby grand or like upright piano. I don't own that. I mean, I I would love to spend eighty thousand dollars on honest time where a boesendorfer something, but I feel like there's a lot of things in my life. I should spend eighty thousand dollars on aside from a piano like that. Someday I love piano, and I'd love to own one of its so anyways, for real clean piano sounds all use a piano plug in and then just run it out to get some more, more grit. You know, it's, not gritty, just some more real tone out of it, which I would do if I recorded a real piano. Anyways, I would run into the distress or so that stuff on the album actually is processed, but a lot of it's not.

Class Materials

bonus material with enrollment

Kris Crummet - Tracking and Mixing Gear Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews


OK I bought this course to watch at my leisure. Lots of Respect for Kris - if you go to his personal website, his experience and track record (no pun!) is impressive. Clearly he knows his stuff and has developed a very efficient way of working. I am a singer songwriter in the UK with many years of experience playing live. I have my own project studio (Pro Tools 11, lots of vintage hardware, UAD, Avalon, Tube Tech etc) and all the software plug ins, virtual instruments. Also a comprehensive guitar collection, acoustics, electrics, keyboards, DW drums etc. My problem is this. here again is a well organised Creative Live presentation with a competent presenter, but the content is inappropriate for the majority of viewers. Like many people watching this stuff, I find the material used to demonstrate the techniques is awful. Grahame Cochrane is the same - over produced American soft rock which has absolutely no musical or creative merit. This 'music' isn't going to stand the test of time and will be gone within a year. I understand that the material isn't Kris's personal stuff, but he says he likes it and I'm sure he does. But what your listeners want to hear is how to produce recordings which have space and clarity. Listen to Jackson Browne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mark Knopfler, Ry Cooder, Dylan, Van Morrison - these artist's recordings are the ones to emulate! So please, can we kick out the over compressed X Factor style stuff and get back to basics? Show us how to get quality sounds and how to create space in a mix. Its the natural sounding music which will be with us in 50 year's time - just like the Motown stuff is now. No doubt there is a whole generation out there who think this sort of material has credibility, but I have to tell you it has almost no musical or creative merit, and I for one don't need to know how its produced.


This was the single most helpful source of information for improving my mixing that I have ever come across. I loved it and i know everybody else here will too. Buy it so this man can come back again

a Creativelive Student

Awesome course, super relevant as Issues is my favourite band and as a producer/engineer I aspire to their tone, the drum mixing was especially great, just a shame that there was no mention of electric guitar mixing

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