How to mix vocals - Reason Tips

Uploaded by PropellerheadSW on 27.07.2012

Hey this is Mattias with Propellerhead Software and in this video I'll talk about some useful tips
for mixing vocals. Before you get into mixing vocals, though, they likely need to be recorded.
This is important since it's very hard to fix something in the mix if the recording wasn't very good to begin with.
Since recording is a topic in itself, I'll refer you to this great article by Gary Bromham on vocal recording.
Just follow the link in the description and read up. Okay then, let's get started.
Vocals are often the center of attention in a mix, especially in pop music where the lyrics many times carry the song.
Therefore one of the most important things when mixing vocals is to make sure they're heard.
So what do you do if you feel the vocals are a bit too quiet and not cutting through enough?
The number one thing to try is to turn some other tracks down to let the vocals through.
This way you can achieve a good overall balance and not make your track a race to be the loudest,
even before using any kinds of effects or mixing tools.
I recommend getting the vocals into your track as soon as possible. When you have vocals you can hear it
occupy its own space while you work, making it less likely that you add tons of cool instruments that
might actually completely over-power the vocals.
When it comes to mixing, the EQ is your very best friend. You could say mixing is like laying a puzzle,
making sure all pieces fit together and create a complete picture.
This often means different sounds should occupy slightly different frequencies so they don't step on each other too much.
For vocals, the frequency that's most crucial... the presence... is often at around two to four kilohertz.
Leaving some space here or boosting these frequencies will make your vocals come through a lot clearer...
Another frequency range to keep in mind is what's often called the "air" of the vocals.
Ten kilohertz and over is where you can really open up a vocal track.
To get familiar with your EQ I recommend trying to boost and cut the different frequencies and hear for yourself.
It can make a lot of difference.
Another thing you might want to do is what's known as "De-Essing."
You do this to make the sharp 's' 'p' and 't' sounds less pronounced so they don't stick out too much, like they do here:
A De-Esser is basically a compressor that only reacts to sounds of a certain frequency.
In our case we want that to be somewhere around four and nine kilohertz, where the sharp consonants kinda sit.
This is actually easy to do with Reason's big mixer. First we'll use the two filters to isolate the sibilance.
There it is.
Now if we click the "Filters to Dynamic Sidechain" button this will actually send this filtered signal to
the compressor on the channel, telling it to only react to what you just isolated.
The threshold of a compressor is basically the level where the compression occurs.
Signal below this threshold will not be compressed. This way we can make sure that only the loud S's
get compressed. It's probably also a good idea to set the compressor to "PEAK" mode, which results in an instant attack time.
That's much more suitable for sounds like these S's that have a really fast attack.
Then just experiment with the ratio and the release until you've evened out the vocals a bit.
You can see the compressor reacting to the S's here and you can hear it's working too.
If you feel that compression and De-Essing is a bit too complicated and you don't mind a bit of manual labor,
you can simply automate the level of your vocal track.
This way you can just move the fader down a bit when you get a sharp 'ess' sound.
This is also great for adding some emphasis to a word or two.
That's it for this video. Hopefully you got some tips to help you on your way to better vocals. Until next time.