Tips for mixing and panning multiple vocal doubles and harmonies

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by Triple, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Triple

    Triple Member

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    Hi!
    I have a synth pop song and want to mix in the following vocal tracks:
    - a Lead vocal + 2 doubles of the lead vocal
    - a harmony vocal which is a different melody than lead vocal (a few semitones higher than the lead vocal)
    - 2 takes of the lead vocal sung an octave higher (the same melody as the lead but sung an octave higher)

    Can you give me some tips/ideas how I can place all those vocal tracks in the mix?
    Do you tend to e.g. pan doubles of lead vocal hard left and right? or do you have some other tricks?

    The instrumental will be ducked a bit by lead vocal (with Trackspacer2)



    Btw. I listened to the song below and I noticed that some BG vox disappear after summing to mono. Is it a modern mixing trend to make some BG vox so wide (sending them to out-of-phase) that they disappear in mono?



    Thanks!
     
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  3. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    Seems like the (two) backing vocals have one side almost totally phase-flipped, making them super-wide (but cancel itself out in mono). There is still one harmony double-track in the center, which you can hear when you listen in mono.

    As a Swede myself I tend to comp a perfect lead vocal that I fine-tweak in Melodyne and then place that center (to be the main one that everything spins around). On the center lead I put a tiny bit of Soundtoys Microshift to add some width to it. Then I add two pretty good double-tracked leads (they don't have to be perfect) and counter-hardpan these L and R, and then turn down their volume quite a bit (som they just add that yummy Abba/Nirvana/Elliott Smith/etc chorus width).
    I'm pretty sure this is what Benjamin also did on Dance You Off.

    Then there are octaves coming in and out, but those are for filling up. Effective, especially here since Benjamin has a very "kiddy" voice.
    Edit: Also just wanna add that you can de-ess and volume automate the ess and ssh pretty damn hard on harmonies, as they are covered by the lead. Otherwise it can overlap too much (in the high-end) and sometimes create double-esses.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  4. junh1024

    junh1024 Platinum Record

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    You don't need to use all of them, &/ not all at the same volume.
     
  5. Kwissbeats

    Kwissbeats Rock Star

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    fully agree on this, especially the hard-pan (so not 50 -50 or anything between).

    since then there would be 3 tracks fighting in phase on both sides when you don't do that (Left and right)
    with hardpan, you'll have the lead battling one double on each side. Which makes phase cancellation less audioble

    harmony/extra vocals could use a lowcut, expecially when the lyrics have different intonation and nuances or lyrics.

    And Last, I would NOT use Trackspacer2 because it's very quality degrading.
    U don't need these tools and the results will be less in my opinion. But if you really need to I could imagine that spectralayerspro could deliver a more "natural" quality.
     
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  6. Triple

    Triple Member

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    Thanks a lot for your replies!

    1) Ok. Assuming all the vocal tracks have the same loudness, let's say I pan the main lead voc dead center and the 2 doubles of lead voc will be counter hard-panned left and right.
    By how many dBs would you turn down the 2 double vocals?

    2) Where would you place a harmony vocal and the octaves of lead vocal? dead center?

    3) How to make sure the harmony vocal doesn't confuse the listeners with regard to which vocal is the lead vocal (and which vocal melody should be remembered:)).
    I imagine that we can have a memorable lead vocal melody but adding a different harmony vocal melody can make it more difficult for first-time listeners to remember the lead vocal melody, right?

    4) Do you tend to make a harmony vocal quiter than a lead vocal by a specific amount of dBs ?
    I know it can be a taste thing and it depend on a song, but is there a starting point that works well? e.g. 3dB quiter that the lead?
     
  7. Triple

    Triple Member

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    You wrote"They don't have to be perfect",
    Do you tune the double-tracked leads? If so, do you tune them with the same care like tuning the center lead?
     
  8. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    No, I don't tune the counterpanned doubles. I (and the people I record) sing quite well, so the pitch isn't too off. They are also lower in volume. The effect is wider (counterpanning) and thicker/"fatter"(chorus) vocals.

    Iput more effort into comping a good center lead and add some slight Melodyne to perfect it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  9. Triple

    Triple Member

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    Thanks a lot!

    Could you advice me something regarding these questions? :

    1) Ok. Assuming all the vocal tracks have the same loudness, let's say I pan the main lead voc dead center and the 2 doubles of lead voc will be counter hard-panned left and right.
    By how many dBs would you turn down the 2 double vocals?

    2) Where would you place a harmony vocal and the octaves of lead vocal? dead center? or e.g. 50%L and 50%R ?

    3) How to make sure the harmony vocal doesn't confuse the listeners with regard to which vocal is the lead vocal (and which vocal melody should be remembered:)).
    I imagine that we can have a memorable lead vocal melody but adding a different harmony vocal melody can make it more difficult for first-time listeners to remember the lead vocal melody, right? Any EQing for harmony vocals? do you e.g. cut highs of harmony vox?

    4) Do you tend to make a harmony vocal quiter than a lead vocal by a specific amount of dBs ?
    I know it can be a taste thing and it depend on a song, but is there a starting point that works well? e.g. 3dB quiter that the lead?
     
  10. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    1) That is a matter of taste. Sometimes I have them quite low, just to add some tiny width. Other times I pan them more towards the center and turn them up a bit in volume, but still keeping the middle as the main one. It's easy too add more and more, because it just sounds so damn good. Taking a break and coming back is usually a quick test to hear if it has too much double-tracking (or not).

    2) At about 10-15 minutes to/past. I also cut the ess/shh (volume automation or de-essing) on these. Sibilance is taken care of by the mid lead. I also roll off some low-end and high-end to emulate the vocals getting further back (psycoacoustic phenomenon).

    3) Does it matter? If it sounds coherent there will automatically be sonority.
    I usually just make sure the lead always keep the main focus. All else is just spice.

    4) generally, yes. "Quiter" might be a wrong word, but you can push vocals back in depth by adding more filtered reverb (or a different reverb) and roll-off low-end and high-end, while still having the harmonies perfectly audible. That way they don't overlap too much. It's a balancing-act, like all good mixing.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  11. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

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    LCR

    LEFT CENTER RIGHT
    reason is that it sounds funky if you do a 25 percent or 66 percent or 33 percent panned vocal
    my 2 cents homie.

    LCR is the best for majority of playback sys (vocals I mean)

    Note:
    {This advice is tailored to your specific situation regarding all of your vocal tracks, i do not suggest you apply to you entire mix, (although you can if you like)}

    If you want more explanation...............

    [​IMG]
    You have 3 positions for each of your your vocal tracks
    Either 100 percent left, perfect center or 100 percent right.

    Next you have ability to trim or add frequencies at 3.6khz and above (shelf) to position forward to backward per track.
    [​IMG]


    distance sounds have highs cut


    Next you have early reflections (delay, reverb) to adjust forward to back positioning
    [​IMG]
    3 three variables will give you the ability to have the vocals sound best on every playback system.

    https://www.recordingrevolution.com...ack-to-better-recordings-and-mixes-of-course/
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  12. superliquidsunshine

    superliquidsunshine Audiosexual

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    I'm going to take a slightly different tack and turn you on to some amazing and beautiful mixes of stunning vocal harmonies. It will be like going to school. Figure out what is happening and see how you might use these examples if appropriate to your productions. It is certainly less dry than mere words, although too from those words could you gleen the wisdom of their writers.







    And although these guys are all like 80 years old and the energy level that is created now when they all sing together is down a few notches, the sound is still PERFECT after all these years. This live mix is stellar! This is the real shit.

     
  13. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    Who are you referring to?
     
  14. m9cao

    m9cao Producer

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    leveling, pitch shift, vocoder plugins, level/pan/amp automation sequencer, delay, phraser, chorus, panning, LFO, and doubler(try Waves products) could works, the essential part of mixing this effect is proper eqing at last, include mid/sides.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  15. superliquidsunshine

    superliquidsunshine Audiosexual

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    All that have come before me, oh, Wise One, and those that grace us with the accumulated knowledge of the ages. We rejoice your benevolence.
     
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