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do you use automation for vocals?

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do you use automation for vocals?

Postby dennisgamalej » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:21 am

hey guys) i have a question. When you are ready with the mix and you are happy do you use automation for the vocals? Or you just set the fader to a level and leavy it?
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:58 am

I don't do a lot of vocal work, but now and again, when I do, if automation is available I'll use it if necessary. Vocals are part of the mix, and as such are fair game for automation as is everything else. Automation is just another arrow in the quiver, as I see it and can be overdone or used appropriately.

In the past I have worked with some talented vocalists and I've found that they tend to 'build in' a certain amount of sympathy to the mix during recording, but your mileage (as will the mix you feed them) may vary.

That said, I tend to use automation as sparingly as I can, if only because I find it a little fiddly and I'm more of a muso than an engineer.
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:31 am

Typically I automate vocal levels three times.

Firstly, to avoid the vocal hitting its compression too hard at any point. This is just a question of seeing if anything is bending the compressor over in a way I don’t like, and reducing that. I might bring quieter sections up too, if needs be.

Secondly, to control any essing. Again this is pre compression.

Finally, for level. It might be as simple as a section or line up a dB, or as complicated as every syllable and breath, automated for dynamics and intelligibility.

There is never none at all. But how much is required really varies.

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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby The Elf » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:27 am

I approach it pretty much the same as Jack. I will firstly mult the vocal track where sections require a different overall level, then I will automate to tame hotspots and sibilance. 'P's, 'B's and 'K's can often require a bit of work too. Later I will automate (often using a Group Track) for clarity and coherence.
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:22 pm

First off, where did you learn this fallacy of "being set" and "happy" with a mix?! :D

Seriously, though, I don't even consider the mixing process started until I have the vocal track smoothed out. This usually requires a lot of automation for me. When I am mixing, I use additional automation to bring out the emotional impact or create an effect.

75% of my mix time is working on vocals, typically. Then EQ where needed, some compression, reverb, or delay. Pan out of mono. Mix down. Only thing left after that is crying lol.
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby CS70 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:24 pm

dennisgamalej wrote:hey guys) i have a question. When you are ready with the mix and you are happy do you use automation for the vocals? Or you just set the fader to a level and leavy it?

Always. It's almost impossible to get a commercially-competitive mix without doing so.

Perhaps the only exception is that you have only vocals and one other instrument, but even then..
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby Arty Skye » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:31 am

For vocals, absolutely automate anywhere and everywhere you need to! You want to smooth things out with compression a bit, but when things jump out, or get buried, just make the changes. And I believe this goes for every track, including the entire mix. I'll sometimes drop the overall volume just before a big drop, or automate the panning on a group of background vocals, to even things out as one track or another might pop out.
And I agree with Ben Asaro totally about it being a fallacy with "being set" with a mix. Everything and anything is up for grabs to automate if you feel it will create more emotion and drama for the listener.
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:58 am

Reading the comments from the more experienced contributors above, I have learned something from this thread - and my original comment would now differ as a result.

Thank you guys, it's always good to obtain a new insight into things. Fiddly as vocal automation may be to me it's obvious that the attention to detail is worth the effort (and really, I should have known better because I put that level of detail into things like MIDI velocity on instrumental tracks).
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby paul tha other » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:32 pm

sometimes yes..and sometimes no....

my goto thing is to mult the vocal tracks over 3-5 differant tracks and rate the volume from 1-5 in order of power ..
so loud sections stay on track 1..breathy vocals goto track 5 and everything in between goes on 2, 3 and 4...even when im doing it this way there are still times i still put little automation nudges just to keep the clarity

the reason i do it this way is im not a fan of hearing big fader movements in a mix unless im going for that effect
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby CS70 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:39 pm

paul tha other wrote:the reason i do it this way is im not a fan of hearing big fadeis r movements in a mix unless im going for that effect

Just a side point: most vocal automation, at least how I do it, it's made by a myriad short fader movements. You generally won't hear them, because the point is to make the vocal line more exciting, not unnatural :-D. For example get a vowel clear, or reducing a short noise mid-word etc.
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:38 am

CS70 wrote:
paul tha other wrote:the reason i do it this way is im not a fan of hearing big fadeis r movements in a mix unless im going for that effect

Just a side point: most vocal automation, at least how I do it, it's made by a myriad short fader movements. You generally won't hear them, because the point is to make the vocal line more exciting, not unnatural :-D. For example get a vowel clear, or reducing a short noise mid-word etc.
For mixing, totally this.
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:14 am

In a digital environment it doesn’t make any difference if there’s a fader move or a mult with a different fader level. It’s a gain change, or it isn’t. Either you need to ride the level, or you don’t. For me too it’s just what sounds right. Sometimes you compress for effect, but you then need to recreate some of the performance dynamics, for example.
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Re: do you use automation for vocals?

Postby fxsoundscapes » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:57 am

If i would use automation for vocal tracks, i would go with Waves Vocal Rider. But in my opinion the best way to get the levels right is 1. proper recording technique 2. compression. 3. EQ.
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