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Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

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Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Hippie162 » Thu May 27, 2021 11:14 am

Hi All,

I finished a track earlier this month and released it to my small little world. My question is really for your opinion:

When I recorded the track I had a vision in my head of it sounding electronic and quite dreamy.. an influence of a sort of Moby / Sigur Ros sound with a female aspect akin to Florence & the Machine.

So I spent weeks mixing and re mixing it with the vocals dry, reverbed, up front, more out back, all sorts and came to a sound I personally enjoyed eventually. In this final mix the vocal was not "up front" in the traditional sense, I kept a reverb on it that made it melt into the mix a bit more.. my chorus line I bought the main topline vocal right down to melt in with the harmonies, I wanted it to sound a bit more choral if that makes sense?

the majority of the feedback I have received has been kind (you know friends / family) but industry feedback so far has been one of frustration at my vocals sitting back in the mix. I am of two minds whether to re mix it and re release or just leave it as I like it and move on.... I know the mix could be better, but hey this is my first track in 15 years!

If anyone is curious and fancies giving their opinions here's the soundcloud link:

https://soundcloud.com/user-410433233-5 ... 7Hw7jkAVEI

I should add I am a learner still and working on other tracks and I THINK maybe I am improving all the time :)


Ok bye!
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby blinddrew » Thu May 27, 2021 11:25 am

I'm not sure who said it first, but "The problem with opinions is that everyone's got one." ;)

To me I have a bit of a problem with your choice of vocal reverb. Everything else is sounding really nice and chilled and very much in the vein of your references. :thumbup:

But the vocal sounds like it's been recorded somewhere completely different and plonked on the top. It's not that it's too far back in the mix (at least not for me), it's that it sounds like its from a different mix.
I'd suggest having a think about your reverb topologies for your next mix, there's nothing wrong with using multiple reverbs, but I think you should be looking for something a bit more coherent.
Hope that helps.
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Kwackman » Thu May 27, 2021 11:37 am

Maybe add a long predelay to your reverb?

I discovered this from this article.
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... e-knobs-do
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Hippie162 » Thu May 27, 2021 11:38 am

Interesting yeah.. I may have gone a bit ear blind eventually after obsessing with getting a particular sound. Maybe a tad too excited with the reverb!
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby BJG145 » Thu May 27, 2021 11:39 am

I'm just listening on a pair of cheap earbuds at the moment, so don't take too much notice. The SoundCloud page mentions Florence Welch so I took a quick listen to Dog Days for comparison (and I think that frequent A/B checks with your favourite commercial mixes is a useful habit).

When someone says vocals are "sat back" it usually means they're too quiet, but I don't think it's the level so much (dipping in at around 3.20). The vocal sounded a little buried and indistinct though, so you might want to look at the treatment as blinddrew suggests, and also possible 'frequency masking'; there are some quite loud and fizzy synth pads behind it which might need to be toned down a bit.
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Hippie162 » Thu May 27, 2021 11:53 am

BJG145 wrote:I'm just listening on a pair of cheap earbuds at the moment, so don't take too much notice. The SoundCloud page mentions Florence Welch so I took a quick listen to Dog Days for comparison (and I think that frequent A/B checks with your favourite commercial mixes is a useful habit).

When someone says vocals are "sat back" it usually means they're too quiet, but I don't think it's the level so much (dipping in at around 3.20). The vocal sounded a little buried and indistinct though, so you might want to look at the treatment as blinddrew suggests, and also possible 'frequency masking'; there are some quite loud and fizzy synth pads behind it which might need to be toned down a bit.

I am glad you guys don't think it's too quiet as such.. I was scared others were listening and couldn't hear the vocal and wondered if it was that my monitors or headphones had tricked me. the track I am working on right now is not such as busy mix BUT I am planning to layer a lot of vocals onto it "Florence" style so all these tips are VERY useful as I obviously want to improve :-)
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Tim Gillett » Thu May 27, 2021 12:06 pm

Reverb aside, for my money the vocals sound dreadful. It might help to just give us a sample of the unmixed, unprocessed vocals.
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Hippie162 » Thu May 27, 2021 12:11 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:Reverb aside, for my money the vocals sound dreadful. It might help to just give us a sample of the unmixed, unprocessed vocals.

Oh! Like ability wise or sound wise? I have invested in a new mic since I recorded these Vocals as I was picking up a lot of laptop hiss when I recorded these.. and took the hiss our with Refir. I think that's why it has that tone to it..
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Tim Gillett » Thu May 27, 2021 2:10 pm

Sorry the vocalists are fine. I meant the sound quality of those vocals. Denoising can get people into many problems. Best to fix the cause of the hiss than try to put makeup on it. It sounds like there are problems with the processing you have used. That's what I meant.
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby The Elf » Thu May 27, 2021 2:34 pm

That's a very scratchy, resonant-sounding vocal tone. The breaths are also very loud compared with the notes, suggesting it's over-compressed/limited.

Without knowing what you're working with it's hard to know what to suggest, but if I was hearing that vocal sound in my mix I would be looking for the problem.
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby AlasdairEaston » Thu May 27, 2021 3:12 pm

I like your writing. For me there's definitely some lovely moments going on in this song :thumbup: but I do agree with previous comments that the sonics could be better, especially the vocals.

Drew made a good point about opinions, and I'm always concious of that. So, having said that...

... for me the track has quite a cold, almost harsh, feel which conflicts with the emotional content of the song itself. I'd love to hear it with a deeper, warmer production that would be a better match for the message it's delivering. Kinda strong, warm and comforting.

My first priority would be the vocals. They embody this conflict most strongly I think. Is it possible to hear them absolutely dry, as they were recorded? No EQ, no FX. I'm wondering if the sound we're hearing is all processing choices or whether there might be some problematic room sound on the vocals to start with.

Cheers,
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby jaminem » Thu May 27, 2021 3:41 pm

Hi there, really like the song - my thoughts...

as others have said It sounds to me like there's hash resonances in the high mids. When you recorded the vocals did you have your back to a very reflective surface? I have had this issue before where there's reflected sound bouncing back into the mic and it makes vocals harsh - hence the classic 'hang up a duvet behind you' SOS fix
I think also you may have wound in some top end you try and get the vocal the cut through, rather than removing the frequencies from other instruments (the keys and reverb tails) that are competing with it. I'd be inclined the reduce any added EQ and reduce the competing frequencies. This way you wont need the vocal as high volume wise andn they will 'sit' better

Finally there's a great little plugin called Trackspacer by Wavesfactory. Its really easy to overdo it, but it 'ducks' competing frequencies (you can select these) via side chain so you get brightness in sources when you're not singing, but they don't compete when you are. Its a handy way to avoid adding loads of processing to try and stop masking. add it in before you reach for the EQ...Not that expensive either.
I like it tho!
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby Hippie162 » Thu May 27, 2021 4:17 pm

The Elf wrote:That's a very scratchy, resonant-sounding vocal tone. The breaths are also very loud compared with the notes, suggesting it's over-compressed/limited.

Without knowing what you're working with it's hard to know what to suggest, but if I was hearing that vocal sound in my mix I would be looking for the problem.

Hi Elf! You actually helped me a few weeks back when I was having issues mixing the track down and it was super super loud..

The vocals were recorded in.. a car. :ooo: This may explain the nasty tones in there that I tried to fix? I struggle to find a quiet space away from my insane children to record.. but lesson learnt! Experiment failed lol. I have purchased an AKG D5 and put carpet on the walls in my cupboard under the stairs to try and make my next vocals sound better so I can keep the laptop away from the mic too to stop that nasty hiss I was trying to drown out.

I think without the vocal problems the mix sounded nice :lol:
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby blinddrew » Thu May 27, 2021 4:49 pm

Rather than the cupboard under the stairs, which will probably not sound much better than the car (unless you have huuuge stairs), try standing in front of the wardrobe (with plenty of clothes in!) with the doors open.
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Re: Why can't my vocal be sat back in the mix a bit???

Postby The Elf » Thu May 27, 2021 4:51 pm

Hippie162 wrote:I have purchased an AKG D5 and put carpet on the walls in my cupboard under the stairs...
That's usually not a good idea. The old duvet trick in a more open room is likely to yield better results.
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