How to Mix & Master Vocals

Written by chris anzalone
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How to Mix & Master Vocals
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Mixing and mastering vocals is the cornerstone of a solid music recording. Poorly mixed vocals will make an otherwise perfect recording sound amateur and displeasing to the ears. Some people also find vocals extremely difficult to mix and master due to the many variables involved, but fortunately professional engineers use a variety of standard conventions that you can emulate from the comfort of your own home, creating the perfect vocal mix for your musical masterpiece.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Computer
  • Audio editing software

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open your vocal recording using your audio editing software. Popular programs include Logic, Pro Tools, Cubase, FL Studio and GarageBand.

  2. 2

    Eliminate unwanted noise from your vocal recording, such as breathing sounds between notes and faint background noises that appear during pauses. Simply click on the vocal region where the interference appears, highlight the unwanted areas with your mouse and click "Delete."

  3. 3

    Add a touch of reverb. This will help the vocals to blend into the mix for a more natural sound. Use a short duration reverb, preferably below 20 per cent, as too much reverb will give you the opposite effect and make your vocals sound unnatural and muffled.

  4. 4

    Add EQ. Also known as equalising, this is the first step in mastering your vocals and will help you to reduce the presence of unwanted frequencies and bring out the best qualities. The website Audio Recording Tips recommends cutting the 200 Hz frequency (high pass filter) to -6 dB and boosting both the 30,000 Hz frequency and the 15,000 Hz frequency to 3 dB.

  5. 5

    Add compression. Compression will smooth out your vocals, reduce volume spikes and prevent your track from drowning into the background. Set the attack time to approximately 5 ms and the release time to 50 ms, with a threshold of -50 ms.

Tips and warnings

  • When mixing, less is more. Resist the temptation to add too many effects and filters to your vocal mix, as over-processing will make your mix sound unnatural.

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