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Equalizing the background vocals

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Equalizing the background vocals

Many times background vocals conflict with lead vocal and can even cover it up. In this video I'll show you just what to do when that happens. Let's have a listen to the song with both the background vocals and the lead vocals together. (Music playing) Now there are two things about the background vocals. The first thing is that they cover up the lead vocal on the third line that we just heard and the other thing is they are kind of dark and we can brighten those up little bit so we can hear them a bit more distinctly.

Equalizing the background vocals

Many times background vocals conflict with lead vocal and can even cover it up. In this video I'll show you just what to do when that happens. Let's have a listen to the song with both the background vocals and the lead vocals together. (Music playing) Now there are two things about the background vocals. The first thing is that they cover up the lead vocal on the third line that we just heard and the other thing is they are kind of dark and we can brighten those up little bit so we can hear them a bit more distinctly.

There is one thing that you should know about background vocals against lead vocals and that's if you attenuate anywhere between 2K and 5K, just a few db, all of a sudden you open up a space for lead vocal frequency wise. That will allow you hear both pretty well. The first thing we're going to do though is we're going to look at the lead vocal EQ and we're going to see that there is 4db boost at 2K. So really what we want to do is now attenuate the background vocals at 2K and that will automatically give a space for both of them to sit.

Let's solo them up, have a listen. (Music playing) A third line again is a little indistinct and we can fix that. Once again we'll put our 4-Band EQ in, and since we're 2K, we're going to dip that a little bit. Let's have a listen. (Music playing) All of a sudden we can hear both the background vocals and lead vocals, because both of them have their own sonic space and that's the whole trick here. We want to make sure that we never boost at the same frequencies and we never cut at the same frequencies for that matter.

We want to make sure every instrument or vocal has its own space in the frequency pan. The next thing we're going to do is brighten these vocals up a little bit, because they do set a little dull. So at 6K or so, we'll add a few db. Let's have a listen. (Music playing) And we can even add a little bit more. (Music playing) Now they don't sound nearly as though as they did before. They don't cover up lead vocal and there is a space for both of them.

The final thing that we're going to do is we're going to add a high-pass filter once again, because just like all vocals there is things that exist in low frequencies that don't really help the sound, and again, that could be a rumble and it could be footsteps and it could be any kind of low frequency interference that isn't adding anything to the sound or to the mix and if we get rid of it, it'll just make everything sound better. So what we're going to do is disable our bottom two bands here, insert a high-pass filter, and go to a 150 cycles or so. Have a listen and you're going to see that it doesn't affect the sound of the vocal at all and yet it cleans everything up.

(Music playing) Let's listen in the track. (Music playing) So that's how you keep the background vocals from conflicting with lead vocal.

By cutting a little in the 2K to 5K range in the background vocals, you will be able to hear every word of your lead vocal. Don't forget to add a high-pass filter in the backgrounds that clean up any low frequency clutter.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 20664 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
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  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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