Old 10-29-2017, 11:59 AM   #1
Steve R
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Default Please help with vocal EQ - Blurs Somewhere

Hi all -

I really can use some help here. This is a cover song for a tribute album for which I just can't seem to get the right vocal sound. It's a common complaint - the vocal just isn't sitting right in the mix. I believe this is usually due to an EQ problem, but maybe it's something else. Any suggestions on that (or anything else on this mix) will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!!

https://soundcloud.com/steve-rosenba...ewhere/s-ECcBC

Last edited by Steve R; 10-30-2017 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 10-29-2017, 08:06 PM   #2
RDBOIS
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Hey.

Hard to tell without playing around with the vocal EQ, but I'd like to toss this into the equation:

1) perhaps you can try to EQ other instruments and the back vocals. In the chorus I can definitely hear the back vocals competing the for the vocal prime time frequencies. What you need to do is solo your vocal track, add a spectrum analyser (like SPAN http://www.voxengo.com/product/span/ ), take note of the main frequencies where the vocals live, go to the back vocal track and cut/lower these frequencies. Is there a synthesizer in the chorus or is that just a pile of back vocals filling up all the space (i.e. humming like a synth)? IMO, that is a little too much...

2) make the reverb more subtle on the vocals. This will bring them more in front. You can loose all the reverb if you want, but then add delay instead (e.g.a short delay time will act a bit like reverb, but keep everything up front). Note: it takes courage to do this because you won't be hiding imperfections in the reverb swamp...

3) if you know about ducking, then now is the time to do some of it... Try ducking the guitars to carve some space for the vocals.

4) something with the cymbals... hmmm I wonder if you could check their spectrum to see if they live with the vocal? Perhaps with your "S's; Ch's; etc..

5) Back to the synth. I'm pretty sure there is one, but see..., if I'm fighting to distinguish it properly then what good is it? Really? It like this: Is there a synth or is it the background humming of the two guitars playing, or is it the humming of the backvocals. Well, assuming there is one, then it's just there in the back filling up whatever empty space might be remaining (which is probably not a lot, because the song is already very busy), and I bet that it is competing with the vocals (that could use a bit of space). Does that make sense?

Song arrangement is a hard one. On one hand you want a busy song, but then again you want dynamics and at times to hear the vocals. If you really know how to mix then you get really busy AND hear the vocals. If you're not so good a mixer, then you get less busy so you can hear the vocals. I'm not a very good mixer, so I tend to arrange my song with the least amount of instruments playing at the same time. Just enough, not to much not to little.

You song is very busy, but yet you want it to be vocal-centered. That is a challenge. As it stands, it not that bad.

That's all I got.

Good luck.
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Old 10-29-2017, 08:52 PM   #3
Steve R
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Thanks for such a thoughtful and detailed response. I know it took you a lot of time and thought. I will go through it more carefully, but can tell you there is no synth. It's electric guitar, 12 string electric and acoustic guitar. Organ comes in at first chorus.

Anyway THANK YOU! I definitely appreciate your suggestions and will follow up!
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Old 10-30-2017, 06:11 AM   #4
dug dog
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Hi Steve:

I think it sounds pretty good as is. I'm no pro but I wouldn't change a thing. However, if you decide that you're not just being too "nit-picky", then RD's suggestions are good places to start.
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:08 AM   #5
G-Sun
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Cool song, nice arrangement,
but yes, agree that a little more dynamic arr. would help.

Ok, eq: Yes, there are eq-problems here.
Makes me think you have a monitoring-issue.
That said:
- Vocal upper mids
- Master eq high-shelf problem (or on many tracks). Hihat, tamborine.
- Guitar-solo: Needs more presence (vol, eq, less reverb)

Vocal-mix else seems appropriate for the genre, and tracking seems reasonably good.

Easy solution for you would maybe be sending it of to stem mastering.
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:55 AM   #6
Jimmy James
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if it was me, I would give a small boost to the vox 1-4k. Then I would cut 1-4k on the guitars. I would also roll off the low end on the vox up to 100-120. Somewhere in there. It wont sound crazy when it is in the mix.
Then roll off the bottom like the main vox, but go just a touch farther. Then roll off the high end close to where you boosted the main vox.

These roll offs and cut/boost was a trick I was taught. It has never failed me. I also roll off the guitars to around 120 as well.
In the mix, this all sounds smooth and gives the tracks there own space.

Turn your verb on 100%. Then set the decay/tone, etc. After all that adjust the mix of it. I make sure the decay does not walk over each other. I like a tight Plate verb. And a room wetter for the bak vox.

GL bro, cool music.

edit: I want to add, if you try the cuts and boost thing. The guitars have a lot more energy in the top end. They cut thru to much for me. You have a wide mix. So having that much in the 6-15k is hard on the ears after a while. It can fight for space with the cymbals as well.
Try cutting from 12k up, totally off. Then I like to use a Pultec and pull that top end down a touch. If you want the guitars brighter than the vocal you can always give it a small boost.
If you boost the Vox from say 2-4k. You can cut the Gtr 2-4k, then boost it 5-7k or1-3k. I like to Solo the guitar tracks. Then I start rolling off the bottom. You will notice you really don't notice it as first. But as you keep rolling it you will start to hear it. When you hear the bass drop out, roll it back a little bit from that point.

It will also make you gtr tracks seem brighter now without boosting the top end.Then you don't have to worry about ear fatigue for the listener.

edit 2: I listened to it 5 times now. The Tamb is louder than the Vox. That could hurt you if you want the Vox upfront more. Do you check your levels in Mono? Be sure to Mono the tune. This will tell you what needs help and what doesn't. When you go to mono, do you lose anything? Can something not be heard now in mono.
In mono is a good time to cut and roll some EQ. And bump and cut. Once it sounds great in mono, it will sound Amazing in Stereo.

Last edited by Jimmy James; 10-30-2017 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 10-30-2017, 11:04 AM   #7
Steve R
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dug dog - Thank you for the listen!

G-Sun: Thanks. Are you saying more vocal upper-mids or less? Also, too much high-shelf? Hi-hat and tambourine too trebly? Thanks again!

Jimmy James: Thank you very much for the details. I will give all of these a shot.

This was an interesting exercise for me. I didn't write the song and for me it was hard to sing. I still hear bad notes, especially on the attacks, so I think I will sing it again to fix if possible.

Thanks again, everyone! This is a great forum!!!
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Old 10-30-2017, 11:11 AM   #8
Jimmy James
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve R View Post
dug dog - Thank you for the listen!

G-Sun: Thanks. Are you saying more vocal upper-mids or less? Also, too much high-shelf? Hi-hat and tambourine too trebly? Thanks again!

Jimmy James: Thank you very much for the details. I will give all of these a shot.

This was an interesting exercise for me. I didn't write the song and for me it was hard to sing. I still hear bad notes, especially on the attacks, so I think I will sing it again to fix if possible.

Thanks again, everyone! This is a great forum!!!
No problem bro. People on this forum are the best! So are you singing the main? Or you on the back ups?
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Old 10-30-2017, 11:16 AM   #9
Steve R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy James View Post
No problem bro. People on this forum are the best! So are you singing the main? Or you on the back ups?
Jimmy James - everything is me except the drums, which are played by Jamstix with Addictive Drums sub-hosted.
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Old 10-30-2017, 12:44 PM   #10
G-Sun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve R View Post
G-Sun: Thanks. Are you saying more vocal upper-mids or less? Also, too much high-shelf? Hi-hat and tambourine too trebly? Thanks again!
Give us a stem of vocal, minimal fx
and of the mix minus vocal,
and we could give you more precise answer.
The rest, well, either you have to go with broad stroke comments, or send it of to someone else to mix, or stem-mastering.

Anyway, if you haven't developed your mix-skills/ ears enough or don't have decent monitoring/room, you'll drive blind.
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Old 10-30-2017, 12:48 PM   #11
Bobstewart
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Sounds pretty cool. Iíve only listened quickly on iPad. Love the style. The vocals (only my opinion) need compression to tighten the dynamics. You have already noticed a couple of dodgy notes. You could sing it again or try reatune. I would sing it again and try a few takes cos itís a great tune.
I couldnít comment on eq till Iíve listened on my headphones and monitors. Itís the kind of track I love mixing.
Good work !
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