Vocal Mix Workflow
Hey guys, with vocals being the most unique thing you can put in a mix, I figured I'd ask everyone in here for a quick rundown on how they usually go about things. I'll throw my workflow in at the end of this but please feel free to critique it and throw out your own opinions. Again, vocals are so unique and can have the craziest dynamics. I don't really believe there's a "correct" way to go about mixing them and the end result is always different for me. But here's a quick rundown of what I might do in most cases:
-EQ First off, this really depends on your microphone profile (frequency response), just for reference, I'm a budget guy and only use my NT1A. Secondly, I hate to be that "industry standard" guy, but I tend to use EQ before compression for the most part. I'll explain later how I mess with more EQ down the signal, but again, for the most part, this EQ is setting the foundation for the mix. I'll get two 7 band EQs, and hi pass anywhere from 80 Hz to 120 Hz depending on the vocal. I've dealt with deep voice rappers, and soprano female singers. I'm not gonna get too deep into specifics, but of course a lot of values wildly vary. Now, on the first EQ I just try to add subtle bumps to make the signal a little more tonally even. Most of the work is in the mids for these EQs. I'm def a firm believer in cutting instead of boosting. But this first EQ sometimes doesn't have much going on. Of course I'll look anywhere from 300 Hz to 600 Hz for some nasty sounds. Maybe add like a 3db drop there. Then I'll shelf 5k and up and drop it about 3db. All of this is happening with very smooth "Q". I do all of this with serial EQing in mind. I just want to set the right tone and keeping it "organic" before making major adjustments. The second EQ is where I put more creativity. I'll do anything from subtraction EQing to some random weird stuff (whatever sounds good and can be gain staged properly). Sometimes this is where I'll add my 10k boost. If I have two side vocals, I might add a crazy 10k boost to one and basically almost cut it on the other. Side vocal EQ to me is a lot more fun and I feel I have a lot more freedom. I might boost upper mid on one side and lower mids on the other. Whatever the case, I'm using this EQ to finally shape the vocal into something whereas the first EQ is kinda to just "get it ready" for that.
-Gate? NGL, I record at home. So I can pick up the fan from my PC and all other junk I don't like. Sometimes I'll even use Z noise and a gate to take care of this. Sometimes I don't need either. Just depends on what the project calls for. It's never been bad enough where using noise removal completely destroys the quality though.
-Automation/Compression/Limiting Here's where all the talk is. I hate to be conceited but I love this part because I feel this is where a lot of producers mess up and I have fun explaining it. I think a lot of producers think that one or two compressors are supposed to do all this work controlling the dynamics for them. While, you can get it to work, it's not the ideal way you want to go about this. First, if you have any transients that are just wildly out there, automate that shit. If someone lays down a verse that's pretty consistent, then yells their last word, (Or an ad lib), you don't even need to automate that. Just slice it and turn it down. I use many DAWs. I love me my Pro Tools, but as much as a meme some of you might make FL Studio to be, is has SUPERIOR automation. I mean the best. It's so easy and you have so much control. I've mixed a track where I automated every transient in FL just because I could. (Not that you need to, some simple automation is usually sufficient). After automation, I'll add one simple compressor, Threshold anywhere from -15db to -30db, ratio could be anywhere from 2:1 to 10:1. Again, all of this depending on the vocal. I deal with a lot of rappers so my attack and release tend to be quicker than when I deal with singers. Sometimes I might even multi band compress my vocals instead at this point if I find I can't make a normal compressor work for "tonal compression". I usually just double up the one compressor for "dynamic compression". It usually does the job. At this point my vocals should already be sitting pretty mic in the mix. There's plenty more we can do from here though. After all of that. I'll place a subtle limiter to even out the rest of the vocal just a few dbs. Nothing serious, we just don't want our peak transient being a db or a few louder than it needs to be.
-FX Sometimes I'll add pitch correction/autotune at this point. There's not much else I can say here. Most other FX are considered "time" effects and should be bussed out of course. Delay and reverb is usually a must. Not too much else to say here. I add plenty of effects don't get me wrong but this is where creativity really comes into play. A cool effect you might not know about is "Reel ADT". Sometimes I refer to that as "automatic doubles" to my clients. It's not just a clutch tool if your artist can't do their doubles, but I've used it anyways even when they can. Sometimes I'll have someone double up a hook (2 takes) then place Reel ADT 2 on the double, muting the center, and use the effect for a stereo chorus instead of the traditional "3 takes" and panning 2 of them. Same concept, different approach.
-The "Main Vocal" Bus Remember how I said I'd might EQ further down the line? This is that point. This technique or whatever you want to call it is def unorthodox/ nontraditional. This isn't meant to be used as a crutch and depending on your system, it might just cause phase or latency issues for you so I don't always recommend it. With that being said, let's get into what I might do at this point. After all the compression, sometimes a de-esser is needed. This is the point where I will "de-ess" every vocal track at once. Then I'll add an RED 2 EQ and RED 3 Compressor. If I haven't done much 10k boosting, I'll do it now. If I feel that the 300hz-600hz range is still a bit too loud, I might drop it a few db. The point here is to add any subtle changes that might help just might help. I'm not looking for anything specific at this point, just doing what I can to make it better if I can. The compressor is there for the EQ for the most part. Kinda just want it there to even out any dynamics we might have changed with the EQ. If I feel the mix really needs it, I'll take advantage of that DRY/WET knob on the RED 3 and add some NY compression. Usually though at this point, the dynamics should be pretty even anyways and NY compression isn't really needed nor would do much. The only other thing I might add on this track is maybe something like tape emulation. Only reason being that I don't have the CPU to do it on every track. (Sometimes I will say F it and throw it on every track, usually resulting in freezing tracks though and I hate that process).
Sorry if I didn't give away more secrets lol I hope no one is reading this hoping for a magical industry secret. (The automation thing might go a long way for you though). If you didn't learn much, hopefully you at least feel validated by some of your own techniques. Maybe we do a lot of similar things or maybe you think something that I'm doing is wrong or impracticable. I'd love to hear how you guys go about vocals in your mix.
P.S. Something to keep in mind with this post. I'm just laying out how I generally go about "vocals". Most of the time people come to my studio, they just have an mp3. Of course mixing with stems can make a huge difference and def effects the overall mix, but I've written this with in mind that a lot of us only have an mp3 or WAV to deal with. If you have any tips that for whatever reason "specifically" have to do with mixing vocals with stems, of course still feel free to share, but please don't say things along the lines of "If you don't have stems, you're doing it wrong anyways.". Not everyone is in a position to receive stems for every mix they work on and I personally don't even think it changes much of your workflow anyways.
submitted by Officialsparxx
Haven't Used FL Studio In A Few Months, Now Everything Needs Relicensing
As the title says. Everything is either failing to load or is asking for activation or a serial number to be added. And some of those are telling me the serial number I have is now invalid.
The only thing I can think that happened in-between the last time I used FL Studio & now is a major Windows 10 update.
Has anyone had this occur? Any workaround?
submitted by form_d_k