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How to Mix Vocals In Logic Pro

Apr 05, 2022
How To Mix Vocals In Logic Pro

The first thing to consider when mixing vocals is how you want the end result to sound. Different genres approach vocal mixing in a variety of ways, meaning there are an infinite number of vocal styles at your disposal. Every decision you make throughout the mixing process will have a small impact on the resulting style and feel.

If you have an idea of how the vocal should sound before you even begin mixing, this will help to influence your decision making throughout the process. In this post we will discuss the techniques that go into vocal mixing and how you can employ them to achieve the sound you want.

 

3 in the Vocal Production Process to Consider:

 

Non-Mixing Factors

  1. Lyrics

     If your vocal has weak lyrics, this could influence you to think the vocal audio quality is bad.

  2. Melody

     A great melody is also a key basis to a great vocal take.

  3. Performance

     Although you can accentuate the emotion of a great performance in the

    mixing process, no amount of mixing will be able to fix a terrible performance.

  4. Timing

     It is important to make sure the timing of your vocal is in the pocket with the rest of your track. This means it has to gel with the instrumentation and the rhythms need to compliment one another. You can do this by chopping the audio and nudging it forward and backward, or you can use Logic’s Flex-Time function for flexible timing adjustment.

  5. Editing

     When you have your final vocal comp, there will often be extraneous mouth noise present such as lip smacks, breaths and pops. It is essential to go through your vocal and remove all this unwanted noise if you want a professional vocal sound.

 

Mixing in Solo

1. EQ

One type of EQ you might use when mixing in solo is a corrective surgical style of EQ. This could be useful to help remove harsh frequencies from your take. Below is an image example of some surgical corrective EQ:

 

2. Autotune

Using a subtle autotune can help to smooth out any pitch issues that may be present in the vocal.

3. Compression

Compression is an important stage of vocal production as it helps tame the vocal and keep it at a consistent level.

Note: if you have an analogue compressor, you can lightly compress the vocal as you record it to control the dynamics and add a subtle colouration. However, be aware that this can cause issues when recording in an untreated room.

4. Multiband Compression

Sometimes it can be worth using multi-band compression if your vocal has harshness in a specific frequency range. In the picture below, multi-band compression was used to tame the 1.5 to 5 kHz frequency range, an area in which harshness can often be present:

 5. De-Essing

De-Essing is a vitally important stage of vocal production, which aims to remove harshness in the high end caused by “S” and “T” sounds. Since you often want a vocal that has a strong high end presence, removing harsh sibilance will allow you to add colour and presence to the high end without accentuating the harsh “S” sound.

6. Colour

When you have achieved a controlled vocal sound free of harshness, this is often the most appropriate time to start adding to the vocal. Some plugins such as Fresh Air by Slate Digital are designed not as a corrective tool, but a creative stylistic tool that can add some colour to your vocal sound. Fresh Air can add a pleasant brightness to your vocal sound, but be aware not to go overboard with this plugin as it can result in nasty hissing / buzzing sounds.

 

Mixing In The Track

1. Reverb

Using reverb is an important part of vocal production to make your vocal sound like it is in a space. Below is an image of a high quality reverb plugin, Valhalla VintageVerb:

 

 

Another trick for bus reverb is to use sidechain compression, reacting to a muted duplicate of the dry signal, to attenuate the reverb when the dry vocal is present. This means you can have a huge wet reverb sound, without it interfering with the dry signal. Below is an image of what this channel strip should look like (note: it is also important to EQ your reverb to remove unwanted muddy frequencies)

 

2. Delay

Using delay on a send bus is another way to add some spatial interest to your vocal sound. The Soundtoys EchoBoy plugin is a popular choice for creative analogue style delays. The benefit of having delays on a bus channel is that you can design it into a more characterful sound by adding reverb, phasers, distortion, sidechain compression, etc. Below is an image example of what your delay bus channel could look like:

 

Note: The Izotope RX audio restoration plugins are very useful for achieving a cleaner vocal track to begin with.

3. Automation

Automation is a key aspect of vocal production to add some development to your mix. One common use of automation on vocals is to have the overall volume lower in the verses than you have it in the chorus. This will create a subtle lifting effect when the chorus kicks in. Below is an example of automation being used to lift the chorus by 0.5 dB or so:

 

 

4. Doubling

Doubling your vocals is a great way to thicken up the sound. It simply involves having multiple takes of the same vocal part present in your mix. You can then pan the different takes to the left and right channel to add stereo width to your vocal. Below is an image of a vocal part that has 3 doubles, one being central and two more hard panned left and right:

 

 

5. Harmonies

Harmonies are another important way to thicken up your vocal sound as well as reinforcing the chord progression and melodies. You can have any number of harmony layers depending on how thick you want the sound. Below is an image of some harmony tracks used to thicken up the lead vocal:

 

 

As you can see, there are many different layers used and each one is panned to the left or right to a different degree. It is also important to ensure that you are doing all of the other required processes (such as compression, EQ, de-essing, etc) on each additional vocal layer you use.

 

Final Thoughts

In order to be a versatile vocal producer, you need to have the flexibility to be able to make retrospective adjustments. Since people do not listen to music in solo, you need to take a step back and listen to how your vocal relates to the rest of the mix. Something that sounded great when the vocal was solo’ed may not work in the context of the song. Therefore, you have to be able to adjust processes that were applied many stages back and still make the vocal work overall.

Make The Music You've Always Wanted

Hi there, my name is Charles. I'm a songwriter, producer, performer, and teacher. I've taught hundreds of students, just like you, who are interested in getting better at GarageBand, Logic Pro, Songwriting, Production, or Mixing/Mastering. I would love to be your teacher as well. Have a look at some of my courses below. If you want to hear my teaching style, you can watch the hundreds of free youtube videos I have online.

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