When mixing vocals we should always have an end goal in mind.
What are we looking to do with the vocal? Is there anything the vocal lacks that we can improve? Is there anything we love about the vocal that we would like to accentuate?
These are key questions we must address from the outset; they help us get to where we’re going.
If you’re looking to set a goal and don’t know where to start, try picking a reference track to compare your vocal against. For example, if you make hiphop music, pick a hiphop artist that you aspire your vocal to sound like sonically.
After you have your reference track, listen to how the reference vocal sounds over the beat… Does it cut through the mix really well? Why?
When asking “why” it’s important to get to the root of the question. Typically a vocalist with a higher register voice will sound amazing over beats that sit in the lower frequency range. For example, rap artists Gunna and Roddy Ricch do this all the time. They have voices that are in a higher register than artists like Da Baby, so their beats reflect that. The beats compliment their voices. This is extremely important to note. If you are mixing a low voice like Da Baby, you likely won’t be able to completely change that voice to sound like Roddy Ricch. The makeup of his voice is different. On the other hand, a vocalist could contort their voice in the recording process to change their sound. It’s up to us as the producer to help bring out the amazing qualities of our artists unique voice and suppress the parts that either conflict with the track or don’t sound especially great.
Finding these qualities in a vocalists voice is completely subjective and partially what makes mixing vocals an art form. Trust your instincts and what you think is cool. Music is all about style, don’t be afraid to show yours.
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