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80: What We Use In Our Vocal Chains (And Why We Use It)

The vocal sells the song, right?

It carries all the energy and emotion. And it's the one thing we really have to get right because we humans are so used to the sound of a voice that we immediately notice when something's wrong.

At least as listeners we immediately notice it.

As engineers, however, it's actually pretty hard to get it right.

For whatever reason people overcook their vocals all the time, using huge vocal chains without really knowing why.

Or they don't do enough because they are afraid of messing things up and what they end up with is a flat, amateur sounding vocal.

We've been there. And over time we've built vocal chains that work for us and help us deal with all kinds of different vocalists and situations now.

Our chains are different from session to session, of course. But they are still consistent enough for us to talk about them and share them with you.

The why behind what we do is consistent and knowing the reasons why we use certain things in our chains over an over again is more valuable than the actual settings.

In this episode we talk about what we are using to record and mix vocals, why we use these specific plugins and pieces of gear and how we use it in different situations.

Let's dive in!

More...


This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

The plugins and hardware that we mentioned in the episode:

Empirical Labs Distressor, Maag EQ, Fabfilter Pro-Q3, Fabfilter Pro-MB, Teletronix LA-2A, Universal Audio 1176, Klanghelm MJUC, Waves L1, Brainworx bx_limiter, Soundtheory Gullfoss, Oeksound Soothe 2, Soundtoys Radiator, Soundtoys Decapitator, Pultec EQP-1, Soundtoys Microshift, Waves Vocal Rider


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 80

[00:00:00] Malcom: Vocal mixing and both of recording, or just like two of the most highly sought things for people trying to learn this stuff. That is a mystery that people are constantly trying to solve. If it's not right, it's obviously wrong. Um, it's a tricky thing to get. 

[00:00:15] Benedikt: This is the self recording band podcast. The show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY style.

Let's go.

Hello and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I am your host Ben at the time, and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. How are you Mancha? 

[00:00:37] Malcom: Hello? I'm great, man. I had an amazing weekend. I'm so tired though. What did you do we 

[00:00:43] Benedikt: marathon again? 

[00:00:44] Malcom: No, no, this time I just hung out with friends on like on the water when paddle boarding and stuff.

We just, we had a little cabin getaway with some close friends, which was just amazing for one, because we haven't really got to do something that. With other people in, you know, a year and a [00:01:00] half, two years. Um, so that was great, but it was like one of those weekends where you're chilling so hard that you're exhausted by the week.

It's like we ate too much, you know, unhealthy food and had way too many beers and sat in the sun for too long. But 10 out of 10 weekend. How about you? 

[00:01:18] Benedikt: Um, actually pretty similar. Um, I had, like, we were on, on Saturday, we were hiking with the kids, uh, which was pretty awesome. Like it was very, very hot and also exhausting, but it was also very, very cool, um, perfect day and, you know, we were hiking and then we were invited, um, at my mom's place to barbecue and I ate until I had like physical pain, like really, like, it was really, really painful and it just didn't stop.

And that's a problem I have in general. The funny thing is that my wife couldn't stop laughing because I wanted to lose some weight, like the last couple of weeks. And I did actually, I I'm not like overweight or [00:02:00] anything, but I just felt a little uncomfortable and I started running more. I started eating less and on Saturday I was close to hitting my goal.

And, uh, I got on the scale in the morning. And then after we come, came home from a mom's place, like in the evening. And during that day, although we were hiking for like four hours or four and a half hours, and I was sweating and burning calories and all that, I threw out the day I gained three kilos, which is like, it's like six pounds, like through one day.

Like, I don't know how, like how, how much can one person eat? Like, that's just impossible. I mean, I drank a lot. I ate a lot, but like six pounds in one day what's going on. So like, it just hurt. I looked like it was pregnant and, um, yeah, yesterday was then 

[00:02:47] Malcom: recovery. 

[00:02:50] Benedikt: Uh, yeah, we were, we spent a day in the garden with some friends and, uh, yeah, it was a awesome weekend as well, so 

[00:02:58] Malcom: very good.

Very good. [00:03:00] 

[00:03:00] Benedikt: Yeah. Um, other than that, I have thought about something over the weekend and that is something I want to ask our audience. It is, I spent some time in other communities online and I noticed that, and I've been noticing that for a while, actually, that a lot of people with their communities online are moving to discord and away from Facebook, not everyone does it, but some people do.

And some people start out, start out on this chord. And I had a conversation on the weekend with, um, um, yeah, some, some people that are in completely other, um, yeah, it's a completely different like, uh, thing. Like they don't have to do anything with recording, but apparently it's pretty normal and they like, it's a pretty popular platform to communicate.

And I'm not like I didn't use it as much as much to be honest, but I, it seemed like that a lot of people are using it. So. Long story short. I had a look at it. I, um, set up an account and I checked it out and I can see why people like that platform. I'm very late on this because it's been popular for awhile.[00:04:00] 

And now I just want to know if that is maybe something that we should do as well. If you, when you're listening to this podcast right now, if you would prefer that, or if we should stay on Facebook without community, um, I like the way the community works now on Facebook, but if more people use are using discord, um, than Facebook, then it would make sense to move.

So I made this little poll in the Facebook community and I'm curious to see the results. And if it turns out that most people actually prefer discord, maybe we move. I dunno. Yeah. So let us know, um, check out the community. It's the self recording band.com/community. Right now, this link takes you to the Facebook community and there's this poll.

And, um, let us know what you prefer. And if this court is the winner, maybe we should. 

[00:04:45] Malcom: Yeah, that'd be super curious to hear that I I'm part of a couple of discord servers and it's pretty cool. I don't know. It's, uh, it's less of a wormhole than Facebook is, so it could be cool. Exactly. 

[00:04:56] Benedikt: Exactly. I can totally see why people like it.

I'm super late to the party and I haven't [00:05:00] joined it until this weekend, but I began to think about it and, um, let's see. Yeah, totally. All right. Um, then today we talk about, I want it to say gear, but not really. We talk about, but yeah. Part of it is the year talk, but we talk about like very practical things that you can do to your vocal.

We talk about our vocal chains. We talk about processing vocals while you're recording, but also, um, in the mix we talk about our approaches to that are, um, why the end, the thought process behind that, and there is. If you're wondering like what gear to use or which plugins to buy or which I dunno. Um, there is a gear guide that I have for you that is completely free.

If you go to the self recording band.com/gear guide, you can download that and then we can skip the part of like which microphone you should buy and stuff in this episode. So we only talk about the chain after the microphone and why we [00:06:00] use certain things, but if you're wondering where to start, like which gear to actually buy in which microphone to use this gear guide is for user go to the set of recording band.com/gear guide.

Now, I'm very curious to hear about your vocal chain or your approach to processing vocals, um, in the recording stage, but also like in mixing them, like what, what are things you, you always do if there are any and what is the, what is the general? 

[00:06:26] Malcom: Yeah, so I think there is always compression, um, for, for me with a vocal.

So. I find the vocals are extremely dynamic instruments. Just even how, why talk? I think I'm probably a bad example. Actually, I start sending this is quite loud and then finished pretty quiet and, and, uh, and a lot of people sing that way as well. And, and there's all of this loud music behind them in the song and we have to make it so that a vocal stays upfront in our face and clear.

So compression [00:07:00] is kind of my go-to tool for achieving that, um, the right mic in the right place in the right room is going to get you a lot of the vocal sound. So try to achieve that first of course, but then from there, I'm using compression to take it the rest of the way into a more, uh, I guess, a vocal with less dynamic range.

That sounds still natural though, and then seems competitive in, in the mix. Um, so that that's, I guess, Where I start, the vocal journey is like, is getting that right. Right. And then, and then jumping onto some compression to kind of keep things where I want them. Um, now for me, that compression on the way in is like only one of, of many stages for like, I don't compress how it's going to be in the end.

This is one of the, I guess, one of the few spots where I don't try to do it entirely on the way in, [00:08:00] um, are you the same? Like I've got reasons for that, but, uh, I would love to hear your thoughts first. 

[00:08:06] Benedikt: Um, You mean that I'm compressing multiple stages and that's just this one time when I record it. Well, I mean, 

[00:08:14] Malcom: both of us like to commit on the way in for a lot of things.

Right. Um, but vocals is kind of the one spot where I don't go a hundred percent. I don't try and take it 100%. Um, I try and get it like maybe 25, 30% on the way in, and then the rest is happening in the box for me and told the intention for 

[00:08:32] Benedikt: me, like, yeah, yeah. This not going all the way is similar for me.

Um, so I, I like to think that I go all the way, uh, that I don't go all the way, but sometimes I just like the sound of whatever I'm using so much that I compress more than I thought I would. And then I ended up not having to use a lot of compression in the mix because I overdid it in the, on the, when that happens sometimes.

But I try to leave room for that mix as well. Yeah. Because some things I just don't know what the recording stage yet, [00:09:00] and maybe, yeah. Things can change. Yeah. So I don't, I try to not go to a hundred percent while on the way in, but sometimes it just happens because I like to distort and compress things a lot.

Right. Um, all right. So I have a pretty clear, um, path that I think through sort of just from Samsung, obviously, and from project to project, but the thought process is sort of the same. It's a pretty systematic approach for me at least. And, um, when I record, after I picked the right mic for the vocalist, I like to use compression for, and it's, it's similar to what you're doing the mix later.

It's just that I use a little bit on the wind and a little bit on the mix, but the why behind this similar. So I usually use a little bit of, um, huh, and top and emphasis first before I hit the compressor. So the first thing is actually the queue, in my case, a hardware. So I'd like to add some highs for most vocal mikes.

Some very bright mikes don't need that. But if I use, especially if [00:10:00] I use a dynamic mic, like, and there's some seven or something, it needs a little, like it's a pretty dark mic and it needs a little top and a little more air and stuff. And I'd like to do that first because, uh, if I add high end before the compressor and get as harsh to compress, he has more of the high frequencies and clamps down on those.

If I do it after the compression, I tend to get more sibilance and it's harder to get rid of that later. So attempt to add top end into the compressor. Right. Um, yeah, so it's a little low cut to get rid of like rumble and pop the noises and stuff and a little top and push usually depending on the mic.

And then I hit the compressors and the compressors, I say compressors because usually I use two. One of those is for, is set pretty fast. Sometimes as fast as it goes, something, something like an 1176 or a distressor on the fastest setting. Which is what I use most often. And that is to control just the loudest peaks.

It does it very quickly and [00:11:00] pretty transparent and the print transparent way. And I don't take off a lot. I just take off a couple of DBS, um, just shaving off those, those peaks very quickly. Um, if a lot of color, I pushed that a little harder and with an 1176 or a destresser, you can do that. And it actually distorts a bit as well, but you can also do it in a very transparent, the weight.

Now with that out of the way, after that, I have a slower compressor, like an up-to and this is a pretty classic thing to do. Like people have done that for, for decades, like 1176 plus in LA two-way, for example, is the classic chain. Um, so the second one is usually a slower compressor, something like an opto or tube compressor or something like that, or a distressor set to optimum.

And, um, that is just a leveling. That is where I use more compression. Like with the destresser, for example, you can compress V a lot without it sounding compressed. Like I can compress eight, 10 DB, and it still sounds pretty natural, but it sounds more dense. It is a little bit of tone. And, um, it gets rid of this amateur [00:12:00] sounding thing that you said, like where this over dynamic vocal thing, like, it just puts the vocal to the front.

Um, it lets say enough of the transient through so that it sounds close and like aggressive. Um, so that is usually what I do. So one very fast compressor one's little compressor. And then usually I already have enough color of thread do that. So there's not a lot of, depending on the Shandra, I'll add additional distortion, but usually with the distressors and my two preempt that I like for vocals, um, or a transformer that I can hit hard.

I have enough color at this point, usually that I don't need addition. A saturation or distortion. And then I hit the computer. And what I record then is, as I said, already, pretty saturated, pretty compressed there's this top end emphasis. So it sounds pretty finished. Um, that's why I, when I track things or tracked things, I didn't use as much processing in the box compared to stuff that I, that people sent me when they record themselves.

Right. [00:13:00] The chain that I use in the mix then is pretty similar. I just use way less if I recorded it. So what I do, the first thing in the chain then is a corrective IQ. Something very transparent and boring, like the fast filter pro Q that's the first thing. So I use that. I add maybe another low cut. If the one that I used during the recording didn't work or didn't do.

I adjust. I get rid of resonances could be from the room or the mic I get rid of like siblings. That's always there and not really dynamic. So I just, basically, I do a lot of that. A lot of, I do as many cuts as I need to get rid of stuff that I don't like. I don't know, boost at this stage. I just get rid of things that I don't like.

Um, that's the first, uh, thing that I do then it's followed by a DSP usually, um, usually a wide band. Yes, sir. So it's set to duck the holes. No, whenever they're siblings, not just the top end. That's the first yes. Or that I use. And it's after the correct, [00:14:00] then this is followed by an ACU where I push even more top end when I get the mid range, right.

To make it cut through. If I boost a lot of mid range, the vocal moves closer and like jumps out of the mix. If I take out the mid range, The vocal goes back a little bit more into the mix. So I have the style there where I can, I could move them the vocal back or forth, back and forth basically. And one cue that is awesome for that is the mark or Mac, whatever you pronounce it oh, gee.

Yeah, the blue wire band. Exactly. But yeah, the Aerobahn is not what I use in this case, but the six 50 band on this, the 650 Hertz band, the midst band, the red one that is, I don't know why that's so different from using that same frequency on, let's say the fan filter. If I just use that one and I push a DB and a half or so the vocal chumps out of the mix.

And if I take out a DB or so the vocal syncs back into the mix and it's very cool. It doesn't magic. It's just the dial a back and forth [00:15:00] dial from me. Basically. I'll have to try that. So sorry. I'll have to try that. Oh yeah. It's like it's magic. Really. If I, if anytime a band wants me to, to bring out the vocal a little more or like when they complain that.

Not upfront enough or whatever, half a DB of that or a DB of that. And the problem is fixed usually that's, it's very good. Cool, awesome. Awesome. Yeah. So that, that's the key. Um, sometimes a little bit of the air Airband as well. And like, as I said, another, um, top end boost, upper mid range, if I need more clarity and then, um, compression again, same thing as on the way in that being said, all of what I just say is, uh, what I just said.

I use very little of that if I tracked it because I tracked it properly. If some, if someone sent a very raw recording with a lot of problems in a problematic room, I do more of those cuts. I have to use more of the dressing and I have to use more compression. Um, that's not always the same, but again, one [00:16:00] fast compressor, one slower compressor.

I balance those two against each other. And then in the end then after the compressors, usually there is another DSR and this time I only take off the top end and only if there's still siblings that annoys me, sometimes it's already gone because the compressors take care of that as well after the acute.

Um, but if the, there is another instance of the S thing, then it's, it's there after the compressors and it takes, it takes off only the top end could be a dynamic Q band could be a yes or something that just ducks the top end. Yeah. And then the, at the end of the chain, there is if I need more color there's some, some saturation or clipping could be something like radiator, sand toys could be, um, the decapitate or it could be a simple clipper plugin, uh, anything that gives me the color I want.

Sometimes I send it out of the box through some analog gear that does exactly what I want. Sometimes it's already enough color. Like if I attracted and I have four compressors going at this point, like two drawings backing and then another pair [00:17:00] in the mix, I probably don't use any additional color. But sometimes like, I like to distort things.

So sometimes I do. And then the final plug-in after the saturation is eliminator that if I use it at all, just make sure there's like the, the, the, whatever peaks still come through. It controls them a little bit. It's a very boring, limited Lyn type basically, or the BX limiter by BrainWorks does that as well.

And, um, it just one or two to be just like the ceiling, basically, um, just some control. And if you push that harder, this can also be cool. It can bring the vocal even more close and upfront and it distorts it again a little bit, but I'm very careful with that. It's just for me, I don't know. I like to use that on many tracks actually as the last plugin, just as a final control to get rid of the last couple of DB.

And I, I don't know. I find when I do that on a lot of tracks, It's much easier to meet for me to get allowed, but still that natural sounding mix and master. [00:18:00] So if I shave off a couple of DB at the end of every track, my mix bus compressor has a consistent thing to work with to get the groove. Right. And then I don't have to use a lot of limiting to get it loud.

So I just like to do that. Yep. That's a great trick. So it sounded like a lot, but actually what I'm doing is to sum it up. I use, I control the dynamics on the way in, and at the same time, add color. I add whatever the mic is missing with the queue before those compressors and in the box. I correct.

Whatever flaws the room in the mix of the mic. Have I again, do, um, ETQ and compression usually queue first and then I finish it with whatever color I want and eliminate. So that's basically it, there are some situations where special things are needed, like sooth or any of those, like, um, magic, automatic, uh, correction, [00:19:00] plugins, whatever you want to call them.

I don't use a ton of those. I like to have control over what I do. And I like to keep it simple, especially with the vocal chain. So, you know, there's always a place for those tools, but to me it's pretty simple it's situation, IQ and compression, 

[00:19:14] Malcom: right on. Yeah. Okay. So we've got some similarities, I think.

Um, okay. Let's dive in. I, I, and then I think whenever we hit a different point, we can, we can discuss Y yeah. Um, so yeah, I would totally agree in that the vocals I record generally are more committed than the ones I receive from DIY clients. And I think that's perfect. I think that's the way it should be probably, um, because a lot of the bands that listen to this podcast, for example, just don't have a room where they're able to hear exactly what's going on, like you, or I might have the luxury of, right.

So it makes more sense that we are committing further. Um, and, and we have more gear available to [00:20:00] do so as well. So it's totally fine if you're, if you're like, Hey, I want to be like Benny, but I don't have these tools. It's okay. You can record without committing anything and you can still get a great result.

It's just going to happen later. But the reason I don't usually go a hundred percent to the finish line with my vocal on the way in is because of like an obsession of DSE. I've just, uh, I've ran into a couple situations over the years where like, if I didn't get a compressor or a DSR in front, in front of my first compressor, uh, or, or before heavy compression happened, there was just no fixing it.

Despite me owning like six different DSM plugins now. 

[00:20:43] Benedikt: Okay. 1, 1, 1 thing now, because otherwise I forget because that is interesting. Um, do you do that even? Okay. You basically said that you do that when you record, you still feel that it's better to have the Sr pretty early before you do too much compression.

[00:20:59] Malcom: Yeah. So [00:21:00] I don't have a hardware DSR, so I, I almost always do have a compressor before it hits. Uh, yes, sir. Um, but, but then I don't go too far and then there ends up being a DSR before, like my primary in the box, the compressor, which is really crunching things up. 

[00:21:17] Benedikt: Okay. Because I I'm asking because I've totally feel you there.

I have the same issue and I love to DS. That's why I use 2d ECERS and sometimes an additional dynamic band and sometimes sooth or whatever. But, um, the thing is, there's one thing that solved it for me when I track it. When I receive things, as I said, the DSR is right after the correction or like those two go together, there's a federal filter, acute NTDs are before I hit anything.

Right. Because of exactly that reason. I just don't need that when I track. And that is most of the time. And that is because of the distressor because of the stressor. If you said it too, um, if you set the site chain, if you enabled the upper mid range boost on the side chain yep. [00:22:00] And you push it harder, it actually gets a little dollar.

Like it, it acts as a, as a, the SRN compression in the same way. And then the saturation that it adds, I don't know if for some reason that thing is so smooth that I don't feel the need to DS my own vocals a lot when I track that. That's just, that's the reason, like once I figured that out, um, it eliminated a lot of the DSE needs for me and I wish.

I wish everyone send it, who sends me like vocals would use it, the SRO and do exactly that, the stressor and do exactly that. So there's this, but 

[00:22:31] Malcom: otherwise totally. We agree. Go buy a distress. Exactly. That's awesome. Yeah. So I don't have a distressor unfortunately, um, I ended up using 1176 as opposed to time, which I don't do that.

Um, I find that the opposite, they do the opposite. Exactly. Exactly. So my kind of usual goal, um, is to make it sound like if I receive the file that I've recorded, it'd be like, wow, this singer just nailed it. Like they have the perfect dynamic [00:23:00] ability to make their vocals sound so full. But in reality is the compressor helping them.

That's kind of like my motto of what I want to capture on the way into the computer is a compressor that makes it sound like they sing a perfectly dynamically. And then I go nuts in the box. So, and now I should clarify that I'll try and get it to what sounds like finished to me in the box while we track it so that the singer is also monitoring that.

That's what I'm hearing. We're hearing like a very processed vocal, I guess, um, on, on the way in, it's just not actually being grabbed because I'm going to tweak with the ECERS for way too long, probably, um, afterwards and different. It almost always changes for me, but funnily enough, um, what doesn't change and what you didn't mention, isn't really part of our outline, but I want to bring it up is that I usually get my vocal effects, uh, figured out at this tracking stage as well.

So I'll figure out my delays and [00:24:00] reverbs, and they'll usually stick to the end of the mic. 

[00:24:03] Benedikt: Okay. I wanted to add that in the end. Um, basically. Because, but yeah, it's it's but you have to mention it now because it's interesting that you do it at this point because I do it for the monitoring as well, but just very rough, like I don't commit and it can change a lot, but, um, okay.

Yeah. I am, to me, in my mind, I view the vocal chain as like the inserts and there's no, and I don't use many people do that, but I don't use delays or reverbs and stuff on the inserts. I do that on the sands and I really, at this point, like doing tracking, it's very, very rough and yeah, I I'll, I'll get to that later.

What I, because I have a pretty, pretty standard approach to those as well. Um, yeah, we'll go ahead. It's interesting that you mentioned it right away. 

[00:24:48] Malcom: So I agree. It's also rough. Um, like I ended up changing how they sound, but like the timing of them and, and their presence is like really important for me to know.

I feel like [00:25:00] we're in the song. Like if there's meant to be a heavy slap back delay, I need to hear that. I can't imagine it for later. Yeah. And I want the singer to hear it too. Um, so I usually get that stuff going. We listened to it louder than it will be in the end, but that's, that's natural. Um, yeah, so there's a compressor on the way in, and that's usually it for me, sometimes the DQ, but usually it's abreast on the way.

And then in the box, um, I don't track with any DSS because my favorite one as latency. Um, so just, I, I skip it for now, but I'll, I'll definitely have another compressor go and heavier, usually 11 to say 76 style again. Um, or an LA two way gets in there as well. Uh, and then let's just now say that was our tracking chain.

My mixing chain. It's usually the same as you there's there's often a, a little ETQ, um, before the BSR, but sometimes it's just the DSRs. And, uh, I like the wide band as well. Same as you. [00:26:00] And then I'll hit a compressor real hard, and then I'll usually have an IQ after that. Um, and that's where I tend to do like any major lifting is added it's post compression.

I don't know why that is. It's just kind of stuck. I just started doing it. Um, and then for me, I usually have a limiter there at that point. And then often I'll have a compressor after my limiter. Um, yeah, just to sometimes I, cause you can kind of limit harder than sounds good and then bring life back to it with the compressor after the limit.

Or sometimes this depends on how dynamic the singer is. That order, I feel like it would swap if the, if the singer had a really good control of their dynamics, I would go put the limit to the last thing and just have them like, like you were using it just to shape off a couple of things. I'm now curious if you're like this as well.

Benny that's maybe my first, like my individual vocal chain, but now they're all going to be fed to like a master vocal bus where [00:27:00] I'm going to have more stuff going on. I'll have like another compressor where they're all being fed to I'll have, uh, possibly a limiter on there as well. And then that's where I jumped into my like auto mixing plugins, like sooth or.

Golf FOS is one that I'm really enjoying on vocals in particular, by the way, Ben, if you have gold plus it's like one of the coolest DSRs ever, 

[00:27:23] Benedikt: um, it doesn't, they haven't, I don't have it, but I heard that Lee, uh, like just a couple of days ago, they, I think they released it. It's a major update that people are raving about.

[00:27:34] Malcom: Yeah. They got another version of it now, which is cool. Um, but, uh, yeah, so that kind of stuff where I'm now trying to like, have it react to all of the vocals at the same time and create a kind of glue amongst them. 

[00:27:47] Benedikt: Yep. Yeah. I, uh, skip that for now because I wouldn't, I didn't want to do like too long, my first part, but yeah.

Um, yeah, same here. Um, so before we get to this stage, because we should talk about that and there's [00:28:00] additional stuff like parallel processing and stuff as well, but, um, I want to explore one or two things, um, a little deeper that you mentioned in your, in your vocal chain, on the actual vocal track. Right.

[00:28:10] Malcom: I did skip down and realizing, but go ahead. 

[00:28:13] Benedikt: Okay. Yeah. At that. And then, yeah. 

[00:28:16] Malcom: Well, I would say pretty often these days, there's some kind of saturation plugin as well. Um, and that, I would say there's no consistent place for where that lives. Sometimes. It's like the first thing in the chain. Sometimes it's the last thing it's just depends.

You just have to tweak and use different plugins until it 

[00:28:35] Benedikt: sounds right. Yeah. That's a great segue into what I wanted to ask and say about your chamber. I feel like a lot of it. And you just already said it. A lot of it depends on how controlled the dynamics already are. Like the performance already. Is it that determines everything you do, basically, because I agree sometimes you need to add a little bit of color or whatever is lacking in the beginning before you even [00:29:00] start the chain.

Sometimes it's enough to do a little sweetening at the end. Sometimes you need the limiter before the compressor or before the compressors, just because it's so dynamic that the compressors don't react properly to whatever is coming in. That's part of the reason, by the way, why I do this 1176 LA to a pair thing or distressors or whatever.

Um, because if you set that first quick one to be really, really fast, it's almost like a limiter and it is basically a limiter. And, um, and then what happens is that the slower one that comes after that sees a more consistent level? Hmm. Like can react to the actual dynamics and the groove of the song and the articulation better.

And if I don't do that, I feel like that slower compressors jumping around too much, it's pumping too much and it's not really musical. So I have to control the peaks first before I hit the musical compressors, so to speak. Um, and that's, I think, similar to what you described with using the limiter first.

And I think my limiter is the quick compressor first, and then the limiter in the [00:30:00] end is just really the, the ceiling that barely does anything. It's just, I feel, I feel better if it's there. Honestly, sometimes I can just turn it off and there would be a difference, but I just feel better if it's there.

Um, and, uh, yeah. And then with the saturation, or also cue after the compressors, it's a little sweetening thing. Like I said, IQ into the compressors and that's true most of the time, but sometimes. I have this finished thing and I still think something's lacking. And then of course I just add in the end, some sweet accused, some Pultec or whatever, somebody Q or some, sometimes just a simple fat filter or whatever.

If I, if I still think if I just think everything everything's cool, but it's a little dark. I might just add a tiny like shelf or tilt or whatever, just to make it a little brighter or some sweetening with some cue that I really like, um, after everything that can always happen, same with saturation.

Totally depends. Uh, but the heavy lifting I usually do before the compressors and that's also [00:31:00] because of that obsession with sibilance and controlling it. And I feel like boosting a bunch of top end, which I often do for me at least works better into the compressors. Then afterwards, if I use it an 1176 heavily and then boost top end after that, it's crazy sometimes.

Yeah. Awesome. 

[00:31:20] Malcom: Yeah, one thing I did skip over that I've been doing a lot lately is throwing sometimes like widening stuff right on the, the track. Um, so micro shift is one that I'll sneak in a little bit and it's normally running less than like 

[00:31:35] Benedikt: 10%, but that would mean your vocal track is stereo. It does.

[00:31:42] Malcom: Uh, so what happens is my, my Ebola is sorry. It's not right on the track. It's actually right on the bus. Um, yeah, so I've got my, my lead vocal and then my doubles going to a vocal boss that they're sharing and on that bus, I'll often sometimes throw it [00:32:00] in and sometimes it's right on the track though. But, uh, yeah, it, it does turn it to stereo technically, technically, but it's, it's run so, so thin.

Um, but it's been something that I've been enjoying. I normally like a little bit. That on like a lead vocal. Um, and then it sometimes, like I do have an ox track, uh, ascend set up with a different doubler. Um, it's just been, uh, uh, lately I've been using micro shift and this is the quickest way for me to do it.

[00:32:28] Benedikt: Yeah. I like that too. I just need to add one thing here just to not confuse people because it doesn't work the same in every door. Like incubators, for example, I can not just use Microsoft on a mano vocal track. It doesn't turn into stereo. It just stays monoline. It doesn't work. Like it's just, it does weird face thing, but it doesn't turn get doesn't get why.

So it does not do what it's supposed to do. So if you want to do that in Cubase, you would have to create a stereo track, move your plugin chain over, copy that the audio over, and then insert the Microsoft there. You can't just do it on a monitor track. That's [00:33:00] why I just wanted to say that because if people, before people go and try and their dog doesn't do that, right.

Um, you know, I had no idea you were saying. Yeah, exactly. So what we're seeing is shift, what it does is an artificial double thing. So it creates, um, a fake, double left and right. That is slightly, those are slightly delayed and pitched up and down. It's a classic doubler effect that, um, that has been done for a long time.

And that plugin does it really, really well and works like a charm. And if you do use it as a send, it's very easy to set up, you use it like a reverb and you balance it with the drive vocal to the point where you feel it's right. But of course you can just add it to, to the track itself on an insert. But that means the track has to be a stereotype because otherwise you don't get the left and right.

Doubles thing. 

[00:33:45] Malcom: Yeah, yeah. Definitely has to either convert to stereo or put it on your stereo bus, um, whatever. Uh, yeah, it's just been fun. I can automate the, the mix from course diverse, you know, uh, stuff like that. It's just been like a nice little creative one and it [00:34:00] sounds pretty great. It's really easy to overdo those.

You have to be careful. 

[00:34:04] Benedikt: Yeah, I agree. I agree. Um, yeah. Cool. So let's go. Okay. Then let's dive into the effects thing, uh, on the routing thing again, because that is also something that could potentially confuse our listeners. Um, so it sounds like you did pretty much the same to like what I do, like when it comes to routing.

So in my case, I have all my, if there's multiple lead vocal tracks because they overlap or whatever, I've, don't put any plugins on those tracks. I just bust them together on one mano track. That's caught my lead vocal master usually. And then it's just a fake. That that is the lead vocal track. If there's multiple lead vocalists and they all go to this one, that's mano, and this has my vocal change that I described.

Then this gets sent to the vocal bus, um, together with my, um, double vocals, um, master fader. So all the doubles go to their own fader as well. [00:35:00] All the harmonies go to their own feeder, all the backing vocals go to their own feeder or the gang vocals have their own feeder, like all these different types of backing vocals or subgroups.

Exactly. And all those subgroups, all those faders go to the vocal bus. That is the group that has all the vocals. Yeah. Um, and on this vocal bus, I do basically what you do sometimes it's just a simple. Slow compressor that does the auto mix thing for me. So sometimes it's enough to just have a compressor.

And when, like when one vocal is going, the compressor does nothing, but when a lot of vocals are going on, it just the level, the input level increases. And then the compressor starts to work and controls it a little bit. And that just means I don't have to turn down all the vocals every time the backing vocals come in because the, the overall vocal level stays consistent.

And whenever the additional layers come in, the compressor just controls it a little bit. So that is the most basic function on that best for me. But as you said, sometimes I like to use [00:36:00] things like soothe or a multi-band whatever thing, or, um, I haven't tried golfers, but I have to, I think I have to try it at some point.

Um, yeah, but that is the point for me, where I use whatever I feel does a great job of controlling and gluing all the layers together and it works. Yeah. 

[00:36:20] Malcom: Um, we wrote exactly the same. I think it sounds like in every it's pretty well you route, uh, to as detailed a bus structure as you can. Um, and that's what I do as well.

It's like, if it can have a subgroup, it does. And then they all get fed to a master as well. Ironically, I have the stupid thing. It, this is truly stupid. Um, but I, I like it, so I keep it, but all of my I've got like that master vocal, all bus, and I've got one for all my guitars and all my bass and all my drums, everything like that has their they're all bus, but then they all go to another stereo.

Track, which is what I call the stem track and I can just commit them. And that's kind of why they're there. [00:37:00] It's like, I can just click commit on them. I could do that to the other ones though, but they're all in their own folder. And I just think of them differently. It's just like this little mindset thing for me, where I look at that folder by itself.

And it's, I can kind of imagine if I'm stem mastery. It like changes how I think about doing it, like, okay, can I fix the problem here? Or do I need to go back into the multi-track it's like a little stem mastering session inside my own session, but it's totally redundant. Totally redundant. 

[00:37:24] Benedikt: Yeah. But it's the same for me for that reason I have in cube Cubase and the mix of you, you can pin certain channels to the right and they always stay there.

If you scroll through the mixer. I don't know if you can do that in as well. Awesome. No, I can't. I love that though. And what I do is like I have my drum bus, my bass burst my rhythm bus, my lead bursts and my vocal. Those are always pink to the right and then the mixed person, the master. So when I scroll through the mixer and do whatever those always stay there and I can always look at them and I need that for the same reason, I just need a way to quickly see the five most important groups or stems or whatever you want to call it of nine that are going on.

I want to see the levels [00:38:00] going into the buses. I want to see my bus compressors. I want to see how all that works together. And I want to switch between thinking about individual tracks and doing the broad strokes and big picture stuff on those buses. So same thing. Yeah. Yeah. That's really fast. I have a mixed bus in front of my master bus.

That's also redundant, but I like to do that. Like I have a mixed bus and I sent that into the masters. So same here. Yeah, 

[00:38:22] Malcom: same here. I even have a, like, All of those individual buses, um, go to an instrument bus and the vocals skips it, and then they hit the next bus. And then the Masterpass there's so many buses, it's still the 

[00:38:35] Benedikt: same.

What that does is it enables us to quickly export groups like stems. When we balance the whole thing, that's become so important because people need stems for backing tracks, for licensing, for whatever they need instrumental. So there needs to be then yeah, there needs to be a way to do this quickly. We just hit export and it creates the final master.

It creates an unmixed version. It creates an instrumental of a vocal and the whatever stems [00:39:00] and all of that, um, as quickly as possible, basically. Yeah, yeah, 

[00:39:04] Malcom: totally. Um, yeah. Okay. That's great that you do that 

[00:39:08] Benedikt: too. Yeah, that totally, totally. Which is depending on your computer. Um, there is stuff to think about because.

If you do a lot of things, if you send one track into another, into another, into another, if this is sort of a serial processing going on, then it requires your individual cores of your CPU to be faster. If you do a lot of parallel and you have a lot of tracks running next to each other, and they all just come together in the end, it's better for multi, like you use your multi-core processing better.

So, uh, I had to figure, find, figure that out and find a balance there. Um, because I can run insanely huge sessions on my computer if I don't do a lot of busing. Right. But unfortunately I do it and I like it. And that's why I run out of CPU power sometimes. Um, because yeah, because my, my, the whole chain from start to [00:40:00] finish, it's just so huge.

The serial chain, because there's the individual channel, the first master fader, the group, the bus, the other bus, the master, all of the things. And that is true. Heavy on the individual cores and those are not so fast than my computer and I can not use. The full processing power of my computer of all the cores properly because of that setup.

Yeah. So there's that? 

[00:40:23] Malcom: Yeah. I have the exact same problem. It's but it's, yeah, you find a balance, but, and I think it's worth it. Even having some CPU airs and stuff like that, it's just like it's laid out in the way that makes perfect sense to me. Um, just wanted to throw in a term for our listeners if they hadn't heard it before, when we're talking about going to those like master stem buses and working from the big picture at the top there that's often referred to as top-down mixing where instead of starting at the individual track and making tweaks there and kind of building them altogether, you know, kick Lynn snare, then Toms or whatever you'd like to do.

Uh, you're doing the opposite. You've got all of the drum bikes going and you're, [00:41:00] you're just now making the key moves to the entire drum kit. And then you're like, okay, now the kick needs a little bit more. You go in solo the kick in and figure it out from there. So it's like totally flipping it on its head.

Instead of building from the small blocks, you've got all the pieces and you're carving stuff out of that all at one. Yep. 

[00:41:16] Benedikt: Yep. Great, great advice. 

[00:41:19] Malcom: There's no right or wrong, but talk down or yeah, like it's just another strategy. Um, and yeah, so don't, don't, don't worry 

[00:41:29] Benedikt: about it. No, I find that this happens automatically to me in my experience.

And most people that I've talked to, they think it's, they say it's the same. Um, you usually start with like, worrying about all the details and looking at every single track and optimizing every single thing. Like while you're learning and you go into all the individual channels and put your plugins there and you build the mix together from, from zero to the finished mix and the more experienced you get, and the more work you do, the [00:42:00] more projects you have to finish or want to finish the faster you want to get.

And most of it is really experienced and like learning what you actually like. And don't like, the more you. Um, the more people tend to switch to the top-down approach or to the at least do more broad strokes first or switching between broad strokes and detailed work more. Um, I find that this is a natural process.

I find that you get quicker with experience. You get quicker at building an initial balance and correcting the rest problems, but then quickly moving to, but then you quickly move to the big pictures of, to the buses, to the broad strokes. You create an overall vibe, you just move. And then you find that some of the, um, tiny tweaks that you wanted to do are not necessary anymore, or like, you know, so I think this is, this comes with experience, so don't really, don't worry too much about.

Just explore all, everything you can and just learn. And I am pretty sure [00:43:00] you'll get to the point where you focus more on the buses and groups and that stuff later. 

[00:43:04] Malcom: Yeah. So now, okay, so swinging back to vocals, I think, okay. The reason we're talking about this today is that vocal mixing and vocal recording are just like two of the most highly sought things for, for people trying to learn this stuff like that is a mystery that people are constantly trying to solve.

Um, and for good reason, because it's so important if it's not right, it's obviously wrong. Um, it's, it's a tricky thing to get. Um, so I kinda think we could talk about just like tips for people that are trying to get this right. And, and, uh, I think the most important, like if I had to choose one important thing for helping people get a good vocal, I would say that the most important thing for tracking a good vocal is making sure that the rough mix that you're trying to track a vocal two is pretty good.

Um, like tracking vocals to a terrible reference mix is just gonna sound terrible all the time I [00:44:00] singers can't get into it. You can't really sit your vocal against anything or make any decisions on the compression or IQ at all. Um, I think that that is going to do so much for you. Um, do you agree with that?

W w what is your big picture advice? 

[00:44:18] Benedikt: Yeah, I totally agree. I, I think that the, the rough mix, the monitoring, how the person in the room feels is like the most important thing. Totally. Um, I also think that we need to be most careful with vocals, because as you said in the beginning, that. We are so used to what a, what a voice sounds like that you can easily overdo it and overprocess it.

And it, we, we can immediately pick out if something's weird and sounds wrong, even if you don't have the technical terms or the knowledge to, to put it in those terms. So listening to, or listening to a song, if it's not an intentional effect, that's actually cool. Uh, they can usually pretty, pretty quickly tell that there's something wrong with the vocal.

They can't [00:45:00] say what, but they notice it because we are used to what a vocal sounds like. So we have to be careful. Also, I would say the big, the biggest advice for me, the number one advice would probably be, and this goes hand in hand with, with the monitoring and how the person feels in the room. But it's just always remember that the vocal sales, the song and is also like carries all the emotion, energy.

It's the one thing that connects with the listener. Most, at least for most people in most genres and. If you remember that, if you keep that in mind, this will inform all your decisions basically, or it should like, you should always, whatever you do, whatever, like all those things we mentioned, this episode only serve one purpose.

They only have one. There's only one reason why we do that. We want to get the message across. We want to create the emotion that, that, that the song needs or that the artist wants to create. We want to make the listener [00:46:00] feel a certain way. And most of that is done through the vocal. So whatever we do here is not just because we like it, or because it's some technical necessity, but it's because it does something to the vocal that helps transport the energy and emotion.

So if you do one of these things that we said we do in this episode, and you'll find it, doesn't create the energy or emotion that you want it to create, then just don't do it. Like there's no reason to do it just because we said it. So if you use a compressor, the way we described it, or eliminator or saturation or anything.

And you find it just doesn't feel right. Then do something different. It might be totally wrong for your situation. Just keep in mind, whatever the intention was, keep in mind that the vocal is the most important thing to yeah. To, to, to achieve that and do whatever does that. Sometimes it takes a little tweaking and learning and it's a process and what we set up just starting points.

So I would say forget everything and focus on. Forget [00:47:00] like, yeah. Focus on the, on the emotion and forget the rules. Just use it as starting points, right? 

[00:47:06] Malcom: Yeah. That's great advice. Yeah, there there's, there's always a compressor in my chain, like we said, but there could totally be a situation where there wasn't.

Um, if somehow somebody saying something so dynamically loud that I didn't need a compressor or a limiter, I wouldn't use one. Right. It's just like the job would be done. Um, it would be honestly, that probably would be hard not to use it. I'd be like, why, why don't I need it because it's so common that need one.

But, uh, that that's a total reality, right? Um, there's definitely been vocals where I haven't had a top end to which typically is something we, we often do. We like a bright vocal and it's sounds shiny and expensive, but sometimes it's just like the, the mic and the singer the job's already done. Um, and, and the song sounds great without adding more.

So you do have to trust your ears, um, [00:48:00] with it being such a vocal, like an instrument where, as we've said a few times, now, you can just instantly tell if something's wrong. Being honest with yourself and like figuring out what it is and just like, it's really that simple. You just have to listen to it and be like, okay, this sounds not like a human being, because the S's are like 14 DB too loud.

It's then, okay. We just have to turn those down. You know, it's like very, if you look at it real, real logically, it's, it's often pretty easy to actually fix. Um, but you have to be willing to be like, okay, it's not 

[00:48:31] Benedikt: perfect. Yes, exactly. Um, that's a skill in and of itself. Um, and one of the most difficult ones to learn I think is noticing what is wrong.

And then just being bold enough to do whatever is necessary to correct that. And that can mean drastic, cut or boosts. That can mean the subtle thing, whatever is necessary. And also the skill of like realizing when you don't need to do anything. That's probably the hardest of all. Like, as you said, the [00:49:00] situation where you let's say something.

Really talented saying the song and a really great engineer directed, and you get a vocal, that's just perfect the way it is. And it doesn't require you to use compression, realizing that and, and, um, being willing to do that is really, really hard because we tend to default to whatever we do most often, and we'll never be like, and it might even sound good, but maybe it would even sound better if we didn't touch our compressors at all.

And that's very hard to, um, to learn a very hard thing to learn. It, it probably won't happen in your case. Like I'm talking to the listeners right now very often because you track yourself, so you need to do something to it, but let's say you have a really, really awesome room and a really amazing vocalist.

And the performance is just perfect. And the mic was right and everything's perfect. You could run into a situation where very little is necessary or where volume automation moves, give you a way better result than a lot of compression. If it's just to [00:50:00] control the volume, maybe you don't need compression.

You just need a lot of automation to get the volume control you need, but you want to leave the vocal as it is, because that will give you the most clear, natural and upfront and big sounding vocal. That's something we maybe need to add that the more you compress something, it, the smaller, it usually actually sounds.

So this sounds counterintuitive because people think it's the opposite, but that actually that's actually what happens and uncompressed vocal that is just automated a lot to stay consistent, usually sounds bigger and fuller than a squashed vocal. So you got to find the balance there as well. 

[00:50:42] Malcom: Yeah.

There's volume automation and clip gain are both your tools in, in that situation. Um, and that you made me realize I left. Yeah. Probably the one plugin that has been on every focal chain I've done for years and years, that somehow I just didn't think about today. Uh, but, uh, waves, vocal rider, it's a [00:51:00] volume automation plugin.

They make that kind of auto rides. The fader for you. I use that every single time. Like that always lives on my, my vocal bus or my boat, my lead vocals, uh, track. I use it all the time, just so it can't believe. I forgot that. 

[00:51:15] Benedikt: It's interesting because I haven't tried it. I was, I don't know why actually I, but it is, it is it does it what it's supposed to do?

[00:51:22] Malcom: No, no, it doesn't. But, uh, uh, does, is it does something and it makes it so that it's much less dynamic before it hits my main compressor. That's what I use it for. So it's like, it's not doing a perfect job. It doesn't sound like an automated vocal would, but it makes it so that it is closer to an automated vocal when it hits my compressor.

It's like, It, it, it gives me, it's like the 80, 20 of vocal automation 

[00:51:45] Benedikt: for me. So it's, I guess it's one of those, whenever it is on 29 bucks sale or so just grab it and good 

[00:51:52] Malcom: enough. I think so for sure. Yeah. So clip gain, and that usually does it. And then, um, at the end once, like my [00:52:00] vocal chain is done and like the mix is really close.

I start automating chunks from there. So I was like, oh, verse up five DB or five TB. That's a big boost. I want my vs up five DB. But you know, like normally I can get away with movie and chunks of the song rather than the individual words at that point. 

[00:52:19] Benedikt: Yeah. I think that is an episode in and of itself.

Like we should do an episode on automation at some point because yeah, there's a lot we can talk about there, but I agree at same. So the one thing that is left now is, and we should do that very quickly, but I want to add it in that is, um, sends and parallel stuff and I can do this really quickly in my case.

So. We talked about the chain. We talked about the routing. We talked about the why behind all of that. We talked about like our most important advice and what you should always keep in mind. Now, Malcolm, you said like some effects are crucial for you while you track. Same for me, but it's really rough for me.

It's just, I want to get a [00:53:00] sense of space. I want to get up. Um, if the delay is part of the sound, I agree. I want to hear it. Uh, but maybe it's the genres that I'm, I'm doing most. There's not a lot of effects stuff going on. That's super loud most of the time, unless it's for a specific part as an effect.

Um, so in my case, what I do is I have a drum, a drum, a vocal crush bus that I run in parallel, um, as a scent and return configuration, like an effect end that has a very, very aggressive compressor that distorts a lot also. Um, so it's really like, yeah, it's really destroying the vocal and I can blend that in with my vocal if I want to.

And that really gets it very, very upfront, very aggressive, but also a little sibling, but sometimes that's cool for screaming and stuff. Like whenever I turn that fader up, it's like someone was screaming right into your ear, especially in headphones. So I liked that for the extra aggression and density.

And then, um, when it comes to the effect. I have [00:54:00] usually a couple of effects set up that I always, that I can choose from for the vocals. And I do the same thing for guitar specific effects and drums specific effects because all those effects go into those groups in the end, like those pluses in the end, so that when I export a vocal stem, I want to have it with all of the vocal effects.

So the same routing applies there. It need to be careful with that. So I don't send my, all of my effects to the stereo out, but I send it to the vocal bus. Um, and what I have there is I usually have a monitor, slap delay and a stereo slap delay, the monitor, slap delay. What it does is it just adds some depth.

Like if I turn it up a little bit, it just moves the vocal back a little bit. It makes it blend better with the mix. But it's a very subtle thing usually, unless I want a Johnny Cash, like obvious slap sound or whatever, but. Um, usually it's just a tiny bit of like depth and finding the right place in the mix for the, for the vocal.

Then I have a stereo slap today that I [00:55:00] use a lot. And I sometimes use that instead of reverb because, uh, it's like one, um, yeah, it's, it's a slap delay. So there's, there's the feedback is set to zero. So there's like, um, there's one replete, one repeat. Yeah. On each side, slightly different times. And what it does is when I turn it up, it sounds like a room sort of like it, it just creates, it doesn't sound like a slap delay.

Really. It just, um, creates width and a little depth and makes it blend with the mix better. And it does the similar job to like what a river would do for me. But without the long tail that gets in the way, or like muddies up the mix. So for most mixes in the genre is that I work, um, a really obvious reverb is not appropriate or it's not something I want to hear in those mixes a lot, but I still want to mix when I blend the vocal with the instrumental well, and I want to have this width and depth.

So instead of using a long reverb, I often just use the stereo slap [00:56:00] things sometimes in combination with the mono delay. And I just find the right balance where the vocal sits in the mix and has the sense of space, but without the, um, the long decay getting in the way of everything. So there's that. And then I have, um, a vocal reverb in case I want reverb.

I don't go into details there because it's different for every song. It can be a plate, it can be a hall, it can be anything. Um, so, but I have a reverb set up in case. And then I have a mono delay and the stereo delay, which is not a slap, but more, um, repeats, basically more repetition where it's slower.

Yeah. And that's sort of, that's more a rhythmic thing. What I actually want to hear the delay more than it's done, just being a subtle thing. Um, yeah, that's all I can say about that. It depends on the song. It can be eight nodes, four core nodes. It can be completely not in sync with the song because that can be sometimes very cool.

Sometimes in sync sounds a little cheesy and [00:57:00] I'm not, it's better to actually have it not synced with the song. Um, but also that can be used instead of rework, because there's, it doesn't muddy up and clutter the mix as much. Right. Um, and then finally I have things like modulation things like choruses, or like a chorus or a micro shift, as you mentioned, anything that can be used as a Weidener or dabbler or slight modulation thing when there's no real double or when I want to have something that could Dave Grohl vocal sound or, you know, these modulation stuff, uh, things.

So I have those on separate returns as well. And I just send to those effects, whatever I feel is appropriate. And that's basically my setup. 

[00:57:42] Malcom: Yeah. Um, Just to touch on the long delays. Often we call those delay throws because it's like, you're throwing an echo of yourself. I don't know. That's how I picture it.

Um, but yeah, very similar thing. I, oh, go ahead. You got something? 

[00:57:58] Benedikt: Yeah, [00:58:00] just real quick. Interesting. Because delay throws, I do actually do those differently. I don't use those for them. Like the obvious delay throws that happened like once or twice a song, if at all, like where you have this break and or whatever.

And just the last word just repeats. I do those differently. Like I have a separate, um, channel for that and like a separate effect send to turn configuration for that. And that will copy my lead vocal track. And I will just copy, like the one word that I want to repeat. And I copied that over and I sent that track to the delay throat track, because that way I don't have to automate things.

I just rack whatever word I want on to that track. Uh that's also, I only get the delay of the one word I don't have to automate stuff. So it's just a duplicate of, yeah, it's just a duplicate of my, of my lead vocal track with the same settings. It goes to the lead vocal bus and all of that. Um, but it has the scent to the delay throw and it just drags things.

[00:59:00] Killer. 

[00:59:00] Malcom: Okay. I'm going to steal that. That's that's so much that's speedy. I really picked that. Yeah. Nice thinking. Okay, cool. Yeah. Uh, similar, similar facts going on here. I love my slap back delays as well. I find them to be very effective, um, both as transparent things, but also as like heavy, heavy sounds that are very obvious.

I think they sound great for that stuff too. Um, I usually do have a reverb going, um, not always very loud, but usually like my vocal room. My booth is so dead that a little bit helps I think. Um, and, and, uh, I'm a sucker for some Reaper bummed vocal Stu, but delays. Definitely my focus. I got some long ones set up as well.

Totally. The same. The only difference being that my crush is almost always done just right on the channel, um, using like a mix knob on the plugin itself. So I don't actually have a whole nother parallel send or anything like that. It's just a plug into it. I think other than that, we're, we're pretty much the same.[01:00:00] 

[01:00:00] Benedikt: Awesome. Um, yeah, I do. Most of the time it's, it's on the challenge itself as well. For me, like this vocal crush is just sometimes I added most of the time. I don't, but I have it there. And it's probably because I like that preset that I use there so much that I just haven't changed it in months or years.

Right. Um, so yeah, it's the, you know, the clung him, uh, MTA. I haven't used 

[01:00:26] Malcom: it in a while, but it was great. I don't know why. 

[01:00:29] Benedikt: It's amazing. And it has a preset that's called lead vocals to the front. And it's a pretty distorted, very aggressive setting that I can't use on its own. Like on the track, I would have to use the big snap, but for some reason I just put that on my vocal crush, tweaked it a bit, and that's been it for years for me.

And, uh, it just in parallel, I don't know what it does, but it's just, it does exactly what I want from, from that bus. 

[01:00:52] Malcom: Awesome. I have one last thing I think we should use to end this, uh, and it's kind of vocal mixing, but it's not entirely [01:01:00] vocal mixing, but something I've been experimenting with a few times lately and I think it's working pretty cool.

It's this plugin called track spacer. Um, which you feed aside chain too, and it kind of ducks those, the frequencies that's hearing from the side chain out of whatever you throw in the plugin on. So I've got it going to my instrument bus, or my guitar bus, kinda depending on what I'm feeling. And I'm sending the vocals to the side chain and it's ducking the vocal frequencies out of if it's on the mixer or an instrument buses stacking those frequencies out of the entire instrument box.

I'm extremely light-handed with this, but it's just carving out like an IQ that matches the IQ of my vocals and creates a little space. And I'm finding that I can actually have my vocal, like a DB or two quiet. Into the song. Um, but it still sounds kind of just as loud because of the room created by track spacer.

And then that's letting me squeeze it like another DB of loudness on the master. It's got to be cool. I don't know. It it's like extremely light-handed that it's like hard to tell if it's doing what I think it [01:02:00] is, but I think it's cool. 

[01:02:02] Benedikt: I need to experiment with that as well, man. I, some of these newer plugins, like all these automatic, like magic plugins that are out there these days, um, I'm such a control freak that I generally don't trust those things enough to use them a lot.

So I have, I'm very careful with those and I like to do things manually. But some of those are really, really great and great. And I played around with track spacer and it really impressed me. And I might move some of the things that I do to that plugin. Eventually I haven't used it with vocals as much, but I have, I have used it instead of the typical cake based side changing or, you know, these things or, yeah.

Um, I guess I need to, to play around with those things more, but especially with a vocal I'm so careful. Yep. Um, so as you said, very light-handed with stuff like that. 

[01:02:50] Malcom: Yeah. And yeah, so it's not affecting the vocal IQ, but it's affecting the IQ of everything else, which should fix the relationship. Um, yeah, I think I would say [01:03:00] that it, it has worked a couple of times, not each time, but sometimes you just needed to sit further in the mix, but still be heard and, uh, that's, 

[01:03:07] Benedikt: that's been a solution.

Yeah. 

[01:03:09] Malcom: And that, that's kind of the, the crazy thing about these plugins, like sooth. Gulf FOSS or track spacer is that we can't do them by hand because they're doing too many moves at once. Like the, the speed and, and multiple cues and notches they're making, like, it's not even possible for us to do it by hand.

Um, but we also can't control what we don't want them to do. You know, sometimes they're doing too 

[01:03:34] Benedikt: much. Yeah. And also you're totally right. We can't do it by hand, but also it's not always necessary that you do all of those things, you know that. Exactly. Exactly. And, and th the dangerous thing is whenever you put on sooth or any of those things, it immediately sounds, or you think it immediately sounds better, or it immediately, you see what it does.

It's so fast. It does all those things. And then you just get rid of harsh. It [01:04:00] gets rid of harsh things or whatever, and you immediately think like, this is better. And I can't possibly do that myself. So I leave it on, but sometimes it's just, still not necessary. Sometimes it makes things more boring. It takes the edge off.

And sometimes it's great and that's the day, but that's the dangerous thing with all the, those tools. But yeah, there's a place for all of these and frack. Spacer is one of those where if used carefully, um, can really, like, I think it has this and sooth, um, have, I think improved the overall quality of some mixes out there these days a lot, like some of those tools are I think, responsible for, um, some of the best mixes or like a quality improvement over the last couple of years that I've heard because overall, I don't think that every production now sounds better than it did 10 years ago there, but there are some that really stand out and that are amazing.

That wouldn't have been possible 10 years ago. And. [01:05:00] Like, besides that they are, uh, I mean, the people making these mixes are responsible for that, but part of it is also the tools that are available now, because some stuff just wouldn't have been possible, especially with the very dense, very loud mixes.

That still sounds super clear and dynamic. Yeah. That wouldn't have been possible. 10 years ago, we were talking about loudness wars and mixes being crushed and all that back then. And these days you get mixed as just as loud, but they don't sound crushed anymore and they sound dense, but still clear. And like this has improved and that is if you know how to use these tools the right way.

[01:05:34] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Like we keep calling them like auto mixers or something, but in reality, they're like just really quick fixes. And you're like, every time I use SU I have to do something corrective with an IQ after like, it's like without fail, it's like that fix the problem. But now I asked to go make 

[01:05:51] Benedikt: up for this.

Yeah. So I think for people who know what they're doing, those tools have upped the quality and improve the quality of mixes. [01:06:00] In the last couple of years, but at the same time, they are also part of the reason that overall quality of mixes on Spotify, for example. So they have decreased because they let to more people think that they let more people to think that they can do mixes themselves or use these auto plugins and don't care as much anymore.

Right. So there's always the downside. If you know what you're doing, if you put in the hours, if you spent the time experimenting, and if you're careful, they are wonderful. But if you think that now you don't need to mix properly anymore, then they are dangerous. Absolutely. Yeah. Okay, cool. That wasn't episode, um, there's so much to talk about when it comes to, yeah.

[01:06:41] Malcom: I feel like we gave like a crash course on a couple of different situations, but we could have kept on going and gone deeper on any of them, but yeah, 

[01:06:48] Benedikt: I feel, yeah. I feel like in the future, we need to do an episode on routing maybe and on automation, definitely automation that. Yeah. Okay. Anyway, [01:07:00] let's wrap it up.

And by the way, we have, uh, an episode and it's episode number 11, it's called five essential steps to a pro vocal recording. I don't know how good we were. Um, podcasting. Yeah. Podcasting in fact that exactly with episode 11, but I assume the content is still right. Like it's still good information in there.

So you want to check that out? Probably it's episode 11, if you go to the self recording band.com/eleven, um, you can check that out. It probably is a great addition to this, to this episode, if you haven't already listened to that one. Uh, and then as I said, the gear guide is at the self recording, bent.com/gear guide.

That helps you pick the right microphone to start with. 

[01:07:47] Malcom: Awesome. Yeah. Check that out. Yeah, I'm trying to think back to what I, I feel like I've changed so much of my technique and approach to everything music since we started this podcast is crazy. So I'm sure the [01:08:00] core principles are the 

[01:08:00] Benedikt: same though.

Yeah, I think, I think too. And if not, let us know, then we should do an update of that episode. Maybe we'll do a vocal recording update in, I don't know, late 20, 21 or 20, 22. Totally. Awesome. Thank you for listening next week. .


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