9 Essential Steps to Mixing Lead Vocals

SOUNDBOOTH

9 Essential Steps to Mixing Lead Vocals


Feb 4, 2023


Connect with us on



So you want to know how to mix lead vocals? Well, this post is for you. In this article, we will go over the 9 essential steps that every vocal engineer needs in order to properly mix lead vocals. Whether you 're a beginner or an expert looking for a refresher course on mixing lead vocals, these tips are perfect for anyone who wants a well-mixed song!


Pre-Production is Key for a Quality MixDown.

A quality mix-down starts off during the preproduction stage of your song (before you even hit record) and continues throughout each step in the recording process until it 's ready to be mixed down. During pre-production, get together with your artist(s), producer(s), engineers, etc., create playlists of good songs that inspire them & discuss their vision for the track. Discussing what they want out of this production will help establish direction when choosing sounds/effects later on in the mixing process. Also important are band interactions between members while tracking — being able to keep great communication amongst everyone involved can often time lead to better performances! Make sure artists have had enough rest before laying vocals down, and that they are in a good mood. This can be key to getting the best performance out of them!


Equalization (or "EQ")

Will allow you to sculpt your lead vocal 's tone & clarity by allowing you to boost or cut certain frequencies on your lead vocal track at various points throughout your mix-down process — this may include cutting unwanted low-end rumble from an audio interface, adding definition with high-pass/lowpass filters (depending on what sounds better for context in the song) around 200hz if it adds more body to the overall sound without muddying up the bottom end, or adding air to the vocal with some subtle boosts around 12khz.


Reverb and delay are great effects

They can help your mix-down project come together, but it 's important not to overdo them! Less is more in this case — if you want a powerful lead vocal performance without any additional reverb or delay, try using less of these effects during recording instead of adding reverbs after they 've been recorded into Pro Tools (or whatever DAW you 're mixing down with). If your vocals feel too dry for context within the song, then by all means go ahead and add an extra layer of reverb on top very sparingly, and only if it sounds natural.


Compression can be a wonderful tool when used correctly on lead vocals during mix-down as well

Basically anything that you would do with equalization (or "EQ") for example, using compression to cut out frequencies or add/boost them will work in conjunction with EQ by allowing you to control the dynamics of your vocals & reduce dynamic range through use of ratio settings such as: attack time: how long it takes once sound hits threshold before compressor actually starts working; release time: how fast the audio signal goes back to normal after being compressed; and knee: how much pressure must be applied before compression kicks in etc. In short, compression will help your vocals sit on top of the mix a lot better by evening out dynamics and adding more clarity — experiment with these settings & dial in what sounds best for context.

Compression also does wonders during mastering

Especially when it comes to level matching from one song to another on an album or EP release: this is why you often see compression being applied across all tracks before finalizing a master down mix, so that they fit together sonically nicely within their own sonic space AND relative to other songs. It 's important not to overdo it though at this stage either! Make sure only enough compression is added if needed (if any) — remember less is more!


Effects like reverb, delay (or "echo"), chorus, & phasers, flangers, distortion can be great when used sparingly throughout your mix-down process

Think of these effects as spices that you add in small doses for enhancement purposes only; too much spice or use of the wrong kind will ruin a dish entirely; same goes with mixing/mastering down vocals in music production! Be sure to experiment and find what sounds best within context before committing during finalization stages. There are no rules here but know when enough is enough so not to overdo it on effects either! If unsure how much compression etc, simply ask an engineer who 's familiar with this process or also your producer when applicable.

Many engineers will tell you not to apply equalization (EQ) after compression on vocals because of the risk of introducing unnatural artifacts

However, if needed, use a high-pass filter with an appropriate steepness setting depending on context (for example something around 18db/octave might work great in most cases for this purpose). Depending on how much compression is applied during mix-down & mastering stages, using some gentle boosts here and there can help bring out certain frequencies that get lost otherwise — note that boosting at points like 200hz could add more low end body without muddying up bottom end clarity within context of your mix-down. The key here is to only add the amount that 's needed and not overdo it!

During critical listening sessions, set vocals up high in your mix

This will help them stand out more within context of the song; however, if vocals are too loud or "in your face" sounding then you can simply pull down their volume fader until this problem goes away — just make sure you also don 't lose any clarity by doing this either! Be careful during finalization stages though because most DAWs do have minimum level settings on tracks like these so be aware what else might happen when pulling down faders during mastering.


When in doubt, always reference other professional mixes to get an idea of what sounds good and why

This can be done easily by simply listening to a variety of commercial releases or even checking out mix-down tips/tutorials on YouTube. Doing so will help you develop your own ears for what sounds great & why, as well as give you some guidance when it comes time to start mixing down lead vocals in your own music productions! Remember, there 's no one right way to do things here but following general best practices will at least point you in the right direction. Happy mixing :)

Continue Reading
How to set gain levels in live sound

How to set gain levels in live sound

How to set gain levels in live sound

Published Jun 10, 2024

Recording vocals at home | How to Avoid 12 Common Mistakes

Recording vocals at home | How to Avoid 12 Common Mistakes

Recording vocals at home | How to Avoid 12 Common Mistakes

Published Jan 5, 2023

Quick Fixes for Muddy Mixes

Quick Fixes for Muddy Mixes

How to quickly fix your muddy mixes

Published Feb 13, 2023

Dynamic EQ: How to Get a Better Mix

Dynamic EQ: How to Get a Better Mix

How to use dynamic EQ for a better mix

Published Feb 24, 2023

Reverb Effect in Music: How You Can Use It

Reverb Effect in Music: How You Can Use It

Reverb Effect in Music: How You Can Use It

Published Jan 27, 2023

How to Record Vocals | The Definitive Guide

How to Record Vocals | The Definitive Guide

A definitive guide that will teach you how to record clean vocals

Published Jan 1, 2023

The Musician 's Guide to Paying Taxes: Tax Strategies for Artists and Entrepreneurs

The Musician 's Guide to Paying Taxes: Tax Strategies for Artists and Entrepreneurs

The musicians guide to paying taxes

Published Feb 11, 2023

8 Best EQ Plugins

8 Best EQ Plugins

Best EQ plugins

Published Mar 12, 2023

5 Signs You Might Be Over Processing Your Mix

5 Signs You Might Be Over Processing Your Mix

5 signs you might be over-processing your mix

Published Feb 10, 2023

How to play guitar in no time

How to play guitar in no time

secrets to learning guitar quickly

Published Jan 19, 2023

Mixing Vocals with Reverb, Compression and Volume

Mixing Vocals with Reverb, Compression and Volume

How to mix vocals with effects

Published Jan 2, 2023

Reverb: A Comprehensive Guide to Increase the Depth and Quality of Your Vocals

Reverb: A Comprehensive Guide to Increase the Depth and Quality of Your Vocals

Essential tips for using reverb on vocals

Published Jan 20, 2023

9 Reverb Mistakes that Will Destroy Your Mix

9 Reverb Mistakes that Will Destroy Your Mix

9 reverb mistakes that will destroy your mix

Published Feb 27, 2023

10 Biggest Guitar Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

10 Biggest Guitar Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

10 biggest guitar mistakes and how to avoid them

Published Jan 4, 2023

Mixing Rap and Hip Hop

Mixing Rap and Hip Hop

Mixing rap and hip hop

Published Jan 23, 2023

Step by Step Guide to Recording and Mixing Finger-Style Guitar

Step by Step Guide to Recording and Mixing Finger-Style Guitar

How to record and mix finger-style guitar

Published Jan 22, 2023

How to get killer slap bass tone | The ultimate guide

How to get killer slap bass tone | The ultimate guide

How to get killer slap tone

Published Jan 6, 2023

An EQ Guide for Commonly Used Instruments

An EQ Guide for Commonly Used Instruments

An EQ guide for common used instruments

Published Jan 11, 2023

Audio Signal Flow: Defining and Using the Concept

Audio Signal Flow: Defining and Using the Concept

Audio signal flow | what is it and how to use it

Published Feb 15, 2023

How to rap | Tips for Beginners

How to rap | Tips for Beginners

How to rap | tips for beginners

Published Jan 25, 2023

10 Classic Bass Guitar Sounds and How to Get Them

10 Classic Bass Guitar Sounds and How to Get Them

10 classic bass guitar sounds and how to get them

Published Jan 8, 2023

Dynamic EQ: What It Is and How To Use It

Dynamic EQ: What It Is and How To Use It

Dynamic EQ | what it is and how to use it

Published Feb 12, 2023

What Is a DAW: 15 Things to Know

What Is a DAW: 15 Things to Know

What is DAW | 15 things to know

Published Jan 10, 2023

Mixing your music | The quick guide to get your sound right

Mixing your music | The quick guide to get your sound right

The quick guide to get your sound right

Published Jan 7, 2023

Basic Audio Effects Every Vocalist Should Know

Basic Audio Effects Every Vocalist Should Know

basic audio effects every vocalist should know

Published Jan 26, 2023

Recording vs. Overdubbing: Which is Better?

Recording vs. Overdubbing: Which is Better?

Live recording vs. overdubbing | which ones better?

Published Jan 9, 2023

What is Double Tracking and How to Do It

What is Double Tracking and How to Do It

A Guide to Double Tracking

Published Jan 12, 2023

10 Tax Deductions for Sound Recordings

10 Tax Deductions for Sound Recordings

10 tax issues and deductions for producing sound recordings

Published Feb 13, 2023

Simple Steps to Mixing Bass Guitar: A Better Understanding of Depth and Balance

Simple Steps to Mixing Bass Guitar: A Better Understanding of Depth and Balance

Mixing bass guitar with simple steps

Published Jan 15, 2023

How to Use External Hardware with Your DAW

How to Use External Hardware with Your DAW

How to use external hardware with your DAW

Published Feb 28, 2023

Why Your Mixes Sound Thin and What to Do About it

Why Your Mixes Sound Thin and What to Do About it

Why your mixes sound thin and what to do about it

Published Jun 10, 2024

Making Your Bass Cut Through Your Mix: Low-end Dominance and Presence

Making Your Bass Cut Through Your Mix: Low-end Dominance and Presence

Making your bass cut through your mix

Published Jan 13, 2023

5 Reasons Why Proper Gain Staging Is Crucial to Any Mix

5 Reasons Why Proper Gain Staging Is Crucial to Any Mix

Why proper gain staging is crucial to any mix

Published Feb 16, 2023

How to Set Levels to Balance Instruments in a Mix

How to Set Levels to Balance Instruments in a Mix

How to set levels to balance instruments in a mix

Published Jan 14, 2023

How to Make Amazing Chord Progressions | Tips with Examples

How to Make Amazing Chord Progressions | Tips with Examples

How to make amazing chord progressions | tips with examples

Published Mar 13, 2023

9 Best DAW apps for recording and production today: The most powerful, intuitive and affordable tools in one place

9 Best DAW apps for recording and production today: The most powerful, intuitive and affordable tools in one place

9 Best DAW apps for recording and production today

Published Jan 16, 2023

Is It Better To Record Vocals In Mono or Stereo?

Is It Better To Record Vocals In Mono or Stereo?

Should you record vocals in mono or stereo?

Published Jan 24, 2024

5 Bad Habits of Vocal Recording that could be Ruining Your Productions

5 Bad Habits of Vocal Recording that could be Ruining Your Productions

5 bad habits of vocal recording that could be ruining your productions

Published Jan 21, 2023

What is a Noise Gate and How to Use It

What is a Noise Gate and How to Use It

What is a noise gate and how to use it

Published Feb 17, 2023

5 Vocal Recording Mistakes You Can 't Fix in the Mix

5 Vocal Recording Mistakes You Can 't Fix in the Mix

5 vocal recording mistakes you can 't fix in the mix

Published Jan 28, 2023

Why Doesn 't My Mix Sound Good in the Car?

Why Doesn 't My Mix Sound Good in the Car?

Why does my mix sound bad in the car?

Published Jan 29, 2023

How to Mix: Vocal Compression

How to Mix: Vocal Compression

Vocal compression | Learn how

Published Jan 30, 2023

9 Ways to Remove Background Noise from Your Microphone

9 Ways to Remove Background Noise from Your Microphone

9 ways to get rid of background noise in a microphone

Published Feb 18, 2023

Tax Write-offs that All Musicians Should Know About

Tax Write-offs that All Musicians Should Know About

Tax write-offs that all musicians should know about

Published Jan 31, 2023

9 Tips for Recording Acoustic Guitar at Home

9 Tips for Recording Acoustic Guitar at Home

9 tips for recording acoustic guitar at home

Published Feb 1, 2023

Effectively Remove Microphone Noise

Effectively Remove Microphone Noise

effectively remove microphone noise

Published Jan 14, 2024

Remix Music: The Remix Guide

Remix Music: The Remix Guide

What is remixing | the remix guide

Published Jun 19, 2024

How to EQ vocals | 5 steps to remember

How to EQ vocals | 5 steps to remember

How to EQ vocals | 5 steps to remember

Published Feb 2, 2023

Top 10 Tips on How to Become a Rapper

Top 10 Tips on How to Become a Rapper

Top 10 tips on how to become a rapper

Published Feb 19, 2023

How to Use EQ Like a Pro: A Beginner's Guide

How to Use EQ Like a Pro: A Beginner's Guide

How to use EQ like a pro | a beginners guide

Published Feb 23, 2023

How To Make A Home Recording Studio | Quick Guide

How To Make A Home Recording Studio | Quick Guide

How to make a home recording studio | Quick Guide

Published Feb 3, 2023

6 Mistakes To Avoid when Layering Drums

6 Mistakes To Avoid when Layering Drums

6 Mistakes To Avoid when Layering Drums

Published Feb 5, 2023

What is the Difference Between a Music Producer and Beat Maker

What is the Difference Between a Music Producer and Beat Maker

What 's the difference between a music producer and a beat maker?

Published Feb 9, 2023

9 Common Mistakes to Avoid while Recording Electric Guitar

9 Common Mistakes to Avoid while Recording Electric Guitar

Common mistakes to avoid while recording electric guitar

Published Feb 21, 2023

Principles for Adding Effects to Your Mix

Principles for Adding Effects to Your Mix

Principles for adding effects

Published Feb 25, 2023

Why Getting a Degree in Audio Production can be a Waste of Time and Money

Why Getting a Degree in Audio Production can be a Waste of Time and Money

Reasons why a degree in audio production can be a waste of time and money

Published Feb 6, 2023

Is the Decline of CDs Killing Music?

Is the Decline of CDs Killing Music?

Is the Decline of CDs Killing Music?

Published Feb 7, 2023

5 Awesome Compression Tricks for the Mixing Engineer

5 Awesome Compression Tricks for the Mixing Engineer

5 compression tricks that will change the way you mix

Published Feb 20, 2023

15 Pro Mixing Tips for Beginners: A Quick Guide

15 Pro Mixing Tips for Beginners: A Quick Guide

15 professional mixing tips | a beginners guide

Published Feb 8, 2023

The 5 things to keep in your mind when starting your mix

The 5 things to keep in your mind when starting your mix

The 5 things to keep in your mind when starting your mix

Published Feb 22, 2023

6 Tips for Getting a More Dynamic Mix

6 Tips for Getting a More Dynamic Mix

6 tips for getting a more dynamic mix

Published Feb 26, 2023

Avoid Over-Processing Your Mix: What You Need to Know

Avoid Over-Processing Your Mix: What You Need to Know

How to avoid over-processing your mix

Published Mar 3, 2023

Microphone basics |  What is a condenser mic?

Microphone basics | What is a condenser mic?

A condenser microphone is a type of microphone that utilizes an electrically charged, or polarized, diaphragm to convert sound into an electrical signal.

Published Jan 1, 2024

How To Make Your Drums Hit Harder in Your Mix

How To Make Your Drums Hit Harder in Your Mix

How to make your drums hit harder!

Published Mar 4, 2023

How to Sing Better: a Step by Step Guide

How to Sing Better: a Step by Step Guide

How to sing better| a step by step guide

Published Mar 6, 2023

Mix Bus Processing: The Definitive Guide

Mix Bus Processing: The Definitive Guide

Everything you need to know about mix bus processing

Published Mar 8, 2023

5 Essential Ways to Avoid Ruining Your Mix With Muddy Sound

5 Essential Ways to Avoid Ruining Your Mix With Muddy Sound

5 tips to avoid ruining your mix with muddy sound

Published Mar 5, 2023

8 Tips for Mixing Drums at Home

8 Tips for Mixing Drums at Home

8 tips for mixing drums at home

Published Mar 9, 2023

A Beginner's Guide to Compression

A Beginner's Guide to Compression

The beginners guide to compression

Published Jan 18, 2023

Headphones for Mixing and Mastering

Headphones for Mixing and Mastering

We explore some headphones for mixing and mastering

Published Jan 8, 2024

7 Common Reverb Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Common Reverb Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 common reverb mistakes and how to avoid them

Published Mar 7, 2023

10 Practical Tips for Recording in Stereo

10 Practical Tips for Recording in Stereo

10 Practical Tips for Recording in Stereo

Published Jan 19, 2024

Stem mastering vs. studio mastering | what's the difference

Stem mastering vs. studio mastering | what's the difference

Stem mastering vs. studio mastering | what's the difference

Published Mar 10, 2023

How to Create a Unique Sound for Your Production

How to Create a Unique Sound for Your Production

Ways of creating unique sound for your production

Published Mar 11, 2023

How to Prep Your Drums for Recording

How to Prep Your Drums for Recording

Prep your drums for recording

Published Jun 16, 2024

Microphone Techniques You Should Be Using When Recording

Microphone Techniques You Should Be Using When Recording

microphone techniques you should be using when recording

Published Jun 16, 2024

The Beginner's Guide to the Circle of Fifths

The Beginner's Guide to the Circle of Fifths

The beginners guide to circle of fifths

Published Jan 12, 2024

Microphone 101 | Professional recording techniques

Microphone 101 | Professional recording techniques

Microphones are a staple in the world of professional recording.

Published Jun 16, 2024

A Guide to Splitting your Guitar Signal for Recording

A Guide to Splitting your Guitar Signal for Recording

How to split my guitar signal for recording?

Published Jan 14, 2024

10 Tips for Changing Chords on Guitar Faster, Easier, and Smoother

10 Tips for Changing Chords on Guitar Faster, Easier, and Smoother

10 tips to change chords | Fast, easier, and smoother

Published Jan 14, 2024

9 Mistakes Every Music Producer Makes and How to Avoid Them

9 Mistakes Every Music Producer Makes and How to Avoid Them

9 music production mistakes every producer makes and how to avoid them

Published Jan 15, 2024

How to Write Chord Progressions | Songwriting Basics

How to Write Chord Progressions | Songwriting Basics

How to write chord progressions | songwriting basics

Published Jan 17, 2024

A Brief History of House Music

A Brief History of House Music

House music guide | A brief history of house music

Published Jan 18, 2024