As always we have some great questions in this week’s FAQ Friday. there is a question about backing up and storing your work, one about recording live, and a room treatment question.
Let’s jump right into today’s featured question! “What Is your approach to mixing duet style vocals? How do you create Clarity in the mix when two vocals sing different parts at the same time?”
There are a couple of things that this is bringing to mind, have done quite a lot of duets. I did a really good one “Boulder to Birmingham” which is an Emmylou Harris song. – It’s a beautiful song she did a cover with The Fray and I mixed it for a 7” single.
That is a duet and although it doesn’t have conflicting lyrics, the two things I did on it should work. The first thing I did is I went and panned 10 left and 10 right, a tiny little movement left and right and you can barely tell. I learned that from a couple of different mixers. – Ever so slightly panned away from each other, Thats the first thing.
The second thing I did is I gave them their own reverbs and delays. I did not feed them into the same delays or the same reverbs, I gave them close verbs but made sure it just sat around that one vocal.
I also gave them mono reverbs, this is a big thing for me. I would have vocals 10% to the right and a mono reverb 10% underneath it and then another on 10% to the left.
So I had a mono reverb on it and it solidified them into their position. – It wasn’t a really loud reverb but it was mono and it was there.
I started getting into mono reverbs a few years ago for that exact thing. I wanted to try and place things exactly where I wanted them.
Don’t get me wrong, I was just talking to Bob Clearmountain (video coming soon) and he is the king, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world of Effects. – Nobody does effects as Bob Clearmountain does.
We’re all envois of it and it is great that he has a plugin coming out emulating all of his amazing effects. – God bless him for doing that!
I think in an instance where you have two distinct voices with a male and a female that little panning trick and a mono reverb would do really well. A mono slap can also work well underneath just to reinforce it.
Anything you can do to reinforce it and push it into its place is the first thing. When they are competing and not singing a harmony you’ll probably want to get into some light sidechaining.
What do I mean by that?
You probably want to find times to let the vocal breath around each other. I’d have to hear the part, but if there is a place where one could breathe a bit more, than maybe it’s automation.
Maybe you push one word into the gaps around each other a little bit. You’re getting a build-up when they’re both singing around each other but when there isn’t you’re going to want to fill it in.
You could do that with sidechain compression, and quite frankly you could also just use your ears. Take the verse and loop it, put it at a volume where you aren’t blowing your head off.
Listen and pick out moments where you lose one of the singers. Get into volume automation and just volume automate it. – There isn’t anything better than that kind of detailed work.
Watch the full episode of FAQ Friday and hear the rest of this answer below!
We cover the following questions during this episode of FAQ Friday!
• How Do You Archive or file old session files? Do you have hard drives for each project or do you just save until the drive is full then catalog what is on that drive? How do you organize and keep files for possible future remixes and such? (1:15)
• When mixing live recordings do you use more sparingly to maintain the dynamics when compared to the studio? (8:54)
• If One wanted to begin treating their room and can only do one thing is it better to start with absorption or diffusion? (15:26)
• What Is your approach to mixing duet style vocals? How do you create Clarity in the mix when two vocals sing different parts at the same time? (19:17)