For those of you new to the channel, FAQ Friday is our weekly roundup of YOUR questions! Every week I get a ton of great questions and this week is no exception.
This is a question that I get asked frequently:
How do you balance harmonies?
I think the answer to that is “What are you going for?” If the music is relatively sparse, I like the harmonies to sit around it. If there are 4 other voices going on, I might go relatively far left and right and then a little narrower around the vocal. It sort of encompasses the vocal.
If it’s a dense track, I might have them on a verse very narrow, and then when the chorus comes in, have them go super wide to give width. If I’ve got a lot of instrumentation, a pair of guitars on each side, a piano, bass, drums, lead vocals, synth programming parts – if I’ve got all of this going on in the chorus, I’m looking for ways to make that chorus even more interesting! So I might go super wide on my harmonies to give some more width to the track.
When I’m dealing with less dense instrumentation I can get a little bit more creative with what I do.
There’s no real rule, but you’ll tend to find with most mixers, they’ll keep things relatively narrow in the verses and then get wide in the chorus’s. It’s a very very basic way, whether it be instrumentation or backgrounds or whatever it is, to create size, width and make the chorus grow the dynamics even more! Apply those same ideas to your background vocals!
I do love a single background underneath the vocal. I do love slightly panned 20/20 – one one each side. And I do like a huge width of vocals surrounding the whole vocals in the chorus’s in particular.
Ultimately, listen to music you like, listen to a song as a reference that you love and copy the ideas.
Remember there’s no real rules for this, all of it will work. There are literally 100 different ways to make it work and sound good. Experiment and pay attention to what other people do.
I go into more depth about panning, mastering and balancing harmonies in the video below! I also answer the following questions:
• What db level do you normally bounce out of protools for a master?
• How do you balance harmonies? A third on each side or use harmonies below the vocal?
• Would you say once a mix is finished – just upload it? Vs adding a limiter and then uploading it? It seems without the limiter is the way to go?
• Hi Warren. I see you are still using the IK Multimedia Micro monitors. Are those now your go to monitors?
• What is your view on recording main vocals with xy mic setup?
• Can I enter and win these giveaways if i don’t have a Twitter account and if i live in Italy?
• when you have guitars at 50% in verse and 100% in chorus, which pan law do you use in your DAW? or do you automate volume at the same time?
I hope you enjoyed today’s FAQ Friday! I’ll see you next week!