Vocals after mixing and mastering should be well blended with everything.
They should have a good texture of warmth and clarity in order for them to be well received by the listener.
There are lot of techniques that I use to achieve this, because most of the time I’m mixing and mastering vocals that are sent to me via email.
It takes a lot of skill to be able to work with vocals recorded from different sources because I generally have no idea what kind of microphone was used or the recording techniques that were employed.
In this post I’m going to discuss various techniques that I used to add some warmth to vocals so they don’t sound too thin.
EQ is often neglected in situations like this, but I’ve found it to be quite effective.
If you’re looking to add warmth to your sound, you have to know how to use EQ the right way.
People operate under the assumption that EQ is simply for getting rid of “unwanted” frequencies but this is only partly true.
EQ can be used to give vocals headroom by basically cutting off the lower frequencies without compromising it’s texture and colour.
You have to leave a bit of room for the vocal to still retain it’s full nature.
I do this by cutting away Low end frequencies that are below 150HZ, but I’m careful when doing this because not all vocals are the same.
Some vocals may have some presence even in the low frequency area. What needs to be done then is to moderately cut out part of the lower frequencies without doing much damage to the texture and fullness of the vocal.
Saturation is another great tool that can improve the texture of a vocal.
It uses a modest amount of distortion that can bring in fullness and more harmonic presence in the vocal.
There are alot of saturation tools available on the market right now but my person preference is Fabfilter Saturn because I also it use when mastering beats for sale because it tends to give them more punch, added harmonics and thickness.
Saturation is a great tool when used the right way, it can add some color to your vocals, give them more clarity, warmth and a gritty edge that can make them sit well within your mix without them sounding too thin.
One of the initial steps to achieve great quality vocals is ensuring that the recording room is suited for recording.
Good vocals just don’t happen, after years and years of trial and error I can safely say that good vocals are a result of good recording techniques, a good recording environment and the right microphone.
Warmth in your vocals will be a result of a good, soundproof room with the right reflective filters.
Your vocals need to be recorded in a dense room that is not composed of bare walls.
Therefore you need to shop for some good reflective materials that will restrict sound from bouncing around the room and bleeding into the recordings.
You can simply hire a soundproofing expert to help you out or you can go to soundproofexpert.com and read their articles to get better informed.
Avoid certain Microphones
Not all microphones will deliver high quality vocals and others are just highly sensitive to the responsiveness of your room which puts you at a disadvantage if your room is not treated for recording.
If you can’t afford to perform good soundproofing then you can simply avoid certain microphones.
Another thing to do is to avoid microphones that have a weak low frequency response because, in my experience they tend to pick up the mid-high frequencies much more effectively, and only picking up a little bit of the low end.
Don’t Use a HPF
If you want to preserve some warmth in your vocals, the technique that works the best for me is to avoid high pass filters that pretty much diminish and eliminate the low range frequencies.
It’s better to use slight eq in order to preserve some of the low end because it will be partly the source of warmth for your vocals before you even consider employing various processes to enhance them.
Another technique I employ to have some guaranteed warmth and great harmonic content; is recording using a ribbon microphone that is run through tube pre-amplifier.
When recording this way, I advise the people singing to sing from within their diaphragm and not just the throat because it will give the vocal more warmth a more grit.
A De-Esser is what we commonly use to reduce sibilance in vocals but it can also bring in warmth to your vocals so always make sure to apply it.
Compression can help you control the dynamic range within a vocal and add some grit to give your vocal a more compressed warm thicker feel.
It will tame the inconsistent peaks in your vocal to make sure that they don’t cause an imbalance in the volume level of your vocals.
I’ve found that the compression process really helps give vocals depth and warmth.
Parallel procession can also help you improve the warmth in a vocal.
I usually make a copy of the vocal I’m looking make warm and then I apply EQ to the duplicate by boosting the low to mid frequencies.
After this I pair both the original and duplicate vocal together so I can get a feel of the resulting sound.
I can then proceed to control anything that needs controlling after doing this.
Parallel processing is highly effect in situations where you’re working with a thin vocal that could use some Low end thickness.
Avoid Recording Too Far
One of the things I’ve noticed while carrying out my recordings is that if somebody records too far from the microphone, their vocal tends to lose some of the low end.
So I always have people sing moderately closer to the microphone so I can retain some of those frequencies that provide warmth to the vocal.