Academy Dashboard Forum Studio DAWs Reaper Getting Vocals more "present" in the mix a la Chris Lord-Alge

  • This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 7 years ago by Mark Warner.
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    Mark Warner

      This technique is not specific to Reaper and could be implemented on any DAW.

      I was talking this weekend with Chris Sweet here on PLAPA about my mix of "Passing Ships" by The Travelling Band. Chris pointed out that I had made my now "usual" mistake of not getting the vocal in front enough. We were comparing my mix to one by Chris Lord-Alge and I had to admit that I didn't really know of other specific tracks he had worked on, so Chris pointed me to "Thrash Unreal" by Against Me and "Brick by Boring Brick" by Parramore. I was not familiar with either of these songs. When I listened a common factor seems to be that the vocals, while, not loud in the mix where clear and that I could hear was that there is a slight widening of the stereo field on the main vocal in the higher frequencies that was missing from my mix of "Passing Ships".

      So how do you slightly widen the mono vocal by adding some slight stereo effect to it without causing phase cancellation issues?

      My instinct is to take a stereo delay and set left and right to about 14ms and 100% wet and feed this into a reverb set on a bright medium room setting also 100% wet. It certainly worked but the field was too wide so I brought down the delay by 1ms until I hit 5ms and this seemed to feel about right and very similar to CLA.

      So, the FX chain is
      1. Delay 5ms on left and right, no feedback, 100% wet (make sure the left and right have the same delay otherwise you will start to have phase issues and it will widen the stereo field again)
      2. Reverb - Medium Bright Room, 100% wet, 11ms predelay.
      3. EQ, roll of low end somewhere around 100-250hz or whatever best suits your track
      4. EQ boost 5K and above
      5. DeEsser - remove some of the 4.5K to 5.3K range once you isolate the offending band in this region
      6. Compress - Bring peaks under control and fold in EQ changes with some light compression (1 to 3 db reduction)
      7. Merge this parallel process back in at about -3db into the track.

      The result is pleasing to my ears and does seem to make the vocal sit forward clearly without adding loudness/volume to the vocal

      Thanks Chris for giving me the pointers to work this out. Nice one ๐Ÿ™‚

      As usual, any questions just ask.

      Cheers - Mark

      • This topic was modified 7 years ago by Mark Warner. Reason: Typos
      • This topic was modified 7 years ago by Mark Warner.
      Magnus Johansson

        A small snippet from the AudioLegends course.
        He use a pretty long predelay on his vocal reverb. Thatยดs one parameter to use to move something closer.

        On this page, you find a couple of related articles wich I found easy to understand. Ofcourse they push their reverb but you can do it with almost any.

        Mark Warner

          Thanks Mange, wow that is counter intuitive! I will experiment a bit more with these settings then. I would have though such a huge delay would widen the stereo field too much but maybe not ๐Ÿ™‚

          Magnus Johansson

            If you are concerned about width you can always unwide the reverb return with some mid/side tool. Or use a mono reverb.

            If you imagine your singer really close, you get the direct audio instant but to get any reverb the audio need to travel maybe 20 meters before it hits a wall and can even start reverberating, hence the longer predelay. If you imagine the vocalist far down closer to the wall you will get direct sound almost at the same time as the reverbant audio, equals short predelay. Somewhere between you can also toy around with early reflections. Well, all of that is better describet at the softube page.

            Mark Warner

              Thanks Mange,
              I have just been experimenting with this. The 152 ms predelay does work . I also noted that in the example above I had forgotten to mention that the reverb has an 11ms predelay on top of the 5ms delay setting. I am still finding that adding the 5ms delay before the reverb with either 11ms and 152ms predelay is still widening the stereo field nicely. That may be down to the early reflection but more likely that the 5ms delay between the mono undelayed center signal and the left and right 5ms delayed signals is also putting the vocal out there slightly more as well. I have a very modern pop track to mix next week so will try these techniques on that as I think these suit a more modern sound ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the tip. Cheers Mark

              Mark Warner

                Hi Mange,

                I found this track and mixed it using both versions of the CLA vocal mix technique we discussed. I think it worked but I had to do one more things to get the really major width and depth to the song. I was really worried that with so much reverb and delay going on that it would desolve into mush but it hasn't. I thought the last one would kill everything because its a really long slow reverb with lots of feedback but...well see for yourself.


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