5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: Mix Vocals Last

| 5 Minutes To A Better Mix, Audio Example, Mixing, Plugins, Tips, Video

Part 21 of 31 - Getting your vocals to sit on top of the mix seems to be a challenge for a lot of people. Let me clue you in on a little secret: just mix them last and you’ll be fine.

My Vocal Mixing Hack

I find that whatever I mix last tends to be loudest. It’s natural, I’m fighting to have it heard over the rest of the tracks. So why not use that to my advantage with vocals and mix THEM last? Brilliant!

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11 Responses to “5 Minutes To A Better Mix III: Mix Vocals Last”

  1. Patrick Talbot

    Hey Graham,

    Great idea although as you said many mixing engineer out there would tell you to focus on vocals first and then bring the other parts one by one relative to the vocal (or the featured instrument(s) for an instrumental), but I see that this could work as well depending on the song and your workflow…

    One thing though: I see in your example that you’ve already set your sends to delay/reverb on your vocals there… So this must mean you’ve had a pass at processing your vocals before, right? Or at least bringing in your effects at one point?

    Now when have you done that? Was it part of your static mix?
    I tend to bring effects to a reasonnable level after a static mix and before focusing on various parts. Is that what you did?

    Thanks again for that marathon of tips!
    It’s great following you along every day.
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Graham

      Hi Patrick, I usually do reverbs and delays after all my levels, eq, and compression are done.

      Reply
  2. Esli

    I already mix vocals last, for the same reasons. Knowing you do it too gives some confidence ;-)

    Awesome song, by the way. It kinda sounds like your voice. Is it you?

    Hope to find it on iTunes soon!

    Reply
  3. Mike

    Hi Graham,

    I love your tips! I watched the every single video and I subscribed to your newsletter. Your insights really helped me a lot and changed my focus and improved my skills. My whole mindset got revolutionized and I work faster and simplier than ever before!
    I will be forever grateful to you and for sure I will mail you the first CD of my band which I’m mixing at the moment.
    I also have two questions for you!
    If I may ask, I would like to post them here:
    1. If my average RMS level of a mix is around -28/27db (with max around -15db) with a peak level on -6,5db, does it mean it’s too quiet for a sound engineer to master it? Should I bring those peaks down and bring up the whole mass up?
    2. If I record electric, grunge guitars what is the most important thing to watch on? I use the Rivera amp and SM57 (+ AT2020 for catching the ambient of a room) + a really good Fender guitar.
    I had a lot of issues with getting this perfect, clear and strummy mid range and highs. Should I record those guitars on a minimum gain level of my amp or the opposite? Your guitars are amazingly clear and strummy in every video but mine are getting kinda muddy and squashed.

    I hope you will find a moment to answer to my questions and If you have a P.O. Box of your studio then I would love to have the adress so I can send you my official CD!

    The biggest greetings from Poland.
    Take care and keep it up with the best site on the web!
    Mike

    Reply
    • Graham

      Hi Mike. Shoot me an email through the contact form and I’ll get you an address for the CD. Thanks!

      Reply
  4. Luke

    I do this as well and really always have. For me though, I really don’t like to think of having my vocal “sitting on top” because I don’t want it to be on top. I find that if the vocal feels a touch quieter than things panned out wide (usually guitars), but is still audible on every word by using compression, the whole song has more power. I don’t like modern pop rock for just that; it sounds too wimpy. Push up those guitars and give the vox a nice hole to hang out in so it sounds like a powerful unit. Just my .02. Great videos in this series man! Thanks a million!

    Reply
  5. Luis Fandino

    Hi Graham! I love your tips and the simply way you do things. I’m a follower… But I’m not agree with this one. I think the vocal normally is the more important part of the mix and everything has to fix around the voice. So for me is super easier to get the best voice at the beginning and put each instrument little by little cutting frequencies and things that make room for the voice. At the end all the band sounds great and never is fighting with the voice. :)
    Luis

    Reply
    • Graham

      I understand :-) Like I said, some of my favorite mixers don’t do this. They mix vocals first. Whatever helps you!

      Reply
      • Luis Fandino

        Thank’s man for sharing your knowledge! I’ll will contact you at your web site because I want to give a song for Mastering.
        Luis

        Reply

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