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Thread: Panning and eq-ing backing vocals (and lead vocals)

  1. #1
    123Ferry is offline Newbie
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    Panning and eq-ing backing vocals (and lead vocals)

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    Hello all,

    I'm working on a new song, and I use Logic for it. I want to have two voices -a lead and a backing- blend in well in the mix.

    My ideas so far: lead panned in the center, backings off center. Lead short reverb time, backing longer reverb time.

    My questions:

    -what eq settings would the lead vocal benefit from, using a channel EQ?
    -what eq settings would the backing vocal benefit from, using a channel EQ?
    -do I need to duplicate the backing vocals (both higher pitch and lower pitch)? The lead has been sung twice (so there's two tracks of them).

    Thanks in advance!


  2. #2
    mjbphotos's Avatar
    mjbphotos is offline Been Here, Posted That
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    This is similar to asking ' what tires do I need for my car - it needs 4'?
    There are no set answers to your questions. EQ should be applied as needed to adjust the tonal characteristics of a track to match or blend with the other tracks. Duplicating tracks just makes them louder unless you process them differently - adjusting the pitch is one way, but depending on what plugin you use, the sound can be good or bad.

  3. #3
    grimtraveller's Avatar
    grimtraveller is offline If only for a moment.....
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    Experiment, Ferry. Experiment.
    Set aside an afternoon or evening and go full tilt boogie. Try things. See what happens.

    I'm laying it down, but the mice ain't picking it up !

  4. #4
    Shiny Rhino is offline Junior Member
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    Here's my thoughts on your question...

    Having a doubled lead track isn't for every track and can be quite distracting and amateurish if not done well. These parts need to be tight to each other with very limited timing differences. Small timing differences and pitch differences are what makes this technique actually worthwhile, but there is a threshold, and it can be exceeded very quickly. Also, the tails should be edited to remove "ess" sounds so they aren't doubled up, as well as taming hard consonant sounds like K, T & D's at the end of words. These stack up and just sound messy.

    As mjbphotos mentioned, just duplicating the track by copy it just makes it louder if you're not doing anything to process it differently.

    As far as EQ goes, if you have a decent mic/vocalist match, you shouldn't need too much EQ on the lead track other than small tweaks here and there. Nothing drastic, otherwise something isn't right when you tracked. I always roll off the bottom end on vocals, however. Depends on the arrangement and singer as to where your cutoff frequency lies though. 150hz is a good starting point I find. I may even knock off a few db's with a low shelf a little from the highpass cutoff point upwards to 240hz, if/when needed. Maybe add a high shelf well above the sibilant frequencies too. Careful... some vocalists can be sibilant above 10khz. You don't want to be accentuating that.

    BG's on the other hand, I treat a little more heavy handed. Sometimes with heavier reverbs, but often drier. I highpass even higher to get all that low muck outta the way. I may even cut or boost specific frequecies to help separate multirecorded parts. The more tracks you record of same BG parts, the less you have to worry about imperfections, I find. those flaws get masked nicely. Then just pan them all over the board. Remember that anything panned from center will be 3db quiter when hard panned. So set your levels AFTER panning.


  5. #5
    Justsomeguy's Avatar
    Justsomeguy is offline Quiet is the new Loud
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    Backing vocals are on of those areas that, like most things, everyone has a different approach to. what i've found really works for me at the moment is recording the lead vocals with an appropriate LDC for the singer and then recording the backing vocals with a ribbon mic. to me, this really helps the backing vocals sit with the lead vocals rather than fighting with them. i'm also a big fan of double tracking backing vocal parts and then panning one slightly left and one slightly right. in terms of eq, compression, reverb, treatment in general in varies wildly depending on the track. about the only thing i do on the majority of backing vocals is put a LCF at about 100hz or maybe slightly higher to, as rhino said, chop out any "mud". otherwise, it's all down to what the track needs. the big thing i've found with using ribbons on backing vocals is that without all the high end on the track it really helps it blend in and sit behind the lead vocals which, alot of the time, is what i aim for.

    one other thing that is always important is the performance. as was mentioned in another thread, having the backing vocalist cut out "ess"'s when singing really helps cut down any nastiness. also, experiment with cutting off the end of words at the end of phrases to help lock the vocals together and prevent any overhang of held notes. one of the big perks on logic is the flex time tool can really help lock together vocal tracks so that the notes end at the same time (i normally leave the lead vocal untouched and adjust the backing vocals as/if needed to fit)
    In the world of music there's no right or wrong, however there is "tried and tested" and "experimental"

  6. #6
    123Ferry is offline Newbie
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    Thanks very much for the replies guys! It really is a matter of experimenting, very true. I did. I did both double track and copy recordings of the backings (with a slight time difference). I'll post the link once I'm allowed to (after 10 posts).

  7. #7
    Elton123's Avatar
    Elton123 is offline Force of Nature
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    A low pass on the BGV will put them behind the lead vocal if desired.

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