It’s a bit counterituitive…
As we’ve said a million times, vocals are the most important part of almost every song – even in guitar-driven genres like progressive metal. It’s just a fact of human psychology that we’re drawn to the human voice, and therefore it’s always going to be the central element in a mix.
Which makes it kind of ironic that many mixers don’t spend nearly as much time on vocals as they do drums or guitar. Big no-no!!
Clean vocals are even more attention-grabbing than screams or growls because they’re easier to understand, and this actually makes them even more challenging to mix than harsh vocals. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, because you’d think that harsh vocals would be harder to mix because they’re more dense, but it’s actually the opposite: with cleans – especially when it’s a really strong singer – there’s nothing to hide behind, and every mix move counts.
As an example, check out this clip of John Browne mixing the lead vocals of Monuments’ “I, The Creator” from his Nail The Mix session featuring their incredible vocalist Chris Baretto.
Obviously Chris absolutely nailed the performance, which is awesome – but working with really great tracks like this presents its own set of challenges as well, especially in a dense, complex arrangement like this one. Namely, that as the mixer it’s your job to highlight all the details of the performance with a subtle touch– to bring out the greatness and bring the vocal front and center without smashing it or overwhelming the rest of the song.
Nail The Mix is our online mixing school that gives you REAL multi-tracks from REAL bands, plus a mixing class from the producer who recorded it. Past guests include Periphery, Gojira, Meshuggah, Machine Head, A Day To Remember and State Champs. Join now for instant access!