Have trouble getting the vocal to sit “in” the mix?

I had a request to talk about getting the main vocal to sit “in” the mix and how to guarantee it’s “finalized” aka “album ready”. So first off, what makes it not sound finalized? Well, actually a lot of things. Pitch correction is huge, if it’s not pitched right then it will never seem to blend right. Another big one is frequency balance! I talked about dynamic eq a few posts ago if you missed that. If the vocal gets muddy in a certain section of the song, or say it gets harsh on the high notes, then it’s not going to ever sound “finalized”. These problem frequencies need controlled. Well what if you tried your best to tame the frequencies and it’s still not working. Well at that point I would start automating the volume. You may need to turn certain words up or down. For example, those high notes that were belted out that always sound harsh. Try turning down just those words. I would suggest to automate vocal volume with the speaker volume very quiet. This will help you use the right judgment. If the vocals have a low frequency issue, like it gets muddy in spots, then turn it up to a good volume. Assuming you are using a bit of effects like reverb and delay, the last thing I would say is to understand the mastering process. If you are doing the mastering, then set up your mastering chain and mix through that, so you can dial it in right. If you are sending it out to a mastering engineer, understand that he will smooth it out and do the overall finalizing with eq, harmonic distortion, more dynamic eq compression, and some stereo imaging. All these things in the mastering process will effect how the vocal sits! Mastering doesn’t fix problems in the mix but it sure does help put things in order! Especially if you honestly gave it your all in the mixing process! Comment your thoughts!

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