As we know to get an awesome sound we will need an awesome source.
The better the mic the better the starting sound will be. I am saying “starting” cause as an Audio Engineer your job is to fix the sound as much as you can either the source is great or not.
So get the best microphone you have, keep your best take and start mixing.
Switching the chain order is acceptable, but i highly recommend to place them as i list them below.
1) Use a noise gate to take out any background noise
Add your favourite NoiseGate Vst. Solo the vocal track, press “play” and pay attention to the noise that exists before the singer starts singing. At this time your NoiseGate Vst will show you that there is some volume to the signal. This volume that exists (before the singer starts singing) is noise.
Put the threshold there to eliminate the noise. If the threshold is too high and destroys the vocals back it of a little.
2) Filtering Out the Low Frequencies
Vocals don’t need some of the low frequencies. Put a hi-pass filter and start clearing out the low end. If you feel that the vocal’s sound is changing, back it off a little you’ve cut too much.
Cutting the low end helps to remove some rumble, noise, avoids mud, helps to keep some room to the frequency spectrum.
It’s normal for the singer not to sing at a constant level. You will need to tame his vocals a bit in order to make the louder parts match the lower ones.
Overcompressing will take some life of the vocals so i dont suggest it. But if you mix a metal song with screams and stuff you can compress the shit out of it.
Tip: If your gain reduction of your Compression approaches -8 db for example you can use a simple tip. Use 2 compressors with -4 gain reduction each. Compressors in series comes in handy.
4) Sibilance. Take out the annoying “sssshh” sounds
These sounds will kick you right in your ear. Especially when you apply reverb to the vocals.
Use a DeEsser plugin like Waves DeEsser Plugin:
5) EQ for “air”
After all the edits that you’ve made (especially the de-essing) you may have lost some “air” of the vocals. And by air i mean the upper frequencies. You can use a shelf filter to boost around 1db or 2. Don’t overdo it though, cause you may bring up some sibilance that you cut before or make the vocals sound “shrill” rathen than bright.
6) Delay and Reverb
A slight delay with the tempo of your project and some reverb will really flatter your vocals. I usually add plate reverb but feel free to experiment. Too much reverb will make your vocals muddy and you won’t hear the words clearly.