Bring vocal mixing to life with automation
As we’re seeing in the walkthroughs, effect chains are the creative source for many a vocal treatment. Remarkable things can be done with tools to shape reverbs, dynamics and tone and sometimes, core settings can work well from the start of a track to the end. Beyond the basic parameter balances you configure to get a vocal sounding good, however, automation will nearly always be needed for both ‘remedial requirements’ and more creative moments. It’s a common misconception that compression is a volume-balancing tool. Yes, compressors do adjust dynamics, to bring the volume discrepancy between the loudest moments in a performance closer to the quietest, but they don’t automatically sense the overall volume of a part relative to others in a mix and adjust them. So whereas a compressor will give you a great overall sound, if the backing track you’re working to suddenly builds or drops in intensity, your vocal will suddenly need an overall volume adjustment, either to boost its presence in the mix, or to match a volume drop, to avoid sounding too loud. In both cases, volume automation is your friend, with vocal lines among the parts most likely to benefit from adjustment, to create the illusion of perfect volume throughout. When a vocalist runs out of breath on a phrase, boosting volume as that note dies is just one technique mix engineers will use. But it’s not just the ‘admin’ tasks of volume balance that benefit from automation. In fact, once you’ve understood what’s possible, you’ll realise that it’s the key to unlocking the best tricks your track could possess, with vocal tracks a stand-out beneficiary. In one of our videos, you can see automation in action and learn how to take control of both insert and auxiliary-based effects.
While effects can tailor your vocal automatically, a bit of manual automation can really help too