Most of you will know or you may have heard that I attended the Mix With The Masters seminar with Al Schmitt this year. Well to be honest I was worried about doing this course for 2 reasons. Firstly, I don't and never have called myself a mix engineer and secondly I don't think I am a very good mix engineer. I tend to like the sound that comes from the microphone and I don't really like to mess around with it all that much. Get a good sound from the player or singer and capture it and live with it. I know that sometimes you have to "fix" issues but normally I would try to fix it during the recording or tracking process rather than the dreaded term "fix it in the mix". That said I do have some go to plug-ins that I rely upon so here they are. Some you will know well and think "Yeah, I use that". Others you may think "Wow didn't see that coming". So here goes.
1. Maag EQ4 on UAD-2
Alright so I know this would at first appear like I am just following the leader but I think of this plug-in like the best desk EQ ever. Turn the knobs and find the tone of the vocal. If it needs some sparkle then boost the Air band. It's quick, it's simple and it sounds great. This is the setting for my vocal on a recent track I recorded. I start with the Male Vocal B preset and work form there.
2. Avid Smack Compressor
OK so let's get this out of the way. This is an old plug-in. But it is one I have been using for ages. I know it really well and I like how it sounds. It can control a vocal just enough to keep the dynamic alive but also under control.
3. Avid Mod Delay III
I use this plug-in to add those very very short delays that help a vocal sit better in a track. You can see from the settings that both sides are different to give a mono vocal a bit of stereo image and the very short delay just helps the vocal pop out a little. The wet / dry mix is set quite low. I use my vocal delays as inserts not on Aux channels. No need to use an Aux if there is only one track feeding that effect.
4. Exponential Audio Excalibur
So having started by saying I like to keep it simple I go and add Excalibur as the last plug-in in my channel strip. I love this thing. It can be bonkers and do some crazy things to your audio but ease the mix pot back and if you just add a little crazy into the mix then you can make your vocals sound very individual. I love this plug-in for in-time vocal delays that you can then mash to bits at the repeats progress. Just try it.
So there you go. I hope you like and use some of these ideas in your tracks. Nothing earth shattering I know but maybe you might try going old school and digging out some plug-ins you have not used for a while. Let me know how you get on.