Vocal mixing with the best vocal plugins?

These tools will take your vocal to the next level!

Average readingtime: 20 minutes
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You can’t submit a song without mixing vocals. When it comes to a piece, the singer’s voice is the centrepiece and needs the most attention. However, combining vocals is a difficult task. There are plenty of choices to voice altering and blending. And you can get the best results from the best vocal plugins.

The most outstanding plugins for vocals will produce the best results regarding mixing. The greatest voice plugins are essential to incorporate vocals into your song. 

When it comes to mixing vocals, some plugins are better than others, and it is a matter of personal preference. If you want your voice to sound as fantastic as those of your favorite musicians, you’ll need to invest in some of the most excellent vocal plugins on the market.

This article contains everything about the definition and background of vocal mixing, its procedure, and a list of some of the best vocal plugins.

Table of contents

What is vocal mixing?

Vocal mixing considers a variety of factors, including the song’s style and how the vocals are employable. Voices of a lead and backup vocalist should be determined, matching the genre, the required and preferred vocal qualities, range, volume, and dynamics. This mixing process is often associated with the best autotune and voice plugins.

Why is vocal mixing important?

Adding vocals to a song is essential for making it stand out from the crowd. Great vocals may either save or ruin a track. Mixing is critical because it allows the vocal to come through.

What is the purpose of vocal plugins?

Singers use vocal plugins for various reasons, including making a pre-recorded recording sound better by eliminating minute pitch errors, for the sake of aesthetics, to improve a stage performance, or to “fix” an underwhelming vocal performance.

Moreover, it makes your vocal sounds more professional and thicker. Vocal plugins such as saturators, distortions, and compression do a pretty good job at improving your vocal.

What is the difference between vocal plugins vs VST?

A Virtual Studio Technology (VST) instrument receives notes through MIDI and outputs digital audio. Effect voice plugins take in digital audio and process it all the way to its outputs before finalization. Some of the best VST and VST plugins for vocals are  Fabfilter Pro-Q 3, Trash 2 by iZotope, and more.

How do you mix your vocals with music?

With the help of vocal VST plugins, you can mix your music all to yourself. This great, because you can download the desired plugins, and start playing around. That way, you don’t need a professional to treat your vocal. You can incorporate voice changer VST or vocal VST plugins in any of the steps stated below:

1. Get your tracks in order and clean it

In order to succeed in the long run, the initial stages must be meticulously planned and executed.

Making as few mistakes as possible at the outset creates more room for creativity later on. As a result, be careful to record in a way that brings you joy and passion. Mixing is a great idea.

2. Level the voices out with pre-fader automation.

You may route an aux send signal either before or after the fader in most DAWs. It is possible to maintain the effect’s wet/dry ratio when an Aux send is configured after the channel faders are raised or lowered; lowering a channel’s fader also reduces the Aux send signal level. Maintaining a consistent balance between a dry track and its effects throughout the mixdown process is recommended. Consequently, effects sent after the fader are more commonly utilized than effects sent before the fader, despite the latter configuration having its merits.

3. Apply compression to the audio to regulate the dynamics

Multiple compressors in a row are something musicians usually do. As a result, performance has a larger-than-life quality to it. Lack of compression is almost always the cause of shaky voice performance. Hearing every voice inflection point is a sign of a high-quality vocal take.

It is crucial to use a good vocal compressor plugin to achieve the highest quality of sound. Some low budget plugins are not optimized well enough to deliver high quality outcomes. Moreover, these don’t have a natural and analog sound. Choosing the best vocal compressor plugin eliminates this problem, and your vocal gets the right professional outcome.

Some of my personal preferences for the best plugins for vocal compression are: Fruity Compressor, and Black Rooster Audio VLA-3A. Both plugins are easy to use, and it gets the job done quickly.

VLA-3A compressor plugin

Start using the VLA-3A compressor today!

Yes, I want to use the most simple compressor!

4. Use equalization to fit the vocal into your track

Equalization is an important part when processing vocals. There are some points that serve as guidelines to follow if you want to sound like a professional when recording vocals. It is possible to remove low end rumbling from a voice track by applying a high-pass filter around 150 Hz with a plugin such as Fabfilter Pro-Q 3. These low end frequencies, which aren’t generally seen in the human voice, can seriously muddy your recording when left uncut.

A singer’s voice has depth and richness because of the upper low and midrange frequencies. If you don’t have a lot of resonant frequencies in this area, your EQ should leave this part of the spectrum alone. This range is tweakable to offer some more warmth if your vocals are coming across as too thin. The problem is that if you build up too much frequency in this area, your voice may sound boxy, booming, or muffled.

5. Use a de-esser to reduce the sibilance of the vocals 

De-essing is the most common way of reducing or diminishing sibilance sounds that come from vocalists pronouncing the letters S, F, X, SH, and Cs.

Some advantages of manual de-essing include controlling the degree to which sibilance interferes with other elements of the signal chain. You want to reduce the amount of the sibilance sound in a pleasing way. Using too much de-essing can lead to an unnatural and unproffesional vocal, which makes an audible noise and strange sound.

Sibilance can sound different at various points in a song because a singer’s recording has numerous slight variances. If you can identify a good, midrange frequency, you can catch most bad actors. However, automating when an additional ‘ess’ creeps through the gaps may help a performance shine.

I like to work with the FabFilter Pro-DS. It has a smooth interface, and it gets the job done perfectly. Simply start by turning the ‘threshold’ knob all the way down until the essers become highlighted. This makes it easy to know what the plugin is doing, and where it is de-essing.

Next, use the ‘range’ knob to apply the desired amount of de-essing to the vocal. It is important to take a really good listen when doing this, because you don’t want to use too much de-essing.

Keep in mind that the goal of de-essing is to lower the amount of harsh letters in volume, instead of cutting them out. That way, it sounds smoother in the mix.

You may also like: What’s the best vocal chain? Use this guide to perfectly mix your vocal!

6. Use effects

Vocal effects may be useful in a variety of contexts and styles. Adding depth and texture to your vocals may be done through doubling and reverb, while distortion and vocoders can help you create a unique sound. Effects vary and can be used with techniques such as doubling, reverb, and spectacular effects and imagination.

You can get use iZotope Neutron 4 as well. It is an audio mixing plugin, which offers various amounts of features and tools. It is designed to help you create a professional and good sounding mix.

Doubling

Layering the primary vocal with several takes of the same portion in order to create a more expansive sound is known as vocal doubling. If you have enough decent interpretations of your vocal, you can accomplish this by hand, but a few plugins can assist you in instantly generating this sound. iZotope’s free Vocal Doubler plugin is the first. It’s easy to use and will give the stereo field a sense of depth.

Reverb

The use of reverb gives your vocals a more spacious sound and allows them to fit more comfortably in your mix. The free vocal VST called: Fruity Reverb in FL Studio 20 Producer Edition is where I like to start since it gives voices room to breathe while still maintaining the mix’s original clarity and power. I like to use it, though, when I’m trying to get a more experimental and wider sound.

I like to use FabFilter Pro R when using the reverb effect. It gives much more options compared to stock plugins. Furthermore, it has a lot of options to give your sound space. It also uses decay times of a real room. This makes your sounds very natural and pleasing to listen to.

Delay

Delay is a common technique by mixing engineers to repeat a sound after a short period of time. It sounds like a decaying echo which gets played back multiple times. It also creates a wider and wider stereo effect on vocals.

I like to use the standard Fruity Delay 2 or the Fabfilter Timeless 3 plugin. The downside of the Fruity Delay 2 plugin is that it’s only available to FL Studio users. On the other hand, the Fabfilter Timeless 3 delay plugin is usable for any DAW.

FabFilter Timeless 3 is a flexible, classic sounding tape delay, which will completely fulfill your ordinary defer needs. Also, with its remarkable impacts, channels, tap designs, and limitless balance choices, you can simply transform it into a definitive sound-ravaging machine!

Fabfilter Timeless 3 plugin

Get started with Fabfilter Timeless 3!

Start modulating delay in a simple way!

Manipulator

Mixing engineers use vocal manipulators to give your vocal a different or weird type of sound. This is done by pitch, harmonics, and formant shifting. Moreover, voice changer VSTs are helpful to add some weight or depth to your vocal.

There are a lot of options to choose from. Most voice changer VSTs come with presets, such as: robotic, octaver, hollow, and bender. Each preset as a unique sound, and it is up to you to tweak them.

One of my favorite manipulator plugins is the Little AlterBoy by Soundtoys. The plugin comes with only a few knobs, which makes it very easy to use. It is possible to change the pitch and formant from your vocal. You can even change the mode and add some saturation to your audio signal as well.

Another cool plugin I would like to share, is the Manipulator by Infected Mushrooms. This voice changer VST has much more presets, compared to Little Alterboy. Furthermore, you have full control over the amount of pitch, harmonics, stereo image, alternator, and octave.

Auto-Tune

Music producers use Auto-Tune to correct pitch errors on vocals. Moreover, it fixes the key of your voice, and it gives a more professional feeling. This makes the vocals sound perfectly tuned to the song.

Almost every famous rapper uses Auto-Tune, and it should be no shame to use it. This type of effect has been around since 1997, and was invented by Andy Hildebrand. He is the CEO of Antares Audio Technologies, who created a pretty impressive Auto-Tune plugin.

Antares VST is the best Auto-Tune plugin to work with. It gives full control of the retune speed, flex-tune, natural vibrato, and humanize. The retune speed determines how fast the auto-tune applies to your vocal. Furthermore, the flex-tune allows more pitch deviation for expressive purposes.

The humanize gives a natural and realistic sound to your vocal. You want to use this feature in order to avoid a robotic or ‘too perfect” sounding vocal. Finally, the natural vibrato minimalizes or accentuates the amount of vibrato that’s present in your vocal.

Saturation

Saturation is a soft form of distortion that adds more warmth and fullness to your vocal. Furthermore, it adds more pleasing frequencies to make your vocal sound thicker and help them cut through the mix. The huge benefit of this type of effect is that it can be used on every type of vocal. Using a bit of saturation won’t harm your audio, as it gives a pleasant feeling to your audio signal.

I like to work with Supercharger GT. It is a free vocal VST with a really great harmonically driving sound. When working with this plugin, I set the amount of saturation to ‘Moderate’, and I only use the saturation kob after it. That way, it is easy to quickly add the right amount of tube compression to your vocal, without destroying the audio signal.

This saturation VST is one of the best free vocal plugins, and my personal favorite. it is very easy to understand and work with.

Another great saturation plugin is the Fabfilter Saturn 2. Keep in mind that this plugin costs some money, but it is totally worth it. Fabfilter Saturn 2 has a lot of options, such as: multiband distortion, saturation, and a lot of modulation options. This plugin has much more features and presets compared to the Supercharger GT plugin.

fabfilter saturn 2 plugin

Learn more about Fabfilter Saturn 2!

Start using the most professional saturator!

Get Creative

VocalSynth 2 is one of the best VST plugins for vocals from many mixers to give vocals a unique sound and feel. You can create sounds that no one else has ever heard before by combining the five various processing engines available. The Biovox engine is my particular favorite since it allows you to control the degree of breathiness in your voice, allowing you to produce incredibly airy sounds. I also enjoy utilizing the Shred effect in the signal chain at the bottom of the window to completely glitch up voices and create new sounds that I can use throughout the song.

Final thoughts on the best vocal plugins

Focus on the best VST plugin to buy that has the functions you need and is right at your budget. After that, you can decide on the flow of the track and do the mixing yourself. This needs patience AND a lot of time and effort.

Choosing the right plugin is essential when mixing vocals. The goal is to improve the quality and sound of your vocal. Keep in mind that you will need different amount of plugins to treat your vocal right. Listen carefully to what your recording needs, and start implementing the right effects.

It can be a hard job to get the desired sound you want. Sometimes the outcome can be difficult than you’d expect. Don’t stress about the amount of work, because there are a lot of music engineers to choose from. These people offer various amounts of high quality mix and master services, which are ready to work with.

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