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Old 02-16-2020, 02:15 AM   #1
not-relevant
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Default Sidechain multi-band compressing instrument mix keyed on vocal

I'm trying to make room for a vocal in a busy mix, using multi-band compression/dynamic-EQ on the instrument mix-buss keyed to the vocal via a sidechain.

I've already carefully EQ'd other tracks to leave space for vocal forments and siblence using a spectrum analyser. On top of that I've also tried simple sidechain compression of the instruments mix-buss keyed on the vocal. However, on this track, depending on the compression settings these techniques are either not effective, are too obvious, or have too much of an effect on the rest of the mix.

The vocal is already multi-band compressed/dynamic-EQ'd using Waves F6, in order to reign in some nasty siblence and improve intelligibility. I'm now trying to use the F6 on the instrument buss as well, with bands tuned to, and S/C'd from, the vocal. I'm still struggling to get a satisfactory result, and I suspect the compression from the two instances of F6 is interacting somehow.

Can any one advise me:
- Should my sidechain send from the vocal track to the instrument buss's F6 come before or after the F6 applied to the vocal?
- Should the bands in the F6 on the instrument mix be keyed to the whole sidechain signal? or to the filtered signal? I understand the difference but, in this case, do I want to duck the vocal frequences in the instruments mix based on vocal signal falling within those bands only, or for vocal signal across the spectrum?
- I'm guessing I want mid/side mode, and to only compress mid?
- Would there be a benefit to treating instruments individually, rather than trying to duck the whole instrument mix at once?
- The instrument mix has a couple of quite heavily processed guitars, keys, and delay + reverb. I'm assuming this broad frequency stuff is the main thing competing with the vocal. Drums + bass are on separate busses, and I'm not attempting to duck them. Should I consider applying simlar processing to the drums + bass as well?

I've got a reasonable understanding of what I'm doing here, so I'm looking for advice specific to using multiband sidechain compression to dynamically open up particular frequency bands in the mix.

Thanks
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Old 02-18-2020, 03:36 PM   #2
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I used to muck about trying to sort this but then I bought wavesfactory trackspacer.
Strictly a sidechaining multiband eq rather than compression.
It totally works. Am not on commission
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Old 02-19-2020, 02:42 AM   #3
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Another thing you can try:

Drop a compressor on the music buss, set to M/S mode, and compress the mid channel only, sidechained to the vocal. Since the vocal is generally right up the middle, this effectively ducks the band mix to make a hole for the vocal, but it doesn't affect the signals that are panned out (stereo keys, panned guitars, F/X, etc.) so you don't really notice the mid channel dropping down.

Just a thought!
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Old 02-21-2020, 02:57 PM   #4
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I'll chime in that since keying an eq freq, gain or both to a voc track became available in DAWs I take that route much more often than keying a compressor to carve a tiny bit in the instruments. Having it keep the meat of the instrument bus the same while ducking only the freq where the vocal presence is lets you do more while not being too "desk-y" about it.
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:28 PM   #5
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I deal with this most often with music exported as a stereo file "beat" and will record vocals over that. Often the beat is limited and there's not a lot of room, so sometimes I can get way with ducking specific frequencies from the beat track keyed to the vocal (whether vocal buss, or main vocal, easy to try different sources).

But, sometimes that isn't enough. The way the beat is mixed, there's just no room....and I WISH I could just go into individual tracks to make room (which I can't). So on the one hand, I would say go into your individual tracks and make room....duh!

Ok, in lieu of all that, I think what also needs to be considered is where the vocal CAN fit. Instead of moving the music away for the vocals, why not move the vocals to where the music allows? Sometimes music is too bright, so make the vocals more dark. Or vice versa.
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by not-relevant View Post

Can any one advise me:
- Should my sidechain send from the vocal track to the instrument buss's F6 come before or after the F6 applied to the vocal?
- Should the bands in the F6 on the instrument mix be keyed to the whole sidechain signal? or to the filtered signal? I understand the difference but, in this case, do I want to duck the vocal frequences in the instruments mix based on vocal signal falling within those bands only, or for vocal signal across the spectrum?
- I'm guessing I want mid/side mode, and to only compress mid?
- Would there be a benefit to treating instruments individually, rather than trying to duck the whole instrument mix at once?
- The instrument mix has a couple of quite heavily processed guitars, keys, and delay + reverb. I'm assuming this broad frequency stuff is the main thing competing with the vocal. Drums + bass are on separate busses, and I'm not attempting to duck them. Should I consider applying simlar processing to the drums + bass as well?


Thanks
to answer your specific questions, I would key the entire vocal frequency to the instrument dynEQ....if you are intent on doing that instead of addressing the individual tracks.

Yes the guitars and keys are going to take up huge portions of the spectrum. You'll have to just make some decisions on what is more important and when and EQ/duck accordingly. Without actually hearing what you're up against, who knows what specifically...
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Old 02-24-2020, 08:55 AM   #7
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If there's so much mayhem going on that already trouncing on the vocal with the big guns like multiband comps and all that isn't even making a dent...

Maybe slice something out of the arrangement to make room instead of beating it with a hammer?

I don't want to just spout the popular advice of make the arrangement fit the song bla bla and make sure too many instruments don't stack up in the same frequency bla bla bla and if you arrange it right it will mix itself bla bla

Sometimes a hammer is appropriate!

Seems like an awful lot of fighting going on though. Maybe find another mix element to bury? Like you might do with organ or other key pad parts?
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Old 02-28-2020, 12:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the suggestions and apologies for not responding earlier.

Took a step back, worked through methodically, and got good results:
- Re-recorded the vocals an octave higher in places
- Slimmed down the arrangement, which benefited the track anyway as allowed for more dynamics and more contrasting timbres and textures
- Got more aggressive with EQ on instruments to separate from the vocal
- Carefully tuned the frequencies I'm applying dynamic EQ/multi-band compression - think I'd misjudged which frequencies were most important for the vocal to cut through the mix without impacting everything else.

The end result is dense where I want it to be but the vocal is always intelligible.
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