CHAPTER 3.4: MIXING COVERS
A major component in making covers is mixing them. In other words, assembling the vocal tracks and the off vocal together with mastering. It also what makes or breaks a cover, as mastering and timing is EXTREMELY important.
For this tutorial, you will need a DAW for mixing songs. I'll be using FL Studio.
Exporting Your Vocals
If you've already exported your vocals, great. If not, then here's how to do it.
Assuming that you already have your UST open, select all the notes by pressing Ctrl+A. Then, click on the play button to start rendering. Once it's finished rendering, go to Play(L) > Save Last Play(S)... to export your vocals to the desired folder. I usually export mine within the UST's folder. Repeat this process for the remaining USTs whose vocals have not been exported.
Setting Up The DAW
The next step is to open up FL Studio. To make sure your progress is saved, click on File > Save, and name the FLP file to save it in the desired folder.
On the Mixer window, name the first three channels to these by right-clicking on them:
Now drag your audio files, such as vocal tracks and off vocals, to the Playlist window (where it shows your audio tracks). Align them according to the original song, as in when do the vocals come in. The more on-time it is, the better the overall result. In the Channel rack, adjust the position of the audio files according to the mixer channels.
Mixing The Tracks
Every Mixer channel has its own plugin/VST slots. I often don't add anything special to the intrumental channel unless it sounds bad.
Mastering The Main Vocal
To master the main vocals of your covers, there are couple of plugins in FL Studio that are essential to making the vocal sound good. As such, this is just a guideline on what plugins/VSTs can be used, and their optimum settings as shown in the screenshots. Everything that I say is merely my opinion, and it is certainly not the right way to mix covers. That being said, experiment with the plugins to get the result that you want. This is just a guideline anyway, as each song will require different parameters for your mixing.
Fruity Multiband Compressor
A compressor is essential for mixing vocals because it can balance the volumes of the vocals and the off vocal to make the vocals stand out but not too much. As such, Fruity Multiband Compressor is recommended. Because it has... "multiple bands," you have greater control in balancing the bands to get the best results for your vocals.
Fruity Parametric EQ 2
Just like the compressor, an equalizer is essential for manipulating the frequencies of your vocals so that they can sound crisp. Now depending on the song you are covering and the voicebank you are using, you may have to adjust the EQ curve a lot to achieve the best results.
The EQ curve can be split into several sections:
- Sub: This section is used to control how husky the vocals can be.
- Bass: This section is used to control the "color" of the vocals. It depends on the vocal type, really.
- The Mids (Low, Mid, High): These sections are responsible for determining the clarity and quality of the voice.
- Prs: This section, if boosted a little, can help brighten up the vocals.
- Treble: This section is responsible for making the vocal's consonants sound more accurate and present in the mix.
Fruity Parametric EQ 2
Just like the compressor, an equalizer is essential for manipulating the frequencies of your vocals so that they can sound crisp. Now depending on the song you are covering and the voicebank you are using, you may have to adjust the EQ curve to achieve the best results.
The Fruity Limiter is another compressor, but this time it's a single-band compressor. Regardless, it's main purpose is to prevent the mix from clipping too much by "limiting" parameters such as the maximum dB.
Fruity Reeverb 2
The Fruity Reeverb is a plugin that adds reverb to your vocals. I use this plugin sparingly, depending on if the song uses a lot of reverb or not. Take care not to abuse this or you might make your vocals sound too echoey.
Mastering the harmonies is similar to mastering the vocals, but this time, I put them at a lower volume to the point where they're still audible to the ears. Additional plugins are used.
I use this plugin to give the harmonies a little boost and vibrance to the vocals, as well as a minor chorusy effect.
Fruity Stereo Shaper
The Fruity Stereo Shaper is mainly responsible for adjusting the stereo channels. I use this on the harmonies to make sure that they accompany the vocals while they don't clash against them.
Exporting The Cover
Once you're done mixing your cover and making sure it sounds good, it's now ready for export.
This is the result of my mixed cover and the tracks that are included. Don't mind the parameter tracks just yet, as I will be covering them in the near future.
To export your cover, go to File > Export > MP3 and select the destination for your cover to be exported to.
Then this screen should pop up. Don't change anything, just click on the Start button to begin exporting the cover. It shouldn't take too long, and once the exporting process is done, you finally have your cover finished!
The cover you have in hand is ready to be shared to the Internet. But the next tutorial will show how to upload the cover.