How to mix vocals CD quality (new amateur trying to record)

I am recording right now on my ipad (multritrack DAW)/blue yeti microphone whic his very convenient when I am not home.

I am new and I have no clue how to mix vocals. the vocals produced are dry and obviously it needs to be mixed to sound professional.

Any tips how to do this easily and sound like a pro. I noticed that the voice needs to sound more icy/wet than dry and more crystallize. I dont really know if i make sense. My recording sounds like it was just recorded infront of the computer… I dont know if I am even making sense here.

I heard these techniques are needed very much to mix the vocals [properly- EQ and compressor.

Sorry for being not recording literate. I just know how to record and sing not produce a well mixed pro sound CD>lol

My question might have been answered somewhere else, but please guide me. I am new to this whole thing and even posting on a forum.

I need your help guys and I hope I wont have a hard time mixing it in Audacity.

Thank you.

Many people find that they enjoy singing in the bathroom because the echo and reverberation make them sound really good. Try applying Effect > GVerb – lightly – and see how it sounds.

Don’t bother with Audacity 1.2. Audacity 1.3.12 has all the good tools and filters for sound management.

Without being too much of a wet blanket, can you sing? There’s a huge difference between making me a singer (good luck with that) and making a real singer better. The people on CDs started out life already knowing how to sing and the mixing was just to tune here and there and put the music and voice together.

I note you didn’t post that you needed to record your voice against already existing music. That’s several chapters in a book right there.


Another note, mixing to music can make a big difference. Most people including real singers sound very lost without some instrumentation running to back them up. Really real singers, of course, can sing on the subway and sound fine.

There is a bike path in Los Angeles that goes under a freeway along a creek. It’s not unusual for people to perform music on the bank of the creek against the gently gurgling water and the cathedral-rated echoes of the freeway overpass and cement walls.


Thank you for your reply.

Actually, I am a singer. I am just not a pro recording engineer. I know for a fact without the effects, the sound and all is fine. I just want it to sound like the nes in the cd. I recorded my music in a multitrack app on my IPAD and I made sure the vocals are separated from the backing tracks. I just want it to sound wet and crisp, if you know what i mean. Too much reverb makes it sound really old fashion but i want some to add flavor. I just have a hard time explaining cause im no pro when it comes to recording, but i hear compressing and EQ are the answer besides reverb. I actually have sound forge 10 too, so if i should use it with Audacity beta, then i would love to learn how to.

The effect you are looking for * could be chorus:
it can give mono recordings a 3D stereo quality by adding a tiny bit of delay between the left and right channels, e.g. attached …

On Audacity 1.3 select “Tracks”, “add new” “stereo track” to create an empty stereo track.
Copy your mono singing and paste it into this empty stereo track, it will then appear as dual mono.
Then apply the chorus effect (e.g. shown below, the settings I used for the attached countdown example) …

Blue Cat Stereo chorus settings for conspicuous effect.png
The “depth” and “wet” values are twice I would normally use for the purposes of illustration, (to make the effect glaringly obvious).

[* a link to a Youtube example would have been useful]

You’ve asked a huge question anamarias. “How do I become an expert sound engineer / producer for vocal recording in 10 easy steps”. The short answer is that you can’t, but that’s not useful at all :wink:

Good vocal recording is, at the same time, one of the easiest things and one of the hardest things. It’s one of the easiest things because as long as you can actually hear the singer, a really good singer will sound really good and people will say “Wow that’s fantastic”, then as an afterthought “… shame the recording’s so *****”. On the other hand it’s one of the hardest things because the voice is such a complex instrument and the listener is so familiar with hearing the human voice that they are highly attuned to picking out every subtle nuance. If you play the “average listener” a recording of synthesizer sound they will say “it sounds like a synthesizer”. If you play them a recording of a human voice they may say something like; “sounds like a man, about 30, in an airport, probably a business man of some sort, sound’s a bit like my friend’s husband, has a bit of a cold coming on, probably wearing brown shoes…”

The first part of good vocal recording is the recording itself. That’s half of the job and a very important half. Much of the rest of the job is about correcting what’s wrong with that part of the job.
Has the recording come out too bright, too much bass or not enough middle? That’s when the Equalizer can be used to adjust the relative frequency levels. The Equalizer effect is just a fancy “tone control” for boosting and/or cutting different frequencies.

Does the recording sound too echoey, too much reverberation, like it’s been recorded in a tunnel? Live with it, you can’t remove echoes or reverb.
Does it sound too dry, not enough “room” sound, not enough reverberation of sound bouncing round the room, like it’s been recorded in a padded cell? Artificial reverb (reverberation) can be added. There’s not just “reverb”, there’s thousands of different types of reverb. Reverb is one of the elements that gives a sense of space and location. A long echoey reverb can make it sound like it’s in a canyon, a warehouse or cathedral. A short bright reverb can make it sound like it’s in a small tiled kitchen. A long smooth reverb can make it sound like it’s in the distance.
The “standard” reverb for Audacity is “Gverb” (available in the “90 LADSPA plug-in pack”. Few people cite it as their favourite reverb, mostly because the default setting is an extreme cavernous effect, but it can sound much better if the “Room Size” is turned down a lot, the “Reverb Time” is turned down a lot and the “Early Reflection” is turned down a lot. I’d recommend using the “Duplicate and mix together” method as described here: A nice alternative reverb favoured by many is “Anwida Soft DX Reverb Light” (also listed on that page).

On modern recordings it is common to “squash” the dynamics so that the volume level is more even, particularly by cutting down sudden peaks, so that the overall level can be increased to make the whole thing sound louder. This also has the effect of making the voice sound stronger, richer and “more produced”, but as with all effects it can be easily overdone The main tools for this effect are “compressors” and “limiters”. There is a compressor included with Audacity 1.3.12 and another favourite is Chris’s dynamic compressor (see the bottom of this page for a link and brief introduction )

Another common effect for “thickening” vocals is “Automatic Double Tracking” (ADT). This may also be referred to as “slap back echo”, “double tracking” or “delay”. There are subtle variations of this type of effect, but basically it is a copy of the original track that has been dragged to the right a bit so that it plays a fraction of a second after the original. If dragged a long way it will sound like a distinct echo. If dragged only a very tiny bit it will produce a “chorus” or “flanging” type effect and you will notice strange bell-like tones appear (not necessarily in tune). Generally the track is delayed by about 0.04 seconds and the level reduced considerably so that it’s there but only just. More pronounced settings can be effective for certain types of music.

Other tools that you will want are the basic editing tools such as cutting, pasting, fade-in and fade-out,_Duplicate_and_Split

To use effects well you need to be familiar with them. I’d highly recommend that you play with Audacity. Make some silly mixes with over-the-top effects so that you become familiar with what they do, how they work, and most importantly what they sound like.

Always keep backups, particularly direct copies of your original source material.
Audacity 1.3.12 is pretty stable, but to avoid tears, always make fresh backups along the way when you are working on anything long, involved or important.
There are mountains of books and tutorials on this subject.
Have fun.

Thanks for the advice! Wow, i learned a lot…

how would you judge these kinds of mixing for the recordings?

The mixing is what one would expect for the genre. The sound quality’s not great, but that’s the encoding for YouTube. The first one gets horribly distorted in the loud section but I doubt that was the case on the original recording.

my question is how to make the vocals from a raw recording to sound that smooth or crisp with same volume… besides reverb…like to balance the volume throughout the song for all the waves or something…

The vocalist can help through a combination of voice control and microphone technique. Vocalists will tend to back off from the microphone a little as they get louder, so helping to maintain a more even level. Beyond that it’s down to a combination of “dynamic compression” and manually adjusting the level.

See here for an overview of dynamic compression:
See here for the manual page for the compressor in Audacity:
See here for how to adjust the level using a “volume envelope”:

can you please let me know if his voice has reverb or how does the mixing work for this type of recording?

Yes it has reverb applied to the vocal.

do you know how the vocals were mixed to very clear, cold, and crisp? can that be done in audacity?

I see Steve missed Chris’s Compressor.

Chris does a reasonably good job of auto leveling a performance without seeming to do anything. It gets louder, too.


im not good wih mixing. is there a video that explains my questions regarding compression, eq, reverb all that would sound professional/ i dont even kow how the eq works and what it is for… sorry for asking questions

If you download this (free) reverb plug-in it has many presets for different types of reverb, the names of the presets are approximate descriptions of their effect …
Anwida,com  'DX Reverb Light' the ultimate free reverb plug-in for PC and Mac.png
Try (“preview”) the various presets and just alter the “value” (strength) of each, leave the other parameters alone.

There are unofficial videos on Youtube on how to operate Audacity features, e.g. equalizer …