Mixing vocals for Pop, Hip-Hop, and EDM fall roughly in the same category: The vocals should be upfront and center and be the dominant instrument in the song. Today, I’ll show you how I processed my lead vocals on my song “I See You” which I produced and recorded for my daughter, Ellie. The song is featured on my debut album “All or Nothing”. You can stream or download the album here on SpotifyApple MusiciTunesYoutube, or Soundcloud.

Here a video on mixing vocals for Pop, Hip-hop, and EDM. If you prefer to read, scroll below the video to continue:

Mixing vocals for Pop, Hip-Hop, and EDM

phase 1: tune, gain trim, and de-ess vocal

Phase 1 is all about cleaning up the vocal so that it sound clean and bare before changing the color. Think of this and getting your paintbrushes clean before painting. With a clean audio, your processing will sound much more consistent.

Firstly, you should do is tune any erroneous or pitchy notes in the vocal. You can do so using Melodyne or Logic’s Flex Pitch. I used Waves Tune Real Time to slightly tighten up the vocal pitch as no major notes were out of tune.

Secondly, I used Logic’s region inspector tool to trim or boost any vocal sections that we’re too loud or soft so that the compressor won’t pump too much later on. To open logic’s region inspector, select the region you want to edit, and press option+r on you keyboard.

mixing lead vocals for pop, hip-hop, and edm

Thirdly, I used FabFilter Pro DS to de-ess and tame transients on the vocals:

Mixing lead vocals for pop, hip-hop, and edm

phase 2: EQ and compression

Phase 2 is all about shaping the tone and transients of the source material. This is where you bring out the best of the recording.

Firstly, I used Fabfilter Pro Q2 to cut the unneeded low end, add a shelf cut at around 200hz, and carve out any harsh frequencies.

mixing lead vocals for pop, hip-hop, and edm

Secondly, I used a UAD Elysia Alpha Compressor to transparently tame transients. A fast attack and release with 4-6 db of gain reduction is the best way to achieve this:

mixing lead vocals for pop, hip-hop, and edm

Thirdly, I added UAD LA-2 compressor for color. The goal here is to get no more than around 3db of gain reduction:

mixing lead vocals for pop, hip-hop, and edm

phase 3: De-ess, EQ, and multiband compression for polish

Phase 3 is all about cleaning up after phase 2, and adding the finishing touches to make your vocal shine

Firstly, I de-essed again using Fabfilter Pro DS.

Secondly, I used a Pultec EQ namely, Softube Tube-Tech PE1C to boost AND attenuate the low end created from the compression in Phase 2. There’s something special about the tone when you boost and attenuate at the same time. I also boosted the 12k range to add sparkle that was taken away after de-essing:

mixing lead vocals for pop, hip-hop, and edm

Thirdly, and finally, I used Fabfilter Pro MB multiband compressor to glue everything together and also tame and smoothen out any frequencies, namely the low-mid and high-mid range:

Here’s the unprocessed and processed vocals side by side. I kept  the reverb on delay on both sources to keep things consistent:

So I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and put it to good use to make your synth lead sound amazing. Above all, just keep producing!

For questions, feel free to shoot me an email by contacting me.

Pierre Andrews recording studio is located in Irving, TX and services the Dallas Forth Worth area and works remotely with clients all around the world via Soundbetter.