How to Fix Thin Vocals

Getting a great vocal sound starts at capturing a quality recording, but it's not uncommon to receive a weak or thin sounding vocal for mixing. We’ll run through 4 quick steps to remedy this issue.

How to Fix Thin Vocals

 

Getting a great vocal sound starts at capturing a quality recording, but it's not uncommon to receive a weak or thin sounding vocal for mixing. We’ll run through 4 quick steps to remedy this issue.

1. Roll off the Rumble

Before we can beef up the vocals, it’s important to clean up the ultra-low end; frequencies below 100hz which can conflict with the tightness of the mix. Male vocals can usually benefit from a Waves Q10 high-pass filter with a gradual slope applied around 80-100 Hz, whereas female vocals may require a more gradual high-pass filter set around 120-150 Hz.

2. Boost the Body

Much of a vocal's weight and "body" lives within the 100-250hz range. Try applying a low shelf filter boost with a Scheps 73 EQ around 200 Hz to get more meat out of your vocals. Vocalists that have a particularly "wispy" tonality may be in particular need of a boost in this frequency range, even if they’ve been recorded well.

3. Lock it in with compression

Now that your vocal is sounding beefy, you want to ensure this tonality remains dynamically consistent throughout the performance. Pull up a Renaissance Compressor and dial in some moderate compression with a medium-slow attack and fast release, depending on the source material. Even just 2-4db of gain reduction should transparently even out the vocal.

4. Add Harmonics

At this point, some saturation on the vocals can warm up and excite the entire performance and help it glue to the rest of the mix. Use J37 Tape to imbue the vocals with the sound of the 60s and 70s, experiment with the different tape settings, and drive the input knob to achieve more tape saturation.

Want more quick mix fixes? Get tips on fixing a thin snare drum here.

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