Finding that *perfect* vocal level can sometimes feel like chasing a mirage through the desert.
Does it even exist? You think you can see it out there in the distance… So you keep chasing for it…
But eventually you’re forced to reckon with the idea that maybe you’re not gonna find that perfect level after all. At least not without a ton of vocal automation!
If there’s one thing that gets me anxious and searching for the closest exit though, it’s vocal riding. That is, the process of writing Automation so that the fader level adjusts in real-time to level out the vocals.
Vocal riding is like writing down what someone is saying as they’re speaking to you: “Wait! Can you repeat that? Slow down please. One more time?”
That’s why I’ve made it a point to find every single other way to help vocals ride *except* for writing automation.
And it turns out that there are 2 handy ways to help your vocals sit on top of the mix, instead of disappearing into the mix. It takes a bit of fancy routing. But the results can be great.
First, we need to route everything except for our vocals to an Auxiliary Channel. That means the drums, bass, reverbs, delays – everything. We’ll name this Auxiliary Channel “Music.”
And from there we can either:
- Sidechain a Compressor to tuck down the music when the vocals are singing. Or:
- Sidechain an Expander to boost the vocals when the music gets a bit too loud
In both cases, we’re letting dynamic processors manage the vocal rides for us.
And now we just saved ourselves hours of drudgery 🙂
So today let me show how to keep your vocals riding on top of your mixes.