Mixing Vocals: Easy Dynamic Vocal FX in SONAR

by Dan Gonzalez

A word on Vocal FX

Mixing vocals is a tricky process since it is the most prominent element in any song. Vocals can be processed a very specific way to achieve an effect of sorts – or they can be processed in subtle ways to fit nicely into an overall mix. Most of the time you’ll be dealing with the latter of the two so it’s important to figure out ways to enhance your vocals without overpowering the other instruments.

Critical attention to detail is what makes any track sound like a polished mix and to achieve this a lot of engineers approach each section, instrument, entrance, exit, etc. dynamically. Obviously one way to do this is by mixing with tons of automation, but there are other ways to setup your mix so that you don’t have to write loads of automation data.

Setting up a dynamic vocal effect

Let’s take a pretty dry vocal track and add a dynamic effect to it. Here’s an example of a verse that we can use.

Continue reading Mixing Vocals: Easy Dynamic Vocal FX in SONAR

Mixing Pop with SONAR Platinum – Synths, Bussing, and Ducking

by Dan Gonzalez

SONAR Platinum is the newest, greatest, and most advanced version yet. It contains all the tools and accessories that anyone would need in order to produce, mix, master, and compose their own music. In this mixing tutorial I’ll be using SONAR Platinum exclusively to show you the various ways I went about mixing this track.

You can download this project here and following along.

Synths

There are a total of 6 synth tracks in this song. All of them are quite trance-y and bring a unique dance flavor to this song. Let’s take a look at a few of the things I did to the more prominent synth tracks. For the most part this song reminds me of bands like The Killers. Maybe it’s the voice of the singer and the style of drumming but it has that kind of feel to it.

The first synth track that you hear running in the background behind the marching tom hits is a pretty dry track to start with. It’s already processed to some degree but in my opinion needs a little bit of low end and an equal amount of space in the mix. Taking this into consideration I add a low shelf on the Quad-Curve EQ at about 191Hz. This thickens it up a bit so that the song has a strong entrance with the pounding toms.

 

Next, I sent this synth to Continue reading Mixing Pop with SONAR Platinum – Synths, Bussing, and Ducking

EDM Production Tip: Ducking Synth Melodies using Sidechaining

Ducking is a popular technique used in EDM music to apply percussive processing to pads, leads, and bass lines using side-chains on compressors. This technique is also used as a method for getting bass and drum passages to subtly fit together in mixes. In order to successfully apply ducking to your track you must have the following:

  • Compressor inserted on a pad or lead track with side-chain capabilities
  • Percussive source to key the side-chain

First, grab a kick drum sample and align it to the desirable rhythm you need.  Next, insert a compressor onto your synth lead or pad track.  Afterwards insert a send on the sampled kick drum track and set the send to “Pre-fader”. In SONAR, deselecting the [Post] button enables pre-fader sends.  Mute the kick drum sample and turn up the gain on the send.

Once you have the signal flow set, enable the Sidechain on the Compressor.  Now, every time the kick drum sample plays the Side-Chain will trigger the compressor and “Duck” the signal.  You can set the compressor using the Threshold, Attack, and Release settings to shape the kind of effect you want.

Try it yourself with the SONAR X2 Producer free 30-Day trial.

The Fine Print III: Sidechaining in SONAR

The term ‘sidechaining’ refers to the manipulation of one signal by another where signal B (typically referred to a key input) effects signal A (primary input). Sidechaining is most often found in compressors, limiters and gates. Examples of sidechaining include ducking, voiceover, de-essing and pumping. For more information, check out this article on the Basics of Sidechaining.

Cakewalk’s CTO Noel Borthwick discusses the implementation of Sidechaining in SONAR is his latest Fine Print article. Since version 7, SONAR has supported side-chaining for both VST and DX plug-ins in all of its applications. This article describes how SONAR communicates with side-chain capable VST and DX plug-ins as well as how SONAR can be used as a guide to write a side-chain capable plug-in of your own.