Mixing Vocals with Parallel Buses

Today I thought it would be cool to continue with the parallel bus compressions that I use in just about every one of my mix sessions. And go over my Lead Vocal Process and Vocal Bus. If you missed the video on my favorite Parallel Drum Compression Technique, you can watch that by clicking the link above me.

Again, I’m showing you the recommended plugins and settings but you can use your favorites or what you have available with your DAW of choice.


First, set up a Parallel Vocal Compression Bus (Stereo).

  • Use a clean Compression/Limiter (I’m using the FabFilter C2)

  • I usually have about -6dB to -10db of compression

  • Output of this is routed to the Stereo Out

  • Calibrate 2dB of gain back into overall stereo out (Just like we did with the Drums)

  • Click here to see how to calibrate parallel buses

Second, setup 3 (mono) buses:

CRUSH BUZZ CLEAN

Fatso 1073 1176

Output - 31 Output - 31+32 Output - 32

  • Setup (2) more (mono) buses, Bus 31 & Bus 32. Or name them whatever you like. Add a VU meter as the first and insert. The Output of these are Stereo Out (Mix Bus) and Vocal Bus. Set the faders at unity (0).

Third, route Lead Vocal out to each of these buses, (CLEAN, BUZZ,CRUSH).

Set all buses to unity (0).

Pull down Lead Vocal track so that it is not too loud routed to each of the buses.

Start with the CLEAN bus. Solo and mute the others.


CLEAN BUS:

Plugin: 1176A (UAD VERSION) Vance Powell, Start Here For Vocals

  • Adjust Lead Vocal track so that the 1176 is getting around 2dB of compression

  • Set the output fader of the Clean Bus so that it is around (0) on the bus you have sent it to. In my case, this is Bus 32. Bus 32 has a VU meter on it and is hitting around (0).

  • Mute and solo the BUZZ BUS.

BUZZ BUS:

Plugin: 1073 Mic Pre (UAD VERSION) 30 or 35 on gain knob, 80HPF, Turn down fader about as much as you add in, 30 or 35.

- Mute and solo CRUSH BUS

CRUSH BUS:

Plugin: Fatso (UAD VERSION) All compression types engaged, Input: 7ish, Around 10dB of compression, Output: 5.

**The Output of these buses are routed to Channels 31 and 32. The 1073 is routed to BOTH.

Once settings are correct and sounding good, add in the PARALLEL VOCAL BUS.

This is something that can make the vocal fill out and more present, or it might not add anything valuable at all and does is not needed.

As always, minor tweaks may need to be added, but this should work in your DAW of choice.

And that is it! I know this is going to take a little time to understand the routing if it is a new process for you, but it sounds great on pretty any style of music. Having a mix template with this setup is great if you don’t want to keep adding it each time to a new session.

Have fun with it, use it, make it your own or keep these settings and plugins. I absolutely love it on all my lead vocals and haven’t really needed to adjust much from this setup expect having the Vocal Bus in or not.

Enjoy!

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