007 MixCoach Minute – How I treat “Enya-style” back ground vocals

Ever had tons of background vocals that you need to put behind the lead vocal? This episode will explain how I treat those.


Raw Transcript:

Hey guys, its Kevin with MixCoach here for episode number seven of the
MixCoach Minute. I have a question from Javier Coloma. He has a question
about ethereal voices floating around in reverb, Enya style he says. He has
to distribute eight tracks of voices in layers to use them as pads to
support the lead vocal.

Javier, if I was mixing a song like that I would probably not distribute
them through the stereo field. I would probably find pairs of those vocals.
If there are eight of them it’s probably two sets, or two passes, of four
different parts. Or maybe it’s four passes of two different parts. I don’t
know. But I would probably just go and pan them hard left and right to keep
them out of the center.

Then, I would use the delay and reverb trick that I showed you in my, I
think it’s called “How to Make D-verb Sound Awesome”. I think that’s the
name of it. Where on the aux bus where you put the delay first and you use
a percentage of the delay, like not even 50 percent but maybe 25 percent,
so that what the reverb is hearing is the original signal plus a delay.
That’ll give you a lot of that textured layering on your vocals.

Another thing I’ve found, too, is that the more stacks there are, or the
more passes of the vocals that you’re going to be using for a pad, the more
passes there are the more it sounds like a pad and the more out of the way
it becomes. As you stack a part it seems to go back further in the mix.

So, that’s how I would treat that. I would find pairs of vocals, pan them
hard left and right, and put them back in the mix with some verb and delay.
You can add different channels, like a different channel of delay and then
a different channel of verb. But what I’ve found is that you put the delay
just before the reverb, and it will give it that layered recurring kind of
ethereal sound that you’re looking for. So, I hope that helps.

Be sure that you check out MixCoach Member. They’re the people sponsoring
this. They’re the people – it’s me. MixCoach Member is sponsoring the
MixCoach Minute, so go and check it out. It’s mixcoachmember.com, and hope
to see you there. See you tomorrow. Bye.

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MixCoach, Vocals, background vocals


  1. Hey Kevin,

    Somethin I was shown with the delay+reverb is to have 2 busses, one to delay> then to reverb bus and a second bus from the sound to be treated to the reverb only (so 2 auxes) and to blend in both having the second aux only to reverb bus really adds another layer to the space that makes it sound more expensive being the only description I can think of.

  2. I think another thing to quickly touch on is EQ for supporting vocals. For more ethereal type, sometimes a great trick is to roll off the lows anywhere from 1K to 500Hz taking out the mids to make them sound more airy. Sometimes if there is too much going on with the layering, it also helps to roll of a bit of the highs on the backing vocals as well. This will help the presence of the lead vocal continue to stand out.

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