How to find a good starting point for the vocal volume

After we went through some point to find a good bass volume in the previous blog article / video, we are heading over to find a good starting point for the vocal volume right now.

Hit the following link just in case you missed the previous blog post / video:

How to find a good starting point for the bass volume

Vocal Volume – where to start

First of all make sure your vocals are a little more consistent when it comes to dynamics. Even when we are in the static mix phase right now get rid of some unwanted frequencies in your vocal tracks and make sure the wanted frequencies are audible. After that compress your vocals a little do get some control about the dynamics. When your vocals are reasonably stable and not jumping up and down in volume too much, you can get over to the next step.

Just a quick reminder: this is not about finally polishing your vocals, this is just about finding a good starting point. So don’t play around with that too much. Just make quick decisions that feel good to you.

Vocal fader down

Now turn down your vocal fader. After that bring down your monitoring volume that much, that you can barely hear the snare drum and the most important parts of the song so far.

Now you are ready to bring up the vocals again. Listen for the snare drum compared to the overall vocal level. You want to bring up the vocals so far that they are just about the same level like the snare drum. But even when your monitoring volume is that quiet your snare and the vocals should not compete each other. Both should be about the same level but the snare drum should not distract you from listening to the vocals.

If so, you can bring up the monitoring volume again to your normal level. Now your vocals should have a good place to be in the mix as your starting point. The vocals should be audible right in the mix, not on top and it should not compete with the snare or any other element.

And that’s it

If you have followed these steps from the blog posts / videos, you should now have a rough drum mix, a proper starting point for your bass and now also a good starting point for your vocal volume.

Important: check these balances all the time through further mixing. Every step you do next, might also affect these balances. For example when you add some saturation to your vocals it might make them a significant amount louder. Same thing when you compress your bass mix bus to make it even more consistent for example. It might bring up the bass volume.

But keep also in mind: these are just ideas for the starting point. When you have dialed in your vocal volume like I’ve explained above and it doesn’t feel right for you and that particular song because the vocals seems to be very quiet, go for it ant make them louder. Trust your ears and not what you someone else might tell you, even when it’s me 🙂

Vocal Volume YouTube Video

Bass Volume YouTube Video

Sheps Omni Channel 2 for vocal volume

In the video I’ve used the Sheps Omni Channel 2 Plugin for my goto channel strip plugin to quickly dial in an EQ and a Compressor for the vocals. If you want to try the Sheps Omni Channel, you can find it here at waves.com

How to find a good starting point for the bass volume

How to find a good starting point for the bass volume

One of the most important parts of mixing is setting up a really good rough / static mix right at the beginning. But sometimes it’s not that easy to find the right balances. Especially the bass volume can be hard to place right.

Here is a simple method to find a good starting point for the bass. The trick is so et up the kick and the bass in a way that they add up together about 3db.

And here is how to to it:

Do the drums first

Start with the drums and do a quick rough mix just for the drums. Set up a dedicated drums mix bus and keep in mind to not exceed -14 db on the drums mix bus to leave enough head room for the actual mixing.

Double the bass

The next step is to double the bass track and set up another mix bus for both bass tracks. One of the bass tracks is just for the low end so you need to set up low pass / high cut filter at the frequency that is about the double frequency of the fundamental root note. Let’s say your fundamental root note is at about 49 hz, you need to set up the low pass / high cut filter at about 100 hz. You need to do the opposite thing at the other bass track for the high end.

Set up a low cut / high pass filter for the high bass track at 100 hz too. Choose steep flanks for both filters, something about 24db/octave.

splitting the bass onto to tracks. One for the low end and one for the high frequencies.
Use high pass / low cut and low pass / high cut filters to just let through the frequencies you need for each channel.

PreOut Channel

Set up another group bus for the drums mix and the bass mix together. On this PreOut mix bus you need a VU meter. In best cases a VU meter with an input volume knob.

Setting the bass volume

Now solo the kick drum and set up the VU meter on the preout bus that the kick is peaking at about -3db. After that bring in the bass, but with the fader on the bass mix bus all the way down. Now bring up the fader to a point that the VU meter where kick and bass together peak at about 0db.

After that remove the VU meter plugin from the preout bus so that you are at it’s original volume again.

Now you have a good starting point for your bass volume to move on

Now you’re bass should be at a good starting point to move on with the mixing process. It might not be the final level and for sure there are a couple steps more to go through, but now your bass is at a level where you can make good decisions for the rest of the mix.

Plugins I’ve used in the video

As VU Meter Plugin I have used the “CLA Mixdown” Plugin from waves. This Plugin has an input control. But any other VU meter plugin should also work for this. Even when it has no input control. In that case you can increase the pregain of the channel in cubase or use another gain plugin for other DAW’s.

In the video I’ve also used the MV2 compressor plugin from waves for the low end channel of the bass to get it more consistent.

You can find both plugins here (click here)

Other Gear from the video

DAW Controller

Cubase 12 Pro

Yamaha AG06


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