5 Essential Plugins for Mixing Vocals

Mixing is as hard of a task as any, Even after years of trial and error I still don’t consider myself an ‘expert’, However, like any professional, I’ve put in my 10,000 hours and learned a thing or two.

The reality is that mixing is an art no different to songwriting or anything else creative, It takes years of practice to learn the basics and even longer to master it.

As musicians and producers, we are born perfectionists! we spend hours on end tweaking the little things, while everything may sound perfect the number one element that deserves 110% of your focus is vocals.

If you don’t get the vocals right, you may as well ditch the track entirely.

The way you mix will change dependent on genre and song, As a mixing engineer, your job is to make directorial decisions and experiment with plugins and equipment until you find the golden gems that work best for YOU!

Today I want to show you my version of exactly that!

The following are my 5 most essential plugins for mixing vocals, after copious amounts testing hundreds of plugins I’ve settled on these 5 and haven’t really used anything else in the last 12 months.

In no particular order of importance let’s get started.

My Top 5 Favourite Plugins for Mixing Vocals

1. Imperial Delay

In the studio I like to do things that most producers don’t, for instance, all of the ambient presets I create I make from scratch, Imperial Delay is the number 1 plugin i use that allows me to do exactly that.

Commonly I have multiple delays in one song, And to keep it interesting I automate the use of those delays throughout the track.

Imperial Delay is designed to get both fancy and keep things simple, Capable of creating powerful beastly delays, this plugin give you complete control over every nuance allowing you to create your own unique presets.

With an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars, It’s worth downloading the trial and get yourself a taster.

Plugin Features:

  • Every Delay Feature You’ve Ever Heard Of
  • Tape Speed Variation, aka “wow and flutter”
  • One Knob Control
  • Variable Filters
  • Smear Knob (What is smearing?)
  • Ducking
  • Two-stage Feedback
  • Micro-Pitch and much more

More Details: Imperial Delay

2. MH Precision DeEsser

Easily one of the best Precision DeEssers of the last 5 years, taglined with “A Surgical Strike On Stubborn Sibilance”, MH Precision DeEsser packs a hell of a punch.

Featuring comprehensive listening controls to hear exactly what is being removed; there are five different points in the processing chain for monitoring, plus all parameters are fully automatable giving you absolute full control.

The MH Precision DeEsser is designed primarily for vocal processing, however, can also be used as a tool for sound design and other audio modulation, It’s just a a matter of thinking outside the box and stretching your imagination.

Plugin Features:

  • High precision linear-phase filter block with:
  • Center, Bandwidth and Sharpness controls
  • Ess-Compressor with:
  • Threshold, Ratio, Attack and Release controls
  • Comprehensive Listening Control
  • SpectraFoo™ spectrum analysis, with selectable displays
  • Scalable gain reduction meter
  • Adjustable UI size
  • MH Preset Manager – Provides cross-platform presets

More Details: MH Precision DeEsser

3. Abbey Road Viny

While I’m an avid believer that software emulation will never beat traditional hardware, I’m open to having my mind changed, When i first tried Abbey Road Vinyl it’s the closest I’ve come to joining the dark side.

Sometime’s vocals come through too clean, and if that’s the case for you, well done, you’ve done a cracking job as an engineer, let me give you a cyber pat on the back.

Depending on your track, your vocal recordings may sometimes need what I like to call “dirtifying”, meaning that if your track borders on aggressive then maybe the vocals need a little less spring cleaning and more dirt adding to them.

So if you’re a diverse engineer craving to add a distinct sound to your vocals Abbey Road Viny may be an excellent choice for you, for authentic vinyl qualities and producers seeking a true-to-vinyl dimension it will do you no wrong.

Plugin Features:

  • Add authentic vintage vinyl sound to your tracks
  • Precise model of the original vinyl cutting and playback gear at Abbey Road Studios
  • Choose between acetate master and printed vinyl pressing
  • 2 turntables, 3 cartridges
  • Slow-down/stop turntable mechanism
  • Control tonearm position for variable frequency response/distortion
  • Add phase distortion; noise, pops and crackles; wow and flutter; modulation
  • Run the sound through Abbey Road’s EMI TG12410 mastering desk

More Details: Abbey Road Vinyl

4. Oxford EQ

As far as EQ’s go, There are hundreds of excellent choices out there to choose from, Once again what you choose is very dependent on your requirements, but the importance of flexibility and quality will remain regardless.

To make sure you always get the most out of your investment, it’s best to choose an EQ that features a vast array of EQ types, featuring a simple and interactive interface resulting in the capability to make quick mixing decisions Oxford EQ deserves to be your number one EQ.

It packs a punch like SSL-style EQs, but broad like API-style EQs, which kind of makes it a perfect EQ for vocals.

Plugin Features:

  • 5-band parametric EQ with variable-slope HP/LP filters
  • Four completely different sounding EQ types
  • Clinical EQ similar to the SSL4000 E series
  • Tighter ‘cut’ for removing problem frequencies
  • Classic EQ similar to Neve and SSL G series curves
  • Wide and gentle curves perfect for mastering
  • Automatable A/B compare button toggles EQ settings
  • Ultra low noise and distortion

More Details: Oxford EQ

5. Oxford Reverb

If you guys are anything like me, I would assume that you have a huge collection of reverbs, before I picked up Oxford EQ my number one choice would of been any of the stock Logic reverbs, but now I find myself sticking to only one for mixing vocals.

With Oxford Reverb, I’ve never run into any trouble trying to make a vocal sound amazing.

Providing you with full control over all of its many parameters, including a very comprehensive early reflections section, and an integrated 5-band EQ, Oxford EQ is a complete full suite for all of your EQ needs.

Plugin Features:

  • Highly flexible reverb generator plug-in with real-time continuous control of virtually all parameters.
  • Dual independent paths for both ‘Early Reflections’ and ‘Reverb Tail’ function.
  • Each reverb path type can be used independently or in combination.
  • Comprehensive 5 band equaliser (based on the Sonnox Oxford EQ) which includes high and low pass filters.
  • More than 120 snapshots for immediate use under the headings of Dry Spaces, Ambient Effects, Vocal Reverbs, Plates, Rooms, Chambers, Halls, Churches and Foley Effects.

More Details: Oxford Reverb

See More: The 5 Best KONTAKT Libraries for Hip Hop in 2017

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