This was stolen from the pages of Killer Home Recording: Murderous Mixing.
I Hate War m “ ” But I Love “Important”
Members who run around the forum at RecordingReview.com are well aware of the fact that I'm not big on the word “w a r m". In fact, if you type it on the forum, I will come out looking like this: ****. That's mostly a joke, but I have serious reasons why I do it. I don't feel that the word “****” means anything more than “good”. It's not useful for describing audio in my opinion because there are too many contradictory meanings.
So saying “I like **** vocals” doesn't really mean anything to me. Even if it did mean
something to me, it still wouldn't mean anything without any context to compare it to.
However, I was writing about vocal compression and I said:
“You could use volume automation to fix this, but there is something authoritative about using compression on vocals that I like (at least in situations where the vocals need to be authoritative) that vocal automation can not do.”
The magic word here is “authoritative”. That's a word I like! While it's impossible to describe in terms of frequency response, I think it's safe to say that we all know an authoritative vocal at least when compared to a not-so authoritative vocal. In this instance, I'm thinking in terms of the power of the music and the musical performance.
I was reading a thread online recently and a person mentioned that in certain instances, he likes to add a little bit of 300Hz to the vocal to make it sound “more important”. I really like that. Important! When we think of terms like “bright”, “dark”, “thin” etc they all have their place in specific discussions, but just to say we have a bright sounding vocal is kind of focusing on the effect more than the cause. When we start looking at a mix as a way of highlighting the most exciting elements or by making the important elements sound “more important” we put ourselves in a position where we can best serve the song.
So while I'm not saying that you shouldn't use words like “bright” or “dark”, if you are capable of making your important tracks sound more important and your authoritative tracks sound more authoritative, you will stay a busy mixer.