For starters, you will care more about the vocal performance on your record more than I ever could. You get it. I get it. I just approach it from a much different perspective. To me, they are a signal in our mix and are equally important as the sound and shape of our floor tom, etc. They are part of our recording, not the most important part. I look to you to tell me that we have the performance we need or that we still need to chase it. Nothing too complicated there.
What concerns me more are the way we mix vocals with regard to the overall sound and feel of the recording. Vocal treatment (compression, reverb, delay, etc.) aside, the frequency of your vocals should reign supreme. More times than not, vocals are mixed “out front”. Again, understood. I get it. It carries melody and message. No major gripes here. Problems start to arise when the vocal signal isn’t shaped to carry frequency relevant to both the vocal and rest of the arrangement. Does your vocal frequency overlap too much with your guitar? snare drum? piano? Not only does this muddle your mix in general, it forces the volume of your vocal signal up, up, and up in a way that detaches your voice from the rest of the instruments. THAT’S A SHITTY RECORDING, A SLOW DEATH, AND WILL NOT HAPPEN HERE. Again, vocals are part of our mix- not the signal that sits on top of it. A vocal that sits and hits on all the right frequencies will feel like it belongs to the mix -allowing us to hear everything in the arrangement in addition to being moved by the vocal. THOSE ARE THE MIXES. YOU’LL FEEL IT. I’LL FEEL IT. HAPPINESS ENSUES.
These mixes also have a huge impact on mastering as well. You can imagine what the waveform looks like of a mix where the vocal sits high atop the rest of the instrumentation (high peak /low valleys). Believe me, nothing wrong with a dynamic mix- but heavier compression is often necessary to navigate such a dynamic gap. What if you aren’t prepared to compress so heavily? Less output volume. Again, not the worst thing in the world but the issue could have been avoided and our hands wouldn’t have been forced into heavy compression with a mix that is a bit more even.
Let me apologize if this post seems like I’m yelling at you to get off my lawn. Not my intention. Just wanted to show how intertwined the process is from recording to mixing to mastering. Done right, pure listening bliss.
Don’t stand on other people’s lawns though. It’s just common courtesy.