Vocal mastering in Ardour

I’m working on my first 100% Ardour recorded, mixed and mastered song. I’m really liking it.

What I’m having trouble with right now, because I’ve been spoiled by Cakewalk Sonar and plugin presets, is smoothing my vocals into the mix. I was wondering if anyone can give me any pointers, stories, etc., on what you’ve done with vocal processing. What plugins did you use? Software compression - getting a raw recording to bring up the lows and tame the highs? Reverb? Chorus effects? Getting it to sound good by however you define “good”, getting reverb to sound natural, etc? Fattening up vocals - again, keeping it sounding natural? And so on.

I was really impressed (and got compliments) by using the graphic EQ and the “classic” compressor from Linuxdsp.

For reverb I was using the Gverb vecerb with the “small chapel” response file.

get all the linuxdsp lv2 plugins. 150% worth it! I use them for all of my mixing and mastering jobs.

I think it’s really hard to apply “similar” or “formulated” fx settings on vocals. The human voice can be so different even from the same person from song to song, just with different emotions it can change quite a bit. I think you should just play around with it, more like a trial and error and experimenting thing but don’t over do it. Reverb is always a nice effect that should mostly be used a bit here and there to pop certain parts of a song, or add a certain “charm”, say the end of a verse or part of a chorus or in the bridge, it also depends on what your words say, reverb can be applied 100% if the music permits it without sounding drowned. EQ is ok, but in my opinion you should better cut a bit on the main frequencies of the other instruments that share the same main range of the voice, not too much but enough so that your vocals “fit in” the mix and then they will still be “natural” and will fit and pop out more without having to turn up the level on them. I think the voice should go as natural and clean as possible, compression is always good but not too much, you want some of those emotional dynamics, and always use a pop filter. But then again it can be all the way around, you can add some distortion or other things for more bizarre vocals, like the telephone effect for example, so first sit down, listen to your music without vocals, and try to imagine how they should sound with what they say and try to understand what is going on also with the music, and then you can try and go for what you heard in your head.


Thanks for the great tips!

I’m used to doing things a certain way with Cakewalk Sonar, so this really helps.