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First, please excuse me if I'm using the wrong terms. I'm not a complete newbie when it comes to audio, but I'm no expert either. Trying to boost my knowledge and skills in this area.

Anyway, I have a compressed audio track from a game I like that's just music: no vocals. Obviously, I don't have access to the source audio files. I'd like to record vocals overtop this track: one version with lyrical vocals and another with plain speech voice overs.

My question is, given that I don't have access to the raw, unmixed audio for the instrumentals, what is the best I can do in terms of audio editing (both my vocal track and the original instrumental audio track) to make it sound as good as possible?

I understand that it'll be difficult to mix in my voice so it sounds like a studio recording since I lack the uncompressed original instrumentals. And I know that the dynamics of the voice track will be different for an actual singing voice versus a normal talking voice (for a voice over). But given a hobbyist interest in recording vocals for premixed tracks, what audio processing techniques and principles can I leverage to get the best result possible?

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The processing really depends on the material / the track you have; since the track is an instrumental, we can assume that instruments take over the most of the frequencies palette (if not true - even better). To mix in the vocal, you need to have some space in those frequencies so your vocal recording wouldn't clash with the music, but rather "sit" into it. What you can try to do is EQ out some frequencies (around 3-7kHz) from the track, to make some room for your vocal. Next thing that might help is to setup the compressor on your vocal recordings, so that you minimise the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of it and have it all on same level. After that you can just try to mix it in and see what you got.

  • Thank you for these tips! I'll give them a try and see how it goes. – user17910 Mar 31 '16 at 16:45
  • Good answer! Don't overdo it with the out-EQing, but applied carefully this can certainly be a good idea. – leftaroundabout Apr 2 '16 at 19:56
  • Maybe a Dynamic EQ at only the times the singer is singing? You wouldn't want to leave a hollow space when there is no singing. – Simon Bosley Jun 16 '16 at 8:06
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First of all you don't have to worry about having a compressed/mastered track, so what? that will not create a bad contrast.

Compression is dynamic control, if the vocal is dynamically controlled it will fit perfectly in the context.

Now one thing you should worry about is that the music is not mixed to have a vocal which is a very easy task to solve with a thousand ways.

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One way is EQing, which will change the dynamics of the song anyway, simply if you EQ a compressed track you'll find out that automatically hits different db either lower or higher, after that you can even it out again.

Of course the EQing on a problematic track that can't take vocals should be drastic , so the effect of losing the dynamic control will be profound.

The second way you can achieve it and to me the most professional one is take a spectrum analyzer and find your vocals fundamental frequencies.Allways keep in mind that vocal presence lies in the higher end of the spectrum where sibilance is , cause without sibilance you actually can't understand anyone.

After that you either EQ those freqs out (as mentioned) OR use a Sidechain Multiband Compressor, and feed your vocal as key . The compressor should compress the frequency spectrums you have chosen based on the spectral analysis of your vocal.

Mix it - remaster it , job done.

Good luck!

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