Mixing & Mastering
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Get expert tips for improving harsh vocals and synths

Best Vocal Plugins to Mix like a Pro

Looking for ways to improve vocal processing and synths? Here are some expert tips for smoothing out harsh vocals.

Dealing with poorly recorded vocals can be a real headache for a mixing engineer. This has been an issue for me several times in the past few weeks.

Budget microphones often have limited frequency responses, producing harsh or thin recordings. They also have poor transient responses, which refers to the rapid changes in sound level that occur in vocal performances. The proximity effect can also occur when a microphone is placed too close to a sound source, such as a singer's mouth. Luckily, there are several methods you can use to reduce harshness. Reverb is one technique that can help produce a smoother, more professional-sounding mix. This technique can also be applied to rough synths to make them sound more pleasant.

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Best Vocal Plugins

VocAlign Project

Are you familiar with VocAlign Project 5? It's an excellent tool for crafting doubled vocals that work perfectly for rap and singing! This excellent audio alignment plugin can help you align doubling vocals super quickly and accurately. It's perfect for anyone who works with vocals, whether you're a mixing engineer, producer, or singer. Seriously, it's a game-changer!

One of the things I love most about VocAlign Project 5 is its SmartAlign intelligent processing. This feature automatically detects the start and end of alignment regions, so you don't have to do it manually. This is a huge time-saver, especially when working with long or complex vocal sections.

Another thing I like about VocAlign Project 5 is its Tightness control. This allows you to fine-tune the amount of alignment you want to apply to your vocals. So, if you want your vocals to be perfectly aligned, you can set the Tightness to maximum. Or, if you want to leave some natural timing variation, you can set the Tightness to a lower setting.

VocAlign Project 5 also has various alignment presets covering all the most common alignment scenarios. So, whether you're aligning double-tracked vocals, backing vocals, or ADR, you'll be able to find a preset that's right for you.

Finally, VocAlign Project 5 integrates seamlessly with compatible DAWs. You can use it directly within your DAW without switching to a separate application.

Overall, I'm impressed with VocAlign Project 5. This tool is incredibly powerful and can assist you in aligning your vocals with exceptional accuracy and ease. It has the potential to save you countless hours, allowing you to focus more on the creative process. If you work with vocals, I highly recommend checking it out.

Vocal Editing - blend the high frequencies with reverb.

Vocals processing Tip: To fix harsh vocals blending reverb in just with the high frequencies can be a helpful technique to reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality of the vocals or synth. 

 To do this, you'll need to select a reverb with a short decay time and isolate the reverb with an EQ to just the harsh frequencies, typically in the range of 2-5kHz and any sibilance present.

 Make vocals sound less harsh: By adjusting the wet/dry mix or using a send channel, you can blend in the reverb effect to replace the high and harsh frequencies of the vocals with subdued reverb reflections. This results in a smoother and more polished sound without sacrificing the clarity and definition of the vocals.

 Take a listen and see if this technique works for you. Remember that reverb is a powerful tool, but it's essential to use it wisely and in moderation to avoid over-processing the vocals and ruining the overall sound quality of your track.

Here is a screenshot of how I would EQ the reverb track afterwards. This track is then mixed lightly to the dry vocal to improve harsh s sound on vocals.



In fact, a great microphone will capture the nuances and subtleties of vocal performance. If not, harsh vocals can occur when the high frequencies in the voice are exaggerated, making the sound raw and unpleasant to the ear. This can also be caused by incorrect EQ settings or over-compression during recording.


Reverb is an effect that simulates the natural reflections of sound in a physical space. Adding reverb to the vocal's mid-high frequencies can create the illusion of a more spacious and open environment, which can help smooth out the harshness and improve the overall sound quality.


There are several reverb types, including hall, plate, and room. Each kind of reverb has unique characteristics and can be used to achieve different sound effects. Choosing the right reverb type for vocal enhancement is critical to complementing the sound and achieving the desired result.

  • Consider the type of music you are working with. Different genres may require different types of reverb, so it's crucial to choose a reverb appropriate for the music style you're working with.

  • Think about the overall sound you want to achieve. Do you want a natural, spacious sound, or do you want to add character and interest to the vocals? Your choice of reverb will depend on the sound you try to achieve.

  • Experiment with various reverb settings. Adjust the decay time, pre-delay, and other parameters to find the right sound for your vocals.

  • Remember that less is often more when it comes to reverb. Too much reverb can wash out the vocals and make them sound distant, so it's vital to use reverb sparingly and carefully.

Hall Reverb

Hall reverb is a reverb that simulates the sound of a large concert hall or church. It has a long decay time and a wide frequency range, making it ideal for creating a rich and spacious sound. Reverb can help smooth the harshness and improve the sound quality when used on harsh vocals.

Plate Reverb

Plate reverb is a reverb that simulates a metal plate's sound. It has a fast decay time and a bright character, making it ideal for creating a smooth and polished sound. When used to rehash vocals, plate reverb can help reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality.

Room Reverb

A room reverb is a type of reverb that simulates the sound of a smaller room. It has a moderate decay time and a balanced frequency range, making it ideal for creating a natural and intimate sound. When used to deharsh vocals, room reverb can help reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality.

Chamber reverb

Chamber reverb simulates the sound of a small, reverberant space such as a chamber or an echo room. It has a bright, short reverb tail that can add a sense of space to vocals without washing them out.


Once you have chosen your favourite type of reverb, it is vital to set the reverb parameters correctly to achieve the desired sound. The most important parameters to adjust are decay time, damping, and wet/dry mix.

Decay Time

Decay time refers to the time it takes for the reverb tail to fade. A longer decay time will result in a more spacious and open sound, while a shorter decay time will result in a tighter and more focused sound. When rehashing vocals, a longer decay time can help smooth out the harshness and improve the overall sound quality.


Damping refers to the amount of high-frequency damping applied to the reverb tail. A higher damping setting will result in a darker and smoother sound, while a lower damping setting will result in a brighter and more lively sound. When rehashing vocals, a higher damping setting can help reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality.

I am Marcus, a music enthusiast who runs a mixing and mastering business. Additionally, I compose insightful articles for my blog and produce music as a member of the techno duo Agravik.
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