Juice WRLD took the music industry by storm with his unique melodic flows and raw emotional vulnerability. While he passed away tragically young in 2019, his influence is still felt today through his iconic songs. One key aspect that made Juice WRLD's songs impactful was his vocal mixing style. His vocals cut through the mix clearly while still retaining a sense of airiness and space. This article will explain exactly how to get that Juice WRLD vocal sound in your mixes.
The first step is to get the best possible recording you can. Use a high-quality mic and pair it with the cleanest audio interface preamps. If you're working with vocal takes that weren't recorded perfectly, don't worry. The processing given here can still take them a long way.
Use a High Pass Filter
We want to remove any rumbling low frequencies from our vocals that could muddy the mix. Set your high pass filter plug-in to cut distracting sub-frequencies. It keeps the warmth of the vocal intact while removing the distraction.
Tame Sibilance with the De-Esser
Next up is taming sibilance. Harsh "ess" sounds can grate in a mix. Load up your favorite de-esser plugin and put it in detect mode. Solo your vocal and sweep through frequencies until you hone in on the central problem sibilance range.
For Juice's style of vocals, aim to catch sibilance by setting up a medium amount of gain reduction. Listen carefully to ensure you're only reducing the true sibilance without impacting the body of the vocals.
Light compression helps add punch while controlling dynamic variations in the vocal. Use a fast attack time and a medium release. Set the threshold so that only louder peaks trigger a few dB of compression. Add a touch of makeup gain to compensate for volume loss. The key is to compress gently, allowing most vocal dynamics to shine through.
Saturation adds pleasing harmonic coloration. Add your favorite tape, tube, or console emulation plug-in and drive the input signal just to the point before obvious distortion starts. Back it off a hair, and you have the right amount of richness.
Doubling through the Delay Throw
Try using a simple delay to subtly "double" the lead vocal to avoid a traditional double-tracked vocal. Set your delay time to match your song tempo, like 1/16th or 1/8th notes. Keep the delay mix level low, and use a single repeat. It adds thickness and dimension that floats nicely behind the main vocal.
Give Space using Reverb
While Juice's vocals are not overly wet, they still have space and air from quality reverbs. Using a hall reverb plugin, start with a decay time of around 4.5 seconds. Bring the wet reverb signal to taste to find a nice balance between dry and wet vocals.
Boost Using the EQ
Finally, add strategic boosts in the 1-4kHz range to increase clarity and presence. Also, consider cutting some "boxy" frequencies like 200-400 Hz if the vocal sounds dull. Don't go crazy boosting, as too much EQ can make things harsh.
No Juice WRLD song is complete without his signature adlibs peppering tracks. He also often layered backing harmonies behind leads. When working with adlibs, add more delay throw and reverb than leads. Then, pan ad-libs that are more comprehensive for energy. Apply a low pass filter to give the mix a darker tone and then compress for consistency.
Putting It All Together
With this chain dialed in correctly, you should have well-controlled, soulful lead vocals with sheen and character. The delay throw and lush reverb provide depth and atmosphere. Boost compression for added definition if needed. Most importantly, adjust the volume balances to ensure your vocal sits nicely against the instrumental. Feel free to automate volume levels throughout sections requiring more or less prominence.
By learning how your favorite artists achieved their signature styles, you inch closer to recreating the sound yourself. Juice WRLD's vocal mixing relied on clean recordings, strategic layering, impactful effects, and authentic delivery. Try slowly introducing each component we covered to guide your vocals closer to your goals.
It may take some trial and error to nail everything down. However, if you want to get the Juice WRLD sound easily, you can use our Juice Wrld Vocal Preset to get the same result. It will save you time having to adjust each setting manually. You can use it with your favorite DAW since it uses all stock plugins. Get recording and mixing the perfect sound with our vocal presets.