Justin Bieber is one of the top-selling music artists, with over 150 million records sold. His signature smooth and silky vocal sound is instantly recognizable and much sought after by aspiring singers and producers. While Bieber’s natural vocal tone plays a big part, his voice's mixing and effects processing also helps it stand out in the mix. Let’s get into the steps to mix your vocals like Justin Beiber.
Understand The Mixing Chain
Approaching any vocal mix helps to understand the typical effects chain. It includes compression to balance the dynamics, EQ to shape the tonal quality, De-Essing to control sibilance and delay, and revered to provide depth to the sound. The right blend of these effects is critical to professional-quality results that sound like a Justin Beiber mix.
Get High Input Levels
Before adding any effects, the foundational step is getting good input levels by setting your preamp gain properly. Bieber's vocals are usually tracked fairly hot to maximize signal strength going into the mixer without distorting or clipping. Record at the loudest performance level while tracking. Use high-gain preamp and microphones to capture a detailed source. This clean yet strong source signal gives mixing freedom as it leaves enough headroom for processing.
Adjust Compression Settings
Strategic compression makes Bieber’s vocal parts sound intimate yet focused while allowing dynamics to feel expressive. Try a touch of fast attack compression with a 3:1 ratio, grabbing 2-3 db peaks. It will tighten up the performance and flatter the vocals. Play around with the threshold setting for a dynamic sound. Add some makeup gain and control peaks. It prevents quick fading or pumping. Try different parameters and levels until you get the sound you want.
Fine Tune EQ
The correct frequency balancing brings vocals to the forefront of any mix. Push the high-pass filter up to 140 to add airy details or to articulate the sound. It will also help your voice sound clearer in the mix. A dynamic EQ can hone in on harsh resonances, while a wide parametric boost adds sparkle. Scooping midrange clears space for the voice to shine.
Justin Bieber's sound is known for its correct pitch, which adds to the melody of the mix. Pitch correction will help you fix a rough note for that perfect sound.
Select the Right Key
Even the best-recorded vocals will sound off-pitch without proper auto-tuning to fit the instrumental key. Bieber songs are perfectly tuned, so the vocals snap into tune with the beat flawlessly. Using a basic auto-tune plugin can help you match Bieber's pitch. Set the track’s key and scale, then tweak the retune speed for seamless pitch transitions between notes.
Mix Level Balance
Adjusting the lead vocal level balance is critical, with effects dialed in for precision and clarity. Bieber's voice always cuts through the instrumental mix to maintain the spotlight. The vocal should stand out of the mix without overpowering everything else. Try to resist the urge to keep pushing its level higher once it’s prominently audible.
Adjust Tonal EQ
Pop needs some aggressive boost to its top end to sound more profound and expansive. It is wise to start with boosts and cuts of around 3dB or less than that. Adding a couple of boosts in the upper-mids helps the voice to cut through in the mix.
Add Delay and Reverb
Delay and reverb recreate a sense of space while adding a lushness to the lead vocal track. Bieber's sound is known for its unique reverbs and echo effects. From sweeping long tails to quick modulated delays, these effects add to the sound.
For delays, use separate quarter notes, dotted eighth and triplet delay lines blended for that subtle effect. You can also automate delay times to create a dynamic sound.
Enhance Background Vocals
Bieber's tracks have complex and tight arrangements with perfect background vocals as support. Start by busing the backgrounds to an aux track. Here, you can EQ them differently from the leads to achieve an expansive sound. Try to adjust the low end and spread out the voice to prevent the backgrounds from clouding the leads. It will create an excellent background that complements the lead vocals perfectly.
Attention to the mixing process is necessary to achieve Justin's silky sound. To avoid the hassle and have a great mix with just a few clicks, you can use our Justin Bieber Vocal Preset. Our vocal presets use stock plugins, so you can easily use them in your preferred DAW. Spend less time looking for a workaround and more time recording using our vocal presets.