If you’ve ever found yourself going down a rabbit hole on YouTube, it’s for a valid reason. The YouTube algorithm learns your preferences as you watch and is quick to present you with new options for related videos based on other users’ preferences and viewership. For car guys, it’s usually reviews or mod videos, for gamers it’s game room tours and walkthroughs, and for music fans, it’s a mix of music videos and YouTube-exclusive covers.
Because of the wide variety of options available, it’s no wonder the ones that surface the most often and tend to perform the best on their platform are the ones that have the highest quality. While I’m not saying you should drop everything, go out this second, and buy the gear your favorite YouTube performer is using, getting comparable results is all about working at the same level they are.
Let’s take a look at how you might do that…
Vocal Recording Hardware
Anyone who works in a studio will tell you it’s much easier to capture things right in the first place than it is to try and fix them in the mix. This goes for guitars, drums, and all other kinds of instrumentation, but it rings especially true for vocals.
Or YouTube covers, you’ll sometimes see some major microphones with equally stunning price tags, but far more often you’ll see professional microphones that are geared toward the entry-level/mid-level audience. Microphones like the Shure SM7B and Neumann TLM 103 are affordable options that sound much more expensive than they are.
These cheaper options help keep production costs down for material that for most people won’t directly make a lot of revenue, but more importantly, they keep the playing field level. Anyone that can invest a few hundred dollars on a microphone and interface can theoretically compete with everyone else on the site.
Professional Mixing Services
If you’d like to really “wow” people who come across your YouTube channel or even just a single video, get it professionally mixed.
You don’t need someone with a GRAMMY nomination per se, but getting a professional mixer involved before release can save you from reworking something years later. The videos that have done this on YouTube have a clearly higher valued “feel” to them than their competition, and just like better video quality, better audio quality keeps fans engaged.
And if you’re not ready to add another member to your team? There’s still a DIY approach available to you.
DIY YouTube Vocal Mixes
Vocal production and mixing is a massive undertaking that often takes years for professionals to really nail, but there are plenty of resources to help you start working toward their quality. By finding this post, I’m guessing you’ve already started down that path.
The easiest way to start mixing vocals beyond the gear and your digital audio workstation (DAW) is to find your perfect vocal mixing channel strip. Resources like the Howard Benson Vocals plugin give you quick and easy ways to get a pro’s sound right within your session.
Don’t believe me? Check out this example from Skar of Equilibrium:
See how much easier the process of mixing a vocal can be when all of the options are laid right out for you? Plugins should make your mix goals easier to achieve so you can spend less time working on them and more time making new content!
Getting Deeper With Vocals
Vocal mixing is only half the battle – you need to know and understand vocal production and how it affects your videos too if you really want a successful cover. Just listen to your favorite songs today and see how many rely on a single vocal track – my guess would be very few.
Right now, we’ve got an incredible resource called The Ultimate Vocal Producer’s Handbook to help guide you through some common writing and production roadblocks many producers hit along the way. Paired with the right mix, your next YouTube video can sound bigger & better than ever!