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Backup vocals can add a lot of depth and strength to a worship team. But they can also muddy the mix if you’re not careful.

The challenge often comes when you try to make every single vocalist sound perfect and have their own place in the mix.

Surprisingly, that isn’t always the best way to approach mixing for backup singers.

Remove presence from the backup vocals.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a great vocal team sound is take away some of the presence of the backup vocalists. I know that sounds a little strange, but there is the bigger concept to consider.

The worship leader or lead vocalist should almost always stand out as the primary voice in the mix (of course, this depends on your worship style and leadership preference).

By adding more clarity and separation in your backup vocal mix, you’re actually forcing them to compete with the lead vocal.

EQ Settings for Backup Vocals

A lot of the vocal presence is found in the high-mids range – around 800 Hz to 4 kHz.

If you want to blend the backup vocals and allow the lead vocals to shine through the mix, try a wide cut (low Q around 2) somewhere in this high-mid range.

Alternatively, you can try rolling off some of the highs with a high shelf filter to keep backing vocals out of the way of the lead vocal.

This trick might not work for every worship team or style, but blending the backup vocals can thicken up the overall vocal sound while being less distracting in the mix.

Experiment with this EQ tip by putting all your backing vocals in a subgroup and EQ that group, or EQ each individual vocal mic channel. You will probably find that each vocalist will require a little bit different EQ, but working with the high-mid ranges should get you in the right spot for success with this tip.

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About the Author

James Wasem

James Wasem is the author of Great Church Sound: A Guide for the Volunteer. James has been designing, installing, and operating sound systems for 20+ years and he has a passion for helping church sound team volunteers deliver great sound.