How to Create Dreamy Vocals

Lush, dreamy vocals. A number of factors go into achieving what we think of when we think of dreamy vocals, and thankfully most of them are within are control. Let’s cover how to create dreamy vocals in both a performance and the mix.

Dreamy Vocals

Again, are a number of things which can contribute to dreamy vocals, so let’s go through them one by one.

dremay vocals


The most important factor is of course going to be the vocalist themselves.

A vocalist who is either naturally lighter or is capable of delivering the vocals with more air and delicacy is huge in achieving achieving dreamy vocals.

The first example I always think of when I think dreamy vocals is Victoria Legrand of Beach House, specifically singing on my favorite track of theirs, “Myth”:

She has a mezzo-soprano voice which lies between soprano and contralto (the lowest type of female voice). This allows her to comfortably and effectively sing throughout a practically large range which you can hear on their music.

They make it a point to layer octaves in her voice which add to that dreamy quality which I’ll talk about in a moment, but the point is she has that range to do that.

In terms of timbre, she has a brassy edge to her vocals which come out when she puts more force behind her voice. At the same time, she can add a lighter breathiness to her technique which gives it that inherently dreamy quality.

All this to say, when you’re chasing a certain sound, know that a huge part of it is the singer’s natural timbre itself in many cases. Not all vocalists are capable of achieving that sound, and oftentimes the best or your favorite examples of dreamy vocals are largely a product of the vocalist’s unique voice themselves.

Vocal Delivery

The delivery of the voice is also hugely impactful in achieving dreamy vocals.

For instance, singing from the top of the throat produces a sharper tone which is generally what we want to avoid.

The notes should come from a relaxed delivery from deep within your throat, almost from the chest itself.

If the notes feel too weak, try moving the origin slightly higher up in the throat until you find a nice mixture.

Also and this goes without saying, but you’re generally not “belting” to achieve dreamy vocals. To achieve the desired natural breathiness, you need to put less force behind your notes.

You may have much more success in getting away from singing from the chest and mixing in some of the (admittedly) elusive head voice.

Again, some singers will naturally be more familiar with this from practice and may already be more familiar with these terms and this technique.


Outside of the vocal timbre, delivery, and performance itself, reverb has the most instrumental effect in achieving the dreamy vocal effect.

In going back to another Beach House, this time their most popular song, “Space Song”, we can hear the heavy use of plate reverb all over the vocal:

Unlike other types of reverb which simulate different types of natural rooms and environments, plate reverb creates the artificial effect of sending vibrations through a metal plate (hence the name) and capturing them via a microphone.

Plate reverbs like Valhalla Plate are popular on vocals in particular because of their unique and clean sound which creates a depth you cannot replicate with room modeling reverbs.

plate reverb

Plate reverbs share a lot of the qualities of a slapback delay because they are so clean and generally short on timing, typically. I generally like a decay of 0.5 seconds on my plate reverbs to keep things tight and controlled.

You get that slapback effect which in itself creates separation and depth from the dry instance of the vocal, but it has that added metallic reflection which sounds excellent on vocals to create a little depth.

That’s not to say that you can’t use a longer decay on a plate reverb; in fact when you want to create a dreamier quality, you might just turn up the decay to make that vocal seem like it’s coming from even farther away.

It’s also not to say that you can’t work some room reverb into your vocal, as well.

Personally, I always like to have two different reverbs on sends, one with a short decay like a plate or room at 0.5 seconds, and another reverb (typically a room) with a longer decay of close to 2 seconds.

I can then regulate how much of each effect I want via the send knobs (see inserts versus sends). The contrast of both working together creates more layers which is another key in creating that dreamy effect.


I alluded to this earlier in talking about Victoria Legrand’s range, but layering in more ways than one also adds to the dreamy quality.

First, it’s a great idea in general to always double track vocals, if not triple track them. Splitting a couple doubles and sending them wide to support the main vocal/take creates a thicker overall vocal which commands more presence in the mix.

Deliver the same part but pitched up an octave as a panned backing vocal creates a natural depth and adds to the delicate quality of the overall vocal.

You can create an added complexity to the lushness and thickness of the vocal sum as a whole by varying the amount of the plate you’re sending to each track.

For instance, you might want to send more of that plate to the pitched up vocal(s) to soak and send it a bit farther back in the space.

I mentioned I like working with multiple reverbs a moment ago (incidentally check out my guide on how to use reverb on vocals).

Layering multiple reverbs on your vocal is huge in giving it that dreamy quality as it gives the vocal a more encompassing feel as it takes up more width and depth in the mix, surrounding the listener.


Lastly, the instrumentation of the track also plays a huge role in “selling” the dreamy vocals.

This generally means heavily featuring warm guitars, both chords and picked parts, as well as lush and wide synths to create a bed beneath the vocal itself.

The neck pickup on guitar works well for achieving a rounder sound from the strings, with EQ settings (see how to EQ electric guitar) geared toward the warmer end.

I’ve also exclusively talked about using reverb on the vocal to this point, but you should absolutely blend that same reverb or reverbs on some of the instruments in the mix.

Sharing your reverbs between multiple tracks of multiple instrument types via sends helps to sell the idea that this piece of music as a whole exists in this world.

While dreamy vocals and the tracks they’re featured in generally favor a warmer skewing mix in general, this doesn’t mean a muddy mix.

This is a reminder that we want to make sure we keep our reverbs clean via the Abbey Road Reverb trick, especially filtering everything below 400Hz, if not 500-600Hz. I may skew a bit lower to help achieve that warmer dreamy sound, but not to the point where it starts to sound cluttered.

Check out my recent overview of the best reverb settings in general which work well for virtually every level of your mix.

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