grpetz wrote:is there a certain DB reading that it should sit at, like -20db, -15db verses how load the overall music should be at decibels?
grpetz wrote:I'm sure that EARS would be a good place to start, instead of meters?
Yes. You wouldn't look at the meters to determine how the vocals sit in the mix. You might look at the meters to determine if there is clipping, tho.
As curteye alluded to, there is no definitve answer. Nobody can say, "put your vocal fader at x, and go from there." That's not how it's done.
The things that help vocals sit right in the mix:
1) Good vocalist
2) Good mic (even if all else is in place, vocals recorded on a [as one ex.] U47, will sit better in a mix than vocals recorded on an SM-57)
3) Good signal chain, ie - mic pre, good compressor with proper settings, good eq (not always a necessity)
4) Good room
Remember - your vocal recording (and everything else for that matter) is only as good as the weakest link in the chain.
In the good ol' days of SSL and Neve consoles, Studer tape machines and great anaolog gear, a vocalist would be compressed on the way in, compressed again in the mix (not always, but usually slightly, at least), then compressed again when printing to 2-track (not individually, but there was almost always a comp on the m.bus), and then compressed again during mastering (usually). This (assuming done properly) along with #s 1 - 4 and some fader moves, all helped the vocals sit right in the mix.
Hope this helps.