B2 – E6 (3 octaves, 2 notes and 1 semitone)
Light Lyric Tenor
- Able to sing with a somewhat clean legato
- Registers are somewhat equal in development
- Able to “project” due to correct jaw position
- Transitions into falsetto can be within the same key
- Able to sing through songs with most of the pitch correct
- Support is absent from his voice entirely
- Placement tends to cause issues with pitch outside of his mix
- Never sings with a lifted soft palate
- Singing is generally very throat based
- The larynx is almost never neutral
- Unable to mix without pushing the voice out with volume instead
- Falsetto is generally airy and shows big contrast in volume compared to the rest of the voice
- Chest voice is very airy and lacks projection
- Every register is accompanied by shallowness and airiness in tone
- Bad diction is present causing his throat to sound closed
- Lower register: One of Leo’s least showcased registers. Even around F#3/G3 notes are usually unsupported, airy, and accompanied by a non-neutral larynx.
- Mixed register: Leo’s most showcased register. Notes in this register are often throat based and placed in his nose the whole way up with his larynx starting to rise around E4.
- Upper register: Debatably Leo’s least showcased register. A throat based, nasal, overly airy falsetto that is barely truly used.
Leo is no stranger to this aspect of his voice, often adding runs to songs. Despite this, Leo’s runs are never done with any precision or accuracy causing them to come out sloppy or done with no true thought for the melody. The result is thus vocal lines that become too soft and quiet in tone quality and volume, where the pitch is not defined and the runs sound more like slides. He is unable to sing runs with any sort of separation in pitch from note to note, instead opting to wander around the center of the pitch sliding from one note to the other without a direction, as heard in “Because Of You“, “그리워 그리워“, “I Miss You So Much” and “B.O.D.Y.”
One of VIXX’s two main vocalists, Leo is often praised for his high notes and “strong, stable” voice. Gifted with a voice that’s got a lot of potential both in range and tone quality, he is able to handle singing very difficult vocal lines even prior to training. He’s always shown that his voice is naturally high and as a very light tenor, he’s able to continuously sing in a high range despite not having proper breath support. Regardless of that though, he’s been able to showcase a range of full 3 octaves which show how much potential his instrument naturally has.
Starting from his lower register, Leo has shown an extreme lack of development here with notes even as high for a male like him like F#3 and G3 lacking any actual support. Instead these notes are airy, placed in his nose, and a non-neutral larynx position all the way down to B2. Leo’s issues may be attributed to the fact that he seems to have a rather shy personality which comes off in both his speech and his singing. As such, he tends to whisper a lot when speaking instead of using his thyroarytenoid muscles in his vocal cords. This results in Leo lacking any presence of an actual chest voice, which causes his voice to be very soft and airy throughout the whole third octave from C3 to B3. This can be heard in the Eb3’s in “My Everything”, and “뒷모습“, C#3 in “차가운 밤에” and “I Don’t Want to be an Idol.” Adding onto this, he not only sings with a high larynx, but the airiness and soft tone he uses to speak also cause him to speak with a high larynx. This translates into his singing where he whispers a lot of his chest voice with a high larynx and then pushes it down in order to create tone due to the lack of development of his chest voice, as heard in the Eb3 and B2 in his musical performance of “Matahari.” The final product of this lack of development is a full of octave of his voice where there’s barely any true tone or color that can be heard.
Leo’s mix also shows a lack of true development: being throat based even before his first passagio with his larynx already shooting up even before E4. Throughout his mixed voice, due to lack of development of a chest voice, he tends to sing with a very bright tone and with a lot of lightness throughout. So in order to create more volume in his mixed voice, he compresses his throat around his larynx to force out more sound with unhealthy tension. As he ascends he begins to push and yell his notes, but due to singing with correct jaw positioning these notes are “projected” instead of being trapped in his throat and nose as seen in his A4’s in “Beautiful Liar“, “대준돼“, “To Heaven” and “I Don’t Want to be an Idol“, is Bb4’s in “Mirotic“, “Love Letter“, “Secret Night“, and “Outlaws Of Love“, his B4’s in “Please“, “Voodoo Doll (live radio)“, “청춘이 아파“, “마지막 승부“and “G.R.8.U.” (and the live picnic version), his C5’s in “Eternity“, “Light Me Up” and “Error“, his C#5’s in “Mirotic” and “Love Letter“, his D5 in “Chained Up“, and his Eb5 in “Spider.” Another issue that he faces in this range is the use of a larynx vibrato that causes a tense, almost painful sound in his belts.
The issue of compression in his mixed voice isn’t present only in his higher notes, but can happen even in the lower part of his range. In order to compensate for the lack of volume, he’ll use a lot of throat tension to push his voice out and that causes him to not sound relaxed or in control of his voice. Instead he sounds shouty and his overall tone lacks roundness. His voice for the most part just sounds very constricted and tense, showing that there’s no real point in his mixed voice range where he’s able to sing without tension or by being relaxed. This can be heard in the Eb4 in “Please“, E4 in “Matahari“, F4 in “Words to Say“, F#4 in “G.R.8.U.“, and the G4’s in “이별공식.” Not only that, but even when singing in a lower range he tends to sing the most closed version of vowels, being unable to place his voice anywhere but his nose. He tends not to open his mouth much and use very closed throat shaping when singing softer which cause his voice to sound very muffled.
Leo’s falsetto is barely explored, when used it is usually nasal and throat based. Due to Leo’s unhealthy placement, he tends to often drift off the center of pitch and go flat even on basic phrasing as heard in “Snowflower.” On one hand, he is able to transition into his falsetto quite easily and most of the time his transitions stay within the original key center of songs, but due to the excessive airiness in his voice he’s unable to find the center of pitch when singing in his falsetto. This can be heard in “청춘이 아파“, “Secret Night“, “Love Letter” and “눈물이 뚝뚝 .” Since he does not connect his vocal cords properly, he’s been unable to develop the correct muscle coordination and strength to produce more volume and dynamics in his upper register. Thus he’s only able to sing with a falsetto and has never shown the ability to sing with a head voice. As he reaches his higher range further into the fifth octave and up to the sixth octave, his falsetto becomes a lot more strangled and squeezed, being very thin in tone as heard in the High Note Battle between VIXX, BtoB and MYNAME.
Throughout his whole range, musically speaking, Leo fails to deliver songs with any sort of true connection simply due to the fact that he is unable to sing with a good sense of dynamics. When he sings, most of the time even in the fourth octave, he tends to opt for an airy and raspy tone, which is very quiet and can cause his vocal cords to become irritated overtime. The one other volume he goes for is a very loud push of air that he’ll go for in his mixed voice, so in between these two volumes there’s nothing. He’s unable to sing with any other type of dynamics that aren’t fortissimo or piano. He has shown improvement in his pitch overtime which may be due to confidence or simply using more of his vocal cords when singing, where he’s now able to sing songs with a more centered pitch throughout than earlier in his career. However before he debuted, in 2008, it is possible to hear that Leo used to sing with a more neutral larynx than he does now.
Despite his weaknesses, Leo is a vocalist who’s full of potential. Not a lot of untrained tenors can sing as high as he can and that is impressive in itself. He’s always had a very wide range where he’s able to sing, however without fine tuning there’s a good chance he could end up damaging his voice and not being able to sing the way he’s been used to anymore. In order to protect his voice and keep his career as a vocalist, going back to the basics and learning to first breathe properly for singing and then addressing issues with the development of his vocal cords and his speech would help him develop his singing much further if he’s able to find the right instructor who can help him better his overall vocal technique.
Leo tends to not approach music with a sense of creativity, tending to sing without any changes in dynamics and usually only adds high belts to his covers of songs. Leo’s main vocal aspect is adding high notes to his vocal performances. He doesn’t rely much on runs, changes in tone quality, changes in melodic parts of songs or rhythmic changes, relying mostly on singing as loudly and as high he can to show off that side of his voice.
Vocal Range Video(s)
Video by: Mariel Ang
Best Vocal Performance(s)
Analyzed by Haruko & Ahmin