Vocal muddiness is a frequent problem.
We all want clarity in our vocals. We want the vocal to shine through the mix without the low-end cluttering it up. It’s such an important part of the mix, and we don’t it to come off muddy and boomy.
But what can you do to fix muddy vocals?
I got a question from a reader who had this exact issue. He was having problems with too much low-end, causing the vocals to sound boomy.
Here’s his question:
I’m recording with a condenser mic and I’m using the Auralex Mudguard to eliminate reflections but the vocals sound muggy and low. I tried to put a tube amp effect on it but it makes no difference. Can you help me?
I’m answering this question without hearing the audio he has recorded so I’m somewhat limited in my advice. However, there are a few different things you can do to clear up your vocals in order to make them less boomy and muddy.
1. Scrap that tube amp effect
That probably won’t do anything to help you clear up your vocals. If anything it might add more lower mids, causing even more boominess.
2. Filter out the low-end
If you’re recording vocals with a microphone that has a low-frequency roll-off, use it. It might be enough to clear up the rumble and low-end that’s causing that extra boom in your vocals.
If that doesn’t work, use a high-pass filter to remove the frequencies below about 100 Hz.Vocals don’t really occupy the range below 100 Hz, so there’s no reason to have extra unneeded energy cluttering up your vocal recording.
3. EQ out the muddiness
If that’s not enough, use an equalizer to cut the extra boominess from the vocal. There might be extra muddiness building up around 200 Hz. Take a medium to narrow cut around that area and listen to where the vocal clears up. Muddiness can be a really big problem, but it’s not always that difficult to solve.
As a reference, here’s an example of what an EQ curve would look like when you’re trying to cut out that boominess and mud.
Sometimes you only need to filter out the low-end and add a little cut to the low mids to clear everything up.
What do YOU Recommend?
Now it’s time for the audience participation part of this post. Have you tackled a similar problem in your mixes? What did you end up doing? Did you solve it all with EQ or did you take different measures? Let us know in the comments!
EQ solves A LOT of problems. It’s the #1 processor when it comes to fixing bad sounding instrument. Understanding EQ is a great resource that teaches you how to work the frequency spectrum, complete with real world problems and practical solutions. Check it out here.