EQ’ing a vocal track can be frustrating. Sometimes it seems to sound like it was stuck on later, and doesn’t flow with the rest of the track.
Below are the six frequency ranges you can start with when you are in trouble and need to figure out how to equalize your vocal so that it sits better with your song.
It goes without saying that no amount of EQ’ing is going to fix a badly recorded vocal. So be sure to have a clean and well-recorded vocal before you start mixing it.
1. The Too Low-Range
Usually, vocals can be filtered quite severely in the lowest range. Flip on the low-cut filter on the microphone when you’re recording to cut out the low-end rumble. Usually, this cuts at 75 or so but during mixing, you can filter it out even more.
Obviously, this depends on the singer’s voice but I usually go for a little over 100 Hz. Listening is critical here because you don’t want to cut out the singer’s character, especially if he has a good presence there in the lower register. For female singers, you can go even higher. But be careful of Barry White and Leonard Cohen type singers, they may need that extra rumble in their voice.
2. The Thick 150 Hz
For rounding out a vocal and making it more thick and full I would search around the 150 Hz area. Some singers sound thin and nasally and can do with a little meat on their vocal chords. Boosting here can give the vocal more punch.
3. Honky-Boxy 4-500 Hz
If your vocal track lacks definition and sounds boxy you can sweep around this area, even going so far as up to 800 Hz. Remember that when cutting you should have your Q pretty narrow because you are trying to repair your recording, and cutting too broadly from the frequency spectrum will severely compromise the natural sound of the vocal.
4. Nasalness at 1 kHz
If your vocalist sounds like they have a bit of a cold then cut around the 1 kHz area to get rid of it. Too much of a cut will sound worse than just having a cold so make sure you’re subtle about it.
5. In Your Face Presence of the 5 kHz
If your singer doesn’t seem to be cutting through the mix, he might need to be presented to 5Khz. It will push the track a little more to the front and give the singer a much-needed presence.
6. Sibilance Around the 7 kHz
Some people have more sibilance than others. The s’ sounds have much more energy than other consonants. If your singer has an excess of S’s you can try cutting around 7 kHz.
It will make the S’s less pronounced and won’t make them jump out too much. Better yet, inserting a de-esser or a compressor that only compresses the ‘s’ area can work even better.
Male sibilance is typically 3-7k Hz and female sibilance is typically 5-9k Hz so there needs to be some experimentation to find that annoying ‘s’ sound.
Your Vocal Sound Won’t Matter If Your Mix is Muddy!
It’s a common problem plaguing home studio engineers and musicians like yourself that want to create professional sounding recordings but still hit their head against a wall of muddy boom in their mixes.
If you want to make clean mixes where you can hear every instrument clearly, you’re going to need this!
Inside my free EQ course, you’ll learn to understand every part of the EQ spectrum.
- You’ll learn to clean up the muddiness in your mixes.
- You’ll discover where to get rid of the boxy cardboard sound in your drums.
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And best of all, you’ll finally get your vocals to explode out of your speakers instead of drowning behind your instruments.
Now, instead of wandering around your mix trying to EQ without knowing where to look you can actually learn where your problematic frequencies are when you need to fix them.
Ultimate Guide to EQ
Alternatively, you can check out my premium video course, EQ Strategies – The Ultimate Guide to EQ.
Here’s what Jeff Smith had to say about the Ultimate Guide to EQ:
“The EQ tips that have helped the most have to do with the bass guitar and kick drum. I’m able to get a clean and tight low end on this song I’m working on. I cut some of the mud out of the kick and bass, then I let the kick have a little extra 50 Hz and added a little bit around 800 Hz on the bass guitar. That made the low-end clear and punchy. This song has an acoustic guitar as one of the main instruments and I decided to put a HPF up to 200 Hz and added a little bit around 3 kHz and it sounds good so far. This is a great guide to get things moving in the right direction!!! Thank You!!!!” – Jeff Smith, Mixing Engineer (Read more testimonials here).
Here’s just a sample of what you’ll learn:
- A frequency-by-frequency rundown of the complete EQ spectrum, with characteristics of each frequency range to teach you how to recognize frequencies on your own.
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- Graphical representations of where your instruments lie in the EQ spectrum
- EQ insights from Grammy award winning engineers (you might not like what they have to say…)
- When to use EQ and when to use compression
- How to EQ kick drums to get rid of muddy resonances while keeping them thick and punchy
- Using filters to reduce bleed on drums to create a tighter drum sound
- EQ’ing overheads and room mics to make the compliment the overall drum sound
- EQ’ing groups of both acoustic and electric guitars to give each one their own space in the frequency spectrum
- How to use EQ presets on instrument groups to your advantage with some minor tweaking
- Using a bass amp simulator in addition to EQ to make the bass cut through the mix
- Using mid/side EQ on backing vocals to make room for the lead vocals in a dense vocal mix
- The importance of using EQ on reverbs to avoid cluttering up your mix
This course has helped more than a thousand engineers create better-sounding mixes with better EQ skills. Don’t just take my word for it, here’s Kern Ramsdell from Home Recording Weekly who reviewed the course:
“Bjorgvin knows what we need to know, and he shares it all, in easy to understand, easy to digest bites. Bjorgvin explains filtering, boosting, cutting, notch filters, bell curves, and “Q”, how to “sweep” or find frequencies that need cutting, and so much more, and all of it in very good detail, with audio examples. “EQ Strategies for EQ’ing a song”…This important video is an hour of deep EQ teaching, so please do not skip this part! Bjorgvin opens up a real multi track session and goes through the tracks, one at a time, and explains exactly what each EQ is doing. Bjorgvin begins with a quick “before and after” play, without EQ and then with EQ, just to demonstrate how powerful EQ really is. The difference is nothing short of incredible. Bjorgvin is a great teacher, too, and that really lends to the level of training that is unfolding here inside EQ Strategies. If you are trying to wrap your head around EQ, how to apply EQ in order to get way better tracks and much better sounding complete songs, EQ Strategies is what you are looking for.” -Kern Ramsdell
Bonus: Compression Masterclass
EQ and compression go hand in hand to create great mixes. Those two processors will take your mixes from rough recordings to punchy mixes.
Therefore, the EQ Strategies Plus package comes with a Compression Masterclass.
You’ll learn, among other things:
- How to use all those buttons on your compressor
- The minor math that helps you understand the ratio better
- The difference between a FET, VCA and Opto compression types (and how incredibly important it is to experiment with each style)
- How to know the difference in compression styles between different compression emulations
- How to use compression to smooth out dynamics (and how you can see it visually)
- How to use the attack and release to create shape
- How to use serial compression to squeeze dynamics without squashing the signal
- How to use bus compression to glue your instruments together
- How to use parallel compression for extra punch
- How to use different compression types in series to achieve different goals
- How to use multi-band compression to affect different frequency areas
- How to use mix buss compression to glue your mix together from the start
- How the beginner’s mind helps you get more creative with compression
Better EQ Skills or Your Money Back…Guaranteed!
I’m not interested in keeping your money if you didn’t learn anything.
So, if you have doubts whether EQ Strategies will help you with your productions, don’t worry. I offer a full, no-risk, money back guarantee.
If you are not satisfied with your purchase, let me know and I will happily refund your money, no questions asked. You can even try them for a full year before deciding.
If you’re not happy, I’m not happy.
Click here to grab the Ultimate Guide to EQ and start creating separation between your instruments and clarity in your mixes.
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