Join 30,000 Audio Issues Subscribers and Get Your FREE 10-Step Cheatsheet That Make Your Mixes Sound Awesome Next to Your Favorite Albums, Using the Plug-ins You Already Have

Why Does Your Singer Sound So Congested When He Doesn’t Even Have a Cold?

Flu season is over, but for some reason you can’t figure out why your singer sounds so congested.

It’s like his sinuses are all backed up, and you can’t figure out why his vocals sound so nasally.

He didn’t have a cold when you tracked his vocals, so why does his vocal sound so terrible all of a sudden?

If you’ve had this type of situation, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Like with so many things during recording and mixing, the EQ spectrum has everything to say about how things are going to sound.

With EQ, you can sculpt a vocal sound to your heart’s desire, but sometimes it can get messy.

If you boost certain frequencies, you might bring out a nasal, chesty character to your vocal sound.

Similarly, with subtractive EQ, if you cut at certain frequencies, you might accidentally accent those nasally frequencies, even though you had no intention of doing so.

1 kHz Clean-Up

Usually, a nasal and congested vocal sound is the by-product of too much 1 kHz. 1 kHz gives you a honky sound that sounds great on some instruments. On others, it can sound like a 102 degree flu epidemic.

If you’re running into honkiness problems, the simplest way to get rid of it is to cut at around 1 or 1.2 kHz. That usually clears everything up.

Take -3 dB of 1.2 kHz and call me in the morning.

With subtractive EQ, cuts in the lower mids give the vocals a subjective boost in the higher mids, sometimes accentuating the 1 – 2 kHz area a little too much.

Frequency Masking

Another way is to boost the frequencies above the one that’s giving you trouble. By boosting slightly above 1.2 kHz you’re essentially hiding the honkiness, masking it with the presence from 3 – 5 kHZ.

Both approaches work well. Whether you choose to cut the offending frequency or hide it from the listener, simple EQ tricks like this can give you wonderful results.

Especially when you’re trying to cure a cold for a singer that doesn’t even have one!

For more EQ tricks like these, check out

Image by: G C Lee

Get Your FREE 10-Step Cheatsheet and Make Your Home Studio Mixes Sound Great Next to Your Favorite Albums, Using the Gear You Already Have

*Spam sucks and I will not share your email with anyone.

About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

Read more