EQ’ING VOCALS CHEAT SHEET

Jazz Singer Recording Vocals

OK a few days ago I posted EQ’ING DRUMS CHEAT SHEET. Well today is all about vocals here are some tips that would definitely help you improve your mix. 

Female Vocals

  • 100 Hz – Low End (Take away everything below 100 Hz using a high-pass filter with a 24 dB/octave slope. This cleans up many problem frequencies like mic stand rumble, air popping and other low-frequency noises. On background vocals you can use a lower slope 12 dB/octave HPF and place it around 400 to 500 Hz to free up the low-end and clean up your mix substantially.)
  • 150-350 Hz – Body (Sweep between 150 to 350 Hz to find the body of the female vocal. If the vocal is too boomy or too thick cut here with a medium bandwidth parametric EQ to thin the vocal. Boost to give the vocal some fullness.)
  • 800-1000 Hz – Nasal (Take away a couple of decibels between 800 Hz and 1000 Hz to reduce a nasal sound in the vocal.)
  • 3 kHz – Intelligibility (Boost around 3 or 3.5 kHz for female vocals to increase the intelligibility of the vocal. Use a parametric EQ with a medium to wide bell.)
  • 5-8 kHz – Sibilance (Take away sibilance (e.g. harsh S and T sounds) between 5 and 8 kHz by using a narrow bandwidth parametric EQ.)
  • 10 kHz – Air (You can give the vocal some ‘air’ or ‘space’ by boosting from 10 kHz and up using a shelving EQ with a medium bandwidth of 12dB/octave.)

Male Vocals

  • 80 Hz – Low End (You can give the vocal some ‘air’ or ‘space’ by boosting from 10 kHz and up using a shelving EQ with a medium bandwidth of 12dB/octave.)
  • 120-350 Hz – Body (Sweep between 120 to 350 Hz to find the body of the vocal. If the vocal is too boomy or too thick cut here with a medium bandwidth parametric EQ to thin the vocal. Boost to give the vocal some fullness.)
  • 800-1000 Hz – Nasal (Take away a couple of decibels between 800 Hz and 1000 Hz to reduce a nasal sound in the vocal.)
  • 2 kHz – Intelligibility (Boost around 2 or 2.5 kHz for male vocals to increase the intelligibility of the vocal. Use a parametric EQ with a medium to wide bell.)
  • 5-8 kHz – Sibilance (Take away sibilance (e.g. harsh S and T sounds) between 5 and 8 kHz by using a narrow bandwidth parametric EQ.)
  • 10 kHz – Air (You can give the vocal some ‘air’ or ‘space’ by boosting from 10 kHz and up using a shelving EQ with a medium bandwidth of 12dB/octave.)

Background Vocals

  • 120 Hz – Body (Having many vocals in the background can build up a lot of unwanted frequencies very quickly. You’ll find yourself taking away a lot more in this area rather than boosting it. When the background vocals star all male singers you will get a build up of low frequencies very quickly. It becomes rather full around 120 Hz which you can cut with a narrow to medium wide bell curve. Better yet is to use a high pass filter at a 100 to 120 Hz with a slope of around 12 to 24 dB. This will thoroughly clean up the low-end and make space for other instruments and the lead vocal. When you have all female singers the body or fullness sits around 200 to 240 Hz. Frequencies below that can fill up the ‘Misery’ range pretty quick. It is best to use a high pass filter up to about 140 to 180 Hz. Do make sure the ladies don’t sound too thin. If that’s the case then lower the frequency on the high pass filter a bit. When you have both male and female singers in the background vocals the solutions lie somewhere in the middle. Still you will use a 12 to 24 dB high pass filter between 100 and 160 Hz to clean up the low-end.)
  • 200-350 Hz – Boom (If the background vocals are too boomy you can cut between 200 and 350 Hz with a narrow to medium wide bell curve.)
  • 2.5-4 kHz – Presences (If the background vocals are too much in the foreground you can control this with a narrow to medium Q bell curve and cut a few decibels between 2.5 and 4 kHz. If on the other hand they are too distant or not intelligible you can give this range a slight boost with a wide bell curve. With a lot of vocals present a cut in this range can give some air or transparency to the background vocals. Also ear-piercing or irritating frequencies can build up quickly in this frequency range. Again a narrow to medium bell curve cut will help you control this.)
  • 5 kHz – Clarity (A very tiny boost at around 5 kHz can bring some crispness to the vocals if they sound too muffled and when you can’t get rid of this by cutting in the 200 – 350 Hz range.)
  • 6-9 kHz – Sibilance (Aggressive S and T sounds can become a big problem in background vocals. Especially if these are all sung by the same artist because characteristic frequencies in the singer’s voice are accentuated with every overdub. Find the annoying frequency between 6 and 9 kHz and cut with a narrow to medium bell curve. Don’t be afraid to use a 6 – 12 dB per octave low pass filter at around 8 to 9 kHz to see if this reduces any extraneous or shrill high frequencies.)

 

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By | 2017-04-22T06:56:47+00:00 October 6th, 2015|Blog, EQing, Mixing, Vocal Techniques, Vocals|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. ig February 22, 2017 at 8:26 pm - Reply

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