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Lowpass on vocals Condenser Microphones
Old 18th September 2011
  #1
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Lowpass on vocals

Hey Slutz,

Im just curious... How far do you go down lowpassing your vocals?

Do u even lowpass at all?!?

I myself have a lot of clients that want mixdowns of their Home recorded songs and often the vocals have a very harsh high end, hence I lowpass a lot...

How about u? Any other tips on getting the harsh highend smooth?

Or any other Filtering tips?


Danny
Old 18th September 2011
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

I never lowpass lead vocals. If anything I boost the highs. If there are some frequencies in there you dont like, find them and notch them out, but dont just low pass the whole thing.
Old 18th September 2011
  #3
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woodnote's Avatar
 

There's so much important information up there that affects the sound. It must have to sound some kind of horrible for me to low-pass them. Obviously it's hard to say without hearing anything, but at least personally I've never run into a situation where the vocal was recorded so horribly that it required low-passing.
Old 18th September 2011
  #4
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Lowpass on vocals

Hey Danny! I'm sure your using the satson for this yeah? Remember when getting advice about this question, try and account for 1)whether or not they have had to treat many poorly recorded home based vocals, and 2)whether or not they've used the lowpass on the satson. I say that because I'm guessing your going to have most folks tellng you "I would never low pass!" and they frankly aren't fit to comment unless they have obliged my enumerated points.

That said:

I find just shy of 14k can really help take the edge off the brittleness on a lead vocal. Basically that's a quick turn counter clockwise one segment or so. BG vox are a bit more forgiving, I'll turn em to a bout the 3 o'clock position, maybe a bit less. This has the added benefits of both reducing the conflicting freqs (which helps them not to detract from the intelligability of the lead), but also helps push the background vocals... Into the background.

If you find you are losing too much "air" I've been having great luck getting it back w v-series eq4. Around 1.5-2db of 15k will normally suffice... Other (cheap/free) option would be the 1973 by stillwell.

Use these in conjunction w a bit of spl de-verb to eliminate the evidence of the bad room between words (I like it better than a gate..) and you can produce some surprisingly pro results!

Good luck w it!
Old 18th September 2011
  #5
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I low pass many things ITB. Here's an earlier thread on low passing vocals in this rap hip hop engineering section

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/rap-h...ng-vocals.html

Here's a good thought from this other huge thread in another section.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
I'd like to add another (seemingly) well kept secret for getting a good ITB mix :

Analog is very forgiving and sweetening to the high end of audio. Digital (generally) not so much. Knowing how to deal with that problem is KEY to getting a good ITB mix.

Many years ago when talking with an engineer (the slide rule kind, not the faderjocky kind) who designs the stuff we use, he asked me if I would ever do a 2" analog mix on a Neve without using HPF's. I said "no, they are essential to cleaning out the mud and getting a tight and open sounding mix". He said "Good. In the same respect, you shouldn't be doing an ITB mix without using LPF's either". Same problem, opposite end of the spectrum. 180 degree problem. The buildup on a super accurate HF's, what you put in is what you get out, digital playback system is equally destructive to getting a smooth top end as LF mud is to getting a clean mix on the bottom.

As to how to do that, what to use where and where to set your LPF's, I'll leave that to your own experimenting. I can't deliver it all in a nice neat package now, can I???
Old 18th September 2011
  #6
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Storyville's Avatar
I can't think of any time I've low-passed a lead vocal without using it as a special effect. Digital or analog.

Don't get me wrong, I seldom do a mix where a few things aren't being low-passed. I think Dr. Bill put it perfectly - it's very important to opening up and tightening up a mix.

However, there are more tactful ways to "warm" a vocal or clear away harshness.
Old 18th September 2011
  #7
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rickrock305's Avatar
 

I kinda like a lo pass filter on vocals sometimes.
Old 18th September 2011
  #8
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Don't get me worng guys I don't tend to lowpass vocals I record myself or vocals I received of customers that are somewhat professional!

But Im not in the situation to only deal with professionals... I get a lot of stuff recorded with rode nt1s etc.

I usually use a transient designer instead of that SPL dverb (as far as I know it's just a limited transientdesigner)

Story: I would like to hear what tricks u use to tame a harsh highend, I mean we all know u can deess and stuff but what's ur secret? (If u want to share of course)

This really is a struggling point for me, I mean the customers are happy with what I do with their songs but Im just not that satisfied with the high end sometimes...

Old 18th September 2011
  #9
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Danny Downer's Avatar
And btw. I use the satson that's right and Im not going down that low usually im talking maybe 16 kHz the highest...
Old 18th September 2011
  #10
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Rule of thumb states that you normally lowpass things that you wish to push away from the listener. In most cases, if not all cases, you don't want to do that with lead vocals.

If the highs are too harsh, you are better off targeting the harshest frequencies, and reduce them with EQ. Alternatively, you can also try putting the recordings through a processor that may help to tone down the amount of harshness you hear.
Old 18th September 2011
  #11
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PettyCash View Post
Rule of thumb states that you normally lowpass things that you wish to push away from the listener. In most cases, if not all cases, you don't want to do that with lead vocals.

If the highs are too harsh, you are better off targeting the harshest frequencies, and reduce them with EQ. Alternatively, you can also try putting the recordings through a processor that may help to tone down the amount of harshness you hear.
Im aware of that Im not untrained or a hobbyist...

the problem is that sometimes a little lowpassing works better for me than say a really high shelf and as u see a lot of people are doing it too! And rick rock aint nobody for example

But thanks for ur advice!

P.S. thats exactly what I want to hear, what devices do u prefer for taiming harsh highs...

Really instead of explaining how it's not working rather explain how u make it work! (Goes out to everybody)
Old 18th September 2011
  #12
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I guess he was talking about dessing...

Sometimes you can deess pretty hard and then bring back some high end with an Eq.
Other than that, manual automations
Old 18th September 2011
  #13
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Lowpass on vocals

I neglected to mention another recent tool of choice:

Hofa iq-eq. It's a dynamic eq. The upper band can be changed from peaking to shelving. Leave it unboosted and unattenuated, roll it down to around 11k and set the threshold to taste- I like to go straight to 100 and then back off to where it sounds natural. As you probably know, this technique will leave your vox completely unaffected until the treble reaches a certain point, at which time it is lowered to maintain a consistent level... An added bonus is it can help reduce the need for de-essing down the line if you engage a second band in peak mode aroung 6-8k. (low shelf has some nice results too, but not what you're asking about...)

This plug has lots of applications. It's similar to gliss eq by voxengo, but gliss doesn't have a dynamic shelf. Give it a shot. Cool company!
Old 18th September 2011
  #14
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by B.A.S.E View Post
I guess he was talking about dessing...

Sometimes you can deess pretty hard and then bring back some high end with an Eq.
Other than that, manual automations
If ur reffering to me Im shurely not talking about deessers, if u read the thread you'll recognize...

But thx
Old 18th September 2011
  #15
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Ray View Post
I neglected to mention another recent tool of choice:

Hofa iq-eq. It's a dynamic eq. The upper band can be changed from peaking to shelving. Leave it unboosted and unattenuated, roll it down to around 11k and set the threshold to taste- I like to go straight to 100 and then back off to where it sounds natural. As you probably know, this technique will leave your vox completely unaffected until the treble reaches a certain point, at which time it is lowered to maintain a consistent level... An added bonus is it can help reduce the need for de-essing down the line if you engage a second band in peak mode aroung 6-8k. (low shelf has some nice results too, but not what you're asking about...)

This plug has lots of applications. It's similar to gliss eq by voxengo, but gliss doesn't have a dynamic shelf. Give it a shot. Cool company!
That's a cool tip thx but there's the disadvantage that its just lowering the high end in volume... Better than nothing and Ill give it a try but Im actually interested in techniques to "repair" a harsh high end...
Old 18th September 2011
  #16
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Lowpass on vocals

It has a nice curve, I use it in conjunction w the low pass on the satson when needed. Can be overdone, can also be unnoticable when the threshold is set conservatively.

"Repair" is it's own concept and can be interprated different ways.

Again the benefit here is that it's only active during the worst parts. The other suggestions that refer to eq are saying the same thing in effect, except that "static" non-dynamic eqs can be noticible quickly compared to dynamic ones. The website has some great a/b examples that can illustrate this.
Old 18th September 2011
  #17
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Ray View Post
It has a nice curve, I use it in conjunction w the low pass on the satson when needed. Can be overdone, can also be unnoticable when the threshold is set conservatively.

"Repair" is it's own concept and can be interprated different ways.

Again the benefit here is that it's only active during the worst parts. The other suggestions that refer to eq are saying the same thing in effect, except that "static" non-dynamic eqs can be noticible quickly compared to dynamic ones. The website has some great a/b examples that can illustrate this.
Yeah i feel u!

Ill defo check it out since im german anyways so I gotta support the local plugin companys
Old 18th September 2011
  #18
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woodnote's Avatar
 

Hmm. I get what you're saying, but I just don't think there are many microphones currently being made that do such a wretched job capturing the source that you're better off cutting out half the frequencies than leaving them in. I'm familiar with the Rode's, and they certainly do have harshness to them. But it's usually only around 2-4k. I would notch that out until it sounded better, but I would never cut everything from there and up out. Maybe it's the room they are recording in that sounds awful. Do you have a before-and-after stem you can post so we can hear what you have to work with? I'm more than curious now.
Old 18th September 2011
  #19
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnote View Post
Hmm. I get what you're saying, but I just don't think there are many microphones currently being made that do such a wretched job capturing the source that you're better off cutting out half the frequencies than leaving them in. I'm familiar with the Rode's, and they certainly do have harshness to them. But it's usually only around 2-4k. I would notch that out until it sounded better, but I would never cut everything from there and up out. Maybe it's the room they are recording in that sounds awful. Do you have a before-and-after stem you can post so we can hear what you have to work with? I'm more than curious now.
I certainly don't do lowcuts down to 4k heh

The problem of course developes through processing (compression, EQing etc.) and because these cheap microphones don't really have a nice High End u get the harshness... But the customers also want a modern bossted high end so im struggling...

I dont know if u would hear the problem in the unprocessed audio...

But I got a customer in tomorrow that I could ask for permission...

I just dont wanna post their stuff without askin
Old 19th September 2011
  #20
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KRStudio's Avatar
 

I sometimes run into the same problem, pretty much the same reasons too. If you have any gear with good size transformers sometimes running the signal through is enough to smooth things out a bit. I have some Neumann EQ's that I will run the signal through without any EQ adjustments.
Old 19th September 2011
  #21
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRStudio View Post
I sometimes run into the same problem, pretty much the same reasons too. If you have any gear with good size transformers sometimes running the signal through is enough to smooth things out a bit. I have some Neumann EQ's that I will run the signal through without any EQ adjustments.
hmmmm i got a jdk EQ I could try
Old 19th September 2011
  #22
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

I don't see any point in low passing vocals on a regular basis but I understand most people are saying that this would be when they get a less than ideal client. I don't have any idea what some of you get and I know there much more mistakes to be made than beat making but I do mix beats for people from time to time and I know what I get there. Most of the time I get something really bad, they did not follow basic instructions. People hate to bypass their effects for some reason as they want to maintain their "sound", even though they are coming to me because they hate the sound they are getting. Makes no sense to me but I often just ask if they did what I asked and usually when something is really problematic, then didn't. I tell them I need the session exactly how I asked to get the best results, they resend it.

I am just wondering if you are getting the same. If you are, it may be quicker and easier to get the right files rather than doing your best with the wrong ones. Just a thought.
Old 19th September 2011
  #23
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So I just busted out the Softube Focusing EQ last night which I never thought to use.
Man it sounds nice. It has this high boost that works in relation to where you set the low pass. I don't know if you care, but demo it. I had the treble bossted with the low pass around 10k and it was NICE.
Old 19th September 2011
  #24
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by talontsiawd View Post
I don't see any point in low passing vocals on a regular basis but I understand most people are saying that this would be when they get a less than ideal client. I don't have any idea what some of you get and I know there much more mistakes to be made than beat making but I do mix beats for people from time to time and I know what I get there. Most of the time I get something really bad, they did not follow basic instructions. People hate to bypass their effects for some reason as they want to maintain their "sound", even though they are coming to me because they hate the sound they are getting. Makes no sense to me but I often just ask if they did what I asked and usually when something is really problematic, then didn't. I tell them I need the session exactly how I asked to get the best results, they resend it.

I am just wondering if you are getting the same. If you are, it may be quicker and easier to get the right files rather than doing your best with the wrong ones. Just a thought.
I get u but it's not the problem... A) mixing beats is fairly more easy than vocals since the human voice is the most complex Instrument there is and B) because beats are (commonly) done with software instruments....

I can mix a beat pretty quick while a vocal or real Guitars or whatever can take a huge amount of time!

But u are totally right in an ideal world vocals should just be retracked in a good room with nice mics and pres... AND I SHOULD BE RICH
Old 19th September 2011
  #25
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by traumerei1838 View Post
So I just busted out the Softube Focusing EQ last night which I never thought to use.
Man it sounds nice. It has this high boost that works in relation to where you set the low pass. I don't know if you care, but demo it. I had the treble bossted with the low pass around 10k and it was NICE.
Focusing EQ is great luv it
Old 19th September 2011
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny Downer View Post
If ur reffering to me Im shurely not talking about deessers, if u read the thread you'll recognize...

But thx
About smoothing the harsh highend... A deesser can be used still.. I guess you know how it works so I will spare the details (just note that it's not just a compressor, nor a strict Eq and has interesting properties in terms of Quality factor) but it's just a tool that I've used in the past... On a general note, I don't like lowpassing vocals too much... I have only ever had to do it on very badly recorded vocals..

Anyway, sorry for the misunderstanding
Old 19th September 2011
  #27
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by B.A.S.E View Post
About smoothing the harsh highend... A deesser can be used still.. I guess you know how it works so I will spare the details (just note that it's not just a compressor, nor a strict Eq and has interesting properties in terms of Quality factor) but it's just a tool that I've used in the past... On a general note, I don't like lowpassing vocals too much... I have only ever had to do it on very badly recorded vocals..

Anyway, sorry for the misunderstanding
No Problem certainly good to have input! We are talking specific about badly recorded vocals!
Old 19th September 2011
  #28
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny Downer View Post
I get u but it's not the problem... A) mixing beats is fairly more easy than vocals since the human voice is the most complex Instrument there is and B) because beats are (commonly) done with software instruments....

I can mix a beat pretty quick while a vocal or real Guitars or whatever can take a huge amount of time!

But u are totally right in an ideal world vocals should just be retracked in a good room with nice mics and pres... AND I SHOULD BE RICH
I understand mixing a beat is incredibly easier than mixing a song. I was just saying, many times where I have really bad issues, the person did not give me dry tracks. I am just wondering if some of you are getting tracks with eq or other effects because they want something to sound they way they want but then have you magically fix their errors they created after tracking. I always make sure to ask if I am in doubt.

Again, I also understand that vocal recording has so many variables to mess up and even your dry tracks may sound absolutely horrific. I am just curious if some of you are always getting a dry track. That was my only real point is if in doubt, it doesn't hurt to follow up. Has saved me a bunch of time on a single mixdown but they also understand for the future and I don't have to deal with it again with the same person. Not saying it's the case, just wondering if it could be.
Old 19th September 2011
  #29
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnote View Post
Hmm. I get what you're saying, but I just don't think there are many microphones currently being made that do such a wretched job capturing the source that you're better off cutting out half the frequencies than leaving them in. I'm familiar with the Rode's, and they certainly do have harshness to them. But it's usually only around 2-4k. I would notch that out until it sounded better, but I would never cut everything from there and up out. Maybe it's the room they are recording in that sounds awful. Do you have a before-and-after stem you can post so we can hear what you have to work with? I'm more than curious now.
From my experience with Rode mics - owning a K2 for a few years, a couple of nt5s and nt4s in the studio, and mixing a pretty hearty number of records where the vocals were tracked on an nt1a I find the harshness comes from a narrow resonance that shows up around 8k - seems to permeate the majority of the Rode line. The cheaper ones tend to suffer from two things: a little harshness across the whole treble band, and often times being paired with a piss poor preamp.


Anyway - a couple ways to smooth out the top end, without losing top end.

If there's a narrow resonance, cut it with a narrow band eq. Then do a boost at the same frequency with a wide band.

If it's just overall harshness, certain gear can impart a little love by softening the high end without actually cutting it. Good saturators can help here as well.

Reverb - my answer to everything. You can roll off the top end of your reverb - this will create the illusion of a softer top end on the dry sound.

Get your high end from midrange cuts, rather than high end boosts. Or, use a character eq for your boosts like a pultec. ITB I like the URS Fulltec.

Redirect the sound to focus on other parts of the frequency spectrum. If you can get fullness elsewhere it will help even things out. Pultecs are good here as well - you can boost a shelf at 100Hz - tends to compliment the body of the vocal rather than the top end.

Hi-shelf cut. You don't have to low-pass to ease off some top end.

Super-highs low-pass. You can start your low pass at 24kHz and use a very gradual slope. Even though you can't hear the corner frequency, the slope will still effect the audible range in a subtle way.

Opening up and manipulating the highs around the vocal. I tend to mix a lot of bright music so finding ways to either mask or open up the high end can sweep a little harshness under the rug.
Old 19th September 2011
  #30
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Danny Downer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
From my experience with Rode mics - owning a K2 for a few years, a couple of nt5s and nt4s in the studio, and mixing a pretty hearty number of records where the vocals were tracked on an nt1a I find the harshness comes from a narrow resonance that shows up around 8k - seems to permeate the majority of the Rode line. The cheaper ones tend to suffer from two things: a little harshness across the whole treble band, and often times being paired with a piss poor preamp.


Anyway - a couple ways to smooth out the top end, without losing top end.

If there's a narrow resonance, cut it with a narrow band eq. Then do a boost at the same frequency with a wide band.

If it's just overall harshness, certain gear can impart a little love by softening the high end without actually cutting it. Good saturators can help here as well.

Reverb - my answer to everything. You can roll off the top end of your reverb - this will create the illusion of a softer top end on the dry sound.

Get your high end from midrange cuts, rather than high end boosts. Or, use a character eq for your boosts like a pultec. ITB I like the URS Fulltec.

Redirect the sound to focus on other parts of the frequency spectrum. If you can get fullness elsewhere it will help even things out. Pultecs are good here as well - you can boost a shelf at 100Hz - tends to compliment the body of the vocal rather than the top end.

Hi-shelf cut. You don't have to low-pass to ease off some top end.

Super-highs low-pass. You can start your low pass at 24kHz and use a very gradual slope. Even though you can't hear the corner frequency, the slope will still effect the audible range in a subtle way.

Opening up and manipulating the highs around the vocal. I tend to mix a lot of bright music so finding ways to either mask or open up the high end can sweep a little harshness under the rug.
Thanks man, your priceless

I tried a combination of a few of your methods..

1. I cutted the harshest frequency pretty narrow and boosted pretty wide
2. I rolled off the Highs on my Reverb
3. I used more midrange cuts and just a little boost in the highend (I always use a pultec plug for that)
4. I did a super high lowpass (20 kHz)
5. I used Decapitator on my vocalbuss to get some drive in

It's pretttyyyy gooood!!! Guess its the best vocal sound I got out of a bad recorded vocal!

Damn Story if youll ever be in germany Ill buy u Dinner
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