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Your Frequency Tweaks secret weapon on Vocals!
Old 13th October 2008
  #1
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mdjice's Avatar
 

Your Frequency Tweaks secret weapon on Vocals!

Out of curiosity what frequencies do you guys Boost and Cut on MOST vocals? kind of like your secret weapon, as soon as I you run into troubled vocals were do you try and cut or boost automaticly and it works "most" of the time?

it's more a personal taste thing but for me it goes like this:

HPF : 80 to 160 (to make it sit in the mix)

cut at 300 or 800 (avoid Muddiness)

cut a 7000 to 8000 (reduce sibilance)

Cut at 4000 to 4500 (to reduce harshness and phone like vocals)

boost a couple of dbs between 10K and 15K (breatttth!!)
boost at 2K sometimes (inteligibility)
Old 13th October 2008
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdjice View Post
Out of curiosity what frequencies do you guys Boost and Cut on MOST vocals? kind of like your secret weapon, as soon as I you run into troubled vocals were do you try and cut or boost automaticly and it works "most" of the time?

it's more a personal taste thing but for me it goes like this:

HPF : 80 to 160 (to make it sit in the mix)

cut at 300 or 800 (avoid Muddiness)

cut a 7000 to 8000 (reduce sibilance)

Cut at 4000 to 4500 (to reduce harshness and phone like vocals)

boost a couple of dbs between 10K and 15K (breatttth!!)
boost at 2K sometimes (inteligibility)
Wow so much cutting.

Either you are using the wrong mic or the speakers are too bright.

Maybe its me but with the right comp & EQ match during mixdown i almost do no freq cutting for vocals. I end up pushing certain freqs more and with an overall EQ on the mix i bring them further out. For me i do tend to cut freqs on the effects but that's to make the vocals even more intelligible and blend them better(effects) with what is ever going on in the low midrange.
Old 13th October 2008
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Wow so much cutting.

Either you are using the wrong mic or the speakers are too bright.

Maybe its me but with the right comp & EQ match during mixdown i almost do no freq cutting for vocals. I end up pushing certain freqs more and with an overall EQ on the mix i bring them further out. For me i do tend to cut freqs on the effects but that's to make the vocals even more intelligible and blend them better(effects) with what is ever going on in the low midrange.
Lol I guess it came out wrong I don't cut ALL of these freq on the same vocals!!! lol
but when something needs to be cleaned up I cut or boost one or 2 of the metionned aboveheh
Old 13th October 2008
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdjice View Post
Lol I guess it came out wrong I don't cut ALL of these freq on the same vocals!!! lol
but when something needs to be cleaned up I cut or boost one or 2 of the metionned aboveheh
I think alot of it has to do with what EQ you are using and if you use any compression when mixing down vocals.

High pass filters sound different on different EQ's. The turnover bump you feel in the higher freqs can ring differently. Sometimes it can give the vocal a little bite and other times it makes the vocal feel edgy or fatiguing when you boost the freqs to make the vocal feel closer.

Also the right compressor(s) can feel like a new haircut or snazzy jacket on the vocal to the point where very subtle EQ boosts and cuts are needed. I prefer to do this than to add more broad phase shifts in the mids.
Old 13th October 2008
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post

Also the right compressor(s) can feel like a new haircut or snazzy jacket on the vocal to the point where very subtle EQ boosts and cuts are needed. I prefer to do this than to add more broad phase shifts in the mids.
Old 13th October 2008
  #6
I generally don't have to EQ vocals much at all (other than HP), and where I EQ depends entirely on the arrangement. I tend to lean more heavily on compression and other effects to get the vocal to sit right.
Old 13th October 2008
  #7
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Wow so much cutting.

Either you are using the wrong mic or the speakers are too bright.

Maybe its me but with the right comp & EQ match during mixdown i almost do no freq cutting for vocals. I end up pushing certain freqs more and with an overall EQ on the mix i bring them further out. For me i do tend to cut freqs on the effects but that's to make the vocals even more intelligible and blend them better(effects) with what is ever going on in the low midrange.
Yeah I agree with Thrill. I usually do a high pass between 50-150Hz and then maybe some overal push somewhere in the general "treble" range if the mix is really dense and I need some cut. I try and get most of the sound from picking the right mic, having the singer the proper distance, and then by setting compressors appropriately.

Brad
Old 13th October 2008
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Yeah I agree with Thrill. I usually do a high pass between 50-150Hz and then maybe some overal push somewhere in the general "treble" range if the mix is really dense and I need some cut. I try and get most of the sound from picking the right mic, having the singer the proper distance, and then by setting compressors appropriately.

Brad
Brad brings up another argument...mixing vocals that you track yourself vs. vocals tracked by others. It usually ends up as a total different process. The most difficult vocal tracks are usually vocal tracks recorded by the artist themselves. You would think since they are the artists that they would be more picky on the quality but generally i find its the opposite, which is unlike a guitarist, string player, a bassist or a drummer who when they track themselves the tracks seem in much better shape.

I think its in these cases where most mix guys earn their money, if they can save great & inspired vocal performances that were not recorded in the best way.
Old 13th October 2008
  #9
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My secret EQ weapon on vocals is to audition a number of mics & preamps with the singer, so that I pick the right combination of each for the singer & the track.

If you have a variety of both, and you do that part right, there's no need for EQ.
Old 13th October 2008
  #10
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
My Frequency Tweaks secret weapon on Vocals

A parallel track with a severe high-pass filter can work wonders.

Some background:
I like to take the purist approach to recording, or "capturing," the vocal. No EQ. Although, a hi-pass filter on the mic pre can make the compressor next on the tracking chain behave more optimally, especially in close mic'ing situations (and I am a fan of close mic'ing, truth be told). Proximity effect can wreak havoc on compressor response, so that's a puzzle to sort out, and a hi-pass filter on the mic pre set to filter out proximity effect booms and plosives is a reliable key to sorting out that puzzle.

Okay, on to the mix stage. You've faithfully captured the vocal. It sounds good. But the vocalist is sitting there next to you and saying, "Can you make me louder?"

You say, "You are already the loudest thing in the mix. Maybe what you mean is, can I make your singing cut in the mix more intelligibly?"

Singer: "Yes. That's what I mean. I want the listener to discern my lyrics through the blare of the distorted guitars and the cymbals crashing and all that."

You say, "Yes, I can do that." Then you proceed to "wow" the singer by doing this:

You take his/her summed lead vocal, and make a duplicate of it. Of the duplicate, you apply a high-pass filter set to 7KHz. Yes, 7KHz. That was not a typo. Then, compress that, the compressor set to stun, or total crush, or worse. Do not be shy with the compressor. Crush the f&cker.

Solo-play this track. It should not only hurt your ears, but also kill small animals within a four-block radius. If this track sounds like a cyborg mouse being water-boarded, you got it right.

Now, blend it in with the mix, VERY gently. At -20dB, you should hear it. At -17dB, the singer will be slapping your back. If he/she wants it louder than that, inch it up to -14dB, then convince the singer that it's better at -18dB, or lower. My point is, it will make the vocal cut through the mix, and it will, but be careful of how much. It's like holding a very sharp and heavy knife: Caution.

Give that a try.

Happy hunting.

-Eric @ Studio Curve Dominant
Old 13th October 2008
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curve Dominant View Post
You say, "Yes, I can do that." Then you proceed to "wow" the singer by doing this:

You take his/her summed lead vocal, and make a duplicate of it. Of the duplicate, you apply a high-pass filter set to 7KHz. Yes, 7KHz. That was not a typo. Then, compress that, the compressor set to stun, or total crush, or worse. Do not be shy with the compressor. Crush the f&cker.

Solo-play this track. It should not only hurt your ears, but also kill small animals within a four-block radius. If this track sounds like a cyborg mouse being water-boarded, you got it right.
Very nice writing!
Old 13th October 2008
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curve Dominant View Post
A parallel track with a severe high-pass filter can work wonders.




Now, blend it in with the mix, VERY gently. At -20dB, you should hear it. At -17dB, the singer will be slapping your back. If he/she wants it louder than that, inch it up to -14dB, then convince the singer that it's better at -18dB, or lower. My point is, it will make the vocal cut through the mix, and it will, but be careful of how much. It's like holding a very sharp and heavy knife: Caution.

Give that a try.

Happy hunting.

-Eric @ Studio Curve Dominant
Thanks for Sharing ! :-)
Old 13th October 2008
  #13
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mdjice's Avatar
 

Guys most of you didn't get it.... Recording technic is NOT an option!!! I said troubled vocals... MOST of the time when I get a session to mix, the recording was Not using the best mic and pre for the artists but what was available at the studio it was tracked out. it's NOT an option to re record everytime so I have to EQ in and out some frequencies to fix the recording. Most of what I mix are sessions recorded some place else (my studio is private and only major artists I personally know can record there) and I have to work around other people's recording.
SO...let's forget about the " oh well record with better mics and pre" argument and let's get back on topic heh
Old 13th October 2008
  #14
Yesh the 're track it' comments are fine if its your own material and can tweak away at your hearts content but wont suit a lot of other situations.
Old 13th October 2008
  #15
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if you got to fix big problems in recordings its a hard job, i know

to the "s" thing.. i search a good "s" and paste it
"P" problems, draw out or replace
No ass? Low Cut 100-220 Hz, peak boost below
Strange upper mids? Urgh, hard job, eq it out, i know its not easy..
Shrill? Tape can help
Dynamic differences? i cut and bring it too one level, first
Attitude? Parallel compression...
Candy? Chorus, Pitch shift...

i hope this can help...
Old 13th October 2008
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Yesh the 're track it' comments are fine if its your own material and can tweak away at your hearts content but wont suit a lot of other situations.
On the other hand, when I get vocals recorded elsewhere that are that severely ****ed up, my approach varies wildly from one to the next. There's just so many ways for an amateur to make a bad vocal recording - not the least of which is the always-unpredictable environment itself - that it's nearly impossible to say "try cutting frequencies X, Y, and Z".
Old 13th October 2008
  #17
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gregohb's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curve Dominant View Post
A parallel track with a severe high-pass filter can work wonders.

....Crush the f&cker.t
Yes, very entertaining writing. I think you can expand this idea too. You can pitch shift a few cents, add a little phase, or delay, etc to this cyborg track too.
Old 13th October 2008
  #18
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mdjice's Avatar
 

I get sessions from artists with good equipments at home but theyhave no clue "how" t use it. the usual problems are too much low end /mud due to poor mic technic no HPF while recording or wrong mic/pre combination the other main one is vocals being harsh. usually cheapo mics will sound harsh and brittle if you eq out the frequencies where the harshness is you loose clarity and inteligibility at the same time. most cheap mics don't take EQ very well.
I also gt a lot of vocals with ESS problems due to overcompression on the way in.
in the best world I would re track (it happened beofre where it was the best and fastest solution as the artists was in the studio) but dealing with crappy recordings is something we have to live with so....cut and boost (cut more away!!!heh
Old 13th October 2008
  #19
Rather than EQ, use the mic that fits. That usually means putting out a cluster and soloing them until the one you like best is heard. Do NOT mark the channels, bias will prevail.

My other trick is relative humidity. I like it dry, like 30% RH. Wet air absorbs HF details like a spong. Dry climates and deserts are best, the tropics are the worst as even AC and de-humidifiers won't bring down the RH to 30%.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 13th October 2008
  #20
CLH
Gear Maniac
 

Someone once said something like: you can not turn a turd into gold. You can polish a turd, but it will still be a turd...

If the recordings you get are crappy, as you explained, you can only do so much. And the frequency examples you gave are pretty good guidelines. If you have Waves, try making the C1-sc only compress certain fequencies. Sometimes it gives me much better results than actually carving with eq.
Old 13th October 2008
  #21
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u b k's Avatar
 

lil freq + api 225 + api 550.

lil freq first, to correct all the crap and make the 225 respond smoothly. crush at low ratio, low threshold, slow release, use attack to shape sibilance. follow up with 550a to restore dynamics and determine where and how the voice will cut.

there's very little that chain can't fix. it's an expensive chain, but probably the most valuable thing i've learned from thrillfactor is to put the money on the vocal first and foremost.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 13th October 2008
  #22
lately my main vocal chain has been U87>LA610..that said, I am finding myself getting rid of a little 4k almost always...

man i love that compressor on the 610...
Old 13th October 2008
  #23
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgrotto View Post
On the other hand, when I get vocals recorded elsewhere that are that severely ****ed up, my approach varies wildly from one to the next. There's just so many ways for an amateur to make a bad vocal recording - not the least of which is the always-unpredictable environment itself - that it's nearly impossible to say "try cutting frequencies X, Y, and Z".
Indeed. No one answer to be had.
Old 13th October 2008
  #24
For male pop/rock vocals I usually apply SONNOX EQ type 1 something like this:

6dB/oct roll-off below 100Hz (sometimes 80Hz)
-.5-1dB cut around 320Hz with .75 octave Q, if needed
+1-2dB boost around 5kHz with 1 octave Q (almost always)
Boost above 10-12kHz for air, if it benefits

One thing that's weird is, I used to have sibilance problems but almost never do any more. Maybe because I stopped tracking with a compressor?

Last edited by rwhitney; 13th October 2008 at 08:07 PM.. Reason: didn't like the first version
Old 13th October 2008
  #25
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mdjice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwhitney View Post
For male pop/rock vocals I usually apply SONNOX EQ type 1 something like this:

6dB/oct roll-off below 100Hz (sometimes 80Hz)
-.5-1dB cut around 320Hz with .75 octave Q, if needed
+1-2dB boost around 5kHz with 1 octave Q (almost always)
Boost above 10-12kHz for air, if it benefits

One thing that's weird is, I used to have sibilance problems but almost never do any more. Maybe because I stopped tracking with a compressor?
yes a compressor will almost always make sibillance more of a problem.
Old 13th October 2008
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdjice View Post
I get sessions from artists with good equipments at home but theyhave no clue "how" t use it. the usual problems are too much low end /mud due to poor mic technic no HPF while recording or wrong mic/pre combination the other main one is vocals being harsh. usually cheapo mics will sound harsh and brittle if you eq out the frequencies where the harshness is you loose clarity and inteligibility at the same time. most cheap mics don't take EQ very well.
I also gt a lot of vocals with ESS problems due to overcompression on the way in.
in the best world I would re track (it happened beofre where it was the best and fastest solution as the artists was in the studio) but dealing with crappy recordings is something we have to live with so....cut and boost (cut more away!!!heh
The only problem with doing broadstroke EQ shapes on vocals is that some of the problems you mention only happen ever so often in a song. Sometimes its on certain words or certain phrasings. Sometimes if the singer moves it can be a bad off axis pickup . Or it can be that the vocals were recorded on different days and the tone quality is different.

So to scope a whole range out it will affect the words and phasings that are good. And in general like snares scooping out an entire range adds phase shifts that you can hear very easily and are very difficult to correct.

When i mix troubled lead vocals or lead vocals in general i do look out for trouble spots but i generally will do it word by word or phrase for phrase. It takes a while but in general it retains alot of the good part of the vocal. Also i tend not to use an EQ but a dynamic EQ or a multi band compressor and only on specific problems. To my ears they are much more gentle and retain the overall quality.
Old 13th October 2008
  #27
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
The only problem with doing broadstroke EQ shapes on vocals is that some of the problems you mention only happen ever so often in a song. Sometimes its on certain words or certain phrasings. Sometimes if the singer moves it can be a bad off axis pickup . Or it can be that the vocals were recorded on different days and the tone quality is different.

So to scope a whole range out it will affect the words and phasings that are good. And in general like snares scooping out an entire range adds phase shifts that you can hear very easily and are very difficult to correct.

When i mix troubled lead vocals or lead vocals in general i do look out for trouble spots but i generally will do it word by word or phrase for phrase. It takes a while but in general it retains alot of the good part of the vocal. Also i tend not to use an EQ but a dynamic EQ or a multi band compressor and only on specific problems. To my ears they are much more gentle and retain the overall quality.
Sonalksis is good for it.....
Old 13th October 2008
  #28
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Rednose's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdjice View Post
Out of curiosity what frequencies do you guys Boost and Cut on MOST vocals? kind of like your secret weapon, as soon as I you run into troubled vocals were do you try and cut or boost automaticly and it works "most" of the time?

it's more a personal taste thing but for me it goes like this:

HPF : 80 to 160 (to make it sit in the mix)

cut at 300 or 800 (avoid Muddiness)

cut a 7000 to 8000 (reduce sibilance)

Cut at 4000 to 4500 (to reduce harshness and phone like vocals)

boost a couple of dbs between 10K and 15K (breatttth!!)
boost at 2K sometimes (inteligibility)
To me the harshness is between 1k and 2.5 k
Old 13th October 2008
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Sonalksis is good for it.....
I know its just me but i just can't use plugins for mixing lead vocals. Not to start any arguments here but it is my philosophy that if i am going to put all of my efforts and savings into anything its to making sure that lead vocals are out of this world since they are what usually propel the songs. Also in this world of "squashed everything" if anything needs to be the most dynamic it should be the lead and anyway i can squeeze out an inch of resolution i am going to take it.

I know not many people around here share this belief but its always worked for me and the vocalists and producers i work with can hear it. Cause lets face it if they don't think the vocals are stellar there is no way on earth they are not going to hire you or recommend you to someone else.
Old 13th October 2008
  #30
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
I know its just me but i just can't use plugins for mixing lead vocals. Not to start any arguments here but it is my philosophy that if i am going to put all of my efforts and savings into anything its to making sure that lead vocals are out of this world since they are what usually propel the songs. Also in this world of "squashed everything" if anything needs to be the most dynamic it should be the lead and anyway i can squeeze out an inch of resolution i am going to take it.

I know not many people around here share this belief but its always worked for me and the vocalists and producers i work with can hear it. Cause lets face it if they don't think the vocals are stellar there is no way on earth they are not going to hire you or recommend you to someone else.
Fair point, Expounder or rig it with an eq and comp it is .......I generally agree totally (not at all plugin fan), yet have found the Sonalksis to be fairly unoffensive, but then if you need to do this sort of thing (to get rid of 'wrongness') chances are your original signal is not tiptop and the small cost seems to make little difference.....
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