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The vocal is almost always the focal point of the song. So it's not only important that it's heard well in the mix, but it has to sound good as well. In this movie I'll show you some of the prime frequencies for equalizing vocals. It's important to understand that EQing can make a vocalist sound up close and in your face or back in the mix, but it really depends upon the song, the arrangement before you choose the frequency that's best to work with. So let's have a listen to this lead vocal with the track and then we'll listen to it by itself and then we'll play with some of frequencies that might affect it. (Music playing) I want to play that again.
Let me make it louder in the mix. (Music playing) So let's have a listen to it soloed. (Music playing) So it doesn't sound too bad and we can hear some leakage of the guitar in the background, but that's not so bad because we don't hear it with the rest of the instruments.
So once again here is a case where you never worry about leakage because usually it's not as big as a problem as you might think it might be. So let's add a familiar 4-Band EQ. The first thing we're going to do is EQ somewhere around 125 to maybe 250, and what that will do is take a male vocal and make it sound a bit more chesty. So have a listen when we boosted here at about a 125 or so. (Music playing) I can hear it. There is a little bit of bottom there that wasn't there before and it just seems a little bit closer to us.
Now if we add somewhere we've seen 2k and 5k, we can accentuate the consonants and add a little bit of presence and it makes the vocal also seem closer to the listener. So we'll go to 2k and add a little bit and let's see what happens. (Music playing) Now let's bypass it and have a listen. (Music playing) I can hear there is a big difference there, because all of sudden he is a little bit closer to us and there is a little bit more definition on the consonants as well.
Let's listen in the mix for a second. Take notice we have an overload in the output here. I'm going to click on the overload LED and I'm going to back this off a little bit, and let's listen. (Music playing) Let's have a quick listen in the track. (Music playing) Here is another trick that we can do. That's if we go somewhere around 10k or so, we can add something called air.
Now air is one of those things that you don't really hear-- you feel it. And if you have the speakers that aren't that good you won't hear it at all and you won't feel it either. This is usually one of those things that you need some really, really good speakers to hear, and the thing about it is even if you can't hear it and you add a little bit some people that will be listening on other speakers will be able to hear it. So it's kind of nice because it just gives an impression that there's a space that the singer's in. And let's just add a little bit and see what happens, and once again it's not a whole lot that you can add, because if you add too much it just sounds bad.
So let's start here and that's actually more than I'd probably add anyway, but have a listen. (Music playing) Actually let's listen to it by itself. (Music playing) Here we're getting a little bit and it does help, but again this is a little bit more than I would ever add.
One of the problems that we have right here when we add too much of the 10k is we start to get into a problem called sibilance. Sibilance is when the S's are emphasized too much, and in fact they become very disconcerting to the listener. This is somewhere around oh 4 to 7k. It depends on the vocalist. What we do to get rid of that. EQ helps a little bit, but it usually what it is it's a special compressor called a de-esser that we use, and we've gone over that in another movies. But let's intentionally get that sibilance.
So what I'm going to do is switch to the peaking filter here and I am going to crank this up and I'm going to go a 5K and have a listen. (Music playing) You can hear that those S's kind of jump out and that's exactly what we don't want, especially if we compress this vocal as well.
If we compress it hard and add a lot between 4 and 7K, suddenly you're going to find that S's are going to be taking your head off. So that's something you should avoid. So that's what to look for when EQing a lead vocal. Don't be afraid at a high-pass filter at 60Hz to clean up the bottom end of the vocal and make it sit better in the mix. Just like any other instrument vocal sometimes has a lot of low frequencies that don't add anything to the sound of it. So don't be afraid to get rid of those.
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