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Equalizing the lead vocals

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Equalizing the lead vocals

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.

Equalizing the lead vocals

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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This video is part of

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 18722 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
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  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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