Adding edge, or starting with it, is a double-edged sword. Brian discusses how to rid yourself of unwanted harshness in specific degrees at specific spots in a performance. McDSP AE400, Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_hybrid EQ, and Softube Abbey Road Brilliance pack are featured.
- [Voiceover] Edgy can sometimes be a double-edged sword, and oftentimes once you've added a degree of EQ that makes a vocal pop out through a mix, there'll be sections of the song where it might sound too harsh, and the comment you'll get from listeners is, "That hurts my ears, in that section," and oftentimes the solution is to set up a dynamic equalizer that removes the harshness during the spots of the song where the vocal does make a listener's ear hurt, or does give the song an unpleasant harshness.
So for that, you've got this wonderful option of setting up an active equalizer to take care of those spots. Let's listen to the same song, "Stupid For You" by Waterparks in the bridge now. And what I want to point out to you, I'll move the cursor over to this area, when he sings hardest, when he really hits the mic hard, we've found a frequency very similar to the one we boosted, to make it more edgy, and I've set it to 3.15 kHz, in order to remove that harshness where he sings very aggressively.
I'll leave it in solo. ♫ Ooh, you're playing ring 'round my head ♫ I wear you like a halo - [Voiceover] You can see the deflection, and when he sings hard it reacts. ♫ I'll take what I can get ♫ The best is hard to grip when everybody wants you - [Voiceover] So when he smooths out you can see the EQ is not affecting it at all. I'll give it to you again that way in the track. ("Stupid for You" by Waterparks) That's a wonderful solution, keeping the edginess when it's required and knocking it back a notch when he's hitting you a little too hard.
It's a real common complaint you can get. Another way around that same issue, I want to show you, which also kind of gives us the lesson of structure, hierarchy of plug-ins, before the vocal gets to-- Now notice the hierarchy, we are starting here with the track. We're busing it to an auxiliary, so after this processing is done, we go down to this auxiliary and this set of processors affects the process signals that you started with.
So before it gets to the equalizer that is adding edge, I'll put it back to the way we had it, we can remove some of that harshness in a very narrow manner by finding offensive frequencies. So let's solo it again. (vocals only from "Stupid for You") This equalizer is very handy because as soon as you grab a frequency knob, it zeros in and solos that frequency when you have Auto-Listen enabled, which is this button here.
Watch this. (isolated vocals) So, you got a little fooled there because the group is on, and this vocal is doubled, so let me turn off the double. Now you can really hear the effect of this. (isolated vocals) So, we ended up at about 3 k there, and so if we just take a very narrow swatch of that out before it gets to the one that's amplifying it, you can remove some of that harshness that way as well.
(vocals) (full song) That might result in a little less deflection by the time it gets to the active EQ. So those are a couple solutions for a vocal that's become too harsh in spots.
Join multiplatinum producer, engineer, and mixer Brian Malouf as he covers the many terms that musicians and non-musicians use to describe music. Brian explains the meaning behind the comments and also demonstrates techniques that can be applied to a mix in response to the notes. He covers lo-fi mix techniques, EQ techniques, changes to levels, adapting the ambience, making vibe and energy adjustments, working with compression options, and revising the placement location of elements in the sonic sphere.
- Lo-fi glossary
- Volume glossary
- Ambience glossary
- Location glossary
- Attitude adjustment glossary
- Compression glossary