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Download and/or print our handy vocal EQ cheat sheet.Learn the crucial frequency areas of controlling vocals in a mix.Adopt a proper mindset of how khổng lồ approach EQ in regards lớn mixdowns.
Breaking Down The Vocal EQ Chart
Let’s break down the key frequency areas of the vocal EQ cheat sheet. Again, bear in mind that the chart is not meant khổng lồ be taken as gospel, but instead to merely help you get in the ballpark.
Focus only on the frequency regions — the adjustments in the chart are only for illustration purposes.
So, what Hz do vocals occupy? Typically, the voiced speech of a typical adult male will have a fundamental frequency from 85 khổng lồ 180Hz, và that of a typical adult female from 165 to lớn 255Hz.
Vocals typically vì not contain a lot of subfrequency energy, and they often add nothing valuable lớn modern mixes. In fact, it is common practice lớn roll off sub frequency nội dung off vocals as it clears up room for instruments that should occupy these lower frequencies, such as the bass guitar and kick drum.
Proximity effect, i.e. The increase in low-frequency response as one gets closer lớn the microphone, affects this region a fair bit, & is also where ‘plosives’ (words that have overly percussive phonetics, like ‘potato’) can become a problem here, particularly if a pop filter is not used.
100Hz-300Hz is the zone where the vocal’s fundamental frequencies will often reside. As a result, this is an incredibly important frequency area khổng lồ pay attention to, as it can easily make or break a sound.
It’s a troublesome zone for many, as things can get cluttered around here in busy mixes with full drum kits & distorted guitars.
As mentioned, a common technique is to roll off the low-frequency content of the vocals. That roll-off typically ends somewhere within the region of 80Hz-200Hz, depending on the context of the mix, & the intention.
The more of this area that is rolled off, the lighter và less ‘present’ the vocal will feel. Experiment lớn taste.
This is where the main ‘body’ of vocals occupy & is responsible for supporting the upper harmonics of the voice. It requires your utmost attention, and can be a tricky area as too much in this region can result in a ‘boxy’ sound, và too little can result in a hollow sound.
Scooping out 350Hz-600Hz in your adlibs & backing vocals is a technique you can try to give the impression that the supporting vocals are sitting further behind in the mix. This could also help to lớn clear up space for the main vocal.
We now enter the upper midrange frequencies, which are responsible for things lượt thích ‘bite’, ‘honkiness’, and ‘nasal’ qualities.
Careful attention should be paid to lớn this region as it tends lớn be a busy area, particularly in heavier styles of music.
An excessive buildup in high-mid frequencies is common in amateur mixes, và can lead khổng lồ an unpleasant, harsh và brittle mix. This is especially true for tracks with a lot of layered vocal takes, where resonant peaks develop if not controlled efficiently.
Conversely, a track with too little frequency nội dung in this area will appear dull, ‘far away’, và muffled. If you are going for a 90s ‘shoegaze’ or ‘vaporwave’ sound, this could be ideal. However for most modern ‘radio’ mixes, having clear, high-midrange gives the impression of modern presence. Again, it all depends on context.
This region is where the sibilance/brilliance of vocals can be effectively manipulated. For better or for worse, there has been a trend over time where vocals are given a bump in this area (and even above) lớn give the impression of a ‘larger than life’, bright sound.
If executed with precision and finesse, this can work wonders. Pushing this region gives a vocal ‘sheen’, but in the wrong context, it can sound disjointed from the overall mix, và harsh.
At this point, the majority of vocal harmonics và overtones would have naturally rolled off by themselves. Similarly lớn the point I mentioned earlier, it has become ‘in-vogue’ lớn push this area a little khổng lồ provide extra ‘sheen’ & ‘hi-fi’ presence. Compare recordings from the 70s lớn today — they’ve become much brighter in tone!
Conversely, it is also not uncommon for some producers to roll this region off with a shallow high-cut or high-shelf. While sacrificing the ‘benefit’ of ‘air’ or ‘sheen’, many producers opt lớn clear the vocal of these frequencies khổng lồ allow for other instruments lớn occupy it, such as cymbals or airy synthesizers.
Remember that word I keep saying? Again, context.Looking lớn get into music production but don’t know where to lớn begin? Start with these 5 miễn phí DAWS.
Vocal EQ Tips
Remember that all the tips included above are just for example’s sake, và do not mean that the techniques will work 1:1 with your mixes. Every vocalist is unique, microphone frequency responses differ, and every track should be approached with the intention of serving the track, rather than a mix of rules.
There are no “best equalizer settings”. Every set decision you make should be with a specific intent that is independent of any set rules.
A lot of the time (and this applies to lớn mixing in general), EQ decisions should be the result of making specific sacrifices in order to lớn achieve the desired outcome. 10 full-frequency instruments & vocals are not all going to lớn fit together right out of the gate, and so EQ becomes a trò chơi of small compromises/sacrifices for the greater good of an overall mix.
This is why many argue that EQ’ing in solo (while useful) can lead to lớn bad mix decisions, as those 10 full-frequency instruments could sound incredible by themselves, but terrible as an overall mix.
Lastly, there is no magical chart that will turn you into a professional phối engineer overnight. It will take years and years of practice lớn get right, và hence why the best phối engineers in the world are paid handsomely for their time.
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