Equalization (EQ) is boosting or attenuating (Reducing) different frequencies within a signal. Compression, EQ, and reverb are the top three effects or components of any mix. EQ has to be the most difficult to learn and apply of out the three.
Practice makes perfect, listen to your vocals flat without any EQ. Don't compress, you EQ first. The reason behind EQ first is that you get rid of the problems, before the compressor (the compressor makes the loud noises louder, and brings up quiet volume) Any problems in your recording environment will be worst with the compressor on.
Get to know your own voice or the person's vocals who you are recording. All your EQing is dependent on the vocalist. Male, female, deep, soft, raspy etc. Try to think of feature of their vocals you want to bring out. It's all about bring that part out and forgetting the rest. Like I'd give M-Trey who has a dynamic vocal range, 1 to 3db of gain in the 80hz to 100hz region. With my voice, where it's softer tone, I'd boost the gain 3 db in the 12 khz range to add some "air"
Always use a high pass filter, a high pass filter makes the higher frequencies pass and the lower frequencies to be CUT OFF. The lower frequencies can be like rumble outside, hiss from your computer, and some of natural reverb from your room. Most of you guys when you record, you can literally hear your room. The echo and reverb it sounds like a bad bedroom recording. Professional recordings have mostly have artifical reverb with controls the amount of reverb and diffusion added to the tracks either that be vocals, piano, guitar, synths etc. The artificial reverb is always behind the lead source so it sounds a lot more professional than having the natural reverb from your room come in drowning your vocals.
Cut your frequencies before you boost them. Adding too much frequency can make your vocals sound artifical. Like you're talking on the telephone in a booth. Here are some problems vocal problems with some EQ solutions
Muddy Vocals or Vocals with way too much bass - Dip around 1 db or two in the 200 hz. It gives the vocals more clarity and cuts some of that thick sounding range
Just poorly recorded Vocals or just painful to listen to - Either its just too loud or too many shifts in volumes, put down 3-4 db at 3khz. It smoothes out the vocals a bit without taking everything out.
Add some Brightness - 3 - 4 dB in the 5khz region
Add Air - Which means like a clarity increasing region, where your vocals may sound too dark or plain. Try boosting it up 5 -7 dB at the 12 - 12.5 khz.
Frank Sinatra's engineer always rolled him off at 8 or 10 khz
Compression, basically is a volume controller. It controls the volume from going any higher. The threshold is the mark, say my threshold is 40dB and my vocals are 50dB. The compressor will push my vocals down near the threshold. That's when ratio comes into play. Your compressor may have ratio settings anywhere from 1:1 to 20:1. The ratio is basically for example my ratio is 5:1. For every 5dB over the threshold, the output signal (what you hear) will be 1dB over the threshold. Sounds good right, setting your ratio higher makes your output louder, because your giving the compressor more room to go over the threshold.
The compressor doesn't know what you're putting through it. It can't tell sound signals apart, it just knows its a signal coming through. This is where you tell it what to do. The lower your threshold the harder the compression. If you push your threshold low and output high, wait for your ears to seriously hurt. The lower the threshold, the quicker the compression happens.
Soft/Hard knees, this gives the dynamic range a curve or bend in the response. I always put a soft knee on vocals because a soft knee increases the compression ratio as your sound level increases. So this adjusts itself accordingly to your signal. The soft knee with it's curve makes the uncompressed to compress sound less noticeable. You won't really hear the transition. That will smooth out your vocals. Where a hard knee works well with drums or snares because it has a sharper bend and attack.
Attack and Release, this is very important you're basically telling the compressor when to attack and release the compression. The attack reduces the gain by the ratio. The release increases gain by the ratio, once the level drops below the threshold. I usually put my compressor with a slow attack and a fast release
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