Using EQ On Your Vocals

Whether you’re recording your own vocals or just doing research so that you’re able to chop it up with your engineer during your next recording session, it’s important to get to know all of the elements and effects that you can add to alter, clean and transform your sound.

Equalization, also known as EQ, or “equalisation is the process of adjusting the balance between frequency components within an electronic signal. The most well known use of equalization is in sound recording and reproduction but there are many other applications in electronics and telecommunications.” as stated by Wikipedia. 

Tokyo_Dawn_Records1_PitStop Musicians.pngCymatics says “While we may commonly think of EQing as a step in the mixing process, EQing a vocal begins even earlier than that: during the recording. An EQ is just a chisel that we use to shape a sound, and we need a solid block of marble before we start chiseling.The recording stage is the time to create that perfect block of marble. No amount of EQ will be able to fix a poorly recorded vocal, so consider the recording stage part of your EQing.”

Embracing the concept of less is more is crucial in all aspects of life and this is not lost on the practice of mixing and engineering. When it comes to EQ “you want the vocals to sound warmer, cut the highs (maybe 6-10kHz) rather than boosting the lows.” Within this method, you’re working with what you have, rather than amplifying everything so that it’s completely blown out. It is suggested to never take it further than 5dB (decibels) in either direction, unless you’re looking for something experimental or out of this world. 

An incredible use of EQ is carving out the sounds that have snuck into the recording, say it’s the room noise or a high pitched squeak of the moving of a stool against the hardwood floor of the recording room. EQ will act as a filter and boundary to the unwanted frequencies.

When it comes to separating a multitude of tracks that are all happening at once, within the same range of frequencies, it is suggested to “Try a cut of 3-5dB around 300Hz (move it around a bit until you find a sweet spot). Equalization is the process of adjusting the balance between frequency components within an electronic signal.” quoted by Producer Hive. 

Once you feel that you’ve got your chops up and running when it comes to the function of EQ, you can engage in the fun part, testing out different versions and finding what works best for you and your particular sound. Many are major fans of FabFilter Pro-Q 3, Tokyo Dawn Records VOS SlickEQ (free), Eiosis AirEQ and iZotope Neutron EQ.

We strongly recommend that you take a few uninterrupted afternoons of strong focus into diving into the world of equalization. Some argue that this is one of the most crucial elements of mixing. Your future music is already patting you on the back.