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Author Topic: Vocal EQ Tips - 101  (Read 1541 times)

Rufus Crowder

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Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« on: February 19, 2014, 08:27:35 pm »

Can someone share "general" eq tips when setting up vocal mics?  It is understood that there are many variables regarding the particular gear used and male or female vocals. 

Some areas requested are:
1. Lo cut filter yes or no and at what frequency point?
2. PEQ or VEQ?  (I see this on my X32) And where do you generally have success placing your frequency points?
3. Are there training tools for helping to recognize problem frequencies if you do not have analyzing gear in your rig?
4. When you first walk up to your board to set it up, do you generally cut certain frequencies from experience?  What would those be?
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2014, 08:56:49 pm »

Can someone share "general" eq tips when setting up vocal mics?  It is understood that there are many variables regarding the particular gear used and male or female vocals. 

Some areas requested are:
1. Lo cut filter yes or no and at what frequency point?
2. PEQ or VEQ?  (I see this on my X32) And where do you generally have success placing your frequency points?
3. Are there training tools for helping to recognize problem frequencies if you do not have analyzing gear in your rig?
4. When you first walk up to your board to set it up, do you generally cut certain frequencies from experience?  What would those be?
Low cuts should ALWAYS be used.  At what freq?  It depends-on many different factors-the room (today I highpassed at 350Hz-don't ask-------)

One way to train yourself is to boost freq and listen to what is happening.  It is easier to hear boosts than cuts.

If doing a walk up gig-and you start cutting freq-you hands need to be cut off.

How do you know what freq to cut?  Are you familiar with the response of the system?  how about the mics used?  If not-then you have no idea what you need to start cutting.  Are you familiar with the actual singers and how their voices and mic technique are.

You use your ears.

Yes there are all sorts of ear training programs out there.  search.


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David Simpson

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2014, 08:58:33 pm »

Unfortunately it is not that simple. Every situation is so different, there are not many hard and fast rules as far as frequencies and set points are concerned. There are just way to many variables at play.

Most people tend to agree that using a high pass filter on a standard vocal is a good practice, generally speaking. It helps to reduce handling noise and plosive vocal sounds, and keeps that mic out of the subs. I like to start with a flat EQ and my high pass filters on my vocal mics between 100 and 140 Hz, but that is not always the case. Some times I go higher, some times lower. Again it depends on the bigger picture.

The best training tool you can use is something that will help you learn to identify frequencies faster and more accurately.

~Dave
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Spenser Hamilton

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2014, 11:48:11 pm »

Low cuts should ALWAYS be used.  At what freq?  It depends-on many different factors-the room (today I highpassed at 350Hz-don't ask-------)

Confession time. When I first starting mixing on digital boards, I was too scared to bring the high pass frequency above 80-100Hz.

My line of thinking was that all the analog boards had low cut switches that usually had 80Hz or 100Hz silk screened beside them so I assumed that it was incorrect to go any higher.

This is one of those cases where it is safe to use your ears, if raising the low cut to 150, or 200 or even 350Hz gives the results you need, then don't be afraid to try it.

Same for all those other EQ controls, sound check is a good time to experiment. Assuming that you aren't sound checking in a bar that is serving dinner guests or working with a touring act that doesn't have the patience to stand there and check the mic for 10 minutes...

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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 07:43:20 am »

Confession time. When I first starting mixing on digital boards, I was too scared to bring the high pass frequency above 80-100Hz.

My line of thinking was that all the analog boards had low cut switches that usually had 80Hz or 100Hz silk screened beside them so I assumed that it was incorrect to go any higher.

This is one of those cases where it is safe to use your ears, if raising the low cut to 150, or 200 or even 350Hz gives the results you need, then don't be afraid to try it.

Same for all those other EQ controls, sound check is a good time to experiment. Assuming that you aren't sound checking in a bar that is serving dinner guests or working with a touring act that doesn't have the patience to stand there and check the mic for 10 minutes...
The reason for that 80 or 100hz is simple price.  It is none adjustable.  A n adjustable highpass costs more and you don't see it on cheap consoles.

Look at any console that has an adjustable highpass and they will typically go up to at least 400hz-some higher.

The room I was in yesterday was 320'x315' and 50' tall.  All concrete and sheetrock.  The RT60 was over 7 seconds-very heavily weighted towards the low end.

The main mic was a speaking mic (a band would play later-but not the focus), so to get the clarity up I simply got rid of all of the garbage.  It make a HUGE difference.

Did it sound as "nice" as if the highpass was lower-but you could UNDERSTAND it much better.

It doesn't matter how "warm or full" it sounds if you can't understand it.

Yes that was an extreme-but it just goes to show that every situation is different and you have to be able to adjust your thinking to fit a particular situation.
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Ivan Beaver
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dick rees

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2014, 08:40:54 am »

Can someone share "general" eq tips when setting up vocal mics?  It is understood that there are many variables regarding the particular gear used and male or female vocals. 

Some areas requested are:
1. Lo cut filter yes or no and at what frequency point?
2. PEQ or VEQ?  (I see this on my X32) And where do you generally have success placing your frequency points?
3. Are there training tools for helping to recognize problem frequencies if you do not have analyzing gear in your rig?
4. When you first walk up to your board to set it up, do you generally cut certain frequencies from experience?  What would those be?

I would divide the task into two parts:

1.  EQ'ing the mic to optimize GBF and

2.  EQ'ing the channel to "sit in the mix".

Balance the two.
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Art Welter

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2014, 10:52:00 am »

Can someone share "general" eq tips when setting up vocal mics? 
Rufus,

"Vocal" mics  "generally" have a low frequency proximity effect,  an increased bass boost as distance (proximity) to the mic element is decreased.
The frequency of maximum boost varies with the microphone type, and may be a relatively narrow or wide peak ("Q"), and the center frequency of the peak may vary over a wide range from 250 Hz on down to below 100 Hz. The proximity peak may be as little as 2 dB to more than 10 dB depending on mic type and distance.
The difference in proximity effect requires drastically different EQ and LP settings dependant on the vocalist's distance to the microphone and it's type.

Some mics have the element closer to the wind screen, which can give more gain before feedback (inverse distance law) but also increases the proximity effect.

In addition, most "vocal" mics have an upper "presence" peak, which also varies in frequency and "Q", commonly from 3 kHz to 10 kHz, which may also vary with proximity.

Simply looking at the response curves of microphones will give you a good idea of where the two peaks are. The difference in the frequency, "Q" and amplitude of the peaks often causes people to love or hate particular microphones, though if they were simply aware of what causes the difference, could use them to advantage.

The two peaks may be complementary to a particular voice, or may make a voice sound like mud or an "icepick in the forehead".
There are some vocal mics available that have very little proximic effect (such as EV's  "Variable D" mics) which can be useful for vocalists that like to "work the mic" at various distance without changing the sound.

Some voices have such different characteristics between loud and soft, upper and lower register, speaking and singing that two (or more) different EQ settings must be used to accommodate the different styles.

Some digital consoles have a "hat EQ" option (named for requiring a different EQ because of the resonances that occur when wearing a hat compared to without it) , so you can toggle between different EQ on the same channel.

I frequently use a general EQ on the vocal sub master to counteract the particular proximity effect of the microphones used and provide a global HP, which then allows simply engaging or disengaging the EQ and HP filter to effect three different options very quickly without requiring two separate channels or a "hat EQ".

Art

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Rufus Crowder

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2014, 04:22:08 pm »

Confession time. When I first starting mixing on digital boards, I was too scared to bring the high pass frequency above 80-100Hz.

My line of thinking was that all the analog boards had low cut switches that usually had 80Hz or 100Hz silk screened beside them so I assumed that it was incorrect to go any higher.

This is one of those cases where it is safe to use your ears, if raising the low cut to 150, or 200 or even 350Hz gives the results you need, then don't be afraid to try it.

Same for all those other EQ controls, sound check is a good time to experiment. Assuming that you aren't sound checking in a bar that is serving dinner guests or working with a touring act that doesn't have the patience to stand there and check the mic for 10 minutes...
Great comments and this helps a lot of us out here...

Spenser, the funny thing is that I have done the same thing for that very reason!!  A lot of the lower cost consoles had fixed eq that the frequency was silk screened next to the pots as Ivan eluded to.  I used those as starting points only to notice they were not at the optimum points.  My 01V96 came set up with some ones that I questioned also.
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Tim Padrick

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2014, 03:21:09 am »

Proximity effect:
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Patrick Tracy

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Re: Vocal EQ Tips - 101
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2014, 03:46:07 am »

Proximity effect:

This is why for rock shows I do generally start with eq to compensate for expected proximity effect. If it sounds bad it's easy to zero out, but usually it's needed. For that use I'd rather have a fully adjustable shelf eq than a high pass filter.
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