Courtesy of: IMSTA FESTA Online 2021 and Izotope Products
Music technologist and audio engineer Carlo Libertini shows how he uses the plug-ins included in the iZotope Music Production Suite in vocal production and mixing. iZotope’s Music Production Suite offers interconnected tools that assist in production, mixing, and mastering stages. Whether fixing problems, adding character, or adding ear candy, these products are an indispensable part of your toolkit.
IZOTOPE Nectar Pro – EQ Vocals
Once you’ve identified where the resonance is and how wide the range is, you can then lower the EQ band below the 0 dB line and widen it accordingly. How much you cut will depend on the amount of resonance present in your vocal. Here’s where I placed my bell filters to clean up my vocal:
Nectar Pro also has a nifty feature called Follow EQ that locks onto a harmonic in a signal (like these resonant frequencies) and follows it as the harmonic moves around. Since a pop vocal generally moves up and down in pitch throughout the performance, this Follow EQ function is very useful for removing an area of resonance in the vocalist’s voice as it moves up and down the frequency spectrum. I’ve turned on Follow EQ for my bell filters, and this is the result:
Boost presence and warmth with bell filters
The last piece of EQing a pop vocal, and the hardest to pull off, is to boost the ranges in a vocal that create more presence and warmth. Again, this will differ for each voice you encounter, but here are a few general tips to get you going:
These areas tend to be in the mid range, between 1–6 kHz.
If a vocal is feeling thin, a boost between 200–300 Hz can work well.
Be careful boosting around 4–9 kHz since that’s where sibilance tends to hide out. Boosting too much here can cause your vocal to sound harsh.
Knowing where to boost is a lot more difficult than knowing where to cut, and requires more refined critical listening skills. The more vocals you mix, the easier this will become.
Nectar Pro comes with two separate EQ modules. I typically like to use the first EQ for cutting and the second for boosting. For my vocal, I decided to add a boost around 430 Hz to add some more body to my voice and another boost around 3.5 kHz to bring out a bit more sizzle and crispness.
Here’s what my final vocal sounds like after a bit of EQ boosting:
Start using EQ on your pop vocals
A little bit of EQ work really goes a long way. Here’s the before-and-after audio sample to show you how much good the EQing did for my vocal:
With just a few simple EQ adjustments, you can easily polish up your pop vocal and get it ready for the next steps in your vocal chain. After EQing, you’ll probably want to add some compression, de-essing, and maybe a bit of reverb to finish up your vocal processing. But, you can do all of this within the same instance of Nectar Pro