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Knowing how to equalize your equipment and recordings can be a complex task and subject that most people would skip because of all the technicalities. Sound engineers would spend most of their time just fixing the EQ by cutting down or tweaking plugins. From that line alone, it is understandable why some would just leave their settings as is, but equalizing can be actually pretty simple and worthwhile.
Whether you are recording in your bedroom or in a studio, equalizing is a must in order to get the best mix or audio possible.
By adjusting your microphone’s EQ, you can optimize its sound depending on how you want it to be. May it be for your demos, master recordings, streams, podcasts, or even online meetings, a properly equalized mic can make all the difference to your voice and overall audio.
Equalization or EQ is the process of adjusting the volume frequency of a sound within an audio signal. By adjusting the peaks or dips of your recording, equalizing can transform your recorded audio completely.
The amount of equalizing done to a recording can also be subjective as it alters the audio to one’s preference. For example, while others prefer more bass, others would like less of it. Regardless, equalizing can make audio more focused, balanced, and clear.
To properly adjust the EQ of your microphone, you will first need to know its specifications. Find out its output level, frequency response range, output impedance, and directivity. This will help you gauge what you need to adjust from what is a built-in limitation.
VoiceMeeter is a free app that acts as an in-software mixer board similar to how the hardware would look like. You should be able to see a graphic EQ that will allow you to control the individual frequency bands. Watch this step-by-step YouTube tutorial on how to equalize using VoiceMeeter.
Programs such as the Equalizer APO can shelf filter let you amplify or reduce the low end or high end of the frequency spectrum. By doing so, you can achieve a low-shelf filter or a high-shelf filter. A low shelf filter amplifies or reduces the low end of the frequency spectrum whereas the high shelf filter does it for the high end.
Through a shelving filter, you can make your mic sound brighter and less bass-heavy. This is perfect for natural-sounding audio like talking. Watch this YouTube tutorial of this Twitch streamer on how he did this for his streams.
In case you are looking for a more in-depth explanation of EQ programs and to gain more insights, search these YouTube channels that may point you in the right direction on how to adjust your mic’s EQ: In The Mix, NORCLA, and TheFranswah Studio.
No matter the program you choose to use to adjust the EQ, there is a standard optimal frequency response range a microphone would have depending on what kind of audio it is recording. For vocal mics, a frequency response range of 80 Hz to 15 kHz would be ideal whereas a bass drum mic would go for a low-end filter ranging from 40 Hz to 30 Hz. If you made any changes to these, then you can check out the app’s center frequency to find out the exact EQ filter tuned.
Allow us to stress once again the importance of having a good mic so there would be fewer things to adjust in our EQ settings. By already starting off with the best equipment, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose as you are assured that your raw audio can only get better from here.
After adjusting the EQ of your recording device, you can now adjust the EQ of your vocals to produce even better audio that will shift the focus to your voice.
To accentuate the tone of your voice and lessen white noise, check if you rolled off the low-end bass frequencies. However, if you recorded your vocals with other external sounds or instruments and you want these to equalize, you can aim for a mid-range of 500 Hz to 1.5 kHz. Going above said mid-range can give you a mix of a muddy and boomy recording.
Make your voice fill the room when your audio is being played by reducing the mud and boom in the recording. You can do this by avoiding cutting more than 6 dB of your mix and staying clear from the 200 Hz to 500 Hz frequency.
If you want to add more volume to the vocals and lessen the “breathing” or “air” we sometimes hear in recordings, you can adjust the high shelf filter and frequency accordingly. To complement this, one can make the vocals sound ‘fuller’ by adjusting the EQ from 4 kHz to 5 kHz.
For more vocal clarity, you can either boost or cut the sound plugins. As a rule of thumb when equalizing, remember that less is more so do this carefully and sparingly.
Lastly, to lessen the sibilance that can be heard when a person is talking or singing, you can reduce the targeted frequency by using a de-esser and reducing the volume.
Location is a major factor that can affect your overall recording. Before setting up, secure that the chosen place where you will be recording has minimal to no unwanted background noise. Being able to pinpoint what exactly is being picked up in your recording can help make equalizing easier. This will lessen the work you would have to put in when editing and equalizing.
We recommend that you switch to a more quiet and controlled setting whenever recording. When all is settled, you’re set to record.
Refrain from making any unnecessary movements such as fiddling with the mic or playing with any nearby equipment as this can be captured in the recording and produce audio muffling. If you have the habit of fidgeting while talking or singing, it is best to step further away from the recording gadget so you would have fewer external factors to account for when equalizing.
Equalizing alone is not the only factor that can affect the audio quality of your voice or sounds, which is why it is also important for you to choose the right microphone when recording. Check out this guide on the best microphones for recording and see which one can help make you sound amazing based on your budget and preference.
There may be a lot of work in equalizing, but at the end of it all, you have the most to gain out of it! Putting in the extra effort at the backend of things can lead you to gain more opportunities in your craft and work. More importantly, equalizing will help you in churning out a final mix that sounds good to you.