Vocal EQ mixing secret: High & Low Pass Filters

EQ can be the most elusive part of mixing. Presets are a good starting point, but 99% of the time they don't get the job done. You've got to know all the parameters of your EQ. HP & LP filters usually go overlooked when it comes to EQ. However, these can be some of the most critical tools you use. Extreme high and low frequencies can cause a lot of congestion in a mix. Take the time to use filters and roll off some of the high and low frequencies on each track in your mix. By sculpting your tracks with HP and LP filters, you will find that your tracks fit together sonically.

In addition to the filters, you can use the Maag EQ4 on your vocal tracks and get out-of-this-world results with a simple turn of the knob. The EQ4 has the "Air Band" built on the top end of the EQ and allows you to dial in the right amount of shine and shimmer in a vocal track. This allows it to open up and sit perfectly on top of the mix. At the moment, the EQ4 is only sold as a 500 series module, so you'll need to do a little investing in your studio to add this magical piece of gear. Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed. There have been so many times when I just give the 40KHz a 3dB boost and all of a sudden the vocals come to life. And yes, I did say 40KHz. You just have to hear it to believe it. The rest of this EQ is also excellent on almost any track. The SUB knob also works as a filter and allows you to carve out any low frequencies that may get too boomy or muddy in your mix. This is the magical box!

Now in vocal tracks, there's not a lot of detail or useful information in the low frequencies. Use the filter to roll off the low end up to about 100 Hz. Don't stop there, move the curve up until you find the right amount of low end reduction to help the vocal sit in the mix. Use a gentle curve to make sure you don't get any phasing problems. A 6dB or 12dB curve will work best for this sort of filtering. A steeper curve will usually cause phase shift and this will result in the vocals going out of phase with the mix.

Be sure not to do this with the track in solo mode. You need to mix your vocal in the mix. The world is not going to hear your vocal tracks in solo mode, so don't mix them that way. You can solo the track to A/B the mix against your vocals, but ultimately you should make decisions while listening to the vocal in the mix.

Hope this is helpful in getting you going with your vocal recordings. Please leave a comment if you have a question.