This is part four of how to record heavy vocals and we’re gonna take a look at three of the easiest and popular ways of treating your vocal with EQ, Reverb and Delay.
Get the vocalist in the right position before applying an eq. Simple adjustments in proximity from the vocalist’s mouth to the microphone diaphragm are far more effective than reaching for an EQ.
When using EQ: Start with an Hipass filter. Roll off anywhere from 60 to 100hz to clear up the mud. If you must EQ, use subtractive EQ, removing frequencies you don’t want, and leaving the frequencies you DO want. Turn up your fader to compensate. This is a far cleaner way to work than using boosting EQ.
Only de-ess if absolutely necessary. If you didn’t use any boosting eq, chances are, you won’t need to de-ess.
Plate simulations are a favourite on vocals. Length can be tweaked to work with the beat of the song. Reverb can “fill in the gaps” and make a vocalist sound better, but too much reverb can easily ruin a mix. The trick is to use it sparingly… it should be there to support the vocal, but never take attention away from it.
A good idea is to EQ the reverb signal.. Try a high pass filter going up anwyere from 250-450hz to clean up the mud. This works especially well in a dense mix with tons of guitars.
Reverb isn’t idea for death-growling vocals, however.
Delay can be a great way to add depth to a vocal while keeping it fresh and present. Unlike reverb, it won’t cloud up your mix. Work with the song’s tempo to time the echo to the beat. ¼ and ½ notes are a great place to start. If you didn’t track the song to a metronome, use a “tap tempo” program to get a rough estimate of the song’s tempo.
The delay should be set for minimal regeneration. We want to hear one or two echos, not more. Keep it subtle.
Longer delay times with larger regeneration settings are great as “special effects’ that can sound great on sustained bending pitch lines. Use automation to bring this forward at the right time.