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EQ before or after recordiing vocals?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Maverick87, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. Maverick87

    Maverick87 Active Member

    Is EQ something that should only be adjusted after recording vocals? I've read that compression can be applied before recording, but only if you know what you are doing since it can't be taken out. Is it the same deal with EQ? It sounds like some people cut or boost certain frequencies before the recording with good results so I was just wondering if I should try it or stick with safely applying after. If I should which frequencies are 'safer' or more typical to cut and boost without overdoing it? Thanks.
     
  2. Maverick87

    Maverick87 Active Member

    I should also note for those who don't know and for more accurate answers, that I record only vocals and rap/hip hop music. I use a sterling audio st-51 condensor mic, magic music studio 12 deluxe, and an m-audio mobile pre audio interface/preamp.

    I also layer my vocals very deeply usually:
    One lead vocal centered, full verse
    Two full verse vocals Panned left n right, -23 n 23 tho sometimes I go -35 n 35 if it sounds too muggy
    Two 'overdubs' accenting specific words n phrases Panned even further, -45 n 45
    And two adlib tracks Panned left n right -55 n 55.

    Those are the layouts typically for my verses, my hooks/choruses are the same layout but I pan them out further because I've heard its a good thing to do and makes it more distinguishable from the rest of the song.

    I also use a high pass filter(i think? The one that cuts the low frequencies down, Id have to go look at the studio to see at which frequency it is cut). With as many tracks as I use to make the sound fuller n wider I pretty much have to or you can imagine how bassy n muggy it will sound.

    With all this being said, any helpful EQ tips for before n after recording?
     
  3. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    The eq in your console doesn't go to disc when you record unless you have a console that has the option to send post eq(which is usually either an expensive feature or mod). The EQ in your DAW doesn't go to disc either. So, unless you are going directly through a hardware eq to tape/disc or you have the option to go to tape/disc post eq, it's not getting recorded.
     
  4. Le Vab

    Le Vab Active Member

    Sometimes it is very helpful to equalize the vocals during recording.
    Here is a nice setup I use for many many years into my DAW:
    Step1
    Listen to the vocalist and discover the sound. Listen carefully where he or she needs some EQ

    Step 2
    Insert the EQ with the right settings on the vocal track

    Step 3
    Set the pre-amp to a level that at the loudest parts your mono channel reads about -3 dB Peak level

    Step 4
    Insert a group channel , call it "vocal control" and insert a compresoor/limiter and put ratio 4:1, fast attack and medium release, treshold at about -5dB

    Step 5
    Insert a second compessor ratio 2:1, same attack and release settings but treshold at -10dB

    Step 6
    Set the output of your mono vocal track to the group "Vocal Control" Track and record some vocals with the loudest parts

    Step 7
    Bypass your second compressor and check that the input and output on the first compressor/limiter reads about -7dB

    Step 8
    Put both compressors on and adjust the second compressor until it reads about -3dB on the input and output meters
    Now you will have fully control on the loudest parts

    Step 9
    When you're done you can ride the vocal fader. With automation it is very easy yo make fader movements at the end of a sentence for example.
     
  5. rocksure

    rocksure Active Member

    Once upon a time I used to try and record with my levels that high too, especially when things were 16 bit. That was the old way we were taught when digital recording was relatively new. However, now with 24 bit converters there is no need to record that loud. You can get just as good recordings with the levels set much lower, and then find it MUCH EASIER to mix later because you are not trying to force so many loud signals into the headroom limitations of a DAW. If you have a bunch of tracks all recorded that loud, at mixdown you will find yourself running out of headroom and having to bring all your faders down. The professional +4 standard reference point of 0 dB in the analog domain ( 1.23 volts) is actually at -20 from 0 DBFS (top of the Digital scale in your DAW meters). With the reference level on an outboard console being +4 at -20 in the digital world of DAW, if you slam everything up too hot it's like trying to jam all your signal on a console at maximum level. Not such a good idea. Keeping our recording levels lower makes it much easier to mix things later.

    I do like your idea of using two compressors to tame dynamics though. It works well specially with vocalists that fluctuate wildly in levels.

    Using EQ while recording vocals can work fine if someone knows what they are doing. Generally I prefer to do my EQ on vocals later when mixing, and leave them flat ( except for a low cut filter which I do use) during recording. But we all have different methods..niether one is necessarily right or wrong....just different.
     
  6. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I can't find any reference to a console in this thread or the OP's profile, but I can say that I've used several desks with eq before tape/direct outs. A&H MixWizards have jumper selectable direct out placement in the channel path. But maybe those are just exceptions.
     
  7. rocksure

    rocksure Active Member

    Some smaller mixers have EQ post the Direct outs, some have them pre. There is the option of patching an outboard EQ into and insert. The buses on large consoles, from which you normally route signals to tape/DAW are post EQ. Rack mount channel strips/preamps also often include EQ,......so there are plenty of ways of getting EQ'ed vocals or instruments recorded.
     
  8. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    You're right, there is no reference to a console in the OP's post, however he does mention an M-Audio Mobile Pre and Magix Music Maker 12. In which case the EQ definitely doesn't go to disc. I've never used a console with Post EQ output to tape but my experience with large format consoles is limited. I would dare to say that most, if not all of the entry to mid level mixers are pre eq output with the exception of the stereo mains. But, the point is moot. The signal path in the post mentioned above does not send eq to disc.
     

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