Playing back your voice recording and not hearing the pristine quality you expected is a common occurrence. It happens to most voice over artists, streamers, producers, and podcasters. Even more frustrating is being disappointed still, after upgrading to a high end (expensive) microphone. EQ is one of the popular tools that comes to the rescue. When using EQ to address an issue with a voice recording, you first identify the band that you want to work with, then decide which EQ tools you’d like to use to manipulate the bands. But, Identifying which bands needed to repair the problem requires some experience and a trained producer’s ear.
Below is a guide to help you target common offending voice frequencies according to what you may be hearing. It can also help train your ear to eventually become a seasoned producer yourself. Below are just a few of the most common frequency bands that affect voice audio. (Gain levels of +10 or -10 are for illustration purposes only).
EQ can be used to shape a voice sound that is deficient in certain sections of the frequency spectrum. A voice recording that is lacking warmth or fullness may benefit from a boost in the frequency space between 100Hz and 150Hz. The amount of gain applied depends on the recording itself. Start with a boost in 100Hz to 150Hz range and overly increase the gain (+10 to +12 db) while slowly sweeping right and left. Once you find the frequency position that hits the desired tone, back off the gain to taste.
If you find yourself with a voice recording that has excess boominess, or a small room resonance that you would like to correct, the same frequency range can be used to address the problem. This time cutting (or lowering) the gain in the 100Hz to 150Hz frequency band area can be beneficial. Start with a cut in 100Hz to 150Hz range and overly decrease the gain (-10 to -12 db) while slowly sweeping right and left. Once you find the frequency position that hits the desired tone, reduce the amount of attenuation until you are satisfied with the sound.
A male voice recording, especially when combined with an additional music track may sometimes lack clarity or body. A male voice may increase clarity by cutting in the 180Kz to 240Hz frequency band area. Sweeping the filter is a good way to fine tune and locate the right tone. Since this adjustment can also reduce the weight of the voice, a slight overall volume increase of the voice track may be necessary.
A female voice may increase clarity or body by cutting in the 200Kz to 300Hz frequency band area, which usually lives slightly above the male range. Filter sweep to find the desired tone. Since this similar adjustment can reduce the weight of the voice, a slight overall volume increase of the voice track may be necessary.
A voice recording that is lacking clarity may also benefit from a boost in the 800Hz to 1KHz frequency range. Since every voice is different, this range is a good starting point. To pin-point the best frequency to resolve the issue, use your ears while sweeping the filter before adjusting the gain to taste.
A voice recording that is lacking clarity may benefit from a cut in the 800Hz to 1KHz frequency range. Targeting the correct frequency to resolve the issue will require sweeping the filter before adjusting the gain to taste. Again, 800Hz to 1KHz is only a guide. Remember to use your ears to make the final decision.
A voice recording that is lacking presence may benefit from a boost in the 3KHz to 6KHz frequency range. Target the precise frequency to do the job with a filter sweep before adjusting the gain to taste.
The visual aspects of a EQ are very helpful, but I'll remind you again that it’s imperative the adjustments you make ultimately be based on your ear. For best results, monitor the sound while doing EQ work with a good set of reference monitors rather than headphones. There are more typical frequency band ranges that commonly cause problems within a voice recording including noise, air, brittleness, harshness and sibilance. To see them all, I have made available a downloadable pdf file illustrating the full suggested voice frequency bands adjustment ranges.
This content is an excerpt from the EQ Fundamentals For Voice training course. The popular EQ training course is designed to optimize the quality of your voice sound. EQ Fundamentals For Voice is a good choice for voice over artists, Youtubers, streamers, podcasters, or anyone working with voice audio. Learn to enhance your voice recordings and streams with this course from professional sound engineer and producer Lenny B.