Resonant vocals can be unpleasant to listen to as they have harsh, piercing frequencies that stick out of the mix and distract from the song. We offer 3 tips on how to remedy this issue.
Resonant vocals can create an ear-piercing effect that unpleasantly screeches through speakers. Resonance is a result of your vocalist’s voice interacting with the microphone they’re using and the space they’re in. If you’re handed resonant vocals, you can deal with the resonance by using a dynamic EQ, saturator, or creative filtering effects.
A Dynamic EQ like the F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ only responds to signals that exceed the threshold level of its bands. When the input signal is more resonant, the gain attenuation is stronger. In comparison with multiband compressors, which behave similarly, dynamic EQs tend to provide a narrower bandwidth, perfect for targeting sharp resonant frequencies.
Apply the F6 to your resonant vocals and apply a boost to a bell filter. Make sure the bell filter is using a narrow bandwidth, and then sweep the band throughout the frequency spectrum of your vocals. When you find a resonant frequency, leave the band where it is, set the band’s gain to zero, and then reduce the band’s threshold until the resonance is dealt with.
If there’s one particularly resonant frequency present in your vocals, it’s not uncommon for there to be resonant upper harmonics as well. You may very well end up with multiple notches applied to a single vocal.
Applying a saturator to your resonant vocals will mask the resonance with distortion and tame the resulting signal through the use of compression. If you’re looking to add some color to your vocals and simultaneously deal with resonance, using Abbey Road Saturator or a tape saturator like J37 Tape is a great solution.
Insert the J37 onto your resonant vocal track. Increase the input level so that the main meter is peaking around zero, or higher if you want to add some more “edge” to your vocals. Decrease the output level so that you can accurately perform an A/B comparison between that processed and unprocessed signal when you bypass the plugin.
Resonance can occur anywhere throughout the frequency spectrum of your vocals, but if resonance is most prominent in the top-end, you can use a low-pass filter to remove the problematic frequencies altogether.
MetaFilter provides an assortment of creative filter-focused mixing solutions you can use to deal with resonance and apply creative effects. Apply MetaFilter to your resonant vocal track, select the low-pass filter, and adjust the FREQ knob until you’ve cut away the resonance you’re experiencing.
Taking it a step further, change MetaFilter’s LFO to a sine wave, and then adjust the depth of the LFO within the FREQ panel; this will create a wavy pumping effect that seems intentional, as opposed to a last resort mixing technique. For background vocals, this wavy effect can turn out very nicely.
Want more quick mix fixes? Get tips on fixing a boxy vocal here.
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