We use EQ to tame harsh vocals, add shine to dull vocals, help a lead vocal cut through mix, etc. But regular EQs can sometimes be a blunt tool for a delicate job. With a dynamic equalizer like the F6 Dynamic EQ plugin, you can boost or attenuate problem frequencies only when needed.
In this tutorial, Grammy-winning mixing engineer Dave Darlington (Avicii, David Guetta, Sting) shows you how to solve real-world EQ examples using the F6 Dynamic EQ:
1. How to tame a harsh vocal
Suppose you have a vocal that’s particularly harsh, but only at certain points – the singer you’re mixing might have a certain range that’s not pleasant, but it isn’t there all the time.
With a regular, ‘static’ equalizer, if you cut that frequency, it is gone for the entire song, and that might make the vocal sound dull overall.
With a dynamic equalizer, you can find the unpleasant frequency and get rid of it only during those seconds or moments when it becomes problematic. Simply find the problematic frequency, and set the threshold of the F6 Dynamic EQ so that the plugin reacts only at the problematic points during the song.
For a fuller demonstration, watch 00:14–02:15 of the tutorial.
2. How to make vocals shine without adding too much sibilance
It is common practice to boost some high frequencies in the vocal in order to add shine and air, especially with lead vocals. However, when you use a regular, ‘static’ equalizer, a side effect of this might be that you get too much sibilance – harsh-sounding s’s, sh’s, etc.
With the F6, you can choose the right frequency to boost, but then you can use the plugin’s dynamic controls to remove any unpleasant sibilance, only in those seconds when it occurs.
Watch 02:15–03:53 of the tutorial to learn how.
3. How to sidechain the lead vocal to help it cut through the mix
Let’s say the singer you’re mixing has trouble cutting through the track.
With the F6, you can sidechain all the backing tracks – whether it’s synth pads, guitars, strings, etc. – with the send from the vocal, and whenever the singer is singing, you can set the F6 to dip down those frequencies where the vocal would be. Simply bus all the backing tracks to an auxiliary fader, put the F6 on that aux, and set the frequency to where most of the vocal energy is heard.
For the full demonstration, with tips on internal vs. external sidechaining and how to use F6’s “Split” vs. “Wide” modes, watch 03:53-07:24 of the tutorial.
4. How to tame harsh cymbals
The F6 Dynamic EQ has many other applications besides vocals. For example, if your overheads include a crash that’s too loud or annoying, you can use F6 to deal selectively with those extra high-end frequencies, without affecting the rest of the cymbals in your overhead track.
For example: Suppose you have a nice ride cymbal in the song, but every now, in the same track, you also have a loud dramatic crash joining with annoying high frequencies. If you just roll of the EQ with a ‘static’ equalizer, the ride cymbal might disappear. With a dynamic EQ, you can treat the crash surgically without hurting the sound of the ride.
Watch 07:24 –08:30 of the tutorial to learn how.