Removing harshness from the vocal
The Vocal is the most important element in the song. It also the most recognized and understandable from every listener. Our ear reacts best on the frequency range where the vocal sits: 3.5kHz.
Knowing this we can make one important conclusion: The information in the frequency spectrum of vocals is concentrated primarily around 3.5kHz range. Because of it the AD convertors have hard time converting this concentrated signal especially if singer sings open and strong vowels.
It is rare this harshness to be from a good mic (very often this problem occurs with cheap TUBE microphones and cheap condensers). Almost always the reason for harsh vocals is bad AD Converters in home studio sound cards or building of a high-mid frequencies because of the bad room.
But we will not talk about the reasons why the harshness occurs. We will talk about
HOW TO REMOVE THE HARSHNESS FROM THE VOCALS.
99,9% of the time, the harshness will occur only where singer sings strong vowels directly in the microphone. That means that we shouldn’t destroy with EQ the whole recording. The right way to remove harshness from vocal is to use dynamic EQ or multiband compressor. The multiband compressor or dynamic EQ will compress only when the selected frequency range will be louder than the threshold.
This is the proper way to remove harshness from vocals:
- On the vocal channel, as first insert open any dynamic EQ or Multiband Compressor Plug inn.
Always do this step before you start with EQ. This harshness will force you to EQ the whole vocal.
Always do this step before you start with standard Compression because you will even the vocal level and the multiband compressor will compress everything in the harsh frequency range, not only where it is too strong.
(You can also use any de esser plugin by adjusting it around 3.5kHz)
- Search for the harsh frequency around 2.5kHz to 3.5kHz.
Almost always it will be 3.5kHz because it is the hardest frequency to be converted well by the AD Converter and it is the frequency where the vocal is most intense. One trick how to find harsh frequency is by finding the mud frequency and going 3 ½ Octaves higher (Or Check out the 12 harmonic).
Example: If the mud in the vocal is on 300Hz, first octave will be 600Hz, second octave is 1200Hz ,the third octave is 2400 and the 3 ½ octave (or 12th harmonic ) is 3600Hz
- After removing harshness in the vocal, reduce a little bit the mud frequencies.
Remember, when you reduce one frequency, you are boosting the other frequencies.