Frequency is an important aspect of any kind of audio production. I work in music production so I’m mostly dealing with instruments and vocals.
This usually involves going through individual mix elements to make sure that they’re in the right frequency range. It therefore pays to have an understanding of various elements and their frequency range.
One of the most important elements in music production are vocals.
Vocals are perhaps one of the cardinal elements in any mix.
It is for this reason that this post will discuss the frequency range of vocals so you get a better understanding of the topic.
With that said; what frequency range are vocals?
Adult male vocals usually range from 80Hz to around 200Hz (100Hz to 300Hz being the fundamental) while adult female vocals range from 165Hz to around 300Hz (200Hz to 400Hz being the fundamental).
Men’s vocals as you may know have a lot more low end energy and usually have to be EQ’d to a specific standard in order to avoid completely taking away the low end that makes the vocal what it is.
While, most men’s vocals may start from around 85Hz, it’s not completely out of the question to find deep vocals that have a frequency range of around 70Hz to 100Hz.
EQ is a great way to get rid of any unnecessary frequencies as well as boost or cut any specific potions of the vocal.
This is necessary in music production because the goal is to get the vocal as clean and clear as possible.
There are different methods of EQ’ing vocals and I’m going to discuss some of these below so you get a better understanding of how vocals work and how we use Digital tools to get the best possible vocal outcome.
The low frequencies of a vocal are important just as any other important frequencies.
With vocals the low frequencies are never a static number of Hertz because all vocals are different.
While EQ’ing its therefore important to take note of this so that you leave some low end in the vocal.
Since you’ve gotten a rough idea of the frequency range of adult male and female vocals. You can use any EQ plugin to get rid of the uneeded low frequencies.
If you, for example, have a male vocal with a frequency range of 120 to 250… It would be necessary to get rid of the any frequencies below 120.
This is because most of the static, hum and other unwanted interference would be below 120 Hz.
It therefore pays to get a good idea of the frequency range a vocal is covering, so that any low end cuts don’t only work well for certain portions of a vocal, but for the overall vocal.
This is why you should invest in good graphic frequency equalisers that allow you to visually see the frequency concentration of the vocal you’re dealing with.
There are a number of different EQ plugins out there that you can choose from.
Some stock plugins are also quite effective therefore it pays to try them out before you consider buying the premium ones.
The mid range frequency area is usually the most busy part of any mix because this space is occupied by a variety of different song elements.
Therefore, when EQ’ing the midrange of vocals, it’s important to be both surgical and attentive because one mistake could kill the clarity of your mix.
It’s best to Identify important mid range elements and EQ them in accordance with vocals.
You’ll need to carve out some space for mid range lead instruments by boosting or cutting specific parts of the vocal mid range frequencies.
However, the vocals are the most important element so it’s best to be surgical with any boosts or cuts….
Because the last thing you want is to have holes in your mix that make your vocals sound like they’re being held back by your Equalization.
It’s therefore important to always strike a good balance because that’s what equalization is for.
EQ is not only for boosting or cutting away frequencies, it’s a tool that is meant to create harmony among mix elements.
It therefore pays to work with this in mind.
EQ with your ears and not your eyes.
High frequencies have to be properly treated to ensure that they work as best as they can with other mix elements.
When dealing with high frequencies of vocals it’s important to have tonal balance in mind.
Which is why the first thing you could do is use some EQ cuts or boosts in the high range frequencies until you get a good nice high end.
You can then use some harmonic exciters to bring in some top end harmonic content.
And lastly, a de-esser to reduce any sibilance.