Using Dynamic Equalisation on Female Vocals

How to use a dynamic equaliser to process female vocals. Add motion and vibrancy to female vocal recordings.

Dynamic Processors


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Dynamic equalisers are the new ‘faux compressors’ of our times. They are far more versatile than static equalisers, more flexible than multiband compressors and are a wonderful way to add vibrancy and motion to a vocal line.

Female vocals are very dynamic and therefore need to be expressed as so. I find that using static equalisation on vocals only gets me part way there and trying to add dynamic motion using a compressor placed after the EQ doesn’t work nearly as well as using a dedicated dynamic EQ. The problem with chaining dynamics in series is that one process is dependent on another and when you make a change to one processor you invariable have to tweak the other processor just to accommodate for the changes made. Using a dynamic EQ is a far more accurate and elegant way of managing all the required compression, expansion and equalisation tasks in a single processor.

Using dynamic equalisation on female vocals requires some prep work and an understanding of the filter types used in the dynamic EQ. The first step is to remove redundant frequencies, a process we call ‘cleaning’ and we use band-pass filtering to achieve this.

Once we have cleaned the vocal take we can start to explore the powerful features of the dynamic EQ.

Dynamic eq

A dynamic equaliser applies the gain change directly to the gain parameters of a multiband parametric equaliser. As with most dynamics processors, the the threshold determines at which point gain changes take place. You have control over the bandwidth denoted by the Q value and, much like a compressor, the response is controlled with the attack and release functions.

Now that we understand what a dynamic equaliser is we can start by using a combination of band-pass filtering and split band processing.

Split Band processing

I like to break my stereo demo mix into specific frequency ranges – ie splitting frequency bands. This allows me to treat each range in isolation. Once the frequency ranges have been treated in isolation, using the band solo feature available on the dynamic EQ, we can process the whole vocal take as one sound. In effect we are marrying all the frequency ranges to form a single solid homogeneous sound. I find it much easier to work with broadband ranges than narrow frequency bands and the only time I use narrow band frequency processing is when I am trying to notch out nasty frequencies from the vocals like boxiness and mud.

Using a dynamic equaliser on a vocal recording allows for frequency ranges to ‘breathe’ and bounce along to the timing of the mix.

In the video I explain how a dynamic equaliser works and how best to use it for treating female vocals. I show you techniques for isolating frequency ranges and applying dynamic processes to them and in isolation. I show you how to ‘clean’ the vocal take by using band-pass filtering and explain the best settings to use to achieve the optimum result. I the show you how to ‘marry’ all the frequency ranges together to form a single homogeneous sound.

Plugin used in this video:

TDR Nova GE

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Using a dynamic Eq to process female vocals
  • Cut versus Boost
  • Threshold and Ratio
  • Motion and Frequency Control
  • Filter Types
  • Slopes and Responses
  • Range and Ratio
  • Linking Nodes
  • Inverted Nodes