Adjusting EQ

Adjust EQ

Improve Your Vocal Presence by Adjusting the EQ on Your Recording

Have you ever wondered why broadcasters and voice over artists tend to have lovely rich voices?  If you’re a new podcaster, you may wish you too sounded as good.

There are two reasons their voices sound so good.  First is their vocal training.  And second is the set of audio effects they control when they record their voice.

Vocal training comes with lots of practice and feedback.  It’s not something I can help you easily without meeting with you in person.  But adjusting audio effects in your audio editing program is something you can quickly learn today.

Voice professionals adjust two things when they record their voice.  First, they adjust their EQ settings.  Second they set compression.

In this article we’ll look at the EQ.

EQ and Your Ears

As we get older, our ears become less efficient at hearing the bass and treble frequencies.

So when you listen to your favorite symphony, sounds from instruments like the triangle will not be as strong.  And you won’t hear sounds like the high-hat in a rock piece as strongly as ten years ago.

The human ear does not tend to have any problem with middle frequencies.  These are the frequencies we hear mostly on the telephone.  They’re dull and lifeless.

When you are speaking on a podcast, your listener’s ear will hear your middle frequencies loudly but miss some of your resonant bass and magical treble.

Editing Programs like Audacity enable you to adjust your EQ levels

Audio Pros Compensate for Frequency Loss

To ensure your listener does not miss out on the full range of your voice, audio professionals adjust the volume of certain frequencies to compensate.

This is done using a graphic equalizer.  A graphic equalizer allows us to turn individual frequencies up or down.  It’s a little like the bass, middle and treble control on a stereo system or car radio.

The difference between your stereo and the graphic equalizer is that the graphic equalizer is a lot more precise and detailed.

In the industry, this process of playing with different frequencies is known as adjusting the EQ.

Adjust the EQ to Improve Your Voice

To make your voice sound better on a podcast, you should adjust the EQ.  The key is to boost your higher and lower frequencies slightly so that your listener hears all that lovely treble and bass.

And you should lower the middle frequencies which sound like a dull telephone and are louder to your listener’s ears.

Now this all sounds well and good on paper.  But you really will not understand how adjusting EQ is until you hear the difference.  I suggest you try it.

Now, just in case you can’t get to a microphone right away, I have just recorded a sample and then added some EQ to it.

You’ll see two separate audio files below.  The first file is the natural recording from my microphone.  The second file is the same recording only I adjusted the EQ.  You can see how I adjusted the EQ in the image below.  Listen to the difference.

CLICK HERE for File One – Without EQ

CLICK HERE for File Two – Same recording but with EQ

These are the settings I used for the second recording.

Adjust EQ in Your Audio Editing Program

Audio editing programs like Audacity give you a graphic equalizer in their effects menu and I recommend you play around with it and hear the difference between an adjusted voice and a non-adjusted voice.

As you get used to playing around with EQ, you’ll recognize that certain frequency ranges offer different qualities.  I’ve listed these below to help you find your way around the EQ.

As a general rule, your graphic equalizer setting should look like a U-shape as illustrated.  I tend to start the frequencies at around 250khz and bring it back up at about 350kz.

EQ Sound
The Muddy range.

20Hz to 60Hz

Consumer speakers tend to struggle with these low bass frequencies because they’re hard to replicate.  I suggest you drop these frequencies.
The Warmth and Presence Range.

60Hz to 250Hz

Boosting these frequencies will give your audio warmth.  If you don’t have enough at these frequencies, your voice will sound flat.  Too much and your voice will sound boomy
The Telephone Range.

250Hz to 2kHz

These are the frequencies you hear on telephones.  Tinny with no bass or treble.  Dropping these frequencies will take away the nasty telephone feel and give your voice more clarity
The Detail Range.

2kHz to 4kHz

It’s in this range that you’ll find a lot of the details such as consonants.  Boosting this range will make your voice easier to understand and your listener won’t be straining her ear so much to hear what you say.
The Presence Range.

4kHz to 6kHz

Boosting this range will give your voice more clarity so that it stands out.
The Sibilance range.

6kHz to 20kHz

Boosting these frequencies will increase sibilance however, it will great more air in your voice.

The Final Judge is Your Ear

The key to adjusting the EQ is not to memorize all the different ranges.  It is to listen to the voice and how you make the voice warmer, clearer and more exciting.

These guides will help you.  But remember, every voice is different.  Some people need more presence while others need more warmth.  So listen carefully and make your decision on boosting or cutting frequencies based on your ear.

Filed Under: MediaPodcasting

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