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Certainly, quality of record and any hum, hiss, hollowness, or severe background noise will vary this but...I am noticing at my new gig, a tendency to push up the 8-9khtz area in order to augment vocal presence, whereas on my previous team, the boys always favored pushing 2-4k. My new group even mentioned to me that they would prefer I push the frequency at higher point sighting that it felt a bit muddy to them. I guess I am used to the 2-4 k bump. I find the 8-9k can be a bit bright and chirpy. But, the ear changes with what it is accustomed to...So, I have been experimenting with some success with a higher slight bump at 8-9k while bumping a bit at 100htz to give some bottom end.

Do you guys/gals favor a general frequency range for bumping up presence and making the voice seem more forefront?

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You guys rock! This has all been wonderful information and perspective. As I am new to my gig, I will try to blend and do as I see done on other projects by the trusted engineers on staff, but I think I will start to experiment with these different approaches on my own projects immediately. Thank you so much! –  Karol Urban Sep 26 '11 at 7:26

4 Answers 4

My main tendency is NOT to boost frequencies. Digital boost often (depending on the tools) doesn't sound very good in my ear. And even with the right tool I still feel better dropping another range that might cover what I'd boost otherwise.

So for me boosting the highs AND the lows (100Hz) sounds more like dropping something in between instead. Especially if it is a general thing.

Nevertheless I do help dialogue to get through with a little push here and there. (and I've had projects with production sound that called for general boost before I could even start to tweak anything else) But for me the freq-range depends a lot on the character of the voice.

If you boost 2-4k, that usually sounds too harsh and aggressive to me. But there are situations, where this is your only chance to get through. 8-9k seems almost too high on a general basis for me. So my personal starting point is often around 5-6k.

But as usual: if it sounds good, it is good. ;) And there is a lot about habits and taste.

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Like with all both filtering and EQ:ing, you must be very careful and never do a single decibel more than what's needed. With that said, I like the range between 8-10KHz! Many modern mics, like the Sennheiser MKH 40, DPA 2011, or Shoeps Colette-capsules are very straight and rich in range. That makes them sound great on big systems on a neutral sound-level, but most people will not listen to big systems with neutral level, so you'll have to make it work on lower levels as well without sounding sharp and muddy on high volume.

8KHz is a good such frequency to add a little boost of treble in a sound like that, it is produced in virtually any system there are, and is within range for all people not severely hearing impaired! You don't really get presence in that range, the presence lies between 2-4KHz approx, but it gives the voice a beautiful luster if not overdone. To raise between 2-4KHz on the other hand tends to be quite annoying in the long run to listen to. It brings clarity, but it's the range we are the most susceptible to, so you risk giving the listeners ear-fatigue if used too much. And too much 3KHz also tends to mask important sibilants in human speech.

Bass below 150Hz approx and above 8KHz doesn't contain anything the voice needs for intelligibility at all, but it contains a lot of air and firmness. Removing too much of these tends to give a pretty dull and lack-luster sound. mixing sounds is pretty much like painting a picture, everything must have a purpose, but that purpose might very well be just to give wight and shine to the object, a painting with no highlights and shadows are pretty boring... Also, while comparing to pictures, if a photo has too much purple in it you don't really lower the red and blue to level with the green as it would be too dark, you raise the greens. Vice verca, if it's tinted red, then red is what you lower. It's all a matter of opinion, but this is mine.

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I like the painting reference!! –  Utopia Sep 29 '11 at 17:43
    
@Utopia - Thanks mon! Often uses references to sight and taste as their not as subliminal senses as hearing. I've been working with many kinds of creativity over the years, ranging from video editor, chef, actor, advertising artist, painter and programmer to name a few, and realized that all kinds of creativity are basically the same, just with different approaches to performance! With that in mind, it's often much easier to describe issues in sound through visual analogy as it's much easier to interpret no matter personal experience! –  Christian van Caine Oct 2 '11 at 12:58
    
This is excellent. I like that while you recognize some frequencies are not necessary for intelligibility that they can add fullness and color. I feel like every other mix session I open has very harsh ow pass and high pass filters. While, the voice is clear, it often appears clinical and uninteresting. –  Karol Urban Oct 7 '11 at 18:26

I agree with @lg pushing up 8-9khz seems like you are compensating for something that is too loud in the lower frequencies. Something that I learnt at school many years ago that I feel still rings true in the real world is when EQ'ing to 'fix' a sound subtractive EQ'ing is the way to go.

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Hi @MixingManiac, I agree with @lg and @RedSonic01, cutting is much more likely to lead to success. I'm surprised you're boosting 100Hz for Vocals. 100Hz contains next to no useful communication information and makes most loudspeakers seem muddy/boxy {try a steep low pass to hear the effect} Try cutting @125Hz instead for apparent increase in the low end. Regards James

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Honestly I think a general high or low cut is only useful if there is not a lot of time. Otherwise I prefer to leave things wide open. Especially some male actors can have fantastic low end. Way below 125Hz. The lowest I had (and I couldn't believe it in the first place) was around 65-70 Hz. But it definitely needs a well balanced sound to make any sense. And I know that taste and preferences are very different on this. –  user891 Sep 25 '11 at 18:23
    
I also do find the low end ads a good quality especially in men. I like to boost this a bit especially in poorly recorded dialog where there is often undesirable tones below 100Hz. So I often cut below this point where applicable but put a small rather large q at around 100 so that the quality of the voice doesn't get to tinnie. –  Karol Urban Sep 26 '11 at 7:22

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