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Hello everyone.

I am right now mixing a promotional video for a band's album and the lead singer did some voice over to be put in at the beginning over a montage with a song from the album playing under him.

It was recorded with the same mic as was used for the lead vocal of the album (a modified U-47) and so it's a bit duller than what I would like to sit in the mix as a VO.

I unfortunately don't have the greatest analog EQs available to me (right now it's a choice of Euphonix channels, APIs and a few old Klark Tekniks) and I am trying to add more presence to the voice.

As of now I have notched out the "CH"s (2.4K to 3.5K), the honk (700 to 900) and the boominess (200-250), and it sounds a bit too dull.

The EQs I have tried on it already just add back the sibilance and not a nice airy, natural, pleasing presence that my other room is set up for.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to add back that nice airy presence without adding back in the dirty, spitty sibilance other than adding top with EQ?

I've gone through a few chamber reverb presets and it's just not jiving.

Your suggestions and tales of experience is greatly appreciated.

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    HAve you tried a (very) little bit of harmonic exciting? – Filipe Chagas Jan 28 '11 at 22:45
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    @Utopia Got any amp emulator plug-ins? Guitar Rig is one of the best in my opinion, and I use it all the time for things other than guitar. Has a ton of great EQ's, presence boosters, harmonic exciters, etc. If not, maybe iZotopes Ozone Mastering plug-in would help. – C3Sound Jan 28 '11 at 22:47
  • @C3Sound Thanks a lot! I'm checking that route out right now. – Utopia Jan 28 '11 at 22:56
  • @Filipe Sort of, what sorts of plug-ins or equipment would you use on a voice? – Utopia Jan 28 '11 at 22:56
  • @Utopia , I would try the harmonic exciter in ozone 4 if you have it, if not maybe an aux with sansamp on it with a little bit of drive, compressed a little bit harder than you would the voice and mixed in just a little. Hope that helps – Filipe Chagas Jan 28 '11 at 23:40
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All of these are great suggestions. I'd agree with trying an amp simulator to add some body to the voice, plus a slight bit of compression to enhance it's presence. Once you set a desired sound from your amp sim and compression, adjust your equalization to allow the voice to sound rich and natural (solo the voice to get your desired sound). After this I'd consider which frequencies in your new vocal setting are your dominant frequencies (those which lend most to it's presence/richness), and I'd create a slight notch of those frequencies in your music track (1 or 2 db for each frequency; only during the portions of the track where/when the voice is present [automated EQ] if possible]) to create a pocket in the mix for your vocal to take center stage. You might have to adjust the notch in your music slightly to get the best overall effect, and maybe even augment (boost) those frequencies in your vocal track ever so slightly also (1/2 - 1 db or so) to achieve the best pocket for your vocal.

It sounds like a great project. Have fun,

E. Santiago

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Simple delay is your best bet. Delay the original track by about 30 ms and then mix the delay track back in with the original. If this is not enough use a subtle distortion tool and apply to the delayed track, this will create additional harmonics which if you EQ out the fundamental frequencies which make the voice sound richer. What you are trying to do is simulate the effect of a tube amplifier. If you have access to a tube amp, even if it is for guitar pass the voice through it and mix with the original.

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Try a reverb with NO actual reverb tail, only ER. Make sure any hi-cut is off. Used as "just a taste" it can often add back that "presence and air". An "ambience" preset will often do the same thing - I like the Ambient settings on the Digidesign Dverb.

  • Awesome answer. Thank you for your suggestion! And, it's a funny thing, but sometimes I've used the D-verb plug-in set to Non-lin on a snare and it's fooled some top ears in the industry and I don't tell them what I used because they would just laugh - but it works!!! – Utopia Jan 31 '11 at 19:34
  • As a wise man once said... "if it sounds good... it is good". :) – Sonsey Feb 1 '11 at 1:34
  • @Sonsey That's totally right! Bruce Swedien is quoted for having said that. I also finally had time to check out your website. Great studio! – Utopia Feb 1 '11 at 2:50
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Have you tried an exciter like the BBE maximizer?

What about lifting from 6k to 12-14k? Above the sibilance?

Soundsoap has an "enhancement" slider which does a bit of exciting, but be prepared to eq it afterwards.

  • @Morten Thanks for the quick answer! I don't have a maximizer like that one. Isn't that for running the whole mix through, though? Tried lifting above with both a shelf and bell and it just sounds tissy and doesn't make it "pop". – Utopia Jan 28 '11 at 22:52
  • The BBE maximizer is both an exciter and a subharmonic generator. It is a pretty old piece of equipment. I had it once as a VST plugin. You can also try using some multiband compression, and lift the upper band. – Morten Green Jan 28 '11 at 22:59
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you could potentially reamp the voice and re-record it with a speaker/mic combo that you like.

Something similar was done to the voices in transformers.

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