Vocal EQ Dilemma

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jacksimmons

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« on: September 14, 2018, 06:24:45 PM »
This is something I'm hoping the production wizzes on here can help me with. I am relatively new to the production side of things (only been trying to seriously record stuff for 2 or 3 years) and I have recently come across this issue. I mix a song I am working on in my studio headphones (KRK KNS-8400) and get the vocals sounding just right to my ears, but when I listen on my speakers (KRK Rokit5s) the vocals are often boxy and bassy. I know that my room adds bass to my speakers, and have heard that the Rokits are a little low-end heavy anyway, so I have them tweaked accordingly, but still have this issue.

I try to cross reference between my headphones and my speakers as much as possible, but with a song I am working on right now I cannot seem to get the EQ just right. The vocals either sound crap in my headphones, or crap on my speakers.

Can anyone shed some light on this?

I've uploaded the WIP to Soundcloud, so here it is.



Would really appreciate it if people could a) explain this phenomenon to me and/or b) give the track a listen on their systems and let me know what's wrong with it. I have gotten the track sounding how I like with my headphones, and for now am ignoring my studio speakers.


tone

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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2018, 06:33:47 PM »
Disclaimer: I am not a production whizz!

However, I do have something to offer here. Personally, I would never use headphones for anything other than detailed editing. If you're trying to track down a noise, blip, click, whatever, or tweak your gate/ compressor etc, then headphones can be really helpful.

For mixing, I believe you need to hear sound moving through the air. Which means using speakers. Nobody here has an expensive, treated mixing room with state of the art speakers. We're all making the best of what we have. So here's how I'd approach your problem.

Reference tracks and getting to know your room/ speakers. How often do you listen to great records on your mixing speakers? Do you know how they sound? Do great recordings sound great on them? Getting to know your speakers and the room they're in is invaluable.

Assuming you've tackled the above, I would also recommend using a reference track when mixing. Choose something with a similar sound to the one you're trying to create, and regularly compare your mix to it. This will not only give you perspective (regularly) but will help you more quickly identify frequencies that are messing up your mix.

There are a few other tricks you can use, such as take the song into another room and another pair of speakers. Make notes. Ditto your car if you have one. I've even tried hiking the volume up and listening from the hallway. But generally, I always try to keep my mixing volume constant, and not loud enough to tire my ears out. Standard listening volume in other words. Once you have a good mix, it should sound good when you listen really quiet and really loud.

I hope some of that is helpful. I expect Boydie or Ramshackles will be along shortly to give some better and more detailed advice :)
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Cawproductions

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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2018, 08:40:09 PM »
Hi Guys,

Disclaimer - I am no production wizzie either.

Heres how I approach Vocals.
I also have  a set of KRK rockit 8's. My room is treated with bass traps and reflection foam, diffusers etc.

Now heres a thing. I haven't been able to get a good master from my monitors since I bought them, But I use a set of Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones. Now I can get a good master on those.

So I track with my monitors and mix and master on my headphones. Ok, some people will say thats wrong or doesn't work, but I check my mixes on other setups and they kind of translate. They won't sound like a pro master as I am not a mastering engineer.

Getting Vocals to sit in a mix requires a lot of corrective EQ, Sound shaping EQ, Compression, followed by maybe another then Automation etc..al lot of work but its required if you want the vocal to sit right and all the words be heard clearly.

As for the Rockits, still messing with my room acoustics now, or like Tone said, learn the sound of them by doing a lot of referencing.

Good luck,
Andy


Boydie

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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2018, 11:10:00 PM »
@jacksimmons

I haven't had a chance to listen to your recording but from what you have described a few things spring to mind...

The makn difference between listening on speakers v headphones is the effect that the room has

Talking about it is one thing - but I think you should do a little experiment to prove what is going on

Without changing anything with your setup play the logarithmic version of this full frequency sine sweep

https://www.audiocheck.net/testtones_sinesweep20-20k.php

 a perfect situation all frequencies will be heard equally so the volume of the file should be consistent

Your ear is likely to favour some frequencies BUT I think you will notice some very dramatic peaks and dips in volume at different frequencies (and if you play the file through a graphic eq that gives you a visual representation of the frequencies you will be able to identify where your room is emphasising or cancelling certain frequencies)

I suspect your room dimensions are causing standing waves

A cheap solution to get a more accurate response is to check your speaker placement (I would suspect they are too close to the wall)

You could also consider some type of isolation material between your speakers and desk/stands

You can then start to consider some acoustic treatment for your room to deal with key reflection points

Here is a great little guide , and be sure to check out the box about room dimensions and standing Waves

Headphones are often frowned upon for mixing - but one does have to wonder if it is better to mix on headphones than in an untreated room which is causing issues

I personally like to use headphones with a VRM box, which mimics the experience of mixing on speakers. This is now discontinued but Waves and Sonarworks have similar software based products

Finally, don't forget your end listeners will not be in treated rooms with perfect monitor speakers

Your mixing is therefore more about getting the song to sound good on different systems- so as @tone has rightly said the more you "learn" your mixing equipment & environment the more likely you are to make the right decisions when mixing
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cowparsleyman

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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2018, 12:42:09 PM »
This is something I'm hoping the production wizzes on here can help me with. I am relatively new to the production side of things (only been trying to seriously record stuff for 2 or 3 years) and I have recently come across this issue. I mix a song I am working on in my studio headphones (KRK KNS-8400) and get the vocals sounding just right to my ears, but when I listen on my speakers (KRK Rokit5s) the vocals are often boxy and bassy. I know that my room adds bass to my speakers, and have heard that the Rokits are a little low-end heavy anyway, so I have them tweaked accordingly, but still have this issue.

I try to cross reference between my headphones and my speakers as much as possible, but with a song I am working on right now I cannot seem to get the EQ just right. The vocals either sound crap in my headphones, or crap on my speakers.

Can anyone shed some light on this?

I've uploaded the WIP to Soundcloud, so here it is.



Would really appreciate it if people could a) explain this phenomenon to me and/or b) give the track a listen on their systems and let me know what's wrong with it. I have gotten the track sounding how I like with my headphones, and for now am ignoring my studio speakers.

@Jack Simmons - Hi Jack, ditto about the production thingy. I haven't read the other posts by the other guys yet, but I had the same issue, and now I'm happy as Larry with the Vox I produce, I use JBL L46 mid field monitors, but most of the time I use a very flat pair of headphones, which sound 'wrong' to many folk (not much bass), but they are right, spot on in fact. I can only recommend them, they are AKG Quincy Jones q701's an absolute bargain, using only cans, can give a false stereo soundstage, but once you know that it's no issue at all.

Along with these I use the car and SoundMagic e80's for reality checking, I wish I could lend you them.

I have to be honest jack, your Vox sound OK to me.

Hope it helps

cpm

jacksimmons

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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2018, 08:58:46 PM »
Thank you all! This has been very helpful and eye opening for me. @Boydie that link was really great and you are amazing as always. I did have my speakers almost flush to my back wall. I have a very tiny bedroom at the moment, but I've sacrificed a foot or two and moved everything forwards and already hear a marked improvement. I don't know why I didn't think to move them from the back wall sooner since I've moved them as far from the corners as possible already to prevent bass trapping. Live and learn I guess! I have refrained from any sound treatment atm because I am in the process of buying a place and won't be in my little bedroom in my parent's house much longer.

@cowparsleyman  The false stereo headphone stuff is something I am just getting my head around. I try and take this in to account when I am mixing on my headphones. I am glad you like the vocal sound. The version of the song I posted is already outdated so no worries to anyone who hasn't listened. After repositioning my speakers I managed to get a vocal sound that translates from headphone to speakers a little better.

@Cawproductions It's kind of relieving to know people have had/are having similar issues to me. I know what you mean, though, I have to say that my mixes have translated better since I started mixing in headphones. I think my room has been having a big effect on my mixing without me realising.

 @tone I will be making better use of reference tracks from now on. I admit this is something I have neglected. Some things are just baffling to me at this stage. The main thing that baffles me is the idea of getting a 'translatable' mix. Until recently I always assumed that if my song sounds good on £500 worth of playback then it should sound good anywhere, but now I know this is totally not the case. My question is then, how do I know what to sacrifice in my studio headphones/monitors to make my mix sound good on a pair of shitty speakers, or laptop speakers, or in my car, or on the radio, and how do I get a sound that is good on all these platforms if a good mix on my Rokits isn't necessarily a good mix anywhere else? This production stuff is scary haha.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 09:41:21 PM by jacksimmons »

M.Salah

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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2018, 08:04:08 AM »
Information is interesting to understand.

Cawproductions

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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2018, 11:44:44 AM »
Hi all,

Just a quick update

Since my last post, I have bought an ultra curve pro and also managed to get myself a measurement mic.

So, the Ultracurve has an RTA socket on the back for measuring your room EQ and modes using Pink Noise.

Heres what I found.
The curve was far from flat, The unit made its own EQ curve to try and correct how the room responded.
Yeh yeh, I hear all the Audiofiles saying its not the best way but if you have treated your room the best you can and use a unit to fix the rest, It works for me. Or 20 grand to have someone sort your room out.

Anyway, The main thing I noticed was that the monitors sounded VERY different with the curve applied. I made minor tweaks to the curve to try and match My DT770 headphones sound.

Since mixing and Mastering with my Rockits (Curve applied) the mix now does translate just like my headphones did.

Moral of my rambling is that I thought the sound from my monitors were sounding great, But once my ears had got used to the sound of the Curve applied sound, I now think that sounds great....

Ok, last moral.....I was amazed how I thought my monitors sounded great but in reality were very bassy and big dips in places.

Phew...enough rambling..All the pros will know this stuff and its all over the net but just thought I would share my findings.

Have a great day people out there in audio land.


cowparsleyman

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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2019, 01:30:18 PM »
@Cawproductions - Very interesting, which measurement mic did you use?

For my sins I tend to use a tried and trusted method, mix entirely on the cans (AKG Q701) then listen in my Car and make any changes based on what I hear there.

I listen to it on my mid field JBL's before I release it.

If I release it here, then I do take note of any comments about the prod.

That's it, it usually sound OK.

(If I listened on too many sources then I ended up going round in circles!)

Cawproductions

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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2019, 02:30:24 PM »
Hi CPM.

I bought a Behringer ECM 8000, they were quite pricey but have recently come right down in price, I think I paid about 28 quid.

Nothing wrong with your mixing method, I mix and master with cans then ref on my monitors and lots of other sources, also check in MONO. Also do a lot of comparisons with a track I like.

This forum is a great place to testbed a track as peoples listening spaces are wildly different. Totes agrees with taking all comments on board, I am not too proud to do that.


Martinswede

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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2019, 11:04:37 PM »
I was supposed to be asleep an hour ago, but this subject caught my attention.
The sine wave Boydie posted is a good way of hearing the spectrum, but after checking with our friends on gearslutz I soon found Fuzzmeasure(499$) and ARTA. It has a free demo version. Basically pink noise. I'll dig a bit deeper, 15 years since I read about acoustics.

Anyway, my suggestion is to try not to get stuck on the listening environment. The, possibly .wav-files, in your daw is just an imprint of sound. In no way perfect. Listening to that sound with super flat headphones is most of the time not what the recording was meant for. Listening to that sound in a studio is most of the time not what that recording was meant for. Setting aside creating, with lack of better words, a sound in a studio, the recording is a medium to transport the information from the recording session(s) to the listener.

Boydie has, if memory serves me, in another topic mentioned using a room/acoustic simulator for headphone mixing. This might be an ideal way to get rid of factors such as monitor capability, room acoustics, listener position(measured in degrees of axis), different hearing on different ears, bad hair day, noise level of surroundings. On the other hand all those factors are present in day-to-day semi-audiophile musical gluttony.

Good night,
Martin
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Boydie

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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2019, 11:46:18 PM »
Quote
Boydie has, if memory serves me, in another topic mentioned using a room/acoustic simulator for headphone mixing. This might be an ideal way to get rid of factors such as monitor capability, room acoustics, listener position(measured in degrees of axis), different hearing on different ears, bad hair day, noise level of surroundings. On the other hand all those factors are present in day-to-day semi-audiophile musical gluttony.

@Martinswede

"bad hair day"

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That really made me laugh - now THAT is the correction plugin I need
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