In many cases, high-frequency content is responsible for clarity and definition of a sound. Additionally, the high midrange is responsible for the attack on percussive and rhythm instruments. Vocals are most prominent at this range so as with the midrange. So, it comes as no surprise that this is a definite go-to task for every producer. In the following four tips, we will go over some common mistakes as well as some alternative solutions which will help you make your high-frequency content sound properly.
1. Low pass filters and subtractive EQ
A common thing that leads to a mix that sounds too harsh and unpleasant is the “fight” of multiple sounds in the upper-frequency range. Careful selection of frequencies that need to be removed, as well as those that need to stay, can dramatically improve the whole image of the sound. If you are working on a track with a lot of harsh and often repeating crash cymbals, vocals with a lot of sibilants or acoustic guitars played on hi octaves, this would the right place on which to apply filtering. Another thing that might come in handy is a spectrum analyzer like SPAN by Voxengo. It precisely shows the areas of entire mix or individual tracks that are having too much going on. Therefore, it suggests what needs to be taken care of.
2. Alternatives for taming sibilants when working with vocals
- Try using volume automation for better control of vocal sibilants. Sometimes a simple de-esser effect is not good enough, and a visual representation of what’s going on will be highly beneficial.
- By using a multiband compressor, you will have more control over vocal sibilants than by using a simple de-esser. These effects function in a similar way as de-essers, but they usually offer more control parameters.
3. Control the color of your reverb effects
If you leave too much of the hi frequency content on your reverb effects, your track will sound too artificial or let’s say digital. Many of the modern reverb effects contain embedded EQ. You should try using these. On the other hand, if you have a favorite EQ, place it in the plugin chain after the reverb. Also, use filtering if necessary.
4. Use of exciters
These kinds of effects can sometimes achieve results that equalizers and compressors can`t. But try to bear in mind that they need to be added last if all of the surgical precision editings that you have done before seems insufficient.