How to smooth harsh vocals? Expert Tips for Improve Vocal processing and Synths.
Especially as a mixing engineer, editing vocals recorded with bad equipment is the biggest headache. I had this problem a couple of times in the last few weeks.
Low-budget microphones often have a limited frequency response, resulting in a harsh or thin-sounding recording. They also have a poor transient response, which refers to the rapid changes in sound level that occur in vocal performances. Or the proximity effect occurs when a microphone is placed close to a sound source, such as a singer's mouth.
Fortunately, there are several methods to reduce harshness using reverb, which can help produce a smoother, more professional-sounding mix.
You can also use the following technique to make rough synths sound more pleasant.
Best Practice - blend just the high frequencies with reverb.
Vocals processing Tip: To fix harsh vocals blending reverb in just with the high frequencies can be a helpful technique to reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality of the vocals or synth.
To do this, you'll need to select a reverb with a short decay time and isolate the reverb with an EQ to just the harsh frequencies, typically in the range of 2-5kHz and any sibilance present.
Make vocals sound less harsh: By adjusting the wet/dry mix or using a send channel, you can blend in the reverb effect to replace the high and harsh frequencies of the vocals with subdued reverb reflections. This results in a smoother and more glossy sound without sacrificing the clarity and definition of the vocals.
Take a listen and see if this technique works for you. Remember that reverb is a powerful tool, but it's essential to use it wisely and in moderation to avoid over-processing the vocals and ruining the overall sound quality of your track.
Here is a screenshot of how I would EQ the reverb track afterward. This track is then mixed lightly to the dry vocal, to improve harsh s sound on vocals.
Understanding Harsh Vocals or Synth
In fact, a great microphone will capture the nuances and subtleties of vocal performance. If not, harsh vocals can occur when the high frequencies in the voice are exaggerated, making the sound raw and unpleasant to the ear. This can also be caused by incorrect EQ settings or over-compression during recording.
The Role of Reverb in Deharshing Vocals
Reverb is an effect that simulates the natural reflections of sound in a physical space. Adding reverb to the vocal's mid-high frequencies can create the illusion of a more spacious and open environment, which can help smooth out the harshness and improve the overall sound quality.
Choosing the Right Reverb Type for Vocals
There are several reverb types, including hall, plate, and room. Each kind of reverb has unique characteristics and can be used to achieve different sound effects. For vocal enhancement, choosing the right reverb type is critical to complementing the sound and achieving the desired result.
- Consider the type of music you are working with. Different genres may require different types of reverb, so it's crucial to choose a reverb that's appropriate for the style of music you're working with.
- Think about the overall sound you want to achieve. Do you want a natural, spacious sound, or do you want to add character and interest to the vocals? Your choice of reverb will depend on the sound you try to achieve.
- Experiment with various reverb settings. Adjust the decay time, pre-delay, and other parameters to find the right sound for your vocals.
- Remember that less is often more when it comes to reverb. Too much reverb can wash out the vocals and make them sound distant, so it's vital to use reverb sparingly and carefully.
Hall reverb is a type of reverb that simulates the sound of a large concert hall or church. It has a long decay time and a wide frequency range, making it ideal for creating a rich and spacious sound. When used on harsh vocals, reverb can help smooth out the harshness and improve the overall sound quality.
Plate reverb is a type of reverb that simulates the sound of a metal plate. It has a fast decay time and a bright character, making it ideal for creating a smooth and polished sound. When used to deharsh vocals, plate reverb can help reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality.
A room reverb is a type of reverb that simulates the sound of a smaller room. It has a moderate decay time and a balanced frequency range, making it ideal for creating a natural and intimate sound. When used to deharsh vocals, room reverb can help reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality.
Chamber reverb simulates the sound of a small, reverberant space such as a chamber or an echo room. It has a bright, short reverb tail that can add a sense of space to vocals without washing them out.
Setting the Right Reverb Parameters
Once you have chosen your favorite type of reverb, it is vital to set the reverb parameters correctly to achieve the desired sound. The most important parameters to adjust are decay time, damping, and wet/dry mix.
Decay time refers to the time it takes for the reverb tail to fade away. A longer decay time will result in a more spacious and open sound, while a shorter decay time will result in a tighter and more focused sound. When deharshing vocals, a longer decay time can help smooth out the harshness and improve the overall sound quality.
Damping refers to the amount of high-frequency damping applied to the reverb tail. A higher damping setting will result in a darker and smoother sound, while a lower damping setting will result in a brighter and more lively sound. When deharshing vocals, a higher damping setting can help reduce harshness and improve the overall sound quality.
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