Subtractive EQ on Vocals (Live Demonstration)

In this video, you’re going to learn how to use subtractive EQ to clean up your vocals.

I’m going to walk you through the entire process, so if you want to feel more confident mixing with EQ and learn how to apply subtractive EQ for clarity on vocals, keep watching.

I actually do this as part of the mix preparation phase, instead of during the mix itself. That means I have clean material to work with (that doesn’t require any aggressive subtractive EQ) when I start mixing.

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In this video, you’re going to learn how to use Subtractive EQ to clean up your vocals.

I’m going to walk you through the entire process.

If you want to feel more confident mixing with EQ and learn how to apply Subtractive EQ for clarity on vocals, keep watching.

This is a giant extract from a recent live mixing session.

So if you want to get access to the whole thing, just check out the link in the bio.






So the next thing now is Subtractive EQ.

So what we’re going to do now is just go through each of these channels and look for any kind of major issues that need fixing: resonances, really ugly frequencies.

And then we can just drop them out.

So there’s a couple of approaches here.

So I’m going to start with the more traditional approach, which is just doing it with an EQ.

We’re just going to do a boost, make it really narrow, and sweep this up and down.

And so we notice a real bump in volume.


And again, we can do this in solo.


So let’s just loop something that’s a bit more consistent.


So it just opens up the vocal a bit, gets rid of that resonance.


It’s got a bit of resonance there as well.


So it makes it sound just a bit cleaner.

We’re not trying to make things sound different.

We’re not trying to shape the tone.

We’re just trying to clean things up a bit.

Now what’s interesting I’ve only recently discovered this is a really great plug-in.

There’s a Sound Theory Gullfoss.

It’s quite incredible actually.

What this plug-in does is a similar thing.

It finds buildup in frequencies, but it’s just an algorithm that does it for you.

And then instead of just cutting them out with EQ, it’s constantly reacting.

It’s kind of more like a multiband compressor, but on steroids.

It’s a multiband compressor that’s constantly readjusting not just the amount of compression, but the note that’s being compressed.

I think this updates kind of like a hundred times per second or something ridiculous like that.

And what I found is whenever I’m listening to a source and I’m like okay, I can hear an issue with like muddiness or I can hear an issue where there’s like a resonance hit, I spent a lot of time testing this plug-in and being like okay.

This is the issue that I can hear that I think like we’ve an EQ, for example.

I’d cut around 500 Hertz or 470.

Now let’s see what Gullfoss finds.

And every time without fail, it kind of found the issue that was hearing.

So let’s see how it works here.


So it’s cleaning up a lot of that mud is definite a bit hear that same area that we found that was an issue kind of like around 500.


It’s (indiscernible 04:09).


So just a brief overview of the controls here.

So I can’t remember the specifics of how these work, but my understanding was that RECOVER finds the issues that are kind of poking out too much as in like restrung frequencies.

And once it’s found those issues, RECOVER brings out the stuff that’s missing, Tame kind of tames those peaks.

So you just have to find a balance between the two.


So TAME should catch that issue that we found more so.


Yeah, so you can see it’s catching that issue around 500.


Now it is catching some of the actual fundamentals there, which is a shame because that’s something to try to avoid doing.

But, generally, it just has a very similar effect.

It’s just it’s kind of crazy how effective it is.


And then BIAS decides where it leans towards if it’s TAME or RECOVER.


So I prefer to use TAME more and, and quite less (indiscernible 05:46) still because RECOVER does make it sound different.


So you can see it’s kind of boosting around here whereas TAME is just finding those issues.

And that’s what we’re trying to do, find those frequencies that are really building up and then it’s reducing them.

So really cool little plug-in.

If you struggle doing this with an EQ and smart IQs are going to become more and more commonplace and a more essential part of our workflow because this is way more effective than even just using EQ because it’s constantly adjusting, constantly updating.

This is becoming a more, more and more integrated part of at least my mix prep process because it’s finding those same issues.

It’s just doing it quicker and more effectively.

So let’s do a comparison.

So this is when I fixed it with just EQ.


This is with Gullfoss.


It does sound different.

It’s fixing some other issues.


But it’s doing a similar thing.

It’s finding those peaks and it’s dropping them down.


So there you go.

That’s how you apply Subtractive EQ to vocals.

Now of course this is just one part of the vocal mixing process.

There’s so much that goes into getting a good vocal sound.

So I put together a free vocal mixing cheat sheet that walks you through the entire process, not just EQ, but also automation, limiting, compression, and everything else you need to do to make your vocals sound professional.

So just head to the link on-screen now or to the link in the bio to get access to that free cheat sheet PDF.

That’s all from me.

If you’re new around here, don’t forget to subscribe, and remember, Create Regardless.



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