How to EQ the Vocals for Metal

By Seamus Islwyn
Metal singers, like Ozzy Osbourne, are famous for their distinctive vocal styles.

The vocals on a metal track must compete with thrashing guitars, machine-gun drumming and thunderous bass lines for space in the mix. To help your metal vocal track stand out in the song, apply equalization to the vocal recording. An equalizer cuts and boosts different frequencies in the vocal depending on the parameters you set. Although every equalizer effect or plug-in has a slightly different look and feel, and every metal song is unique, using a few equalization techniques will help you mix your metal song's vocals with the rest of the tracks.

Remove all the frequencies below approximately 80 hertz. A singer's voice almost never dips below this frequency and low-frequency noises on the vocal track can conflict with the bass and kick drum. Experiment with moving this equalization point around; you may be able to remove all the frequencies up to 100 hertz.

Raise the frequencies around 500 hertz. Adding volume in this frequency range helps the vocal stand out from the heavy guitar background. Move the equalization point back and forth until you find the "sweet spot" that makes the vocals jump out from the backing tracks.

Boost the frequencies around 4 kilohertz. Adding volume in this area of the frequency spectrum helps the vocals cut through the shriller high frequencies in the guitar track.

Adjust the 10 kilohertz equalization point. If the vocal sounds too muddy and buried, increase this frequency to add brightness. If the vocal is hissing and sibilant, reduce this frequency. Applying a de-esser plug-in to the vocal track can also reduce sibilance.

Tip

Metal vocals are also usually heavily compressed.

About the Author

Seamus Islwyn has been writing for radio, print and online publications since 2003, covering subjects from independent Canadian music to automobile smuggling in the Balkans. His work has appeared in the "Tirana Times" in Albania, and he also composes and produces electronic music. Islwyn holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from McGill University and a certificate in radio broadcasting from Humber College.