How to Use an Equalizer for a Podcast | De Esser | EQ Sweeping Techniques

How to Use an Equalizer for a Podcast | De Esser | EQ Sweeping Techniques


What the S is a DE-ESSER? And what’s the scoop
on the Sweep? You know what, I like that idea. You know, I never realized before that you
were so versatile. Hey, hey guys. Welcome back to the Pod Sound
School. Or if this is your first time here, I’m Studio Steve, and on our channel you’ll
find all the resources you need to start up a podcast or to improve the podcast you already
have. On today’s episode we are going to be covering
DE-ESSERs and EQ sweeping. We get questions all the time from our Podskies about EQing,
but recently we’ve had a question about what is a DE-ESSER? And, what does it mean to Sweep
the EQ? So on this short video I’m going to quickly show you what a DE-ESSER is and what
it means to Sweep the EQ to adjust and sweeten up your podcast voices. This isn’t going to be a tutorial on any one
software or on any one digital audio workstation, but I’m going to try to make it quick and
show you how a DE-ESSER and EQ units are essentially the same, no matter what digital audio workstation
you’re in. And I’m going to illustrate that by showing you how a DE-ESSER and an EQ Sweep
works inside of Pro Tools First, and then in Adobe Audition, and then finally in GarageBand. So stick around until the end of the video
so you can have a strong understanding about what a DE-ESSER is and how you can Sweep the
EQ range to really gain control over your podcast mixes. We’re not just haphazardly
selecting presets, we actually understand what these tools we’re using on our voices
are. It doesn’t take a long time to learn, so stick
around. And before we dive in, don’t forget to hit
the subscribe button and join the Pod Sound School YouTube community. And also hit the
bell, that way you can be notified when we post new videos each week. Okay guys, let’s get to it. So before we get into talking about what a
DE-ESSER is and how to sweep through the EQ range, we need to make sure we understand
EQs and human hearing, and what the ranges of EQs are. So let’s just do a quick refresh
on some EQ basics. The range of human hearing goes from 20 Hz
to 20 kHz. In order to effectively have control and intention over our podcast mixes, we need
to understand the EQ Spectrum Specific to Voices. So let’s walk through all of the frequency
ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, really quick, and just talk about how our voices react within
those frequency ranges. First, let’s start at 20 Hz to 80 Hz. Here
voices don’t really go this low, but here plosives are very common. Plosives are the
pa pa sound that happens when air hits the microphone. So a really common practice here
is to use a high pass filter. What’s a high pass filter you ask? Well, a
high pass filter is an EQ setting, basically, that will only allow the high frequencies
to pass through while restricting the low frequencies from passing through. This is
such a common effect, it’s actually built in on a lot of your common microphones. You’ll
notice on a condenser microphones, and even dynamic microphones, that you’ll see this
symbol. It’s a line with a slope that curves downwards. That’s a high pass filter. High pass filters like this, on microphones,
are usually set to make the slope or to start restricting the low frequencies right at 80
Hz, sometimes 100 Hz. So if you have a microphone that has a high pass filter, just select that
and you’re good to go. Or, I’ll show you in a moment where you can access that in your
EQ units on your DAW’s. Okay, so let’s move on to 80 Hz to 160 Hz.
Here’s what I like to call the tasty lows. To give you an idea of where 80 Hz is, the
Low E string of a guitar, it’s fundamental tone is at 82.5 Hz. This area is really where
our vocal warmth comes from. This is the chest noise, or the buttery, really intelligible,
nice sound of our voices, so we want to be careful not to cut too much here. This is
a nice place. Okay, now let’s talk about 200 Hz to 250 Hz.
We often use the term muddy to talk about this range. Sometimes this is also thought
of the head cold range because when we have a head cold this seems to be the range we’re
hearing in. This is a good place if you have a male voice and a female voice on your podcast,
to make some cuts here on the male voice, and you’ll notice that helps to differentiate
between the male and the female voice. Okay, now let’s move on to the range 300 Hz
to 1 kHz, or 1,000 Hz. These are our high-mids. Inside of this range, it’s a pretty big range,
there’s usually always an area that you can cut a little bit that will help to clean up
your voice. Starting at 500 Hz to 900 Hz, we really start to get this nasal sound coming
from our voice. Think the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons. Also, within this
range, from 300 Hz all the way up to a k, this is where a lot of the reverb and the
room sound comes from into our microphone. If we have a lot of reverb in our recordings,
making some big or some nice cuts in this area here can help to clean that up lot. It
won’t completely fix or eliminate the reverb, but it will help your voice to sound a little
more clear and a little more professional. And, moving on, let’s talk about 2 kHz to
4 kHz. This is where we most recognize human speech. It’s not of the place of clarity and
presence, but because our ears have evolved over so many years to recognize human speech
here, they are also sensitive at this frequency range, so ear fatigue and ear exhaustion can
happen if we make boosts too much in this range, so be careful with that. Okay, now, 5 kHz to 10 kHz. This is the high
end. This is where we have hissing and squealing. This can be painful in this area to the ears,
and this is also where we have the S noises, or where they’re most prevalent. This is the
range where are going to apply a DE-ESSER. 10 kHz to 20 kHz, or 10 k to 20 k. This is
the air, or the crispy sounds. It’s the really high stuff. Here you will find some problematic
issues sometimes, like buzz or fluorescent lights, or the refrigerator buzz will really
be prevalent in this area. Sometimes also, certain microphones have a lot of high response
and it can be nice to just cut a little bit in this area. Okay, so that does it for a quick refresher
in EQ. Now let’s hop into Pro Tools First and talk about what a DE-ESSER is. Okay, so first off, what is a DE-ESSER? A
DE-ESSER is what it sounds like, it de-esses our voice. And how it does this is it works
similar to a compressor, and that’s why it’s considered a dynamic effect. And the reason
it works like a compressor is because it applies a gain reduction. But rather than applying
a gain reduction over the whole range of frequencies, it does it based off of a selected frequency.
This is really cool. Let’s say your S noises are really over blaring
and they’re hurting your ears. You might just think, okay, well if I know the S noises are
between 5 and 10 k, I’m just going to put an EQ unit on my voice and I’m going to reduce
that area. But if you do that, you’ll lose out on a lot of those little crispy, nice
noises, and when we’re not saying the S noises. So by using a DE-ESSER, you apply a threshold,
so to speak, or a range, that tells the DE-ESSER every time something in the 7 k region comes
over this line to heavily, like when you say S or Z, cut it down a certain amount, just
the same way a compressor works, but only based off of that. How cool is that? And let me show you how easy it is and how
it works here in Pro Tools. I’m just going to open up the DE-ESSER that
comes with Pro Tools. Remember I said it’s a dynamic effect, so you will find De-ESSERs
in all of your DAW’s, usually under dynamics. We’ll go to a DE-ESSER here and here it is.
If you look very first to the presets that you can find here, and if we were to go to
Female DS, you see that it puts it at 7 kHz. A male DS, it is going to give it to us at
6 kHz. That’s right between 5 and 10. I very often use 6 kHz on my voice. So here on this track that I’ve recorded,
that says S here, this little clip, it’s me reading sentences that have a lot of S noises
in them. So let’s watch this run through the DE-ESSER and see how it works. The salad has lettuce and tomatoes. The seven sailors were seasick. The rose has a … That’s great, and you can see here, from where
it says GR, that stands for gain reduction, that it’s killing about six DB’s at the big
spikes. Should I send Sam six rock? That’s great. Now I think that 7 k might be
a better area for me here. And now let’s listen to it with and without
the DE-ESSER and see what kind of difference you can notice. Let’s just listen to this,
and I’ll play it by bypassing it, we’ll listen without and then immediately after I will
un-bypass it and we’ll listen to it with it. Should I send Sam six rocks? Should I send Sam six rocks? What you’ll notice there is we still hear
a lot of those S noises, they’re just not as harsh. So this DE-ESSER is so quick, it’s
so easy to apply it to your podcast voices. It’s not going to totally kill a lot of the
airy nice [Sey 00:09:23] quality that comes within the 5 to 10 k range, it’s just going
to help to control those wild S’s. So that’s wonderful. Okay, so now that we know DE-ESSER, let’s
talk about EQ sweeping. What is EEQ sweeping? Well, to illustrate
that for you, let me open up a parametric EQ, or just to the EQ that comes with Pro
Tools right here. And it says EQ Seven Band. That means it has seven different bands of
EQs. Now that we have this EQ unit up, let’s listen
to how my voice works through this EQ. With the frequencies that we just talked about
in mind, let’s start adjusting this EQ a little bit. First off, remember we talked about the
high pass filter, well look, here’s one right here, HPF, that’s a high pass filter. So we
would come here where it says in and we would bring that in, and then right here it says
frequency, we could just type in 80 Hz, and now the high pass filter is being applied
right at 80 Hz. The salad has … That’s going to help with plosives and it
was an easy, simple thing. Now I have control over that low, or any rumble
or trucks driving by, that’ll help to eliminate that as well. Okay, so now let’s talk about EQ sweeping.
What EQ sweeping is is basically turning the EQ all the way up so that you can really pinpoint
different frequencies and how they sound on your voice. What the best way to do this is,
like I just did, turn the gain all the way up and then change the Q or the width of the
slope so that it’s nice and pinpointed like this, and then, as you play your voice through
it, you can sweep the EQ left to right and get a sense of how the frequencies sound on
your voice. And you can see right here it’ll change the frequency number so you can get
a good idea of how these frequencies are sounding on your voice. Since we just talked about 250 Hz to 250 Hz,
let’s sweep around there and see if we can hear some cardboard or some muddy noises in
my voice that might be good to reduce a little bit. The salad has lettuce and tomatoes. The seven sailors were seasick. The rose has a zillion thorn … Then what I like to do here is I also like
to make the width a little bit bigger in here, a little bit more of the surrounding frequencies
around the frequency I have selected. The salad has lettuce and tomatoes. The seven sailors were seasick. Yeah, I think right around 230, 239 here,
it would be nice to cut just a little bit out of that, to open up some more of the frequencies
and make sure that my voice doesn’t have that mud. That mud didn’t sound very good to me. The salad has lettuce and tomatoes. Okay. Now, remember we talked about between
300 Hz and 1 kHz, that reverb can be a problem. Well I have over here a reverb track I’ve
recorded, in a very reverberated room. Let’s just have a peep to it real quick. And now we’re recording in a room with a lot
of reverb. So, now, let’s sweep through the frequency
range here on the mid frequencies or a high-mid frequency band. Let’s turn it all the way
up and adjust the slope, the Q, or the width, and let’s sweep through the 300 to the 1 k
to see if we can hear the most reverberated sound, and see what happens if we reduce a
little bit of that. Is there anything we can do in the edit with
the Q to get rid of all this reverb? Is there anything we can do in the edit with
the Q to get rid of all this reverb? Is there anything we can do in the edit with
the Q to get rid of all this … So I’m hearing a lot right around … all
the way starting at about 500. Is there anything we can do in the edit with
Q to get rid of all this reverb? A lot of 700. Is there anything we can do … All the way up to 1 k, so what we can do is
we can actually make our width fairly open, like a nice rounded bell shape, and cut it
out from there. And now let’s have a listen if that actually helps with the reverb. Is there anything we can do in the edit with
Q to get rid of the … Yeah, that helps quite a bit. And you notice
I reduced quite a bit of it. Now you’ll … the other thing you could do
with sweeping is, you can also sweep in reverse. When you’re sweeping in reverse, rather than
listening for the worst sound, or the nastiest, or the most annoying sound that you’re trying
to identify so that you can cut it out, here in reverse we listen to what sounds the best
when it’s cut out. Is there anything … So does it sound best when I have 700 Hz cut
out? Does it sound best when I have 800 Hz cut out? Is there anything we can do in the edit with
the Q to get rid … The whole idea with sweeping is to get an
idea of how your particular voice sounds at all the different frequency ranges so that
you can get familiar with how to EQ it. Instead of just haphazardly picking plug-ins and praying
that it’s going to sound good, and translate well for your podcast, you actually start
to learn what these frequencies sound like on your voice. We like to reduce right around 700, with a
nice wide open Q. And then here, we don’t want to … remember
3 k and 4 k is where speech is most recognized. Why don’t we just give it a little bit of
boost in that area, but not too much, just so that we make sure we have some clarity.
And let’s listen to a before and after of our reverberated nasty track and see if this
EQ helped at all. There’s without it. Is there anything we can do in the edit with
the Q to get rid … Here’s with it. Is there anything we can do in the edit with
Q to get rid … Now, obviously, this is not ideal to have
a voice like this, but so many times in our podcast we have to do the best we can to correct
the audio that we get, whether it be from a remote host or whatever. But the best thing
to do would be not to record in a reverberated room to begin with. But, that’s pretty cool
how that can help a lot. So there’s the basic rundown on what an EQ
Sweep is and what a DE-ESSER is. And now I quickly just want to open up Adobe Audition,
very quickly, and also GarageBand very quickly. So hang with me and see how, no matter what
digital audio workstation you’re in, you can apply these same effects. Okay, so here we are in Adobe Audition, and
I’m not going to do an Adobe Audition tutorial, but I just want to show you how easy it is
now that you understand the frequency range a little bit more and you understand what
you’re trying to do with the DE-ESSER and by sweeping frequencies. You can find EQ units
and DE-ESSERs in no matter what digital audio workstation you’re in. If I have the Studio Steve track here selected
with the same clips that I’ve imported into this session, I can come down here, onto the
Studio Steve track, and I can search for a DE-ESSER. In Adobe Audition, you’ll find that under
Amplitude and Compression. And remember, a DE-ESSER is a dynamic effect, like a compressor.
And look, DE-ESSER, right here. This is really cool, in Adobe Audition, because
we actually get this visualization of our EQ along the volume spectrum and along the
EQ spectrum, which is what I love about Adobe Audition. But look here, center frequency, it’s set
to 5 k, or 5,000 Hz. We could set this to 7,000 Hz, and then this bandwidth here allows
us to decide how many of the surrounding frequencies to also apply the DE-ESSER to, so that’s pretty
cool. And then let’s have a listen. The salad has lettuce and tomatoes. And there it just as a few DB gain reduction
happening. If we wanted to really crunch it, we could turn the threshold down all the way
here. The salad has lettuce and tomatoes. And we could completely crunch those. The seven sailors were seasick. So we can find a nice balance- The rose … -and just kill off about six DBs. The salad has lettuce and … And there’s are nice DE-ESSER here. Now let’s see if there’s a parametric EQ where
we can do some EQ sweeping on this reverb track the same way we did in Pro Tools First. Under filter in EQ, parametric equalizer.
Cool. And then let’s have a listen to it. And now we’re recording in a room … Remember the first thing we did was a high
pass filter. Here’s our high pass filter. Right here we have our frequency range that
we can change, or just type in 80 Hz. So we have that high pass filter happening. And then we can create a sweep the same way
by just grabbing one of these and, oh look, Q and width. There’s our Q and width to change,
so we can do our own little sweep as we see fit, as we play and listen to it. And then,
we know that we didn’t like 700 Hz, with a nice open Q. And we have a very similar sounding
EQ here in an Adobe Audition. So how cool is that? Now, let’s quickly pop over into GarageBand
and see if the GarageBand has the same effects there. Okay, so here in GarageBand, let’s see if
we can find the same settings. First off, in GarageBand you’ll notice that
already pops up with an option for a compressor here in EQ, and we can change some EQs here.
But if you click on the EQ button here, look, a parametric EQ. What’s the symbol right here? Yep, it’s a
high pass filter. If we drag the high pass filter over, you’ll notice the frequencies
change at the bottom there changing, and we can just drag it all the way up until we get
80 Hz, and now we have a nice high pass filter there on our voice. And then, with these EQs here, we can create
the same type of a sweep. If we want the Q to be smaller, you can come down here to where
it says Q and you can drag the Q to make it smaller or bigger with your EQs, and you can
listen as you sweep. Now let’s see if we can find a DE-ESSER. To
do that we just go back to the controls of the track, and if you come down here to where
it says plug-ins, and you go to plug-ins. Right now we have a compressor on there, which
isn’t turned on, and we have an EQ that is turned on. Now let’s add a new … look, DE-ESSER. That
was a recent plug-in that I use, but you can also find it by looking under dynamics, and
there’s DE-ESSER, and boom. How cool is that? Now we can just change this to 7,000 Hz like
we had it and find a nice balance that we like here with the suppression. The suppression
here is going to work similar to a range or a threshold adjustment. And there we go Podskies, I hope you found
this to be very useful. If you have any questions or anything else you’re struggling with, let
me know in the comments below, or come find us anywhere on social media at Pod Sound School.
You could direct message us at Twitter or on Instagram. Also, you can email me at [email protected],
with any ideas you have for future episodes or anything you’re struggling with. Let us know how your podcast is coming. If
you have a podcast launch planned, let us know about it, we’d love to give it a listen
when it launches, maybe even help to promote it a little bit, we really want to see your
podcast grow. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for being part
of our community. Remember, again, to hit the subscribe button here and give us some
love here on YouTube. And, until next time, happy casting.

9 thoughts on “How to Use an Equalizer for a Podcast | De Esser | EQ Sweeping Techniques

  1. I really never thought that I would ever bother learning about EQ, much less understand it. Thanks so much Studio Steve!!!

  2. This is so valuable. Thank you for making this video. It's so easy to follow and easy to understand! And you're hot as hell 😜

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