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Best EQ Settings For Podcast

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Best EQ Settings For Podcast

You could be creating a great podcast with all the best relevant content, but if your equalization (EQ) settings are off then it could be difficult to listen to.

That raw audio sound is going to be the one that you record to go out to the world. There may be some tinkering in post-production, known as FX, yet by then it may be too late. Capturing the raw podcast sound well with the right EQ settings is a key skill to learn.

In this guide, we will look at the best equalizer settings for a podcast. That includes removing the low rumble, adding clarification to a voice, changing the mid-range frequencies, and using a high shelf to release the vocals. 

How To Find The Best EQ Settings For Your Podcast

A lot of the EQ settings that you may adjust could seem like minor tinkering. However, like any production, it helps to create a sound system and environment where the audio can be captured as purely as possible.

If you are recording outside, invest in a microphone that feels comfortable in your hand and removes any distracting, exterior noise. Your job during post-production is so much easier if the raw audio recording only needs tinkering and is sharp enough already to be clearly heard. 

Finding the right EQ settings may be a case of trial and error. Once you are happy with the environment you are recording in, it may be a simple case of working out what works best for your voice as a host and that of your guests.

Understanding what the EQ settings actually mean could limit any difficulty in finding out what works. If you know you only need to adjust a couple of EQ settings then stick to that instead of wasting time trying to make it sound perfect. 

Remove The Low Rumble: Using A High Pass Filter

Best EQ Settings For Podcast

For any audio which is heavy on dialogue, such as a podcast, the first step you should take is to apply the high pass filter (HPF).

Speech is typically at a higher frequency response so using the high pass filter looks after the most important part of the podcast.

You should also bear in mind that male and female voices operate at different frequencies. The filter also attenuates the lower frequencies which results in any sounds that are not relevant to the recording being removed, including background noise.

When put at the start of the audio spectrum, the high pass filter will remove those lower frequencies that are below 100 Hz.

That should mean background noise and those low rumbling sounds. If you are recording indoors you can expect the low rumble of a refrigerator or AC unit to be removed.

This creates a more natural sound as the human ear typically ignores these low frequencies anyway.  

Use Sweeping To Add Clarification To A Voice

You may want to look after those higher frequencies to boost the sound of someone’s voice, notably your guest’s.

If you have perfected the EQ settings for your own voice yet a guest’s sounds thin and lacks clarity then that can be boosted on their vocal track.

Only a few minor changes in those low-mid frequencies from 100 to 400 Hz are required to add some clarity and warmth. This is using a technique known as ‘sweeping’ which uses ‘notches’ to make those slight adjustments. 

The ‘notch’ is when an EQ band (not a high pass filter) is used. These should appear like tiny bumps when you view the parametric EQ graph.

To use EQ settings on a particular voice, you only need to make slight adjustments of around one to five dB which will either increase/boost the frequency or decrease/cut it. It may only need a slight change to make all the difference.

When it comes to creating great bass sound for podcasting, equalization is essential for achieving the desired mix. Using a combination of high pass and low shelf filters can result in a pleasing balance between low and high frequencies.

With the high pass filter, any unwanted low frequencies can be quickly eliminated from the mix, while the low shelf filter can add some depth or warmth to the bass. Utilizing an equalizer will allow you to customize your audio, creating a podcast that is both professional and unique.

Bass frequencies should be balanced in a mix as they will have an impact on the overall sound.

Finding the correct frequency means using the process known as ‘sweeping’. This is due to each individual voice belonging to a certain frequency range so a slight adjustment for one at 150 Hz may be considered excessive for another.

The ‘sweeping’ uses an EQ ‘notch’ so for your own voice, you may want to ‘sweep’ only the range between 50 and 100 Hz whereas for your guest it may be between 100 and 150 Hz or vice versa. 

All the ‘sweeping’ may involve is moving the EQ band through a range of references.

Once you have found the right one for a particular voice, you can identify the audio frequency spectrum that EQ effect will make to improve a certain vocal track.

This whole process can be made easier by experimenting with the notch by a substantial amount. You may only need to temporarily adjust it by over 10dB to prove to yourself that the EQ setting is working as you would expect it to in certain places.  

Change About The Mid-Range Frequencies

Yes, the low and high frequencies are important for the overall sound quality of your podcast yet the mid-range frequencies can be crucial too.

You will still need to use the ‘sweeping’ and ‘notching’ techniques yet these should be more subtle. Only a change of between one and three dB is enough.

The small adjustments may not even be necessary if the vocal recording studio is that good and comes with a clear speaker. 

The mid-range frequencies should only be adjusted if there is a clear problem with the raw audio. 

Best EQ Settings For Podcast (1)

Release Those Vocals: Use The High Shelf

Finally, there is the all-important voice to sure up on your finished podcast.

Just like when you used the high pass filter for those low frequencies, adding a high shelf for the frequencies at the high end makes sense. A low pass filter is also great for dialing out excess high-end frequencies, like if your track is too bright. 

Granted, the high shelf looks like you would expect as it rises and then looks to level off around the range between eight and 20 kHz. This EQ effect is to open up a voice to make it easier to hear as it becomes lighter.

Try the gain at +1.5 dB though this could go as far as 3dB if the vocals need a lot of work and much opening up.

Try to use ‘sweeping’ again to find out where to put the high shelf. You could raise that high shelf to around eight to ten dB to ensure it is working as you would expect then bring it down. 

Final Thoughts

Equalization settings do not have to be overly complicated as it could be a case of using the right recording equipment and setting.

If you record in a studio using a high-end microphone then some of the post-production will tend to be quite straightforward. It may simply be a case of ensuring that the voices are compensated for at their relevant pitches and for any nasal sounds.

Even the little touches like removing those low rumbles using a high pass filter can make a big difference. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Equalization (EQ)?

Equalization is the shaping of the audio and the sound it creates through boosting or cutting out certain sound frequencies.

These frequencies are along the audio’s electronic signal and, depending on your plugin, they can look different. That could be analog and bring to mind a mixing board in a music studio.

However, most plugins are known as parametric equalizers so they show a few curves on a graph that represent the frequency of the audio signal. 

You can expect the vast majority of digital audio workstations to come equipped with an EQ plugin (also see, ‘Best DAW For Podcasting‘).

This is typically found underneath the FX panel and if a graph is included it should demonstrate the low rumblings from 50 Hz up to high-pitched sounds from 20kHz.

If you are not happy with the existing EQ plugin then you can buy a different one to go with your digital audio workstation. 

What Are The Most Relevant EQ Effects That Podcasters Should Be Aware Of?

Voices are crucial for a podcast so you should look at adding warmth by adding a gain of between 100 and 150 Hz.

Improving the clarity of a voice is also important and if a voice sounds incoherent, reduce the gain between 180 and 250 Hz for male voices and 200 to 300 Hz for more high-pitched female voices.

For those podcasts that are recorded in the bedroom, remove that room resonance by reducing the gain somewhere between 100 and 150 Hz though this fails to work if you add warmth to a voice.

Some speakers can attract nasal sounds that sound very distracting on the finished audio. To remove that nasal tone, reduce the gain from between 800 Hz and 1 kHz.

For those non-vocal sounds, you can get from a program such as Skype, reduce the gain between two and a half kHz and four kHz.

Finally, you may want to remove the sibilence which can occur should your host have harsh sounding sounds in their sounds so reduce the gain from between four and nine kHz. 

Matt Brook

With a background in Journalism and years of experience in the industry, Matt brings a wealth of knowledge to the WiredClip team.

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