How to Make Vocals Sound Better (2023)

To make vocals sound better, start by editing - when editing, cut out background noise, use clip gain to balance dynamics, and even remove plosives or unwanted sibilance. Then you can introduce subtractive EQ, Compression, Additive EQ, Saturation, Exciters, and various forms of short and long reverb.

Get a FREE Mastered Sample of Your Song ➜

Cleaning Up A Vocal

Before we begin to process our vocal let’s clean up certain aspects of the performance with some editing - we’ll reduce cut out any aspect where the vocal isn’t present to reduce background noise. We’ll then use some fade in and outs to clean up where we made these cuts.

Next, I’ll use a little clip gain to make the performance dynamically balanced.

If you have the program, I’d also recommend using declick on your vocals with RX - this gets rid of unwanted mouth sounds that we don’t want to amplify later on.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Remove Nasal, Plosives, and Esses

I’m going to use an EQ to remove 3 sections of the vocal, the first is the nasal tone which is caused by vibrations in the nose and nasal cavity getting picked up by the mic we’ll dip about 700Hz to get rid of this.

We’ll then use a high pass filter to attenuate plosives, and then find the sibilance in the high range and dip that with a higher Q bell filter.

If you have a dynamic EQ, make this cut to the sibilance dynamic so that the cut only occurs when messes are present.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Controlling Vocal Dynamics

Next, I’m going to use a compressor to balance out my vocal’s dynamics - I’ll use a quick attack and moderate release of about 30ms to capture the vocal quickly then release it quickly so that the details are retained. I’ll start with a 2:1 ratio and lower the threshold.

I’m trying to achieve between 3 and 6dB of attenuation so that the compression is controlling dynamics, but isn’t too noticeably changing the vocal’s timbre.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Add Warmth, and Clarity with EQ

With an EQ let’s focus on 2 areas of the vocal - first, let’s find the voice’s fundamental around 200Hz and subtly amplify this. If the vocalist has a lower voice, this fundamental may be lower, and the opposite is true if the vocalist sings or speaks in a higher pitch.

I’m going to boost this by about 2dB which will add some warmth to the vocal. Now, I’m going to amplify a higher-ordered harmonic of the vocal around 2.5 to 3.5kHz. Listen intently to find the note in the range that’s in key with the song, and boost that.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Mildly Distort or Saturate the Vocal

Mild distortion or saturation will add harmonics to the vocal, which reinforce the fundamental frequency as well as fill in some of the gaps in the mid frequencies. If you want your vocal to sound bright, try an exciter that adds harmonics higher up the spectrum.

For more warmth use a transformer saturator to get some good low-end amplification. Tape saturation is usually great for the mids since it creates a strong 3rd order harmonic.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Try an Exciter with an Air EQ

Following our last thought about exciters and high-ordered harmonics, we can combine an exciter with an airband EQ to create an incredibly bright or clear-sounding vocal. This is better for more musical applications than for dialogue since it creates a somewhat unrealistic sound.

First, insert an exciter to generate high-ordered harmonics - then, insert an EQ with an airband and amplify the high frequencies. If your vocal has excessive sibilance, be sure to use a de-esser before your exciter.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Use Short Reverb and Delay

For a more powerful sounding vocal, we need to create short reflections which will cause a dense and impressive sound - since the reflections or delays are so short, our mind perceives the signal as coming from one source. Instead of a delayed or reverberated vocal, we perceive one powerful vocal.

Keep short reverbs under 500ms and short delays under 120ms to accomplish this effect.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Use Long Reverb and Delay

After you’ve made your vocal sound thick with short delays and reverbs, let’s use some longer utilized ones to blend the signal in with the surrounding instrumentation. I’m looking to create a medium-length reverb, that focuses on the mid-range, and is in time with the song.

I’ll use a preset from the FabFilter Reverb plugin, that emphasizes reverb on the mids, and then I’ll divide 60000 by the song’s BPM to get 1 quarter note. I’ll set the RT60 to a multiple of this time somewhere between 4 or 5 seconds.

With the wet/dry I can blend this effect in, or I can introduce this effect as a send.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Optional Limiting on Vocal

There are some occasions in which limiting can be useful when mixing vocals, like when processing vocals for a podcast. When using limiting on a vocal, it makes the most sense to use as clean of a limiter as possible, as a means of reducing distortion.

For example, the modern algorithm on the Pro-L2 doesn’t generate harmonics unless under extreme settings. But if I was using an algorithm of limiter designed for pop or rap, I’ll get these harmonics.

One trick you can use if your vocal’s transients are sounding a little too harsh, turn on true-peak limiting, which will gently reduce their transients.

Listen to an Example ➜ YouTube Link

Get a FREE Mastered Sample of Your Song ➜


How to Make Vocals Sound Better? ›

When you hear your voice on a recording, you're only hearing sounds transmitted via air conduction. Since you're missing the part of the sound that comes from bone conduction within the head, your voice sounds different to you on a recording.

How do you make your vocals sound professional? ›

Here are 10 ways to make your vocals sound professional.
  1. Experiment with Top-End Boost. ...
  2. Use a De'Esser. ...
  3. Remove Resonances. ...
  4. Control the Dynamics with Automation. ...
  5. Catch the Peaks with a Limiter. ...
  6. Utilize Multiband Compression. ...
  7. Enhance the Highs with Saturation. ...
  8. Use Delays Instead of Reverb.
Jan 5, 2017

Does my voice really sound like it does when recording? ›

When you hear your voice on a recording, you're only hearing sounds transmitted via air conduction. Since you're missing the part of the sound that comes from bone conduction within the head, your voice sounds different to you on a recording.

Where can I boost my vocals for clarity? ›

You can make a vocal brighter by adding a subtle top-end boost somewhere around 4.5 kHz to 9 kHz. It's also a good idea to utilize a condenser microphone which can add some presence to your recording. Make sure you take the time to de-ess properly, so the harsh frequencies don't mask the brilliance of your vocals.

How do you fix harsh vocals? ›

When working with a harsh vocal, you can typically tame it by attenuating frequencies above 2kHz and below 12kHz using a subtle bell filter via an EQ. Attenuating 3-5kHz will help significantly, as will using a de-esser on 5kHz to 12kHz to reduce harsh-sounding sibilance.

What makes a voice sound good? ›

A good vocal tone is not established by singing loudly, it's established at medium volume. Good tone happens when vocal muscles are strong enough in their coordination to have a good closure but not touch. Releasing too much air creates a “breathy” tone and releasing too little air creates a “nasal” tone.

How do you master vocals like a pro? ›

  1. Remove silence and noise. The first step is to remove the silent parts on your vocal. ...
  2. Volume automation. It's only natural for a vocalist to sing different parts with different intensities. ...
  3. Auto-Tune (optional) ...
  4. Subtractive EQ. ...
  5. De-essing. ...
  6. Compression. ...
  7. Additive EQing. ...
  8. Reverb & Delay.
Nov 9, 2021

How do some people sing so well? ›

Recent research suggests that the varying shapes and sizes of our vocal folds, pharynx, nasal cavities and even our skull, means that some people can produce a more pleasing natural sound than the rest of us.

How do singers sing so clearly? ›

Keep your soft palate high and your tongue forward to get the right tone. A lowered soft palate creates a nasally sound when speaking or singing, which affects the clarity of your words. You need to create space at the back of your mouth by raising your soft palate in order to produce a clear, rich tone.

Why is my voice terrible when recorded? ›

When recorded, you might hear your voice sound shallower than you're used to. This is because the recordings are not affected by the internal resonance and bone conduction that affects how your voice sounds. However, the way your voice sounds on recordings is the way people perceive it in real life.

How do I know my real voice? ›

Singers often find their natural singing voice by experimenting with different octaves and ranges. The most helpful way to find your natural singing voice is to pinpoint your vocal range. To do this, locate the highest and lowest note you can sing comfortably above and below middle C on a piano.

Why do I hate the sound of my voice in recordings? ›

The discomfort we have over hearing our voices in audio recordings is probably due to a mix of physiology and psychology. For one, the sound from an audio recording is transmitted differently to your brain than the sound generated when you speak.

Why are my vocals so harsh? ›

The true problem with harsh vocals is that they are caused by specific frequency resonances within the high frequencies of the vocal track. These resonances often don't happen all the time but rather only when certain consonants, phrases and notes occur within the vocal performance.

What EQ is best for harsh vocals? ›

When working with a harsh vocal, you can typically tame it by attenuating frequencies above 2kHz and below 12kHz using a subtle bell filter via an EQ. Attenuating 3-5kHz will help significantly, as will using a de-esser on 5kHz to 12kHz to reduce harsh-sounding sibilance.

How rare is a good singing voice? ›

Perfect pitch is a rare talent, with less than 5 people in every 10,000 possessing the ability. It's thought that nature, nurture and environmental factors all play a role in perfect pitch. As the ability tends to run in families, it's thought there may be a genetic element involved.

What are the 7 elements of voice? ›

These include rate, volume, pitch, articulation, pronunciation, and fluency. Our voice is important to consider when delivering our speech for two main reasons. First, vocal delivery can help us engage and interest the audience. Second, vocal delivery helps ensure that our ideas are communicated clearly.

What do singers use to make their voice sound different? ›

The use of autotune, pitch correction, vocoders, talkboxes, vocals chops, and other various techniques have inspired entirely new music genres and new ways of recording and processing vocals. Let's discuss these changes and see how they affected modern day vocal recording.

Why is it so hard to mix vocals? ›

Vocals are tricky. They're often the loudest thing in a mix, which leaves little room for error. And since we're so familiar with the sound of the human voice, we're quick to notice any imperfections.

Does humming help singing? ›

Humming is one of the best all-around vocal exercises. This technique helps stretch the vocal cords, relaxes your facial muscles, and improves breathing. Humming also develops your vocal resonance and tone quality.

Can singing everyday improve your voice? ›

The best thing you can do to improve your singing is singing regularly. “Practice makes perfect” is a cliché, but practice really does make you better. Singing every day strengthens your vocal cords, improves your vocal range, and will gradually lead you to a better vocal tone.

What is the best vocal warm up? ›

10 of the Best Vocal Warm Ups for Your Voice:
  • The 5-Tone Count.
  • The Octave and a Half Lip Trill.
  • The Octave and a Half “Squeaky Door”
  • The Octave and a Half “Gee”
  • The Octave Repeat “Bee”
  • The Octave Repeat Bratty “Nay”
  • The Octave and a Half Bratty “Nae”
  • The Octave Repeat “No”

How do you get rid of a weak voice? ›

Lifestyle and home remedies
  1. Breathe moist air. Use a humidifier to keep the air throughout your home or office moist. ...
  2. Rest your voice as much as possible. ...
  3. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration (avoid alcohol and caffeine).
  4. Moisten your throat. ...
  5. Avoid decongestants. ...
  6. Avoid whispering.
Jun 7, 2022

Why is my voice getting bad? ›

Risk factors for laryngitis include: Having a respiratory infection, such as a cold, bronchitis or sinusitis. Exposure to irritating substances, such as cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol intake, stomach acid or workplace chemicals. Overusing your voice, by speaking too much, speaking too loudly, shouting or singing.

How can I make my voice from bad to good? ›

Some are born with a great voice, but others, not so much.
Practice singing daily to reinforce good habits and build stamina.
  1. To avoid overuse or injury, try to sing a little bit every day instead of cramming in a few hours at the end of the week.
  2. If you're a brand new singer, sing about 10 minutes a day.

Why is my singing voice so weak? ›

One final reason for a weak voice when singing can be attributed to a lack of breath support or weak supporting muscles. Without proper breath support, our voice will not be able to be stable or strong when we need to project it or when we sing the high notes in a song.

Why is my voice so lazy? ›

If your voice still tires easily, the problem could be that you are speaking too far down in your throat. The throat alone does not have the power to resonate or project the voice. For your voice to stay healthy and sound its best, it should resonate evenly between the nose, the mouth, and the voice box.

Why is my voice so weak and soft? ›

What causes weak voice? Weak voice can be caused by the normal ageing process but can occur at any time due to poor vocal hygiene. Professional voice users may also experience weak voice due to overuse of the voice.

Can a weak voice be fixed? ›

Vocal cord paresis or paralysis.

If they are paralyzed in an open position, you may have a weak, breathy voice. Some people will get better over time. In other cases, the paralysis is permanent. Surgery and voice therapy may help improve the voice.

What are the symptoms of an unhealthy voice? ›

Symptoms may include a raspy, hoarse, low, or breathy voice, or trouble swallowing or coughing. Any hoarseness or change in voice that lasts longer than 2 weeks should be brought to the attention of your healthcare provider. Vocal cord disorders caused by abuse or misuse are easily preventable.

What are the 4 types of voice disorders? ›

Some common voice disorders include:
  • Laryngitis.
  • Voice changes related to the brain and nervous system, known as spasmodic dysphonia (spaz-MOD-ki dis-FOE-nee-uh)
  • Polyps, nodules or cysts on the vocal cords — growths that aren't cancer.
  • Precancerous and cancerous growths.
  • Vocal cord paralysis or weakness.
Oct 7, 2022

How can I make my voice nice naturally? ›

A daily workout for your voice will strengthen your vocal cords, improve your vocal range, and develop a better vocal tone. You should practice singing for at least thirty minutes a day (making sure you do your warm-ups first). If you don't have a daily routine, work with your vocal coach to create one for you.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Last Updated: 03/12/2023

Views: 5761

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Birthday: 1996-12-09

Address: Apt. 141 1406 Mitch Summit, New Teganshire, UT 82655-0699

Phone: +2296092334654

Job: Technology Architect

Hobby: Snowboarding, Scouting, Foreign language learning, Dowsing, Baton twirling, Sculpting, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Francesca Jacobs Ret, I am a innocent, super, beautiful, charming, lucky, gentle, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.