Vocal EQ Cheat Sheet

POWERFUL SOUND (that isn't loud)

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru
Compression Cheat Sheet

To get powerful sound that isn’t obnoxiously loud, you need to take three steps.

  1. EQ your room.
  2. Separate your instruments into different parts of the frequency spectrum.
  3. Apply compression to pretty much everything.

Let me break these down.


EQing your room is something I talk about often because it sets the stage for a great mix. Without it, you will be fighting the same battle over and over again. EQing your room is putting EQ on your main mix so that your overall mix is shaped to fit your room.

Each room has its own response to sound. It reverberates certain frequencies more than others. If you don’t level the playing field, you’ll end up with an obnoxiously loud sound that isn’t very powerful.

It will take time to EQ your room, but it is well worth it.

How to set up your reference mic

First, you’ll need to buy yourself a reference mic. I use the DBX RTA measurement microphone. Grab it from Sweetwater and support our channel in the process.

Get the DBX RTA Mic

You can’t do this with just any mic. You must have a reference or measurement mic because they are the only mic with a flat frequency response.

You’ll set this mic in the middle of your room, facing toward the speakers at ear level. Make sure the mic is tilted to the same angle as your speakers.

  1. Connect this mic to an open channel on your mixer.
  2. Activate phantom power.
  3. Make sure compression, gating, and EQ are all deactivated.
  4. Now play pink noise through your sound system. Most mixers have a pink noise generator built in. If not, find pink noise on YouTube and play it that way.
  5. Turn up the pink noise until it is about the loudness you would want a worship service to be. Then set the gain for your reference mic so that it crosses over the point where the green meets the yellow lights.
  6. Head to the EQ screen for your reference mic and ensure the RTA is active. Now you can see what your room sounds like.

How to EQ the room

Look for those areas that are significantly louder than the rest. Then apply EQ to your main mix - not the reference mic, but to your main mix - to create a more even frequency response.

So you’ll apply EQ on the main mix, and then return to your reference mic to see what difference it made. Back and forth and back and forth until you get things somewhat leveled out.

There is no perfection here. There will be variation. You are only looking to solve the issues that are way out of line.

If you want more detail on EQing your room, get access to my course called Church Sound Made Simple. It contains a detailed walkthrough PLUS everything else you need for a great mix every time.

Get access to Church Sound Made Simple →

Let’s talk about the next step:

2. Separate your instruments into different parts of the frequency spectrum.

It is very common for instrumentalists to hang out in the same area of the frequency spectrum. They are all strumming and playing away and pretty much doing the same thing.

Then you try to bring them all up so you can hear each instrument and end up with an obnoxiously loud sound. It’s time to break up the party. We don’t need instruments doing the same thing. We need them to complement each other.

There is one trick you can do at the mixer to accomplish this. But everything else will require you to communicate with the band and ask them to play something different.

Let’s start with what you can do.

The acoustic guitar is an instrument that can stand on its own, occupying the full frequency spectrum.

That’s great when it’s just the acoustic and a few vocals. But if there are other instruments, it’s usually best to keep the acoustic guitar out of those lower frequencies.

Thin it out so that you mainly get the rhythmic sound from the acoustic and let your electric guitars and keyboards fill up everything else. Let me show you how.

Add a low-cut filter at around 400Hz. Then, add a low shelving filter at around 900Hz and cut until it is as thin as you want it to be.

Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with this. Use your ears and do what sounds good with the rest of the band.

That’s the one thing you can do to separate your instruments into different parts of the frequency spectrum. Now, you’ll need to open up the lines of communication with the band.

How to talk to the band

Simply tell them, “Hey, you guys are all playing in the same range. It’s all sounding kind of the same out here. Can anyone break off into something different? Maybe a different octave?”

Then, let them sort it out. If you are also a musician and have tips to give them, go for it. Otherwise, leave it in their hands as the musicians. Simply let them know something needs to change.

3. Use compression on everything

All of your audio inputs have a dynamic range. This is the range between the quietest and loudest moments. Compression lets you bring the two closer together, limiting the dynamic range.

Without compression, you’ll be fighting your sound being too quiet and then too loud. You definitely won’t have that perfect mix that fills the room without being too loud.

To help you get compression dialed in for each vocal and each instrument, I put together a free compression cheat sheet.

Get the extended version of this video

Next, I will move into the extended version of this video, where you can watch and listen as I compress vocals, guitars, and drums. One of the best ways to learn is by watching someone else do it.

The extended version of the video is only for my Inner Circle subscribers. You can become one right now and get immediate access to the rest of this video.

Subscribe to Inner Circle →

Compression Cheat Sheet

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